God of War is a series very near and dear to my heart. Many have criticized it for being too violent, too shallow, and unrelatable. While this may true for some I have learned the need for anger and how to properly deal with this emotion from the mistakes of Kratos. With God of War for PS4 coming out in the next few days, we are teased with a more calm and level headed Kratos. While I’m excited to explore this new side of a character I love I think we need to take a look back and find out how our hero got to this point by recapping the series and ranking them from the worst to best. So like Kratos let’s attack this list head first.
**Spoilers to the God of War series follows**
6. God of War: Ascension
GoW: Ascension is the most recent release and also the furthest part of the story from the present. Released March 12, 2013 on PlayStation 3, the game was received with mixed praise from fans. While being the best looking God of War yet, and having the most fluid combat, it was still met with disappointment from the addition of an interesting but forgettable multiplayer mode. The story of Ascension focused on how Kratos was able to break his blood oath to Aries and became a servant to all of the Gods of Olympus. While this story was a hole that needed to be filled, it didn’t seem grand enough for a full console release. The PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3 seemed to be the home of the full numbered titles while the PlayStation Portable was reserved for the, just as important, but less grand adventures. With the Vita releasing later that year God of War: Ascension seemed to fit much better on this handheld. However with the inclusion of multiplayer they had no choice but to release it on PS3. With its forced multiplayer mode and its less important story this was the God of War I was the most disappointed with.
5. God of War
March 22, 2005 the original God of War took the gaming community by storm. Launching on PlayStation 2 it became an instant hit. David Jaffe, the creator of Twisted Metal, brought the next evolution to the hack’n slasher genre. Prior to God of War, Devil May Cry was the benchmark for these types of games, but that would quickly change. God of War introduced us to a dark, bloody, and violent world of Greek Mythology in a way we have never seen before. Instead of using an existing story from Plato or Odysseus, Jaffe took the liberty to craft his own story, and it was brilliant. From the first moment you start the game and fight the Hydra, who you believe to be just an army of sea creachers at first, you knew this game was different. And the game never lets up, from the opening scene to the final fight where Kratos grows to the size of a God to fight and kill Aries there was no time to breathe. God of War raised the bar on all games, not just hack’n slashers. From feel of movement and combat, to the scope of boss fights. God of War is a testimony to gaming and should be higher up on this list, but this should give you a glimpse into just how good the rest of the series is.
4. God of War: Chains of Olympus
The first game to not be on PS2, God of War: Chains of Olympus came to the PSP on March 4, 2008. When this game was first announced many were skeptical, and for good reason. With God of War and God of War II already being classic games with a reputation for giant scale in both gameplay and story, many thought the PSP would be too small. They were wrong. Yes, the story wasn’t as important the scale and scope were just as big. This game focuses mostly on Persephone, the unwilling wife of Hades. She wanted to see the world suffer like she has suffered so, with the Titan Atlas, she meant to bring down the earth into the underworld to kill both worlds. Kratos sets out to discover why Morpheus, the God of Dreams, is wreaking havoc. As Kratos uncovers the mystery Persephone tricks Kratos into giving up all the weapons, strength, and powers he’s received from both the gods and along the way to this point. Persephone succeeds by giving Kratos back his daugher, Calliope,who Aries had killed, along with her mother, by tricking Kratos into performing the horrible act. This soon becomes one of the most heartbreaking moments I’ve ever witnessed in a God of War game. In order to save the world, and also Calliope, Kratos had to get his power back, and in order to do that you had to physically push Calliope away from you. For the rest of Calliope’s days in the Underworld she will think her Father, who put her here, doesn’t love or want her. Nevertheless, Kratos has to do this to save her. Finally, you’re able to retake your powers and defeat Persephone, but not before Atlus successfully destroyed the pillar holding up the world. In a last ditch effort to save everything, Kratos pins Atlus to the falling world above, causing Altus to become trapped holding up the world for the rest of eternity. This was the first time we as fans got to witness Kratos’ love for his daughter and I loved every second.
