God of War has been repackaged more than once in the nine years since its original release, but for good reason: it’s one of the best action franchises to ever hit Sony’s home console. The first port of the PlayStation 2 classic to reach retail was God of War Collection on the PlayStation 3, a compilation of the first two titles in the series on one disc. A third and fourth full console title and two well-received portable releases later, Sony has decided to revisit the original God of War Collection, bringing God of War I and God of War II to the PS Vita for the first time. But how do the classics hold up nearly a decade later?
Before I discuss these ports in particular, it’s worth addressing the actual games. God of War perfected hack-and-slash combat while introducing challenging puzzles, competent platforming and a mature storyline that stood out among the mascot platformers of the time. The designers at Sony’s Santa Monica Studio made spectacle a priority, constantly topping themselves with each subsequent boss fight.
Hacking and slashing your way through ancient Greece is just as satisfying on a mobile platform as it was on home consoles. Kratos is an unstoppable force, constantly upgrading his weaponry while progressing through the varied locales of the two titles, ripping apart his opposition on land, in the air and underwater. Working through both titles for the first time in years, I was surprised to see the luster hadn’t worn off quite yet.
God of War Collection forces players to press on the PS Vita’s rear touch pad while opening chests and doors, which feels about as vapid as you would imagine. I’m all for getting my money’s worth out of a port on a new console with unique features, but it’s poorly implemented and doesn’t gel particularly well with the fast-paced nature of the game.
The biggest crime of all is the complete lack of effort on the remastering front. The games themselves looks decent, better than they ever did on the PS2, but the cutscenes have apparently been lifted wholesale from the original copies of God of War and its sequel without receiving any touch ups whatsoever. As the game transitions into a cutscenes, the screen resolution shrinks, the remastered graphics fade away and we’re left with what looks like a YouTube stream of the original cinematic. It’s a bizarre oversight, and although it doesn’t affect the gameplay, it can be distracting.
If you somehow missed God of War in all of its various incarnations, you won’t be any worse off picking up the PS Vita version of the God of War Collection to start your adventure with Kratos, even with its various issues. All in all, it’s a faithful translation of two of the best action games to ever be released on the PS2, joining Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta on Sony’s mobile platforms. If you want God of War on the go, you’ll be able to suffer through the poorly implemented touch pad support and standard definition cutscenes.
God of War Collection is available now for the PS Vita for $29.99.