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Kratos (God of War)

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Kratos GOW

Kratos sitting on his Olympian throne

Kratos is the fictional protagonist of the God of War series. The character first appeared in God of War, released in 2005. In the game, Kratos is on a quest for revenge, a theme continued throughout the God of War series. The series has become a flagship title for the PlayStation brand, appearing on both the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable, with a PlayStation 3 game in development. God of War: Betrayal is the first game in the series released for another platform, being the first and only mobile game in the series.

The character went through many stages of development, with his final design being chosen due to his "Greek" and "brutal" characteristics. Kratos uses a distinctive main weapon in all of the God of War games.known as The blades of chaos or the blades of athena in god of war 2, a pair of swords attached by chains to Kratos' arms, were chosen to show an "animalistic" nature while allowing a fluid combat animation. The character has received a mostly positive critical reception, being described by reviewers as a "sympathetic antihero", while his gameplay was perceived as "a nightmare to his enemies, but a dream to control".[1] His role in the first game's plot received a similar reaction, particularly his "tragic fall and brutal ascension to the peaks of Mount Olympus".[2] National Entertainment Collectibles Association has produced a series of action figures featuring Kratos' appearance in God of War II.

Concept and creationEdit

Kratos GOW Concept

Early concept art, depicting unused variations of Kratos.

The main idea when creating Kratos was to design someone that looked "brutal", while separating its appearance from what is considered the traditional Greek hero.[3] The character's look was supposed to feel violent and impulsive.[3] One of the early concepts was to have a fully masked character, but the idea was abandoned when such designs seemed "soulless", lacking a defined personality.[4] During the creative process, game director David Jaffe focused on the "brutal" factor; this led to the team focusing on the character's primal aspect. At a point all traditional armor was removed from the character, in order to conserve his "individualism".[5] Numerous designs were drawn, ranging from one resembling a member of a African tribe to several using traditional Greek armors. Various changes were done to these drawings in order to make the character seem as "Greek" as possible.[5] Some of the models included unconventional elements, including an infant being carried on Kratos' back.[6] Others were deemed to include excessive detail, these included hair and other "flowing things" which were discarded after they were considered a bigger effort when creating the virtual models.[6] The chain blades were selected as Kratos' signature weapons because the team considered that they emphasized the character's animalistic nature while at the same time making his combat more fluid.[7]



Throughout the series, Kratos acts as an anti-hero,[8] often making immoral decisions to further his goal; sacrificing unprotected humans for example. Prior to the start of the series, he served as the captain of Sparta's army and was only interested in increasing his power by conquering his opponents.[9] His personality changes when he becomes a servant to Ares, after which he faithfully followed the god's orders.[9] After he stopped serving Ares, Kratos continues to serve the gods in order to receive forgiveness, but shows a defiant stance against them. Once contacted by the gods of Olympus, Kratos shows disregard for their plight, only following their orders for personal benefit.[9] In the first game, Kratos' main motive is revenge. He is ordered to assassinate Ares and agrees to do so to achieve absolution from his past crimes.[10]

Outward appearanceEdit

Throughout most of the series Kratos' skin is seen completely lacking pigmentation, only showing his original skin color in flashbacks. The reason for this is made evident when the player is shown a scene, where a village oracle placed a curse on Kratos, which fastened the ashes of his murdered daughter and wife to his skin.[11] The character does not use a significant amount of clothes, usually seen only wearing a loincloth, sandals and gauntlets. Some exceptions include the early stages of God of War II where he is seen wearing armor reminiscent to the one used by Ares in the first game and cutscenes detailing his past, where he wears a different set of armor. Some of his distinctive features include large red tattoos, which cover half of his body and head, and the chain blades, which are attached to his wrists in all of the series' installments. Kratos' face exhibits a scar crossing over his right eye and a goatee. In God of War II, he exhibits a new scar which is on his abdomen made by Zeus.

