Loosely based on Greek mythology, the game is set in Ancient Greece with the player controlling the protagonist Kratos, the former God of War after the betrayal by his father, Zeus, the King of the Olympian Gods. Reigniting the Great War, Kratos ascends Mount Olympus with initial allies, the Titans, until abandoned by Gaia. Guided by the spirit of Athena in search of the Flame of Olympus, Kratos reascends Mount Olympus, killing gods and Titans, eventually learning that Pandora is the key to pacifying the Flame surrounding Pandora's Box, which will allow Kratos to finally kill Zeus. God of War III is chronologically the seventh and final chapter of the series, and forms part of a saga with vengeance as a central theme.
God of War III features gameplay similar to previous installments. A third-person, single-player, fixed camera game, the player controls the character Kratos in a combination of combat, both normal and quick-time, with platforming and puzzle game elements. The game also features a first person camera view during two boss battles (a first for the series). Kratos' main weapons are the Blades of Exile (initially the Blades of Athena), with other new weapons, including the Claws of Hades, the Nemean Cestus and the Nemesis Whip. The Nemean Cestus (a pair of fist gauntlets), and the Nemesis Whip are crucial to gameplay, as they are required to advance through certain stages of the game.
Unlike the previous games in the series, the primary weapons also dictate the use of magic, with each weapon having an individual magic ability: Divine Reckoning (Blades of Athena), Army of Sparta (Blades of Exile), Soul Summon (Claws of Hades), Nemean Roar (Nemean Cestus) and Nemesis Rage (Nemesis Whip). The power of each magic ability increases via upgrading the weapon to which each is linked (excluding the temporary Divine Reckoning). Kratos also has an array of secondary weapons referred to as Items that have limited usage before needing recharging (which occurs automatically), being the Bow of Apollo, the Head of Helios and Boots of Hermes. All three are required to advance through certain stages of the game.
The relics ""Poseidon's Trident"", the ""Golden Fleece"", and ""Icarus' Wings"" that were acquired in previous games are automatically retained. The ""Blade of Olympus"" is also retained, but is no longer a primary weapon, being now utilized in conjunction with the special ability, the Rage of Sparta. The Rage of Sparta is the equivalent to the Rage of the Gods and Rage of the Titans from God of War and God of War II, respectively, and provides temporary invulnerability and increased attack damage. The Blade of Olympus is also used to defeat more powerful bosses.