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Proving once and for all that true badassery is timeless
Available for download on the PSN, God of War HD is more than just a visual upgrade of the original masterpiece. It’s a chance for those who never experienced it to witness the birth of a classic and for veterans to reintroduce themselves to one of gaming’s greatest anti-heroes. Welcome back to Athens, fellow gamers. Welcome back to God of War.
As if an introduction were necessary, you are Kratos. Get in his way and rather than push you aside, he’ll kill you before you can muster a whimper and forget about you before your body hits the ground. His tale begins when he sells his soul to Ares, God of War. Before long, Kratos realizes he got ripped off, so with the blessings of Zeus and Athena, he’s off on his quest to slay a God, and he’s taking you with him.
As anybody who’s played a GOW title knows, these games strut their stuff right off the bat. I’m pretty sure the opening boss fight alone caused some legit video-game-induced orgasms when it debuted back in 2005. As for graphics, if you're wondering how good a six-year-old title can look, know that it’s not PS3 quality, but you can rest assured that this is one very sexy upgrade. I especially noticed the difference once I saw the in-game cut scenes, which sadly still play in low-res, but serve as a reminder of how great the rest of the game looks.
Even if you haven’t played a GOW title, you probably know it’s mostly about combat, which is nothing short of epic and works like this: You wield two huge blades that can be swung in any direction using combos or single hits. You’ll use the combos most, since this game cranks out more baddies than the Octomom cranks out doomed offspring. There are also several magic spells that you'll acquire throughout the game. The hack-and-slash system is very easy to learn, yet nuances such as counter attacks and a rewarding level-up system make it feel satisfyingly complex. Even so, the most satisfying part of all is simply watching your foes die their twistedly charming deaths. Decapitate Medusa with your bare hands, anyone?
While GOW has always aimed to be the action game to end all action games, the series has also graced players with unforgettable moments of exploration, and GOW HD brings them right back. Remember climbing the walls of a skyscraper-sized temple resting atop an ancient, mile-high creature known as a titan? Some of the puzzles are also quite inspired, but most follow what remains to this day, a very formulaic design. Blocks will be pushed and levers will be pulled. Fun, but not exactly your ticket into MENSA.
If I had to pick one other area that falls a teency bit flat, it’s the story. It’s not bad, but it has a few holes. For example, why would Kratos, a certified badass, ask Ares to save his life? Guys like this (not that I know any) would rather die than beg. Even so, the storytelling serves it’s purpose as a springboard for what God of War HD is all about, and that’s beating the living snot out of things.
Lastly, the original game’s bounty of unlockable content remains in tact, from the creative Easter eggs to the behind-the-scenes features. Sony has also added virtual trophies, and if you ask me, that alone offers enough incentive to justify another romp through ancient Greece.
If Quenten Tarantino and Michael Bay made a baby and that baby was a videogame, it would be God of War HD. If you call yourself a gamer and you’ve never played the original, you practically owe developer Santa Monica Studios your 15 bucks just for blessing us with this God among games.
Final Score 9 / 10