Kratos is a video game character from Sony Santa Monica's God of War series, which is loosely based on Greek mythology. Kratos first appeared in the highly successful video game God of War (released in March 2005), which led to the development of five additional games (with a sixth currently in development) featuring the character as the protagonist. Kratos has been consistently voiced by Terrence C. Carson.
In the series, Kratos embarks on a series of often forced adventures in attempts to avert disaster or change his fate. He is usually portrayed as being oblivious to all else in the execution of these adventures, often engaging in morally ambiguous activities and performing acts of extreme violence. Each adventure forms part of a saga with vengeance as a central theme, and provides additional information on Kratos' origins (eventually revealed to be a demigod) and relationship with his family and the gods.
Kratos has received positive critical reception, being described by reviewers as a "sympathetic antihero". The character is also associated with other products, including artwork, clothing, a comics series, film, a novel, sweepstakes, toys and cell phone skins, with Game Guru claiming that "Practically anyone, even if they hadn't played any of the God of War games, would know about Kratos."
Concept and creation
During the creative process, game director David Jaffe attempted to create a character that looked "brutal", but still separated his appearance from what is considered to be the traditional Greek hero. Traditional armor was also removed from the character, in order to promote the character's "individualism". One of the early concepts was a fully masked character, but the idea was abandoned when such designs seemed "soulless", lacking a defined personality. Some models included unconventional elements, including an infant being carried on Kratos' back, while others were deemed to include excessive detail, such as hair and other "flowing things".
The double-chained blades were selected as Kratos' signature weapons as they emphasized the character's animalistic nature while still allowing combat to remain fluid. Jaffe commented on the final version of Kratos stating while "...he (Kratos) may not totally feel at home in Ancient Greece from a costume standpoint, I think he achieves the greater purpose which is to give players a character who they can play who really does just let them go nuts and unleash the nasty fantasies that they have in their head."
The most notable external feature is Kratos' ash-white complexion, a story development which earns him the title "Ghost of Sparta." Other features include a scar across the right eye, and a large red tattoo (originally blue but changed late in production) beginning at the left eye and ending at the left shoulder. The scar is eventually revealed to be a result of a childhood encounter with the Olympian god Ares, while the tattoo is a tribute to his deceased brother Deimos, who had similar birth markings (God of War: Ghost of Sparta). Other changes that occur during the course of the series include the temporary addition of divine armor as the God of War (modelled on Ares' own armor; God of War II), an abdominal scar (God of War II) and ability enhancing armor such as the Golden Fleece (an epaulet; God of War II) and the Boots of Hermes (God of War III). According to an early God of War script, the character has a height of 6'6 to 6'7.
Kratos' appearance can also be altered in bonus play, as completing a game at certain levels of difficulty unlocks bonus costumes. Several costumes were also available exclusively via pre-order and other promotions (e.g. God of War III, which features three costumes based on early sketches of the character), which became available via the PlayStation Store (two costumes have since been removed) Although many bonus costumes are consistent with story themes, others are blatantly humorous (e.g. the female Athena) or farcical (e.g. the "Spud of War"). A total of 26 different bonus costumes are currently available for use throughout the series (two of the 26 costumes are available in two games respectively).
In the God of War games
Throughout the series, Kratos is portrayed as an anti-hero, often performing questionable actions. An oracle foretold that the demise of Olympus would not happen at the hands of the Titans - imprisoned after the Great War - but rather by a "marked warrior". The Olympians Zeus and Ares believed this warrior to be Deimos, the brother of Kratos, due to his strange birthmarks. Ares interrupts the childhood training of Kratos and Deimos in Sparta (with Athena watching) and kidnaps Deimos. Kratos attempts to stop Ares, but is swept aside and scarred (across his right eye) by the Olympian. Taken to Death's Domain, Deimos is imprisoned and tortured for many years by the god of death, Thanatos. Believing Deimos to be dead, Kratos marks himself with a red tattoo (identical to his brother's birthmark) to honor his sibling.