3. God of War II
This is where people might start getting angry at my list, and I can understand why. God of War II is the beginning of the end for the series. It’s where we learn about Zeus being Kratos father. When we finally understand what must be done. Where Kratos kills fate. No really, Kratos literally kills the Fates. Every aspect of this game is a masterpiece, however the story aspects of the next two games personally won me over more, and it’s the only reason they rank higher. However, that doesn’t take away from how good God of War II is. Releasing after the PS3 was already on the market on March 13, 2007 for PS2, God of War II met and exceeded expectations. Cory Barlog took over for Jaffe and lead the team to make the Empire Strikes Back of video games. Outdoing the original game in almost every way, GoW II raised the bar even higher for the gaming community. From beginning to end is a pulse pounding adventure that ends on an actual cliffhanger that left us wanting more for the next three years, almost to the day. After being betrayed by Zeus, obtaining the help of Gia the Titan of Earth, killing the Fates, and bringing the Titans back through time, (to restart the war between the Titans and the Gods that the Titans lost so many years ago), we are left with Kratos riding on the back of Gia with her ancient, mountain sized brothers and sisters, scaling the side of Mount Olympus seeking revenge and the death of the God of Gods, Zeus.
2. God of War: Ghost of Sparta
I know what you’re thinking; how can a PSP game, that came out November 2, 2010, that isn’t a main title, be so high on this list? The scale is smaller, it’s another personal backstory to Kratos, and we are so hyped about the conclusion. But hear me out. God of War: Ghost of Sparta sheds light on the entire series as a whole. From why Kratos life is the way it is, where he got the tattoo, to even how Zeus was his father. These are all questions I had since the series was introduced back when I was only 15. This story has Kratos, through a series of events, discovering that his mother had been turned into a grotesque monster that he was forced to kill, along with discovering his brother, Deimos, was still alive. As the game progresses we are given backstory from when Kratos was a child in Sparta. He and his brother would train, even though his brother never possessed the killing instinct that was needed to be a warrior. From birth, Deimos was targeted because of his birthmark that started on his left eye and wrapped to the top of his head, snaked down his neck where it transitioned to the front of his chest on the left side and finally ended circling his left shoulder. This is where Kratos got his signature red tattoo. After Deimos was taken as a boy, Kratos became cold and determined, getting the tattoo in memory of Deimos. As the game continues, you discover he was taken by Ares on Zeus’ orders because of a prophecy, a prophecy of a marked warrior bringing the destruction of Olympus. Mistaking the birthmark as the mark on the warrior, they took Deimos and torched him at the hands of the God of Death, Thanatos. This set the course of all the events to come, and created the god killer, Kratos, even if no one knew it yet. In order to stop a prophecy they ensured it to be true. This gave me everything I needed, and answered my remaining questions after the conclusion of God of War III, and is only of my favorite games of all time because if it.
1. God of War III
Here we are, the winner. The best God of War game so far. A game that took all of the criticism from prior games and addressed them. A game that took the hype from the previous games and blew it out of the park. A game that didn’t lose its identity under the pressure. A masterpiece. God of War III gave us the conclusion we desperately needed and one we deserved. This is a story I won’t spoil because it’s still so easily obtainable and is playable on PS4. God of War III released on PlayStation 3 on March 16, 2010 and was one of the best times of my life as a gamer. The story that was introduced back in 2005, and the conclusion to the story told in GoW II in 2007, was finally here and it was epic. We see Kratos struggle with his failures as a father, and as a human. We discover why these events took place since the Gods were so willing to help in the original God of War. We find redemption. Kratos shows his true colors, but also shows depth, something we haven’t seen from Kratos, except the small glimpse of it we see in Chains of Olympus. I will always hold a place in my heart for GoW III. God of War III is the best in the series and should be on everyone’s playlist.
There it is. The list of God of War games from worst to best. I hear all the time that Kratos is just a ragged endured monster that kills everything. This may be true, but if you take the time to understand him, and why he is the way he is, you realize that he’s one of the most relatable characters in video games. Yes, his personality may not vary, but when you do see the caring moments, or the sacred moments, they seem more potent because of it. Kratos’ rage will be something he has to deal with in God of War for PlayStation 4. It’s something he sees passed on to Atreus, and he must become a father, a better father than he ever has been, to make sure this rage doesn’t destroy his son. Now, before we finish, I want to make mention to God of War: Betrayal, for mobile phones, and God of War: A Call from the Wilds, for Facebook messenger, that leads into God of War PS4. I didn’t put these games on the list because of gameplay. Betrayal is a 2D side-scroller while A Call from the Wilds is a “choose your adventure” text game. While both are interesting and add story elements, they are, in my opinion, not true God of War games. Let us know if you agree with these picks in the comments below and if you’re planning on picking up God of War on PlayStation 4 on April 20. Be sure to stick close to Mammoth Gamers for everything God of War.