Pre­pare for a Spar­tan smack­down, as PlayS­ta­tion gets its most mur­der­ous mas­cot

PlayStation Official Magazine (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Kratos is a hor­ri­ble, hor­ri­ble per­son. All right, tech­ni­cally he’s some­where be­tween ‘per­son’ and ‘in­de­struc­tible, fallen de­ity’. Re­gard­less of his level of mor­tal­ity, the Ghost Of Sparta is one of the most un­pleas­ant videogame char­ac­ters ever cre­ated. Con­versely, his games form one of the most en­dur­ing, cel­e­brated se­ries in PlayS­ta­tion his­tory. Go fig­ure. Be un­der no il­lu­sion: Kratos doesn’t make God Of War, the bru­tally bal­letic ac­tion-ad­ven­ture makes him. David Jaffe isn’t just the swea­ri­est de­vel­oper ever, at one time he was also a hugely canny game direc­tor, some­thing he ably shows in this sem­i­nal An­cient Greek re­venge quest. The orig­i­nal GOW is a supremely pol­ished hack ‘n’ slasher – it whipped up tech­ni­cal miracles on PlayS­ta­tion long be­fore Nathan Drake’s glo­ri­ously ren­dered cheek­bones ever knocked you sense­less. Even 12 years on, it re­mains one of the most wryly paced, el­e­gant blood­baths you’ll ever play.

Shortly af­ter God Of War launched in the spring of 2005, Jaffe spoke to Eurogamer about his in­spi­ra­tions, and in do­ing so, heaped much of the credit for the game on a mighty Aus­trian Oak. “Things have be­come so po­lit­i­cally cor­rect that I was re­ally jazzed about do­ing what was more a


throw­back to that more an­i­mal­is­tic, kind of bru­tal Co­nan The Bar­bar­ian kind of vibe,” he told the web­site. Yet Arnie isn’t the main cin­e­matic in­flu­ence on Kratos’ fran­chise. That hon­our be­longs to the late spe­cial ef­fects ge­nius, Ray Har­ry­hausen.

Jaffe and his team at the then-Sony Santa Mon­ica (now SCE Santa Mon­ica Stu­dio) tapped into the same child­like won­der the stop-mo­tion mae­stro’s best pic­tures rev­elled in. To wit­ness Kratos cut down the Hy­dra as the un­tamed wa­ters of the Aegean Sea threaten to tear the so­cio­pathic slap­head’s ship apart is to bask in the sort of elec­tri­fy­ing spec­ta­cle that lit up the screen when Harry Ham­lin’s Perseus took the head of Har­ry­hausen’s great­est cre­ation, the be­witch­ing, in­cred­i­bly an­i­mated Me­dusa. Jaffe ini­tially said GOW was in­spired by Devil May Cry’s com­bat and Ico’s puz­zles, but it owes its sense of theatre to the Hol­ly­wood artist’s time­less clay cre­ations.


Whether you’re hitch­ing a ride on the back of the colos­sal Ti­tan Cronos (who, weirdly, turns out to be Kratos’ grandad) or bat­tling a mech Mino­taur in the pits of Pan­dora’s Tem­ple, one thing glues all these set-pieces to­gether: truly ter­rific com­bat. Though it of­ten gets taken for granted, GOW’s fight­ing sys­tem de­serves to be cel­e­brated for merg­ing mass-mar­ket ac­ces­si­bil­ity with ex­quis­ite craft.

While Kratos’ com­bat never matches Dante’s sword­play for pure pre­ci­sion, Cap­com’s de­mon slayer never spawned a move quite as iconic as Big K’s Plume Of Prometheus. With a sim­ple three-but­ton combo ( r,r, w), Kratos could seam­lessly throw any foe off their game with a swift one-two prod from his Blades Of Chaos, fol­lowed by a dev­as­tat­ing two-armed strike. Be it dis­ori­en­tat­ing a cy­clops or show­ing a Cer­berus he’s a very bad (very dead) boy, Kratos’ sim­ple moveset blends co-or­di­na­tion and car­nage into a beau­ti­fully bar­baric, some­how el­e­gant pack­age.

Later games would outdo the orig­i­nal, both in puz­zle com­plex­ity and boss size, but none of its se­quels were quite as im­por­tant. Along­side GTA, this is ar­guably the most in­flu­en­tial Western (pre-Un­charted) fran­chise to hit PlayS­ta­tion. In an era dom­i­nated by Ja­panese icons like Final Fan­tasy and Gran Turismo, GOW showed US and UK de­vel­op­ers could still de­fine con­sole cool. Gory, grip­ping, and grotesquely sat­is­fy­ing, God Of War is es­sen­tially Clash Of The Ti­tans: The Game. Mr Har­ry­hausen would be proud.


A throne room dec­o­rated with skins and stat­ues of Kratos’ foes. How cosy!

All the en­e­mies are straight out of Greek myth, a real mix of gods and mon­sters.

The big­ger they are, the harder they fall. So best to be on top of the re­ally big ones.

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