Is Kratos cribbing from Max Payne?

Kratos and Max Payne aren’t names frequently uttered in the same sentence. One’s the bald, rage-fueled protagonist of one of gaming’s greatest hack-and-slash franchises, and the other’s an insomniac gunfighter who’s addicted to painkillers and is soon to make a comeback as a paunchy, bearded version of himself.

Above: Let’s stick with Thin Max for now, though

However, there’s one key scene near the end of God of War III that almost perfectly mimics a similar, incredibly memorable sequence from Max Payne – and once we’d noticed that, numerous other similarities between the two characters and their twisted revenge stories suddenly clicked into place.

Because it’s a spoiler, we saved those “key scenes” for last, but there are a handful of other big similarities that are difficult to deny. Does God of War owe its existence to the precedents set by Max Payne? Well, no  – but it’s probably fair to say that one was an inspiration to the other. Consider the following:

1. Their games begin at the end

Starting your game near the end and then rewinding to the beginning can be a clever storytelling device; if you pull it off just right, players will immediately want to play through to that point, just to see what led up to those events. Both Max Payne games use this device, starting Max’s overwrought narration at the moment just before he encounters his good or bad endings. God of War and God of War III do it too, with the latter starting off with a quote that Kratos repeats at the end (“My vengeance… ends now!”). The former, on the other hand, actually begins with Kratos standing at a precipice, contemplating his fate – a scene that echoes one of the opening shots of Max Payne.

Above: Kratos at the cliff’s edge

Above: Max at the roof’s edge

2. They’re both wracked with guilt over the murders of their wives and daughters

Max Payne opens with a horrifying flashback: Idealistic cop Max Payne, determined to provide for his wife and newborn daughter, comes home from work only to find that a gang of armed junkies have broken into his house and murdered his loved ones, seemingly for no reason.

From that moment onward, he becomes self-destructive and suicidal, partly because of grief, and partly because he blames himself for not being there to protect them.

Kratos, meanwhile, also blames himself – and for good reason. Unlike Max, who simply wasn’t present when his home was invaded, Kratos actually did the deed himself, going into a murder-frenzy amid a crowd of “enemy” civilians and realizing, too late, that his final victims were his own kin.

Utterly hollowed out by grief, both protagonists then dedicate themselves to a life of service for a new master. In Kratos’s case, he becomes a champion of the gods, doing their bidding for years in an attempt to work off his sins. Meanwhile, Max goes to work for his friend Alex Balder, and spends the next several years as an ultra-deep-cover agent for the DEA.

Above: An excerpt from one of Max's least-melodramatic monologues



  • TrollMan - March 19, 2010 11:49 p.m.

    FIRST FIRST!!!!!!!!!!
  • vogler1604 - March 19, 2010 11:58 p.m.

    They are kind of the same!!!
  • Cyberninja - March 19, 2010 11:59 p.m.

    good name and stuff i would not otherwise because sadly i havent played either games
  • ventanger - March 20, 2010 12:19 a.m.

    Wow... that's pretty eerie actually. I would have never noticed if not for this article.
  • HitmanSB07 - March 20, 2010 12:45 a.m.

    they should make remakes of the max pane games,i've never played them unfortunately.
  • CrashmanX - March 20, 2010 12:46 a.m.

    O_O thats kinda odd, maybe someone should question both Creators and be like "WTF?"
  • Vitoruss1 - March 20, 2010 1:49 a.m.

    When I saw the Youtube video of Kratos' nightmare, I thought of this connection. Ironic how it ends up on the website shortly after!! Max Payne and Max Payne 2 are great games, I hope the third doesn't screw it all up. (And being set in a South-American Favela... -sigh- we'll see...)
  • jackthemenace - March 20, 2010 7:41 a.m.

    i wouldn't know, i've never played either, but they really do look constipated O____o
  • TRAVthe3RD - March 20, 2010 1:16 p.m.

    ok trollman i hate u... now i got that out of my system i remember when i was a wee lil lad playin max pain in the middle of the night with my mates in that dream level was the freakiest thing ever!!!!!! that nightmare level is nightmare inducing :s
  • Tasty_Pasta - March 20, 2010 6:55 p.m.

    I was totally thinking Max Payne when the nightmarish sequence was occurring in GoW3.
  • TrIp13G - March 20, 2010 8:35 p.m.

    Fantastic article. Being a die-hard Max Payne fan, but never playing any God of War game, I have to say these points are eerily similar.
  • CH3BURASHKA - March 20, 2010 11:40 p.m.

    I'm absolutely love the Max Payne games, especially the narrative in the first. It's cool to see him in a feature once more. Can you make a Top 7 based on games with bullet-time in them?
  • juicenpancakes - March 21, 2010 12:37 a.m.

    Just as long as God of War doesn't also become a movie starring Mark Wahlberg.
  • darkvare - March 21, 2010 2:17 a.m.

    lol once the third max payne game comes out you can add that they are both bald and sport beards and scars on their faces
  • GoldenMe - March 21, 2010 3:22 a.m.

    Very well done Mikel. This is the kind of articles I like to see here. At least you haven't been going down the tubes.
  • DriveShaft - March 21, 2010 6:19 p.m.

    Ah, Max Payne is one of my favourites, I was just contemplating replaying it again today x] I haven't tried any of the God of War's (apart from GOW3's demo)because when I rented the second one it killed my fat PS2 (irony?). Kinda ridiculous how much games and movies rip each other off without people noticing, glad you did.
  • JamesTQuest - March 21, 2010 10:57 p.m.

    This is a terribly trite article. These similarities could be pointed out in a great many games. The whole basis of God of War is mythology, it's not like they just used it as a little knock-off. You guys are capable of better, or are you?
  • wampastompa - March 22, 2010 3:50 a.m.

    @JamesTQuest This is a terribly stupid comment. Gotta love people that create profiles just to troll articles. Out of a whopping four article comments, three of them are just this guy bitching about the article. You're capable of actually making a useful comment Quest, or are you?
  • Dondada - March 22, 2010 6:39 a.m.

    That Max Payne nightmare sequence was some scary shit.
  • Skykid - March 22, 2010 2:35 p.m.

    I personally recommend this article to conspiracy theorists everywhere. :)

Showing 1-20 of 22 comments

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