Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why God of War Ascension has failed Kratos as a Character (minor spoilers)

God of War has always been a blockbuster game and as has always been held in high regard by the gaming community. It’s the one PlayStation 3 exclusive that Xbots can fully admit to wishing it was for their console. However even with all of this high praise, God of War has always had it criticism. No one ever really complained about the combat or the gameplay and especially not the graphics, what people complained about, was Kratos. We are now moving into an age where games are considered an art form. And in this day and age, a one dimensional character such Kratos cannot be taken seriously. Every critic sees him as just a big angry guy out for revenge, in response to that, Santa Monica Studios made God of War Ascension. The God of War game that would, for the first time, show Kratos in a more human light.

Of course we would all learn that this was too good to be true as God of War Ascension is not only probably the worst game in the franchise, but has by far the least narrative as well as a lack luster, nothing happens story.

We know that Kratos killed his family, we know it was a mistake, we know he pledged his allegiance to Ares. What we didn’t know, was that we weren’t going to see any of those things wrapped into the story of this game. Now of course all of this is referenced, but we never see why Kratos reached out to Ares in his time of need. We never got to play as Kratos before he had the ashes of his family burned onto his skin. We never got to see any of these key plot points that were to shape Kratos into the hateful bloodthirsty man he was in God of War 3. Now was I expecting Kratos to turn into a super complicated character? Hell no, however, what I was expecting, was to have a better grasp of what his motives were and to understand why he ended up the way he did by the end of the saga.

Instead Santa Monica chose to focus on the breaking of Kratos’s oath to Ares, and how does he accomplish this? By killing things, that’s right! Santa Monica went down the list of people Kratos hasn’t killed (the Furies) and made and entire game about those three enemies. Now, when Santa Monica said they wanted to show more about Kratos, they simply meant a couple of cut scenes where Kratos is hallucinating about his family and his old life. It’s too bad that all of these cut scenes put together are only about 15 minutes of footage in a 9-10 hour game.
I do believe that the story of how Kratos broke his oath to Ares did need to be explained. However, this could have been the very last ¼ of the game. The rest of the should have been about young Kratos, the relationship with his brother (featured in Ghost of Sparta), Kratos as a Spartan General, the actual point in time he reached out to Ares, and finally him killing his family. You can still make epic set pieces following this plot line while building up to the epic battles of slaying the Furies by the end of game. This is not the way the game had to go, but it is a much needed suggestion.

With this likely being the last game for Kratos, it is a pity to see such an opportunity squandered and is most unfortunate that Kratos will forever remain a one dimensional bloodthirsty killer.