Kratos eventually becomes the youngest Captain of Sparta's army, but is revealed to have had a thirst for power. Faced with total defeat at the hands of a barbarian horde, Kratos called for aid to Olympian god Ares. Given the Blades of Chaos, Kratos destroys his enemies and blindly follows the God of War, killing hundreds in his name. After Ares tricks Kratos into murdering his wife Lysandra and daughter Calliope in a temple dedicated to Athena, the Spartan is shocked out of his bloodlust and renounces service to Ares. As the temple burns, a village oracle curses Kratos and condemns him to wear the "mark of his terrible deed", being the ashes of his family. The ashes turn Kratos' skin ash-white, earning him the title "Ghost of Sparta." Although Kratos then vows to serve the other gods in order to receive forgiveness and relief from the nightmares of his past deeds, he is openly defiant. Kratos is reluctant to aid the gods when Helios is kidnapped, and openly abandons them when the goddess Persephone offers him a chance to be reunited with his daughter. Kratos, however, is eventually forced to reverse his decision when Persephone uses the Titan Atlas in a bid to destroy the world and in turn Calliope. Knowing that while intervention will save Calliope it will keep them apart forever, a bitter Kratos kills Persephone, imprisons Atlas and frees Helios (Chains of Olympus).
When Kratos grows tired of his service and confronts patron Athena, the goddess advises that if Kratos will kill the rampaging Ares, the gods will forgive his sins. Kratos once again agrees out of selfish motives, and after finding and using Pandora's Box, is ultimately successful. Despite being free of Ares' influence (including the Blades of Chaos), Kratos is not relieved of the nightmares that haunt him: only forgiven. A dissatisfied and despairing Kratos attempts to commit suicide, but is saved by Athena, who guides Kratos to Olympus (giving him the Blades of Athena) where he becomes the new God of War (God of War).
Still haunted by the visions of his mortal past, Kratos - against the advice of Athena - embarks on a quest to find his mother, Callisto, in the city of Atlantis. Callisto attempts to reveal the identity of Kratos' father before being transformed against her will into a beast that Kratos is forced to kill. Before dying, Callisto advises Kratos to find his brother Deimos in Sparta. Kratos first frees the Titan Thera from imprisonment, which causes the destruction of Atlantis. In Sparta, Kratos learns of Deimos' location: the Domain of Death. Kratos finds and frees Deimos, who remains hostile towards his brother. After a skirmish between the siblings, the God of Death Thanatos attacks Deimos, but after being rescued by Kratos the pair join forces to battle their foe. Although Thanatos kills Deimos, the god is in turn killed by Kratos. Kratos then returns to Olympus, enraged at the gods (Ghost of Sparta).
Eventually shunned by the other gods and bored with life on Mt. Olympus, Kratos spends his time watching the Spartan army overrun Greece. After being falsely accused of committing murder and eventually killing Ceryx, the son of Hermes (Betrayal), Kratos joins the Spartan army in city of Rhodes, intent only on destruction. Zeus, however, weakens Kratos, and then tricks him into abandoning his godly powers into the Blade of Olympus (which Zeus uses to kill Kratos). Although Kratos overcomes all obstacles, he is stunned at Zeus' betrayal and swears revenge as he dies. As Kratos falls into the Underworld, he is rescued by the Titan Gaia. Banished to Tartarus with the other surviving Titans after the First Great War, Gaia and her brethren seek the death of Zeus. Kratos, fuelled by anger at the betrayal, agrees to aid the Titans and is instructed to find the Sisters of Fate, with their power being capable of returning him to the moment of Zeus' treachery. Kratos becomes both determined and utterly ruthless—in the pursuit of his goal he wounds a Titan, kills several Greek heroes without hesitation and deliberately sacrifices two scholars. All three of the Sisters of Fate are killed when they oppose Kratos, and in a final confrontation with Zeus, he is prepared to execute the King of the Gods. Zeus is only saved when Athena intervenes and sacrifices herself for him, with Kratos only then showing some remorse. Learning from a dying Athena that Zeus is in fact his father, and that Zeus wishes to avoid a repetition of what he himself did to his own father, Cronos. Kratos rejects any notion of a relationship and vows to both kill Zeus and destroy Olympus. Encouraged by Gaia, Kratos uses the power of the Fates to retrieve the Titans prior to their defeat in the Great War, and with their aid, storms Mt. Olympus (God of War II).
