Is Kratos cribbing from Max Payne?

3. They’re both motivated almost entirely by revenge

It isn’t until later that both Max and Kratos learn the murders weren’t entirely their fault – or, for that matter, as random as they seemed. In Kratos’s case, he finds out that the deaths of his family – who were supposed to have been in Sparta while he went on a crazed killing spree in the name of war god Ares – were entirely orchestrated by his master, who wanted to remove all the distractions that prevented Kratos from becoming a single-minded killing machine.

Above: “Dude, I know this sucks now? But we’ll totally look back and laugh about it someday, trust me!”

For Max’s part, he joins the DEA in an attempt to shut down Valkyr, the drug that drove the junkies who murdered his family. Later, however, he learns that the murder was deliberately planned by Nicole Horne, an evil pharmaceutical CEO. It turns out that Max’s wife found out that Horne was illegally producing Valkyr for the military, a piece of knowledge Horne couldn’t allow her to spread.


4. They’re both surrounded by mythological references

This one’s pretty obvious in Kratos’s case, seeing as he literally inhabits the world of Greek mythology. In Max’s case, however, it’s just a little more subtle.

Above: The exact opposite of subtle

While Kratos actually goes toe-to-toe with everything from the Kraken to the gods themselves, Max rails against the Aesir Corporation, named after the collective word for the gods of Norse mythology. Valkyr is an obvious reference to Valkyries, the Valhalla project that produced it is named after the afterlife set aside for warriors who had died in battle, and Ragnarock – the name of a nightclub in the game – refers to Norse mythology’s version of Armageddon.

Alfred Woden, Max’s eyepatch-wearing benefactor, is a rough analogue to Odin, the one-eyed king of the Norse gods. And Alex Balder, Max’s dead partner, is named for Norse light-god Baldur, whose death by his uncle’s treachery is one of Norse mythology’s greatest tragic stories. The references don't end there, either, but that should be enough to give you the general idea.


5. They both have very similar nightmares

This was the key moment that inspired this article. In fact, we might have gone our whole lives without noticing any of the other stuff, if not for this one key scene near the end of God of War III: at the mercy of Zeus and overcome by fear, Kratos slips into a dark, red-lit nightmare world, in which he has to follow a thin trail of blood while the cries of his victims – including his family – echo around him.

If you’ve played through Max Payne, you will immediately recognize this as being suspiciously similar to The Bad Dream, a surreal bear of a level. After being overdosed with Valkyr, Max has to inch along a red-lit tightrope of blood, while the voices of his family – in particular his eerily wailing baby girl – echo around him.


To be fair, the God of War III “Fear” level is a little more fun, just because you’re not in constant danger of plummeting to your death. But given the similarities, it’s hard not to see it as anything other than a clear homage.

6. They both look constipated all the time

Just sayin'.

Mar 19, 2010

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  • bonerachieved - March 22, 2010 7:49 p.m.

    WOW thats awesome. The best is I can see you guys playing that scene in GOW3 and having an imediate flashback to Max Payne. Epic article!
  • Howetzer - March 22, 2010 6:32 p.m.

    Well I don't entirely agree that this article is trite, I do think JamesTQuest does bring up a decent point. Kratos' world is that of the greek gods, basically one of the original stories ever told, its told because its good. So right off the bat anything that has somehting to do with gods and their names etc has something in common with God of War. From there it goes into the story aspect of it, a good story needs a tragedy and having your wife and child (in these cases, daughter) killed are pretty tragic, Kratos did it himslef in a very "Murder in the First" kind of way in the fact that he was the weapon of the murder, but not the murderer himself. Ares filled the role of the warden from "Murder in the First" in Kratos' story. Anyways I haven't even played Max Payne, but I'm sure its a good game from the sound of all of the posters here, but I guess wampastompa Im just saying that before you burn James at the stake, think about what hes is a pretty common story element. That being said I would still say that those scenes from the two games are similar enough to cross the coincedence line and bring it into the realm of one paying homage to the other, but its not like that hasnt been done before either right?
  • Skykid - March 22, 2010 2:35 p.m.

    I personally recommend this article to conspiracy theorists everywhere. :)
  • Dondada - March 22, 2010 6:39 a.m.

    That Max Payne nightmare sequence was some scary shit.
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • juicenpancakes - March 21, 2010 12:37 a.m.

    Just as long as God of War doesn't also become a movie starring Mark Wahlberg.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • Tasty_Pasta - March 20, 2010 6:55 p.m.

    I was totally thinking Max Payne when the nightmarish sequence was occurring in GoW3.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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...)
  • CrashmanX - March 20, 2010 12:46 a.m.

    O_O thats kinda odd, maybe someone should question both Creators and be like "WTF?"
  • HitmanSB07 - March 20, 2010 12:45 a.m.

    they should make remakes of the max pane games,i've never played them unfortunately.
  • ventanger - March 20, 2010 12:19 a.m.

    Wow... that's pretty eerie actually. I would have never noticed if not for this article.
  • Cyberninja - March 19, 2010 11:59 p.m.

    good name and stuff i would not otherwise because sadly i havent played either games

Showing 1-20 of 22 comments

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