God of War III begins with a spectacular set piece. Kratos is climbing Mount Olympus on the back of Gaia, the mother of the Titans, when they're attacked by Poseidon. The warrior is dwarfed by both Titan and deity, and he has to scramble across Gaia's body to get to Poseidon's weak points. The perspective shifts nimbly between tiny Kratos and massive Poseidon, managing to be awesome without being overwhelming.
The opening battle redefines "epic," at least as far as video games are concerned, and nothing else in God of War III quite surpasses it. There is plenty of the blood-drenched combat this franchise is known for, with every severed limb and gouged-out eyeball presented in gory detail. There's even some morbid comedy: For example, once Kratos has disconnected sun god Helios' head, he can use it for a lantern.
What's most dissatisfying about God of War III is its insistence that you do exactly what its designers want you to do; you can't even adjust the camera angles. Sure, you can switch among four different weapons, but three of them feel almost identical. Visually, this is a dazzling showcase for the PS3, but the core gameplay hasn't evolved since the first chapter.
Your enjoyment of God of War III is likely to depend on whether you really want to spend 12 hours or so with its surly protagonist.
God of War III
RATING M for Mature
PLOT Kratos takes on the deities
DETAILS PlayStation 3, $60
BOTTOM LINE Brutal