Ten years! For ten years we have watched a single Spartan take on the gods of Olympus! We have joined him on his quest for vengeance against the very gods he served! He has faced minotaurs, cyclops, gorgons, harpies, all the monsters of Greece! And his story has become legend! He is Kratos, the Ghost of Sparta.
Since its inception in 2005, the God of War series has redefined the action/adventure genre of gaming and created a hero unlike any other. While most heroes’ actions were for the benefit of others such as saving the world or stopping an invading army, Kratos actions were solely for his vengeance towards the Gods of Olympus who have betrayed him. Ares, the God of War and his former master, tricked Kratos into murdering his own family. Kratos returned the favor by murdering him. He was imprisoned by the Furies when he broke his blood oath with Ares, shunned by the gods after he ascended to the throne as the new God of War. Kratos was framed for murder and sought the true assassin, killing Hermes’ son Ceryx which alienates him further from the gods. In the end, he sought the destruction of Zeus, killing beast and god alike. His story is unlike any other. And each game delved deeper into the man behind the fury. The story behind Kratos is one of pain and suffering, sorrow and tragedy.
God of War games have become to be known not only for its brutal protagonist/antihero but for its blazing action. Kratos swings his Hades forged chained-blades to decimate his enemies. It was amazing to watch the Spartan wrestle a Minotaur to the ground and ram fiery-hot death down its throat with the Blades of Chaos, mount a Cyclops only to jam a blade in its chest and slide down or ride the Guardian of the Temple of Pandora while it bucks Kratos like the bull of a Minotaur it is. His variety of kills only got bloodier and more fun as the series progressed. It was entertainingly gut-retching to see Kratos strong arm a Centaur to the ground, dig a burning blade into its chest and split it from stem to stern, lift up a undead Legionnaire and brutally tear it in half, or savagely beat Poseidon to death from the eyes of the victim. Another standout feature are the sex mini-games. Kratos has the chance to nail two women sleeping in his bed aboard his ship, carry a woman into a house with her friends following behind her or banging two women imprisoned by a Persian general. Heck, he even made it with Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Give a good performance and he’ll be rewarded with a cache of red orbs.
God of War was the idea of game director and creator David Jaffe, who owes Capcom’s Onimusha for giving him the concept. The game also drew inspiration from the 1981 film “Clash of the Titans.” Jaffe’s had a real high concept of merging that film with Heavy Metal magazine, which the game essentially is. The exploration and treasure room concepts as well as the series’ variety of traps, most notable the Temple of Pandora from the first game, were likely inspired by “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Although God of War is based on Greek mythology, the development team gave themselves lots of freedom to modify the myths, and Jaffe said they took the coolest aspects of the subject and wrote a story using those elements. When God of War II was announced in 2006 at the Game Developers Conference, David Jaffe stepped down and became Creative Director for the sequel with Cory Barlog at the helm as new Game Director. God of War II retained all the combat features from its predecessor and made magic an integral part of the system. At first, the game was not going to be given the Roman numeral two because Jaffe and Barlog considered it a continuation of the first game. But they didn’t want players to think of it as an expansion pack so the game got the number. Smart move. Even though the Playstation 3 was released four months before the game, Jaffe and Barlog decided to keep God of War II on the Playstation 2 because, according to them, “there’s a 100 million people who will play God of War II as soon as it launches.” Again, smart move.
Kratos and company eventually moved to the Playstation 3 with God of War III and God of War: Ascension, released in 2010 and 2013 respectively. Both game utilized the power of Sony’s then next generation system allowing both games to express richer environments in great detail, faster combat and improved particle effects. But the series didn’t stop there. Two games were developed by Ready at Dawn, Chains of Olympus and Ghost of Sparta. These games served to flesh out the story and key characters set by the main series arc, such as Atlas’ imprisonment and forcing of him to support the world on his shoulders and the death of Persephone, wife of Hades. Both incidents were Kratos’ doing. God of War’s story is further drawn out in a six-part comic series and two novels. The comic series, written by Marv Wolfman, was published by Wildstorm and DC Comics. The story depicts Kratos’s search for the legendary Ambrosia of Asclepius to save his daughter Calliope while he was still in the Spartan army. God of War and God of War II were serialized as novels by Matthew Stover and Robert E. Vardeman, which give further insight on the Olympian Gods and the motivations for their actions.
To date, all the PS2 and PSP God of War titles have been collected into several collection series. The two PS2 games and PSP games were re-released as the “God of War Collection” and “God of War Origins” for the PS3. They were later collected again and reissued along with God of War III for the “God of War Saga”. God of War: Betrayal was not converted for console release. The best game of the series “God of War III: Remastered” is scheduled for release in July 2015 for the PS4.
But that is just half the story…
3,066 total views, 4 views today