The more things change, the more they stay the same. God of War opened with Kratos tearing mythical creatures in half on a boat and now, five years later, God of War: Ghost of Sparta opens with Kratos tearing mythical creatures in half on a boat.
Still, story doesn't seem like Ready at Dawn's primary concern - and it certainly won't be yours, either. Boil it down and Ghost of Sparta is essentially a reversal of the regular God of War structure: instead of battling to get out of a hellish underworld, you're carving your way through hordes to get into one. That said, the fact it's essentially springboarding off a bonus post-game cinematic from the first God of War will certainly add to the enjoyment for the series' many fans.
It's still all about the nearest and dearest, too. Other entries in the franchise have seen Kratos hacking through his family tree (wife, child, half-sister and father have all been dealt with) and now we find him getting in a huff over his brother, shown by his gurning and wincing through the game's brief but frequent cutscenes. The game does its best to revel in Kratos' forced urgency, but the fact brother (and uncanny King Leonidas look-alike) Deimos is never more than briefly alluded to in the two games set after this should tell you all you need to know.
Developer Ready at Dawn's technical forte is assured, however, and the studio has once again succeeded at the Herculean task of reducing the epic franchise down to a machine that can almost fit comfortably in your pocket. Despite lacking the wow factor of preceding title Chains of Olympus, it remains thrilling to see the camera often pulling so far back, suitably revealing the impossible scope and scale of its adventure, before zooming in and exploding with impressive spiralling streams of crimson light. Regardless of anything else, it's always a treat to see a studio treating Sony's PSP with the utmost respect; if more developers utilised the platform like this, the tiny black box might not have been such a colossal disappointment.
It's also a testament to the PSP itself that it holds up so well to the physical battering it takes over the course of the game's spry seven-hour jaunt, with the on-screen action demanding near-constant spinning of the analogue nub, feverish mashing of the circle button and panicked beatings on the L and R triggers. Just don't expect any nearby commuters to think highly of you.
Unfortunately the reduced technical specifications and implicit need for portability take their toll on the experience: monsters mostly attack in tiny little groups, never quite mustering up the same threat of their big-screen counterparts; save points are so densely packed that they punctuate the journey at almost every corner; and it's still a fiddly concession having to press both shoulder buttons and flick the analog nub when you want to roll out of danger.