36. Being Betrayed By Zeus In God of War II
Rocking some badass armour, insanely powerful abilities and more, Kratos begins God of War II on a high note. That is until Zeus betrays the bald-headed lug and sends him hurtling into Hades.
Why it’s great
Because it’s so unexpected. Most sequels have the protagonist returning with all of his or her powers from the first game, only to strip them away right at the start. The same thing happened here, but not right at the very beginning.
This delayed stripping of power almost makes you think Kratos will stay powerful, which makes Zeus’s betrayal all the more surprising. The Hades escape is also impressive, as is the battle against the Colossus of Rhodes.
What the developer says
Steve Caterson, senior producer, Santa Monica Studio
We caught up with Santa Monica Studio’s senior producer Steve Caterson to find out how the scene came about.
“The moment when Zeus betrays Kratos is a very pivotal moment in the God of War II story line and in the God of War series. A lot of important information is revealed about Kratos, the Gods, and the universe they inhabit.”
“From the very beginning, the game director for God of War II, Cory Barlog, wanted to lead up to that moment with a number of surprises and misdirection for the player. Our first misdirection was that Athena was the god that had brought the Colossus to life and attacked Kratos.”
“We tried to do this by having her confront Kratos at the very beginning of the game, trying to stop him from attacking Rhodes, and even going so far as to threaten grave consequences if he goes through with his actions.”
“We further enhanced that suspicion by having Kratos himself accuse her of attacking him, as a mysterious eagle drains his powers and reduces him to the size of a mortal.”
“As the Colossus attacked, we had our second opportunity at misdirection. We had, Zeus the king of the gods offering to help Kratos help in his battle by sending him the ultimate weapon – the Blade of Olympus. So, the mysterious eagle can’t possibly be Zeus, because why would the god trying to kill Kratos also be trying to help him?”
“All of these red herrings were intended to mislead the player, so when they finally saw the eagle materialize into Zeus, it was not only unexpected, but clearly revealed there was more going on than meets the eye.”
“From the gameplay side, Kratos ended God of War and started God of War II as a god. So, we wanted the player to start God of War II wielding the powers of a god and feeling like a god, but not forever. We realized early on, that we couldn’t maintain that level of power for the player and have enough room to continue to expand on his abilities.”
They say that when you die, textures around you become really blurry.
“We had an additional game’s worth of moves, weapons and abilities we wanted to add on, so we needed to find a clever way to reduce Kratos’ powers and cut him down to size.”
“This way, the player will have gotten a taste of what god like powers are like and have an incentive to build Kratos back up as they play through the rest of the game.”
“The gift from Zeus – the Blade of Olympus – became the obvious choice. The king of the gods tricks Kratos and the player into pouring all of their powers into the blade to defeat the Colossus. Zeus then later swoops in taking both the sword and Kratos’ power, leaving the Ghost of Sparta a mere mortal.”
“After this it was important for us to really emphasize how much power Kratos had lost when the blade was taken from him. To do this, we severely limited the moves the player could have Kratos do.”
“And for the moves he was able to execute, we created a whole new animation set. These animations showed Kratos staggering and stumbling around, lashing out wildly as the player tried to attack Zeus.”
“We even went so far as to attempt to convey to the player the frustration Kratos was feeling. We made the controls the player was using sluggish and unresponsive, and at the end of the sequence, we even created an un-winnable mini-game when Kratos struggles against Zeus to show how hopeless the situation is.”
“Additionally, this whole sequence provided us with a lot of opportunities to show Kratos’ growing disillusionment and resentment towards the gods. At every turn, through both action and word we see Kratos disrespecting Mount Olympus and those who dwell there.”
“One interesting fact about this sequence was the moment when the player discovers of the narrator’s identity. Up until this point in the God of War franchise, the narrator was just a voice, telling the story of Kratos. Throughout God of War, we had made no reference to who or what this person was.”
“To my knowledge this was not intentional, it was simple because we never felt it necessary to decide on one. So, the decision in God of War II to finally give the narrator an identity – Gaia, a titan that played a pivotal role in not only in real Greek mythology, but in the mythology of Kratos’ world was huge for us.”
“I remember a lot of debate and back and forth on the issue, but at the end of the day, the decision seemed a natural “fit” and given the story direction and the needs of the game we quickly realized that it was an obvious choice to have titan be the teller of Kratos’ story.”