God of War: How to keep the Spirit of Sparta
He’s the hero PlayStation deserves, but not the one it needs right now. I am beginning to feel this might actually represent Kratos from the old God of War titles.
Like many of you, I am concerned when it comes to this evolution of Kratos. God of War 1, 2 and 3 were some of my favorite experiences on console. The epic battles, the unforgiving ferocity, the ability to sit back, strap in, and kill every damn mother****er in the room! THIS! IS!! SPARTA!!!
… But I have to ask myself, when is mindless, pointless killing just not fun anymore? When are you simply putting out games, not to tell a story, but to out ‘over-the-top’ the previous game. Ascension was an example of this. It showed me that after GoWIII, we worked through our anger. How do you get more epic and angry? A true character needs depth and we have reached the bottom of Kratos’ so a change had to happen. And not simply a change to the locale, but to the core of the character… just, is this the right change? Or is this too much? Here is what I feel needs to stay to make this still feel like a God of War title…
RAGE OF SPARTA
Santa Monica has been quoted to say, “We have already told the story of The Hulk… now we want to tell the story of Bruce Banner”. I love this, but it also needs to be reigned in. Because what makes that character great is that he is both, Hulk AND Banner. He is constantly at odds with himself. My issue towards the end of the GoW series was Kratos was too much Hulk. I no longer even cared who I was killing because I didn’t know why. People running for safety, dead! People cowering in the corner, dead! So I do love that Kratos’ biggest challenge is now himself but we have to remember, without the Hulk, Banner is just a man (and an uninteresting one at that)… Kratos can never be just a man.
Sure, it was a button masher and you could stick to the chains, but like with all button mashers, there is a finesse to it. You could play it that way or you could get a tad more advance. Regardless, for me, GoW needs multiple weapons and weapon advancement. Seeing the shield in the latest trailer has me very hopeful that they also recognize this. I want my Spear of Odin, my Blade of Freyr, my Hammer of Thor.
Kratos is, at his core, a tragic hero. Life is not kind to Kratos and he is deceived by pretty much every single person throughout his Greek adventures. Him overcoming this deception, and making them pay for it, is a pretty solid root of what Kratos is. Luckily with the inclusion of what seems to be Fenrir and Jormungandr… Loki, the actual god of deceit, can’t be too far behind.
You aren’t going to get a 1:1 to the older Isometric view, but games like Darksiders really showed me that simply making a game third person doesn’t need to change the core feel. The screen still needs to be wall to wall enemies as you “hack and slash” your way through them. It doesn’t need the volume from the originals, due to the changed camera angle, but Kratos needs to be slashing through hordes.
A main stay of GoW is the epic scale of the battles. What is God of War if Kratos isn’t taking down gods, giants and titans in grand and grotesque ways? Norse or Greek, bosses have to be included, and ended, in a way that have your friends watching on the couch going, “DAAYYYUUM!!!!!!!”. Or at the very least, the kind that get you that sigh, head shake, and look from your wife as she tells your youngest that he needs to come upstairs.
I know so much is being made of Atreus, so much is being made of the third person camera angle, so much is being made of the Dad of War… but none of that means less of anything else I listed above. If they can nail what truly makes Kratos the God of War, then I am actually excited for anything else they can add to give the character depth and soul. And the fact that God of War Ascension was the worst selling God of War title since the PSP’s Ghost of Sparta, I hope we can all agree that even though this might not be the change we deserve, any change is what we need.
What are some ways God of War can convince you… or lose you? Comment and beat me up a bit. I’ll be around to chat.