God of War: Ascension will feature a kinder, gentler, more gender-aware Kratos.
During the course God of War series, perpetually disgruntled anti-hero, Kratos, has butchered men, women, children, gods, myths and monsters, all in spectacularly gory fashion. It's to be expected that the upcoming prequel, God of War: Ascension, continues the series' gore-soaked legacy, but according to design manager, David Hewitt, the development team will be pulling a few punches, particularly if those punches are aimed at women.
"There are some things we've pulled back from," he told IGN. "I think where this has been an issue is with violence against women -- the team's pulled back from some of that and assessed that a little more carefully."
"There are certain things that carry has a different kind of resonance that we don't want to get into," he continued. "This isn't about statement-making in that regard. It's about fleshing out this character."
Kratos is no stranger to violence against the fairer sex. In God of War III he used a defenseless young woman as a door stop and broke an elderly woman's neck with one hand, and let's not even go into all the semi-naked Gorgons he's made shorter by unorthodox means. So why is Sony Santa Monica suddenly concerned about Kratos' attitude towards his female victims? It could be because the game features a younger, "more human" Kratos. One that doesn't have the blanket rationale of revenge to account for his gruesome actions. Or it could be because the recent bouts of controversy surrounding the trailers for Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution have turned the issue of violence against women into a maelstrom of bad PR that has developers fleeing for the hills.
The team also seems to be reevaluating the use of violence in God of War as a whole. When asked if there was a line they wouldn't cross in regards to Kratos' violent acts, Hewitt responded with the following:
"In fact the team has a set of rules that define those sorts of things very clearly. Where it shows itself is how the combat designers and animators have designed Kratos' moves. He's always leaning forward, he's always moving forward. He's seeking revenge and he's after his ultimate objective and he will tear through enemies -- rip them in half -- as quickly as he can. But there's not a lot of flourishes, there's not any kind of enjoying the moment. There's nothing about this that he's enjoying."