Viewed on a timeline, the God of War series is basically the story of a man becoming a remorseless murder machine. The stage demonstration at E3 was particularly graphic, showing off Kratos going full Hannibal by ripping out a monster's brains. This was the partial inspiration for some developers reacting to the violence trend at the show this year.
But there are some lines even the furious Spartan won't cross, like hitting a lady.
"There are some things we’ve pulled back from," Sony Santa Monica design manager David Hewitt 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 a different kind of resonance that we don't want to get into. This isn't about statement-making in that regard. It's about fleshing out this character."
Presumably Hewitt is referring to mortal women, considering Kratos snapped a goddess' neck in God of War 3. But besides the developers tip-toeing around a delicate issue, Kratos' own family history makes sense of his aversion to violence against women.
Hewitt says the game design is meant to show that Kratos doesn't enjoy the violence. "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."
So you see, kids, he's actually not a sociopath, because when he's slaughtering entire villages he's not having any fun.