Tuesday, May 4, 2010

God of War Critique (part 5 of 6)

Hello, again! Apologies for the lengthy wait. I have been somewhat busy and have also come down with a bug; procrastiniciatus! Here is the fifth part of the critique. Also, as a bonus, I'll be posting the sixth and final part immediately after.


Note: Does not contain power to kill a god. Supplies limited.
Kratos bests the trials of the Temple and finally retrieves Pandora’s Box. As he drags it toward the entrance, the camera flies a great distance to Athens, where we see Ares still wrecking the city. Suddenly he straightens his spine in surprise. In his realization of Kratos’ success (I guess a little harpy told him), he tears a pillar from the ground and launches it across the expanse. As Kratos is pushing the Box, he is suddenly impaled by the pillar. As he bleeds out, he sees harpies carry the box away for Ares. Kratos falls toward the depths of Hades. Before he meets his doom he latches onto a man hanging from a ledge. This particular man happens to be the ship captain from the Aegean Sea. Kratos climbs up the man’s back with his blades and gets to safety, screwing over the Captain once more. Kratos must then climb his way out of the halls of death.

Falling into Hades is a noteworthy dilemma. On one hand, having Kratos die and fight through Hades is really cool. It adds to the mythological collective that is God of War without seeming too ridiculous, and generally makes Kratos that much more badass. On the other hand, it really is a situation born of convenience. What would you rather do, mine dear reader? Drag a huge and weighty box through the vast and unforgiving desert only to fight a god right after, or die? Kratos ends up opening the Box right next to his target, anyway.

This section gives little in way of story, and is truly meant to test the skills developed by the player. Overall, it is tedious, frustrating, and generally hellish (ha, ha). Upon muscling his way through, Kratos finds a lone rope dangling from above.

The Gravedigger: Zeus when not a raping Swan
At the top of the rope stands the Gravedigger, whom Kratos met during his time in Athens. The Gravedigger foreshadowed Kratos’ fall in the Temple, and has since dug the grave from which Kratos would return. What is truly interesting is that the Gravedigger implies that he is a god who wishes to aid Kratos. Although there is little evidence, it has been confirmed that he is, in fact, Zeus. This is fine, but in terms of pacing, it seems odd to introduce the Gravedigger minutes after meeting Zeus, earlier in the game. Also, the idea that another god helped lift Kratos from his demise may suggest that he was undeserving of death, and that he is pure in his quest this time around.

When the Gravedigger vanishes, Kratos continues toward the end of his quest. He finds Ares boasting, with Pandora’s Box dangling from his fist (convenient). Kratos nabs the Box and releases its power, growing to enormous size to match Ares/Godzilla. On a side note, it is interesting that Kratos uses Zeus’ gift, a lightning bolt, to acquire the Box. This may suggest that even Ares’ father (at least in God of War) had abandoned him, and that he was meant to be destroyed. 

"Induction then destruction, who wants to die? Aaaaah!"
Before their fight, Kratos states that he is not the monster that Ares found the day he fell to the barbarians. This line sets the significance of the fight’s events in stone. This is the culmination of Kratos' arc, where he shows his change in character. Their godly clash is pretty straightforward until Ares sends Kratos into a twisted manifestation of his past. Kratos stands in the village hut where he murdered his family, the phantasms of his wife and child standing before him. Kratos is forced to defend the specters as hordes of himself come crashing in to kill them. Here, Kratos truly works for his forgiveness, finally confronting his past. All of Kratos’ work culminates in this moment. Also, it's worthy to note that the Kratos doppelgangers are much more bestial and fevered than we find Kratos, as players.

Finally, Ares tears the Blades of Chaos from Kratos’ flesh and cuts down the family. Kratos is forced to relive his worst moment. This is the most emotionally charged scene in the game, and it really helps the player sympathize with poor ole’ Kratos. In his following conversation with Ares, Kratos sounds the closest to crying he has ever come.

Kratos returns to the battlefield before Ares, broken in spirit. This may suggest that he can never truly forgive himself. As Ares prepares to deliver the murder stroke, Kratos dodges and takes up the Blade of the Gods: a monstrously huge blade, seemingly used as a decorative bridge until this point. I must note that, in comparison to his former go-to weapons, the Blades of Chaos, this new sword is simple and sane in design. Because it appears at the end of the game, where Kratos' arc comes to a close, this might mean that Kratos is taking steps away from madness.

Womenfolk; always gettin' in the way of man business.
Likewise, Kratos’ dialogue during these scenes is very important. He is never truly consumed with rage, and shows his level-headed side. As he takes the Blade of the Gods to Ares, he sounds calm and collected. It sounds as if he believes killing Ares is something he must do, rather than something he wants to do. He has to show Ares that helping Kratos and destroying Athens were mistakes. Just as well, this act is how Kratos finds absolution. Solemnly, he has accepted his own mistakes. But Ares hasn't. For Ares, Kratos is delivering retribution instead of revenge. This is reinforced when Ares begs for his life. Ares states that all he wanted to do was create the perfect warrior. Calmly, Kratos says, “You succeeded.” With these final words, Kratos impales Ares. 

Shouldn't have eaten those tacos, Ares.
This scene may suggest that Ares’ destruction was a consequence of his misdeeds. At the very least, it seems that Kratos has grown in character since the beginning of the game. It is also interesting to note that Kratos and Ares are fighting in the Aegean Sea, where the game begins. Remember how I said that the sea was a projection of all that bad stuff going on within Kratos? The fact that the two are fighting in the sea like it’s a puddle suggests that Kratos has overcome his troubles. Also, the sea can represent the cycle of life and death, birth and return, which are all relevant to Kratos' arc. 

Then, in Ares’ dying moment, he explodes like an H-Bomb, because...why not?     --


  1. Diese ist gut meine donnergott!

    Ed McGuire:

    Ein few points.

    Ist Zeus das Vater of Ares? Ich think er ist ein big-brother, und Chronos ist their father.

    Also, "Worst moment," bitte? Why not "worst memory?"



  2. In the God of War universe Zeus is indeed the father of Ares.