Review: Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines – PSP

Genre: Sandbox/Action/Adventure
Platforms: Playstation Portable (PSP)
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal/Griptonite Games
Price: $39.99 (USD)

When I heard that Assassin’s Creed was making it’s way to the PSP, I was simultaneously excited and trepedatious. Being a fan of the original Assassin’s Creed, I couldn’t help but wonder how well the franchise would translate to the PSP, especially after the interesting experiment that was the Nintendo DS version. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when I fired up the game, and discovered that, yup, it’s Assassin’s Creed, but in mini form. And that’s a GOOD thing.

The story continues the tale of original game’s protagonist Altair, picking up a few months after those events, but, naturally, long before the events of Assassin’s Creed 2. The game is set on the island of Cyprus, which house the last remnants of the Templars, whom Altair is determined to destroy. Outside of that basic premise, the game attempts to bridge the links between the series protagonists, Altair, future boy, Desmond Miles, and newcomer Ezio Auditore di Firenze (that’s even a mouthful to TYPE).

Despite the simple setup, the game is filled with lots of shady and untrustworthy characters, including a female Templar who is forced to make a shaky alliance with Altair during the quest, and plenty of twists and turns. It won’t win any awards, but it was certainly more than I expected to get from what is essentially a sidestory to the core Assassin’s Creed lore.

Visually, the game is rather fetching, looking very much like Assassin’s Creed shrunk down and simplified. The character models are solid, and environments detailed. Character animations, in particular for Altair, are especially fluid, and seeing him run and hop across the various zones in the game is just as exciting as it’s big brother.

The only complaint I have about the visuals are that the streets aren’t nearly as populated as the console counterpart, but I never expected them to be able to match such a feat on the PSP. It’s a shame that there are times when you won’t see any human characters anywhere in the vacinity. Small gripe, and by no means game breaking. In fact, the sparsely populated streets actually help with gameplay, as you don’t have to worry about bumping into countless citizens when fleeing guards.

Gameplay wise, the game feels exactly like the first Assassin’s Creed, even down to the combat and locomotion. Climbing and Running is done by holding down the R Button and moving forward. The L Button is used to quick center the camera, and when held down, in conjunction with the Face buttons will control the game’s camera. The face buttons are used for everything from interacting with characters, to combat and sprinting. The digital pad is used to select Altair’s weapons and fists. Overall, the control scheme works really well, and the game, for the most part feels very smooth and responsive. There are certain times when it’s hard to line up a straightforward leap to the next building/object, but overall, the system works.

The main issue with Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines is that it suffers from a similar problem as the original: Repetitive missions. There are less missions per zone (one of each type: Interrogation, Assassination, Message Delivery, etc), as the zones are relatively small (but large enough to get a sense of scale), and they are usually rather simple and enjoyable. The main push of the game is the story based missions, which are highlighted in red when not engaged in a side mission. A nice change to the game is the inclusion of points that Altair accumulates peforming missions, finding hidden Templar coins (there are roughly 7 per zone), unlocking Accomplishments (the AC version of Trophies/Achievements) and taking out enemies, that can be used to upgrade his skills/stats, including more health, faster hide speed, more throwing knives, etc. It’s easy to find yourself scouring every corner of each of the zones throughout the 7 chapters in the game to find every coin and complete every mission, if anything than for upgrading Altair.

Combat is as fun as it was in the first game, with an emphasis on defensive tactics and masterful countering to really succeed. The kill animations are just as satisfying here as they were in the original. I did notice the timing seemed a bit off in countering, but that could have easily have been my own slow reflexes, or simply my PSP being a bit up there in age, the buttons are starting to wear.

In the end, I found the game to be highly enjoyable, but still mired by the same issues that plagued the original. Fortunately, the smaller size of the game world and story helped to alleviate those issues. It’s bite sized Assassin’s Creed, and that’s certainly alright with me.

VERDICT: RENT – This game is purely for fans of the Assassin’s Creed world and gameplay. It feels like a near identical version of the original title, scaled down properly for the PSP, and with less tedium, and overall, less of everything, but in a good way. I’d only recommend as a buy for the pure diehard AC fans, otherwise, a rent and a nice long weekend will do just fine.

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3 Responses to “Review: Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines – PSP”

  1. xploreinsanity Says:

    Great review. Actually best I’ve read for this game. I’m a solid fan so definitely a buy for me. After playing 1 and 2 multiple times, I’m looking forward to finding the bridge in between the two master assassin games.

    • thanks! i’m also a fan, and i think part 2 is much better than Part 1. i’ll try and post a review for it as soon as i can, but probably not until after Thanksgiving. the PSP Assassin’s Creed is a decent title, and i enjoy it, but not everyone will. it’s most certainly for the fans, though.

  2. xploreinsanity Says:

    I think the only thing I’d hate from Bloodlines is the new voice for Altair I absolutely loved the first one. I do believe the assassination’s and story of the first was much much better. Also Altair is so much more bad-ass Ezio is kinda like a pimp he doesn’t seem the assassin type.

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