That word gets thrown around way too often these days. From thirtysomething Hollywood directors describing their latest CGI orgasm to game reviewers describing, well, anything really. "Epic" has become so overused that it has nearly lost all meaning.
It's a shame too, because there just isn't a better word to describe Sony's God of War Collection.
Alright, maybe I'm being a bit melodramatic. If pushed I could come up with a few other choice descriptors. How about "tremendous," or "monumental?" Both fit (and were conveniently lifted from a nearby thesaurus) but somehow seem to miss the perfectly on-point characterization of "epic."
Maybe that's because of the game's subject matter. Playing through God of War and its sequel — both of which are included on a single Blu-Ray disc along with Trophies and a number of gorgeous visual upgrades that bring the two PlayStation 2 titles almost to the technological level of the PS3's recent God of War III — gives players a first-hand account of one man's ascent, fall, and reascent to godhood.
The tale is rife with the sorts of sex and violence that the Ancient Greeks reveled in, and the blood spilled by those who stand in the way of your divine vengeance flows like a Tampax commercial directed by Tobe Hooper. It's the antediluvian equivalent of Kill Bill, only sanitized of Tarantino's pop culture Tourette's and any mention of eromenos.
It's just as well too. Not because pederasty would be completely out of place here — it was a part of Ancient Grecian life — but because the games simply have no room for anything not specifically designed to make you pump a fist in the air and shout "fuck yeah!" Total run-time for each game is the modern action game standard of roughly 10 hours, but those 10 hours are so well paced, so well planned, that there is no time to screw around with anything that fails to further the simple, yet engrossing story of a man and the asses he has to kick.
Hopefully I've established that the God of War Collection contains two quality games — if you dig action, this is going to be your bag — but the other bullet point I want to instill in you is the value here. Walk into any store and the Collection can be yours for $30. That breaks down to $15 per game. Even if you've already played one of these games, buying both — with their upgraded visuals and Trophies — is most definitely worth the investment, especially considering that purchasing either of the titles new (even under Sony's "Greatest Hits" banner) will set you back $15 to $20.
That "value" bullet point goes double for anyone who missed both games when they were first released. Playing the recently released (and damn fantastic) God of War III doesn't require knowledge of the first two games, but burning through all three back to back is the best 30 hours of pure action gaming you'll find this year.
The one valid concern I've heard voiced about the Collection is how well these slightly dated games compare to today's modern action epics like Dante's Inferno and Bayonetta. I won't claim that the original God of War, released in 2005, doesn't lack certain elements that the development team only learned from the creation of that game, but the reality is that Sony's series essentially created the 3-D action genre as we know it. Dante's Inferno is a clone of these games and pales in direct comparison — even the elder of the two — and while Bayonetta offers a fantastic alternative, it would be hard to argue that it is, in fact, "better" than either entry.
Combine both God of War and God of War II in a package that retails for half the price of either of the aforementioned "modern" titles and there really is no comparison.
PlayStation 3 owners are often left behind in the race for next-generation exclusives, but the God of War Collection goes a long way towards earning the jealousy of Xbox 360 owners. If you own the big black console, find a way to add this disc to your shelf.