God of War and God of War II were two of the biggest reasons to own a PS2.   With both titles earning a stunning 94% from two of our reviewers, there is no doubt that it was a must-own title on that platform.  You can imagine how disappointed some PlayStation 3 owners were when they found out that their non-launch system would never be able to play those two titles – until now.   Sony has gone back to the franchise and updated it greatly to get ready for the impending launch of God of War III this March, and let me assure you – it is well worth the return trip.

I’ll spare you the rehash of the story details as you can read our God of War review here, and our God of War II review here, and stick primarily to the technical details.  The God of War Collection takes advantage of the power of the PlayStation 3 in a big way, solving most of our nitpicking with these two titles by simply tossing more processor and RAM at the issue.  God of War sported some of the best graphics available on the platform as it neared the end of its life, so naturally God of War II had to surpass it.  Both of them suffered from jagged edges, and God of War II suffered in terms of texture tearing and framerate.   All of these issues are absolutely and completely resolved.

The God of War collection has been completely reworked to run at 720p resolution, but that wasn’t enough – the game has given 2x anti-aliasing to ensure that there are no jagged edges present.  Since the original game ran at 512×448 resolution, the upgrade to 1080×720 resolution cleans things up nicely as well as restoring some lost detail.  Additionally, the game textures have been smoothed over, giving them a much cleaner presentation in both the cinematics as well as gameplay.  Similarly, the framerate has been locked down to a butter-smooth 60 frames per second instead of the (sometimes wildly so) variable 60 fps present on the PS2.  Graphically, you can’t ask for anything more from a PS2 game…unless we are talking about the cutscenes.

God of War and God of War II featured cutscenes that were a mix of pre-rendered CGI and in-engine work.  The CGI still looks impressive as you might expect, but some of the in-engine scenes can look rather jarring when compared to the now-upsampled gameplay.  It is obvious some efforts were made here, but those scenes were clearly not rebuilt from scratch.  It’s a small price to pay.

Beyond the graphical upgrades, all of the bonus material present on the two PS2 discs are present here.  Much of the video was shot in 4:3 and what I’d like to call ‘ultra-grainy-vision’, so don’t expect miracles here.  That said, the content is just as cool as it was when the games debuted and bears a second look.   One thing I found odd is that the God of War bonus material cannot be paused or played from the Xross Media Bar.  For whatever reason, the God of War II material is viewable that way, giving you greater control.  I’m suspecting this was a limit of the original game and the efforts weren’t made to extract them given that most folks couldn’t honestly care less or have watched it already on their PS2.  Thankfully, it’s all here  – nothing has been cut, but unfortunately nothing has been added either.   Wouldn’t it have been great to see a behind-the-scenes on the upgrade process for this title?  I would have been interested, but I might be all alone on this – you tell me.

For those interested in racking up PSN trophies, you’ll be happy to know that you can pick up a full host of trophies for both games individually.  These range from the Bronze medals for simply completing sections and collecting the quest equipment to the embarrassing “Getting My Ass Kicked” trophy you can achieve by dying enough times to be offered the Easy Mode.  There are more challenging trophies including beating the game in under 5 hours, getting a 200 hit combo, battling to the Loom in under 10 minutes, or the completionist trophies for unlocking all other trophies.

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