... Nice chocolate covering, but that awful crap in the middle really spoils things.
While this collection does represent great value for money in what it offers, there's no getting away from the fact that as far as the line up of HD Classic collections on PS3 so far go, PoP Trilogy is definitely the weakest.
As you all know the first game on here, Sands of Time, was one of the best games of last generation. It pretty much redefined the mechanics of 3D platform games and did it while delivering a strong central narrative and story. The story follows the unnamed 'Prince', as during an invasion of a neighbouring kingdom, he acquires a dagger with time travelling sand powers. He then teams up with Farrah, a mouthy female foil who serves as companion and partner during an adventure to stop the magic time sand from turning the entire kingdom into sand zombies... or something. The updated version looks great, despite some of the visuals being a tad dated at their core and a lot of the gameplay still holds up very well, but there's no escaping the fact that the game's combat is BAD. Stiff, unresponsive, and with enemies that respawn dozens of time per fight, leading to long, tedious battles throughout? That's not fun. The more recent PoP game, Forgotten Sands, managed to refine and improve this combat system rather well, but after it, going back to Sands of Time really is a lot more trying than it should be. It's still a great game in every other way, but the fighting is still a very weak link in the chain...
...which is fairly tragic considering that game number 2, Warrior Within, is built around combat first and everything else second, and the combat still sucks. Unfortunately, so do does everything else in this legendarily tedious sequel, with it's uber-forced 'grittier' edge, nonsense story, terrible dialogue and bafflingly inappropriate rock soundtrack this was held up as how NOT to do a sequel to a good game for so long for a reason. It has not improved with age or updated visuals.
Last up is 'The Two Thrones', which is a bit harder to call. It's easily the most impressive and varied game of the three, with great visuals and some improvements(Minor though they be) to the combat. However, the story is again a bit rubbish, the level design is fairly boring in a lot of parts and there are some rather ill-judged 'chariot' sequences that really add nothing to the game. It isn't a BAD game per se, but it still only occupies an awkward middle ground between the accessible enjoyment of Sands of Time and the repetitive tedium of Warrior Within at best.
The revamped visuals really do wonders for these games, with incredibly clean, crisp looks and super smooth performance really rendering those old PS2 copies of the games you may still have laying around obsolete. Saying that, there are still a couple of sticking points with this collection, first being the large install required(around 3.5 GBs), which seems excessive considering there were no installs needed for any of the other PS2 collections available, and PoP Trilogy isn't even as well put together as those(Though I guess this might be WHY it needs the install). Also, I experienced freezing issues a couple of times in Sands of Time, both times in the same area about an hour into the game. Lastly is the FMV/CGI sequences, which look really rubbish and low quality compared to the in game visuals, though obviously this is because the source videos only exist in standard definition format it still really jars when you're playing. Also, the character voices aren't nearly loud enough during these video scenes, and there is no subtitle option.
So there you go, one true classic that has aged a bit in some ways and it's two sequels of varying levels of "not great" with some very nice, very clean updated HD visuals and trophy support for each game to add a little replay value. Is this worth 20 odd quid? I'd say yes, as I certainly feel like I got my money's worth, but there's no getting away from the fact that neither the games nor the PS3 revamping on this collection really compares to the God of War or Sly collections... plus there's also the fact that you can download each of these games individually from the Playstation Store for about 11 quid each, meaning you could just buy the first game and bypass the sequels altogether if you were so inclined and save yourself a bit of money. This certainly isn't an essential release by any means, but it offers good value for money in terms of content, so you could do a lot worse... and a lot better it must be said.