At the time I wasn't sure how they were going to get a sequel out of it. The story reached its natural end - Kratos slew Ares, taking vengeance for his family (although, weirdly, he only did it because Athena told him to). Then he became the new God of War. There's even a monologue at the end that sounds for all the world like a wrap-up ("From that day forth, whenever man acted like a dick to man, Kratos was there to balooby booby bah" etc). And yet, the words "KRATOS WILL RETURN" appeared after the end credits, bold as brass. To do what? Avenge his family some more?
So God of War 2 came out, and here's what they went with: Kratos is being a dick, so Zeus gives him a time out, so Kratos decides to move in a general direction towards Zeus' house and murder everything on the way. The whole "seeking redemption" excuse is lost because Kratos already got all the redemption he needed, and any closure or character growth Kratos might have had for seeing his family's murderer brought to justice (the indirect one, that is) is canceled out by the need to maintain the status quo. So now Kratos is a murdering dick simply because that's what he is.
This is why he's like Batman. You see, Batman is not a character anymore. He is an event. A plot device. When he's around, you know that something is going to get fixed by punching it a lot. Batman set out on his road after his parents were (spoiler alert) shot, but he's been going at it so long now that it has long since ceased to hold up as an explanation. The simple fact is that Batman will never stop running around on rooftops in his romper suit because that's all he is. He will never develop as a character because his only purpose is to be a vehicle for seeing various flavors of bad guy get punched.
And that's what Kratos has become. A parody. A cartoonified version of his former self. His actions are no longer rooted in any actual motivation, but the simple reason that he's that wacky guy who enacts violence upon everything that slightly deserves it. There's still a mention of the family thing in GoWs 2 and 3 every now and again but they seem awfully token, like when Batman occasionally flashes back to two well-dressed cadavers in an alleyway to remind himself to stay miserable all the time.
And I object to this because the character ceases to be interesting. As I said in the Arkham Asylum review, Batman is the least interesting part of anything he's in. You know damn well he's not going to do anything weird like get tempted to the dark side or fall in love with a goose, he's so unerringly righteous and predictable he makes me want to spit. And similarly, ever since God of War 2, you know that if Kratos ever leaves a room with anything left alive inside it's only because he's coming back later once he's found something sufficiently big and spiky to shove up its bum.
Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games and writes the back page column for PC Gamer, who are too important to mention us. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.