Thursday, April 22, 2010

God of War Critique (part 3 of 6)

Here is the third installment of the God of War critique. In this part, I cover Kratos' trip through the Desert of Lost Souls.


After rescuing the oracle, Kratos is directed to the desert to find Pandora’s Temple, wherein lies the power to kill a god. He just has to navigate the vast desert and slay a bunch of Sirens to get there. This section is short and sweet, but gets caught on a couple snags.

Insert Bugs Bunny reference here.
The desert is another of the great externalizations of Kratos’ inner conflict. Deserts bear a number of representations ranging from negative to positive, but from the name of this particular one, I’d say it’s mostly the former. The desert is dry and unforgiving, a sandy screen obscuring the horizon and swallowing the remnants of a lost city. These dusty dunes show us loneliness, isolation, loss, misfortune, and hopelessness. All of which apply to Kratos, our darkly hero. I think, by this point, it goes without saying why. On another note, it was a nice touch, gameplay-wise, to have the player get lost in the sands. The player gets to experience all of these concepts first hand, while hoping to hear the call of the Sirens, whose song provides a guide.

The Sirens are popular mythological creatures. They are seductive man-eaters, typically half-woman and half bird, whose song can enchant and trap all those who decide to listen. Most of the time they are associated with the sea, as their song lures passing mariners into their rocky doom. However, in God of War they are monstrous and ghostly women that roam the desert.

Oh, hey boys! Why don't you come on over here?
In any case, they are also tied in with temptation, madness, and death. The idea that Kratos must fight the Sirens might suggest that they have no sway over him. At the very least, this level could be a trial for Kratos, to see if these notions would influence him. Temptation is overshadowed by his dedication to his quest. The player gets hints of this in all of the sex scenes, as well. This may sound crazy, as Kratos is possibly the manliest thing in existence, but every time Kratos is about to do the deed, he makes it out to be a trivial task. Women seem to pester him until he says, “Fuck it.” Then he does.

There’s also the link between the Sirens and death. In this section, Kratos may only pass if he is to find the Sirens and destroy them. The only way to find them is to listen for their song. In most other stories, doing this dooms a character. With Kratos, we don’t see any immediate consequences of him following the song. In the long run, though, this opens up the path to Pandora’s Temple, where Kratos does die.

            While the desert does boast some nice story elements, it falls short in a couple places. For one, there is no solid reason to explain why Kratos has to slay exactly three sirens. He ends up fighting loads more anyway. We know that it will open a door, but why are the sirens even there? Why do they, above all creatures, have to die so some door can open? How does killing these Sirens open the door? What makes this door so special? Athena commands that it be so, so I guess it is. Yep.

           Also, when Kratos gets to Pandora’s Temple, the player is shown that about a thousand other Greeks managed to get there, too. So why is the way to the Temple closed? Somebody must have completed this task before. If not, there must have been other ways to travel. The only explanation is that the gods decided to “reset” everything every time someone gets through.

All in all, it seems like the developers really wanted to have the Sirens see the spotlight somewhere in the game. The desert would be the most appropriate place, since the sea was already used, but some of this section seemed pretty hastily put together.     --

1 comment:

  1. Good article man, I've also wondered why there have been many to reach Pandora's Temple before Kratos, when it was all way WAY impossible for mere humans to reach, in my several runthroughs in this game, that was never explained.