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Assassin’s Creed‘s first venture into the handheld market was an abysmal experience; released on the Nintendo DS, Altair was severely limited in his assassin-like efforts, only able to execute a fraction of his abilities due to the hardware’s limits. While it aided in continuing Altair’s story, it didn’t exactly strike a chord with critics or consumers, and was met with mixed reactions.

Learning from these mistakes, developers Ubisoft Montreal and Griptonite Games look to change things around by delivering a far more faithful adaptation of the third-person sandbox action adventure. But even on more powerful hardware, can Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines recapture the freedom and extravagant setting of the original while not falling victim to the same problems that marred the first installment?

Though Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines has its fair share of problems. None are so serious that they will hinder the generally engaging and fast paced experience, though it doesn’t quite reach its full potential. Combat is swift and fluid, and exploring each area is rewarding, but because of its fair share of technical problems, hardware limitations, and just a flat-out boring story, the game suffers the wrath of mediocrity.

The overarching plot behind the AC series revolves around Desmond Miles, descendant of some of the world’s most deadly assassins. Because of his DNA code, he is able to tap into his ancestor’s memories and relive them through a machine known as the Animus.

In the first AC, we are introduced to Desmond’s ancestor, Altair, who returns as the main protagonist. However, Bloodlines doesn’t utilize the Animus as a plot device, and is strictly a hub station between missions, with no explanation of what it is or why it’s being used. The game simply focuses on Altair and his quest to put an end to the Templars and their thirst of power once and for all. If this is your first venture into the world of AC, you’ll find yourself a bit confused, but incontinuities are not what keeps the plot down; it is poorly told through pitiful cutscenes, and equally lackluster voice acting.

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Where narrative fails, gameplay attempts to pick up the pieces. If you’re not familiar with the first installment of the series, Bloodlines plays like any other sandbox-style game: enjoy free exploration of the area, use your crazy assassin skills to murder a bunch of enemies, and go through a series of missions and sub-missions at your leisure.

Much of your time will be spent hopping around from building to building to remain “in the shadows”, and gain an advantage on your target or mission – but this is not easily done. In general, the camera and platforming are very finicky; often, you’ll find that you’re not jumping the direction you know you should be, which makes fluid travel by rooftop quite troublesome. Not to mention that staying “in the shadows” isn’t a necessity as it was in the original Assassin’s Creed.

Although the platforming aspect may cause some gripe, the combat system has had some improvement, albeit slight, from the first installment. Where fighting felt clunky and forced in the original AC, Bloodlines flows more fluidly, and gives a better sense of control over Altair’s movements. You’ll still rely on the ability to counter almost every enemy (including bosses), but it’s not as heavily emphasized as it was in the first game.

You can now more freely face your opponents head-on with chained attacks, if timed correctly. Altair will perform melee combos that will run your targets on the other end of his blade. Although, more freedom in combat comes at a price: the stealth aspect is relatively nonexistent, and enemy AI has been dumbed down to such an extent that you’ll easily be able to tell when and where you’ll be attacked, despite five or six enemies may surrounded you. The Templars will even wait their turn as you fight and kill their comrades, an archaic aspect I once thought dead from this current generation.

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While the sandbox style of play survives the transition from console to handheld, it’s far from perfect. First off, the graphics are top notch for the PSP, and rival the best the hardware has to offer. But the world you’ll explore, two cities on the island of Cyprus, are downright unacceptable. There is very little detail, the areas are too small, and they all look exactly alike. Besides two parts of the cities that are on the shoreline, I really couldn’t tell where I was or if I was in a different place, and I was only able to traverse each area by focusing on the minimap. And, when combined with the poor platforming aspects, exploring Cyprus is dull and very underwhelming, taking away a vital component of the Assassin’s Creed IP.

Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines may bear a strong resemblance to the stealth-driven, sandbox action-adventure, however it doesn’t live up to its title. Sure, all the pieces are there to make a quality side-story, but Ubisoft Montreal and Griptonite Games didn’t quite put them together correctly. The overall experience is definitely fun, but poor platforming, dull exploration, a forgettable story, and an almost nonexistent stealth aspect (the staple of the series) keep Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines from becoming a must-own title for the PlayStation Portable.

Rating Category
8.0 Presentation
While Altair flows beautifully and, at first glance, his surroundings are gorgeous, you'll notice the areas are far too small and sport little detail differentiating each city.
How does our scoring system work?
8.0 Gameplay
Though combat has been improved to allow more head on encounters, platforming is not much fun and pretty frustrating.
7.0 Sound
The sound effects are good, but the voice work is pretty lousy.
6.5 Longevity
There are a bunch of side-missions available throughout the game, but because the cities are so small, they don't take very long to complete at all. There's also nothing to do once you beat the main story.
7.0 Overall
Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines has all the makings for a great continuation of Altair's story, but it's fraught with presentation and gameplay problems that keep it from becoming a truly fantastic experience.

