Also On: PS3
Developer: Bluepoint Games/SCE Santa Monica Studio
Medium: Digital/Vita Card
I'm of two minds on the PS Vita version of the God of War Collection. On the one hand, I'm kind of just glad it exists. I'd be the last person on Earth to complain about the Vita not having enough games, but it really doesn't seem like SCEA has paid all that much attention to their fledgling handheld. Just the fact they're putting out anything at all seems like a minor miracle.
Yet at the same time — and I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth here — we are talking about a port of a port. Considering that the Vita's predecessor, the PSP, got not one but two very good original God of War games in Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta, this does have the faint air of leftover scraps. I mean, I get why they wouldn't want to invest in a system that (let's be honest) isn't exactly setting North America on fire, sales-wise, but at the same time, a little bit more effort would be nice.
Particularly since those aforementioned PSP games are both available on the Vita — and, what's more, both are arguably better than God of War I and II. Sure, you don't get trophies, but in every other respect, Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta are probably more worthy of your time and money. Thanks to the wonders of bilinear filtering, they look at least as good (particularly during cutscenes), and the action in both of those games seems much better suited to the smaller screen.
On a completely different note, perhaps the most interest aspect of having the Collection on the Vita is seeing what was changed in order to make the games work. For instance, the Quick Time Events: maybe my memory of the first two GoW games is off, but they seem a lot easier here than they ever did before. Whereas some of them used to drag on forever, here they're over and done with after just a few inputs. While some people might miss those (I know I've always had a soft spot for them), I suspect many more people will be glad they're gone, especially since there's no vibrating controllers giving you feedback here.
On a less positive note, the Vita versions occasionally seem to require a level of finesse and precision that I don't think has ever been associated with any of the other games in the series. I suppose that adds a new dimension, but at the same time, it's a little frustrating to cross the same bridge over and over again just because a slight misstep sends you flying over the side. Similarly, in order to get around the lack of R2/L2 buttons, the Vita versions utilizes the rear touch pad. While that was probably a necessity, it doesn't make it any less annoying when you accidentally try to open a chest right in the middle of a fight.
That's not to say that the God of War Collection on Vita is completely without its charms. The two games are considered classics for a reason, and even if they may not look or play as nice on the Vita as they do elsewhere, they're still pretty outstanding. Last year's blandly forgettable God of War: Ascension may make it easy to forget, but at its best (i.e. everything other than Ascension), the games in this series are some of the finest, most epic action games you're ever likely to play. Fights against gods and titans like Ares, Zeus and Kronos might not have quite the same sense of grandeur here that that do when you're up against them on a larger screen, but they're all pretty cool nonetheless.
Of course, it would be even cooler if some of those epic fights came in the form of a brand new game, rather than a rehashing of games from seven and nine years ago. Still, beggars can't be choosers, and as far as I'm concerned, any God of War on the PS Vita is better than no God of War. It's not perfect, but if you absolutely must have Kratos on your Vita with some trophies, the God of War Collection will more than suffice.