What better way to start a series about characters fighting to the death than by pitting two warriors with the same name against each other?
The impetus for this battle was set up on Twitter, with an exchange about how Kratos Aurion (from Tales of Symphonia) was so much better than Kratos (from God of War).
— cary (@recollects_play) March 12, 2013
You might think that this battle is going to be one-sided because I’m a fan of the Tales series — and you’d be right — but it’s also because the GoW Kratos (hereafter referred to as “Gratos” to avoid confusion) is one of the most overrated characters in video game history. No, don’t start celebrating, Marcus Fenix: your overrated crown is still firmly attached to your oversized head.
So let’s break down this matchup and see which Kratos should reign supreme. Here we go…
Kratos (Tales of Symphonia)
Kratos goes through some similar problems after he successfully ends the Kharlan war. He and the hero Mithos manage to split the world into two halves to put a stop to the conflict, but shortly thereafter, Mithos’ sister Martel is killed and everything goes topsy-turvy. Martel says with her dying breath that she wishes for a world that can thrive without discrimination; Mithos says “well, humans can’t discriminate if they’re dead, so let’s go ahead and harvest their bodies, even if a few million innocents die along the way.”
Kratos — for some odd reason — isn’t a big fan of that plan, especially because he’s a human. He’s lived for 4,000 years like the rest of his non-human companions only because he was turned into an angel via some convenient magical powers. So he leaves Mithos behind and goes to find his own path, and falls in love with another human in the process. Kratos and his wife are happy, and even though the couple is constantly pursued by Mithos’ men, he searches for a way to wield the Eternal Sword to reunite the worlds and bring peace. Along the way, he and Anna have a son, and life is good.
Unfortunately, his wife is part of that whole harvesting-humans-so-they’ll-be-more-nice thing, and one of Mithos’ subordinates catches them. He removes the gem that was protecting Kratos’ wife from the harmful elements of the harvesting process and she turns into a horrific monster. Without any control of her actions, she attacks her own son, who is only saved by the family pet diving in front of the attack. Somehow, the shock gives Anna a moment of clarity, and she pleads with Kratos to slay her before she brings any more harm to the family. But her husband can’t bring himself to kill the love of his life, until she succumbs to the transformation again and he is left with no other choice.
The same man who triggered his wife’s condition suddenly attacks, and even though Kratos fights off dozens of men like a badass, his wife’s body and his son and his dog tumble down a cliff in the process. By the time Kratos finishes off the entire group, he heads down to the bottom and finds no sign of his family, and he despairs.
Kratos, working for Mithos again because he feels he has nothing else left, eventually comes across a group led by Lloyd, who he quickly realizes is his son. He betrays the party when they are about to complete the Chosen ritual, but spends most of the second half of the game helping Lloyd behind the scenes. In fact, he can become a permanent party member (sorry, Zelos!) near the end if you play your cards right. There’s a lot of other badass stuff in here, but let’s leave the summary at that.
Ultimately, Lloyd and company manage to defeat Mithos and stop his ridiculous notion of equality. Realizing that he is the only person left of his former group, Kratos decides that the world is better off without “angels” in it, and heads to a distant planet to ensure that the products of human harvesting never cause problems again. He essentially sacrifices his life with his rediscovered son to ensure that peace and tranquility will endure.
Oh, and Kratos also has the coolest Mystic Arte on the planet. An artist’s rendering is below.
Kratos (God of War)
I’m sure there are people out there who have been touched by Gratos’ story. He’s a tragic figure, after all — his wife and daughter were taken from him and the Greek gods continuously make his life a living hell. Especially Hades.
Unfortunately, this tragedy is undermined by a pretty simple fact: Gratos brings all of his misery on himself.
Guess who murdered his wife and daughter? If you guessed Gratos, you win! The soon-to-be Ghost of Sparta runs headlong into a battle that he can’t win, so he pledges his allegiance to Ares, the God of War. Of course, Ares likes to mess with people, so it should come as no surprise when he tricks Gratos into murdering his entire family so that he’ll be a better soldier. As an added punishment, Gratos is cursed with his family’s ashes, meaning he can never tan at the beach again.
As the GoW series continues, Gratos kills several gods, dies several times, escapes the Underworld several ways, and forces himself on women who are helpless to resist his quick-time events. He’s a real winner. Other humans don’t even want his help anymore, and they always know which warrior is Gratos because he looks like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man did P-90X for about 50 years.
Eventually, Gratos pisses off Zeus enough that Zeus kills him with his own weapon. Here, our protagonist’s most befuddling opportunity presents itself: he encounters (and defeats) the Fates, giving him control over the thread of time in the Loom Chamber. With the ability to travel to the past and rewrite history, does Gratos use this chance to help his family and stop the unending nightmare that has plagued him since he murdered them like a dumb idiot? Nope. He just goes to fight Zeus again and risk a time paradox by stabbing Zeus with the weapon that is stabbing Other-Gratos. But he doesn’t manage to kill Zeus with his second chance, so he wastes time travel again by going to assemble some of the Titans instead of SAVING HIS FAMILY.
In the end, Gratos murders all of humanity when he kills Poseidon and the world is engulfed by water. He and Zeus duke it out and some stuff happens and nobody really cares about any of that. He ultimately decides to kill himself (having already tried to commit suicide once before) to restore the power of Pandora’s Box to the world — which would be great if there were anyone left alive to potentially use it. And so ends one of gaming’s most useless characters.
So who wins? You can cast your vote below, but you probably already know where mine is going.