God of War Collection PlayStation 3
Published by: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developed by: Bluepoint Games
Well, some of you might know about the God of War collection for the PS3. Basically, it's a developer upscaled version of the PS2 games (God of War I, and God of War II) together on a single Blu-ray disk. Each game has its own trophies (including Platinums for each), the visuals are upscaled to improve the look (as compared to an upscaled PS2 version), and the aspect ratio is 16:9 (HD). Otherwise, it seems to be identical to the PS2 versions (I can't say for sure, as I never played them), and sadly, this includes the subtitling.
Despite re-vamping the visuals, and the addition of trophies, the game is sorely lacking in a similar upgrade to the subtitles. I was hoping there would be some, but alas, nothing. If you've played the PS2 version, you'll find it's the same with the PS3 version. Let's get on to the review of the title from a gameplay, and after that, the "Deaf Gamers" perspective.
You play Kratos, a former Spartan general turned into a god's lackey, and a very upset lackey he is. Like an abused dog, he has turned on his master and intends to extract retribution for his suffering. The essential plot of this game is a tale of revenge against a cruel Greek God (Ares, the God of War) that took from Kratos, all that he held dear. It's a classic revenge tale with heavy mythological elements (everything from the antagonists, to the source of the protagonist's powers, to the enemies themselves, is mythological in origin. Ancient Greece to be specific, the mythology of Olympus and the worshipping of the Gods that reside there).
I can definitely see why the God of War series is so popular after playing (and finishing) this game on Normal Mode. The game is not known for its length (this is my first playthrough, and although I collected everything, I still clocked in at under 10 hours), but it makes up for it with solid gameplay. Distilled to its basic elements, this is a simple enough hack and slash game, but if you take it at a whole, the varying elements combine to make it more involved than the average hack and slash. Your Blades of Chaos (your default weapon) can be upgraded 4 times, gaining more power and additional combos as you go on. The initial set of combos is as simple as you'd expect, with the usual mashing of the same buttons (square and triangle) over and over until everything around Kratos is dead (or usually, more dead than before). As you upgrade your weapon and gain new magic, the gameplay will flesh out and introduce new combo attacks and magic abilities. Indeed, some of these combo attacks are very helpful and can mean the difference between repeated failure and success.
The game was also the one that popularized the use of commands in cutscenes (ie. press various face buttons to auto-KO an enemy). Oftentimes, you can go without these commands and just defeat enemies with normal attacks, but it is good to have options, and sometimes there are benefits (ie. health, magic, plus the obvious instant KO benefits with some enemies).
The game also contains puzzles involving switches, as well as time limits, not to mention many contain some sort of dangerous element. I personally didn't have trouble with them (so the frustration level should be fairly low for most people), and they can be a nice break from the hack and slash gameplay.
For replay, the game has multiple difficulty modes, including the unlockable God Mode (earned by beating the game once).
There is also the challenge mode, 10 stages with specific requirements that need to be met on each level. Most of the challenges involve beating enemies within a certain amount of time, or under certain restrictions. The last challenge though, is not for those with heart conditions. I personally had a very frustrating time (over an hour spent on it) completing it. This is due to limited arena space, and the fact that the enemies have an easy time knocking you out of it, amongst other things. Beating this challenge unlocks additional skins for Kratos on subsequent new games.
Videos: There are a fair amount of videos
Deaf Gamers User Friendliness
Mediocre. None of the cutscenes are subtitled, and at least to me, the voice work isn't always clear.
There are text and visual based cues in the game though, so the game is perfectly playable even if you can't hear anything that's being said.
There is the usual loss of reaction time if an enemy is off screen right when they're attacking, as you might not hear their battle cry as they rush toward you. This is negligible though, from what I recall. There IS one mini-mission that relies somewhat, on audible cues. You have to track down 3 different enemies that tell you their location via their song. This isn't too important though, as you can't even hear it until you're close anyway, but it would still be an annoyance for deaf persons.
The games's extras (videos) don't have subtitles at all either, the Challenge Room has the usual text based 'how to' though. There is another extra that is basically 'scrapped character models', a stage you can walk through. All the information is displayed via text, which is good.
On the plus side, after certain cutscenes (particularly early on in the game) you can view the statue of Athena nearby, and she speaks both audibly and visually (there will this time, be accompanying text to read). Occasionally there are NPCs that have text comments as well, and you can pick up a little more information that way as well.
Also a plus, is that the game tells you how to accomplish tasks visually, rather than audibly (ie. press 'x' to jump, and 'x, x' to double jump). These hints are repeated if you fail and have to restart, which will be convenient for those that have forgotten the commands. This happens throughout the game whenever something new is introduced.
Lastly, the puzzles in this game don't rely on auditory cues. Though a couple that I can recall had an audible element that represented a timer, it doesn't actually help you complete it, it just lets you know that time is running out.
For the most part, deaf gamers should have no problems actually playing this game, but will miss out on a fair portion of the story which is told through non-subtitled cutscenes.
In conclusion, this game is fun to play, with solid gameplay, good visuals, and interesting use of mythology, but it is not terribly deaf gamer friendly, and I'd particularly caution deaf persons (as opposed to hearing impaired) from expecting to be immersed in the story. The lack of subtitles in any of the cutscenes means that one would have to just do their best to guess at what was going on based on visual cues, rehashes via the statue of Athena, and the occasional comments you can get from NPCs.