  1. It’s a shame that Bloodlines isn’t a 9/10-type game, eh? I was really hyping this one up.

    • avatar Margarita

      , the graphics ceilranty aren’t on the cutting edge of the PSP’s capability. The controls are a little awkward at first after playing Assassin’s Creed 2 for hours, but a little practice will get Altair to behave like what you’re used to. The connectivity with is more of an easter egg or cheat code than anything, but those who’ve advanced far enough in the console game will find that they unlock a weapon on Bloodlines that makes the game almost too easy. (You have to have the game loaded on both systems, and select connect on both systems from the extras menu on the console and on the upgrades menu on the handheld. a USB link is necessary.) Also, this game arrives in a small paper sleeve. I was mildly disappointed with not having a more durable case to store the UMD in, but this isn’t a problem for owners of UMD cases. The PSN voucher for Angels and Demons had a code that did not work initially. A call to SCEA’s Customer Support resolved the issue within a couple of business days. The Angels & Demons movie is impressive quality, but as with most PSN downloads, no subtitles, no special features. The movie itself is an okay adaptation of an okay book. It lacks what tension and excitement the book had, and doesn’t compare to the earlier The Da Vinci Code. As mentioned by another reviewer, the digital copy will not fit on the device itself or on tne included Memory Stick Duo. It’s not a title I’ll watch more than a few times, so it’s no loss to me to only have it stored on my PS3 s hard drive. But keep this in mind before you buy. The 2GB Memory Stick Duo is great to start off with, it was able to fit some game saves downloadable content fine. Anyone serious about downloading games off the PSN (incredibly convenient, and a wise choice for someone who might upgrade to a later download only model PSP)or carring music and videos will need either more memory sticks, a larger memory stick, or both. Swapping them out is easy, and they have a spot to write on them, so with the right case, carrying 3 or 4 memory sticks isn’t too much bother. Side note: There’s also a voucher for some song downloads. I haven’t used it yet so I can’t comment on it.Help other customers find the most helpful reviewsa0Was this review helpful to you?a0 | a0

  2. It had the ability to be great, but it just needed some more polishing.

  3. Chris, thanks to your review I think I’m going to give this one a try after all. I’ve been on the fence about it, but I think you’ve given me enough reasons to take the risk. Thanks a lot for the review man! :-)

    • avatar Delia

      I’m very excited to own this budnle, as I’ve been looking to get a PSP and I’ve been a longtime fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, so I had to have this when I discovered it.The PSP-3000 console is in a very unique color in that at arm’s length it appears a pretty common white but at closer examination it has a shimmery finish. I wouldn’t exactly call it glittery but it adds a nice effect. In general, I’m a fan of the 3000 model PSP, as it is the last model to still support the console’s varied UMD library. The has some impressive upgrades like Bluetooth and a larger integrated memory but the 3000 definately is the way to go if you already have a collection of UMD games or don’t like having to download games. The included game includes a software update that’s required to play it, but at the time of my purchase a new firmware upgrade was available over the internet. PS3 owners: The PSP can connect to your console via a private network or over the internet (through the PlayStation Network) to control some functions and play all your PsOne Classics. It’s tricky to get set up, and the feature isn’t quite up to its full potential, but it’s useful for doing things like starting lengthy downloads or checking friend messages without being at home or in front of the TV.The Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines game is a nifty little port of the classic series for the PSP. The basic gameplay elements are maintained, but the stunning graphics and cityscapes of the console titles is understandably absent. That being said, the graphics certainly aren’t on the cutting edge of the PSP’s capability. The controls are a little awkward at first after playing Assassin’s Creed 2 for hours, but a little practice will get Altair to behave like what you’re used to. The connectivity with is more of an easter egg or cheat code than anything, but those who’ve advanced far enough in the console game will find that they unlock a weapon on Bloodlines that makes the game almost too easy. (You have to have the game loaded on both systems, and select connect on both systems from the extras menu on the console and on the upgrades menu on the handheld. a USB link is necessary.) Also, this game arrives in a small paper sleeve. I was mildly disappointed with not having a more durable case to store the UMD in, but this isn’t a problem for owners of UMD cases.The PSN voucher for Angels and Demons had a code that did not work initially. A call to SCEA’s Customer Support resolved the issue within a couple of business days. The Angels & Demons movie is impressive quality, but as with most PSN downloads, no subtitles, no special features. The movie itself is an okay adaptation of an okay book. It lacks what tension and excitement the book had, and doesn’t compare to the earlier The Da Vinci Code. As mentioned by another reviewer, the digital copy will not fit on the device itself or on tne included Memory Stick Duo. It’s not a title I’ll watch more than a few times, so it’s no loss to me to only have it stored on my PS3 s hard drive. But keep this in mind before you buy.The 2GB Memory Stick Duo is great to start off with, it was able to fit some game saves downloadable content fine. Anyone serious about downloading games off the PSN (incredibly convenient, and a wise choice for someone who might upgrade to a later download only model PSP)or carring music and videos will need either more memory sticks, a larger memory stick, or both. Swapping them out is easy, and they have a spot to write on them, so with the right case, carrying 3 or 4 memory sticks isn’t too much bother.Side note: There’s also a voucher for some song downloads. I haven’t used it yet so I can’t comment on it.

  4. avatar pspvampire

    I’m definately buying it. been hyping it for 6 months or so!!

    From what I’ve heard, it plays pretty much exactly the same as the first game. (from friends who own it)

    I reckon that Ubisoft will make another Assassins Game for PSP but polish it a little more though.

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