Role in the God of War seriesEdit

God of WarEdit

Main article: God of War (video game) Prior to the events in the game, Kratos was the youngest and most promising captain in Sparta's army, quickly gaining recognition due to his violent tactics. During an attack by a barbarian tribe, they were outnumbered. Before being killed by the barbarian king, Kratos summoned Ares, the Greek god of war, and offered his soul in exchange for a victory.[12] He continued to serve Ares until the god tricked him into killing his own family, after which he served several of the Greek gods for a decade. After becoming tired of serving the gods to erase the memories of his family's murder, he contacted Athena, who offered him forgiveness if he was able to stop Ares' destruction of Athens. After defeating several monsters which were attacking citizens, Kratos saves the city's oracle who tells him to retrieve Pandora's box in order to defeat Ares.[13] Kratos succeeds in this task, but is killed by Ares and sent to Hades. After escaping from the underworld he returns to Athens and confronts Ares, regaining control of Pandora's box and using its power to kill the god. When he discovers that the gods' forgiveness does not include allowing him to forget his mistakes, he attempts suicide, but is stopped by Athena who informs him that he has been granted Ares' throne on Mount Olympus.[14]

God of War IIEdit

Main article: God of War II God of War II begins with Kratos performing his office as the new god of war. He however had chosen to avoid the other gods, instead using his powers to aid the Spartans in battle.[15] This angered several of the other Olympians, but after receiving an ultimatum, Kratos ignored it and decided to destroy the city of Rhodes, where the Spartan army was fighting. Upon descending to the city, Zeus brings the Colossus of Rhodes to life and tricks Kratos into transferring all of his godly strength into the Blade of Olympus, the sword used to defeat the Titans in the Titanomachy. Zeus then gains control of the sword and stabs him with it, declaring to Kratos "you will never be the ruler of Olympus".[16] After this, Gaia aids Kratos in escaping from Hades and tells him to find the Fates in order to change his destiny. He travels to the island of the Fates, where he retrieves the Golden Fleece and the power of some of the surviving Titans. Kratos eventually reaches the temple of the Fates with the help of Atlas and confronts them. The Fates decline to help him, citing that his destiny was already determined.[17] Seeing that the Fates were not going to help him, Kratos fights and kills them. He then rewinds the thread that controlled his life and returns to the moment when Zeus betrayed him, regaining control of the Blade of Olympus. Both engage in battle, Zeus becomes badly injured, but Athena intervenes before Kratos can kill him, resulting in her getting mortally wounded. Before dying, Athena reveals to Kratos that he is Zeus' son.[18] The game ends with Kratos rewinding the thread a second time and returning to the moment of the Titanomachy, where he convinces the Titans to accompany him back to his time and engage in battle against the Olympians.[19]

God of War: BetrayalEdit

Main article: God of War: Betrayal The plot of God of War: Betrayal covers the timeframe between the first and second installments. The game begins explaining that Kratos had been employing his power to help Sparta during the beginning of his reign as god of war; in this instance he was leading the Spartan army in an invasion of an unnamed city.[20] Shortly after entering the city, the soldiers encounter Argos, a giant beast that was Hera's servant. Kratos traps the monster in a sewer, where an unidentified assassin kills it. The Spartans celebrate the victory, however Kratos realizes that he was being framed to infuriate the other Olympians and quickly chases after the culprit.[21][22] During the pursuit, several undead soldiers attack Kratos, who suspects that Hades is behind the conspiracy.[23] Meanwhile, the assassin continues fleeing, killing several Spartans in the process. Angered at the amount of destruction that the chase is leaving through its path, Zeus orders Ceryx to serve as his messenger and stop the violence. Ceryx confronts Kratos, but the god of war refuses to cease and engages the messenger in battle. Taking advantage of the situation, the assassin escapes. Kratos kills Ceryx and the Spartan soldiers celebrate, but he realizes that Zeus would eventually take action for this act of defiance.[24]

