The Sly Trilogy & God of War: Ghost of Sparta

Occasionally, even the most professional critics will find themselves a little behind. It might be difficult to believe, but sometimes we just need a break from all the free entertainment we’re forced to endure on your behalf. Other times we discover we’ve deluded our wannabe journo minds for long enough and must once again acknowledge real life, real people and worst of all college and real work. Thus, these reviews are a little late, perhaps a little irrelevant and may even appear lazily mashed together to save time. I assure you, valued reader, that this is most definitely the case.

The Sly Trilogy – 3
Platform: PS3
Publisher: SCEE
Developer: Sucker Punch, SCEE

The Sly Trilogy is, as you’d gather from its title, the entire Sly Cooper trilogy remastered in high definition and released on one Blu-Ray disc, the second such collection Sony have released, the first being the God of War Collection. Like it’s Greek, more mythical, more violent cousins, the Sly games have made the transition to HD wonderfully and in most instances don’t seem to have aged at all, which is particularly remarkable in the case of Sly Cooper, a game which is eight years old. Sucker Punch’s definitive art style is still charming, and those of you who played inFamous, will no doubt notice the similarities between and progression from Sly’s world to Coles.

Unfortunately, the visuals aren’t quite enough to make up for the fact that Slys gameplay is just not relevant any more. The relentless fetch quests appear genuinely archaic and games like Thief and Assassins Creed have rendered its stealth/sneaking elements completely redundant. Nostalgia may well be enough to take Sly fans through this collection with ease, but if Sony are expecting to introduce Sly to a new generation of young gamers, maybe the much-teased fourth installment (which is heavily hinted at throughout The Sly Trilogy) would have been a better investment.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta – 2:1
Platform: PSP
Publisher: SCEE
Developer: Ready At Dawn

Then we have God of War: Ghost of Sparta, Kratos’ second outing on PSP, following 2008s critically acclaimed Chains of Olympus. While God of War III seemed to end things on a rather definitive note for everyones favorite Spartan psychopath, Sony, never willing to stare a gift horse in the mouth (whatever that means), have taken advantage of the plot gap between the first two God of War titles and have bridged it with all the urgency, scope and marvelous violence that has come to define the series.

In stark contrast to The Sly Trilogy, the wonderfully conceived gameplay in God of War just refuses to age and is still as intense and exhilarating as it was the first time around. While you can get through much of the early stages by button-bashing, there is, as usual, enormous depth to the combos you can achieve, helped greatly by the fact that all four given weapons are actually useful and switching between them is frequently required. The dynamic backdrops and level design from GoW III return looking better than they have any right to on a PSP, and the set pieces are glorious in their absurdity. There is however a flipside to all of this.

Chains of Olympus was never going to be an easy act to follow and while the team at Ready at Dawn have made a valiant effort, Ghost of Sparta never quite manages to crawl out from the shadow of its predecessor. The story focuses on Kratos’ quest to rescue his estranged brother Deimos, who he had believed to be dead and while it certainly makes for an interesting aside, and even sets up the opening scene to GoW II masterfully, it never feels as vital a part of the God of War canon as Chains of Olympus did.

God of War: Ghost of Sparta is beautiful, bloody, cinematic and most of all, fun. It’s everything you’d expect from a God of War game, but nothing more.

Andy Kavanagh