Although Kratos kills Poseidon, he is abandoned by Gaia when an initial encounter with Zeus goes poorly. Stranded in the underworld and now betrayed by both the Olympians and Titans, Kratos learns from the spirit of Athena (who also provides the Blades of Exile) he will need to find the Flame of Olympus: the key to Zeus' defeat. Kratos murders both Titans and gods alike, ignoring the warnings of his victims as he seeks the Flame. Realizing the key to pacifying the Flame and reaching what is discovered to be Pandora's Box is in fact Pandora herself, Kratos comes to care for the girl, who reminds him of his lost daughter Calliope. Kratos shows humanity when he attempts to stop Pandora from sacrificing herself to quench the Flame, but reluctantly allows the act when Pandora states there is no other option. Finding the Box empty, and driven berserk by Zeus' mockery, Kratos attacks his father. Although Gaia intervenes and attempts to kill both Kratos and Zeus, she is destroyed by Kratos, who then apparently defeats Zeus. Zeus, however, returns and attacks Kratos in spirit form. Kratos, now retreated into his psyche, comes to forgive himself for his past sins with the help of Lysandra. Pandora later appears and tells Kratos that hope will ultimately save him. A now whole Kratos is revived and easily destroys Zeus. Athena confronts Kratos and demands that Kratos return what she placed in Pandora's Box: hope. In a selfless act, Kratos refuses and impales himself with the Blade of Olympus, which disperses the power across the world for mankind's use. Athena departs as Kratos states that his need for vengeance is at an end. Kratos' ultimate fate remains unknown (God of War III).
In other media
Kratos has been featured as a playable character in PlayStation games outside the God of War series: Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds (complete with "Club of Chaos"), LittleBigPlanet (also included monsters the Medusa and Minotaur and level sticker kit), Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny (with own stage) ModNation Racers (complete with "Kart of Chaos"), and the PS3 and PSVita versions of Mortal Kombat (including own stage with three "stage fatalities"). Kratos will also appear as a playable character in the upcoming crossover fighting game, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. The character's image also appeared in The Simpsons Game in a God of War parody (Kratos appears on a billboard as the "God of Wharf", advertising a chowder restaurant).
A film adaptation of the original God of War was announced in 2005. Creator David Jaffe confirmed that a completed script had been written by David Self and would be sent to an unspecified "huge-name director". Jaffe also confirmed that Universal Studios is behind the making of the God of War movie but was unaware of its current status, and eventually stated that "it's doubtful that the film will even be made." In 2010, Jaffe stated that the "script went out a year and a half ago to Daniel Craig who plays Bond, but he turned it down." He also advised that another actor had since been signed to the role.
A novelization of the first game was written by Matthew Stover and Robert E. Vardeman was released on May 25, 2010 by Del Ray Books.
A six issue comic book series written by Marv Wolfman with art by Andrea Sorrentino was released by Wildstorm from March 2010 to January 2011 on a bi-monthly schedule with a collected edition released in March 2011. The story takes place shortly after the events of God of War (and prior to Ghost of Sparta) with Kratos seeking to destroy the Ambrosia of Asclepius (an elixir with legendary healing properties), which he once used to save his dying daughter and the King of Sparta.
PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale
THE MORTAL BENT ON THE GODS' DESTRUCTION
Once the leader of the mighty Spartan army, Kratos has wrenched his fate free from the gods who used him as their servant, swearing to see their reign ended. Known for a brutal approach to combat, he will let nothing stand between him and his quest to find and destroy whomever has gathered the combatants in Battle Royale.
Kratos is an all-around fighter and is said to be a good fighter for beginners at the game.
- Level 1 - Kratos arms himself with the Blade of Olympus and mows down any fighter within close proximity
- Level 2 - Kratos uses magic to envelop himself in a tornado. The tornado extends upwards and damages anyone near or over Kratos
- Level 3 - Kratos grows to giant size and dons the Armor of Ares, completely changing his moveset
Introduction and ending animations
- "Prepare to die!"
Turns toward the screen and takes out the Blades of Chaos.
- Begins punching the camera repeatedly.
- Angrily turns his back to the screen.
Two series of action figures based on God of War II have been produced by NECA. The first set included two versions of Kratos (the first being Kratos wielding the Blades of Athena and the second being Kratos wearing the Golden Fleece and holding a gorgon's head). A twelve-inch variation of the second figure that plays six pre-recorded game quotes was included in this release. A second two-figure set was also released, with Kratos wearing Ares' God of War armour. Kratos has also been featured in a line of action figures released by DC Unlimited based on God of War III.
On January 29, 2010, it was announced that from February 1, 2010 until March 31, 2010, 7-Eleven was selling a limited edition Slurpee drink called "Kratos Fury" (a blend of blackberries and frosty lime flavors) available in one of four exclusive God of War III Slurpee cups. The cups also featured codes that could also be used on the Slurpee website for exclusive God of War III and Slurpee themed downloadable content.