God of War: Chains of OlympusEdit

Main article: God of War: Chains of Olympus

God of War: Chains of Olympus serves as a prequel to God of War, the events in it take place ten years before the timeline of the first game. It starts in Attica, where Kratos was sent by the gods to defend the city from the Persian army.[25] After the battle Kratos observes when the sun falls from heaven and crashes into the city of Marathon. Kratos makes his way to the crash site and discovers both the Sun Chariot and Temple of Helios. Near the temple's entrance he encounters a statue of Athena who tells him that Helios has disappeared and Morpheus has used his absence to make the gods fall "into a deep slumber."[26] Athena wants Kratos to retrieve Helios so he can release Morpheus' grasp on the other gods. Inside the temple, Eos uses a statue to communicate with Kratos and tells him that the Titan Atlas has kidnapped her brother Helios.[27] After awakening the fire steeds, the horses lead Kratos into Hades, the underworld. He faces off against Charon, but is left unconscious and is thrown into Tartarus. Kratos is eventually able to climb back out of Tartarus and finally defeats Charon.[28] He takes the boat and follows the sunlight of Helios down the river Styx, eventually coming upon a temple, where he meets Persephone. She convinces him to "release" all of his evils by surrendering all of the powers and weapons he possessed in order to reunite with his daughter, Calliope in the Fields of Elysium.[29] Once there, Persephone reveals that she released Atlas in order to destroy Olympus and kill everyone to recover her "liberty", expressing anger at being betrayed by Zeus and being tricked by Hades.[30] Realizing this would kill his daughter Kratos decides to sacrifice his humanity in order to recover the powers he lost. Kratos has a final battle against Persephone atop the pillar that holds the world. After chaining Atlas to the pillar, Kratos is able to defeat and kill Persephone.[31] Helios returns to the sky but Kratos, weak from battle, falls back towards Earth. While unconscious, Athena and an unidentified god show satisfaction towards his work and remove two Olympian items before leaving him alive on top of a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea.

Cultural impactEdit

Critical receptionEdit

God of Wharf

"God of Wharf"

Upon God of War's release, Kratos received a mostly positive reception. GameSpot felt the storytelling's method did not allow the player to understand the character in the early stages of the game, but would allow full understanding of him when the game was concluded.[32] The character was reviewed as a "sympathetic antihero" and a "badass", and he has been described as "endearing" due to his unforgiving demeanor.[32] IGN similarly noted he was "ruthless", "merciless" and "savage", noting the character's main motive is vengeance and "he doesn't care for the plight of the Olympians. Kratos doesn't want to save anyone, let alone himself. All he desires is murder. Kratos wants to destroy the god of war for the joy that would come from ripping his heart out."[33] However, the publication felt that in time the player would begin to "love and loathe Kratos and hate Ares."[33] The character's story was also well received, to the point that GamePro directly stated it was "Kratos' tragic fall and brutal ascension to the peaks of Mount Olympus that made the original God of War so memorable."[2]

When reviewing God of War II, GameSpy noted that Kratos' role as a god was "far more ruthless than Ares ever was" eventually being "stripped of his godhood for being a little too hands-on with the people of planet Earth."[34][1] His gameplay was described as "a nightmare to his enemies, but a dream to control", aspects outside of combat, such as the addition of a gliding ability provided by the use of the Wings of Icarus were positively reviewed.[1] Kratos appears as a playable character in the PlayStation 3 title Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds.[35] Prince of Persia's producer, Ben Mattes, explained in an interview that he considers God of War's Kratos "a supercool character, but it's black and white; his personality is pure rage, his dialogue is pure rage, his character design is pure rage--it's kind of easy. With Prince of Persia we tried to create more nuanced, layered characters."[36] The character has been referenced in two other video games, the first of these was in Heavenly Sword, where his Olympian armor and chain blades are displayed as part of King Bohan's arsenal, Kratos himself appeared in a parody of God of War titled "God of Wharf" in The Simpsons Game, where he appears in a billboard advertising a chowder restaurant.[37]


Kratos has been featured in two series of action figures based on God of War II, and released by National Entertainment Collectibles Association. The first included two figures; one illustrated Kratos' most common appearance while attacking with the blades of chaos and the other included the Golden Fleece and Medusa's head as accessories.[38] A twelve-inch variation of the second figure which plays six pre-recorded game quotes was included in this release. A second two-figure set featuring Kratos wearing Ares' armor was released later, the main difference between these two versions is that they feature variations on Kratos' facial expression.[39][40] Fans have created their own custom Kratos action figures.[41][42] To promote LittleBigPlanet, Sony included a special in-game character model based on Kratos as part of preorder packages at selected retailers.[43]

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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