The "God of War" games are famous for their scope: Their initial levels alone contain huge bosses, protagonist (of sorts) Kratos is outfitted with powerful weapons and the scenarios feel huge enough to inspire a feeling of endgame as much as introduction. There has never been all that much acclaim for the franchise as far as combat mechanics or style, but the sheer scale of the game has always made it an exhilarating experience.
To say " God of War III" (PS3; $59.99; rated M) is more of the same, then, is actually to the game's credit. Rather than merely comparing it with other games in its genre, it must be compared with its predecessors in the franchise. As such, when you look at this game and all you can think of is just how utterly huge this thing looks, and sounds, and feels, well, the developers and programmers at Sony Santa Monica obviously did something right.
For example, nearly the entire first level pits Kratos against the basic cannon fodder that inhabits most games' first levels, but it does so as Kratos climbs Gaia, the forest-like titan embodiment of nature. The result is a tremendous and shifting landscape that is quite literally alive in the world of the game.
If this sort of scenario were rare in "God of War III," one could chalk it up to an overdone first-impression gambit intent on snaring first-time gamers - but it's not. You're constantly fighting things that are orders of magnitude larger than Kratos, and the puzzles and landscapes constantly feel absolutely tremendous.
Of course, it's for mature audiences only. An all-too-cute Easter egg even reminds us of this fact during one of the more "intense" scenes later in the game.
While the sex gets most of the press, of particular note are some of the scenes of violence. Ripping apart enemies limb by limb isn't exactly a new talent of Kratos', but the detail with which said ripping happens is almost shocking. Not only do you get to humiliate and destroy your enemies in terribly gruesome ways, but in many cases the game also allows you to survey the damage you've done in all its gory glory.
Whether the mature themes are a plus or a minus depends on the player, obviously. What will be true for all gamers, however, is that "God of War III" is a game to be experienced rather than merely played. It may not be the most original game out there, but it might just be the biggest.