By Jeff Jensen
March 10, 2010 at 05:00 AM EST
Courtesy of Sony Entertainment

Playstation 3
Rated M (For Mature)

Gouging out the eyes of the gods shouldn’t be easy. They are gods, after all. One of the many marvelous things about God of War III — an epic fighting game that’s one of the year’s most anticipated titles — is the challenge it presents for both mind and thumb. You play as Kratos, the hulking, red-striped bastard son of Zeus on a vengeance quest to destroy his treacherous, thunderbolt-hurling daddy. First obstacle: Uncle Poseidon. You need nimble digits to execute a tricky sequence of button pushes to first disable the ocean deity and then bore out his eyeballs. Warning: He’s a bleeder. Also? Catastrophic tsunami. Sorry, ancient Greece.

With every apocalyptic deicide there is delightful catharsis. Each assassination also unlocks a new chapter in a compelling narrative marked by staggering visuals. Along the way, you collect exotic weapons with neat names — The Claws of Hades! The Blades of Exile! The Nemean Cestus! (okay, that last one isn’t so cool) — and grapple with lowerorder monsters. The best effect: the Titans, colossal elemental entities that wonderfully warp your sense of scale. You climb through their cavernous guts and ride their mountainside shoulders as they carry you into battle. Kratos’ odyssey — which builds on previous installments without confusing newbies — is twisted and very gory, and while fans might gripe about familiar scenarios (Hades again? Ah, hell?), the brawls are bigger and more richly rendered. God of War III is Clash of the Titans meets Kill Bill. The provocative subtext indulges and pokes at a culture hooked on dark-hero fantasies. In our rage against fate, do we assuage or create the meaninglessness we lament? It would be enough to make you worry if it weren’t so damn fun. Now, bring me the head of Zeus! A?