Review: God of War Collection (PS Vita)

I just finished my first play-through of God of War. It came highly recommended, and as I haven’t enjoyed a good 3D action fighting game in a while, I was pretty excited to get into it. Especially since this is my first dual-stick game and I was anxious to see how well it performed with the smaller-than-Dualshock joysticks.

Turns out, the game handles great, which was the first thing I noticed. As the God of War Collection is a port of the Playstation 2 originals, I was expected them to show their age a little bit as far as the graphics go, and surprisingly this was not the case. Although to be honest, the menus seem stuck in 2001 in their low-texture goodness, but I’ll let that slide. The actual gameplay itself is smooth and extremely satisfying.

The touch controls do seem a little shimmed into gameplay, however. There is a little light use made of both the front and rear touchpads that seem pretty unnecessary but do not detract from the overall experience. The rear touchpad is used to interact with objects and to open doors and chests. It feels a little unnatural pressing the back of a device when standing on a save portal, and oftentimes after saving my game I’ve accidentally gotten stuck in a loop of repeatedly opening the save dialog. But this is more a con of having large hands more so than the touchpad. The touch screen is used to switch your main weapon, as well as activating a thrust move. Overall, the controls are just fine and controlling Kratos feels natural and intuitive.

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Source

This is not so much a review on the Vita port so much as the game itself, but one of the issues that I ran into was the controller direction during screen swaps. Think back for a minute to your first time playing Resident Evil. The movement controls were simple enough – using the D-Pad, you would hold Up to make your character run forward, Down to step back, and Left/Right to rotate. When your character was running, and it was time for the screen to switch, your character would still be running straight once the angle changed. Now compare that functionality to a game with free running on a joystick. It just feels clumsy.

This drove me absolutely nuts at times. Running through a corridor or down a staircase, only to find myself back running in the opposite direction because what was previously make me run forward would now make me run backwards. It’s frustrating me to no end just trying to explain this over text. I did finally prevail and this was a minor frustration, but boy there were times that tried my soul.

Once you complete the game or complete certain tasks within the game, a handful of extras are unlocked. These include “God Mode,” an impossibly hard version of the game, and amongst others, my personal favorite, a  feature called the “Create Graveyard” in which early character models that didn’t make it into the game are showcased, with some blurbs from the designers and developers. As a developer myself, I love this kind of stuff and thought it was really cool to see some earlier iterations and visions of what Kratos should look like.

If you’re into the run around and murder everything aspect of a game called God of War, there’s no question that you should pick this one up. If you played this many years ago on PS2 and want to experience it again, same thing applies. I’m taking a break before I return for part 2, but this has been a fantastic re-entry to those violent 3D fighting games I missed from yesteryear.

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