Assassin’s Creed Bloodlines: review

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The problem that the PSP seems to have is that there are very few good games floating around for it. So you can imagine the anticipation we had when AC Bloodlines was announced for the PSP. Now we’ve had a go on it, burst it wide open, and the results are in. ACBL is an adventurous title, not in the ‘you can go here and there’ kind of adventurous way but that it’s an ambitious title for the hardware of the PSP. We’re not saying that the PSP isn’t up to it but rather, the depth of atmosphere that seems to ooze from AC2 (or even the first AC) is a lot to ask of the PSP’s horsepower. So as you can imagine, there will have to be a few changes for this version.

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Giant drunk guard found by gateway!

Assassin’s Creed Bloodlines takes off almost immediately after the events of the first game, where Altair’s lust for Templar blood finds him travelling to Cyprus where they (the Templars) have been said to be shipping over artifacts for financial gain, amongst other things. But the death of the head of the Templar Order and finality to his quest is what seems to be really driving Altair forward. One of the things you might notice that has changed in Bloodlines is Altair’s voice; he’s now officially from the Middle East, instead of Middle America. Score one for PSP AC. The other thing included in Bloodlines that we didn’t even notice was missing from the other games is chickens. You heard us, we said chickens! Sadly, the streets within ACBL seem to have more chickens than they do people, and you can’t even kick the little buggers. Never mind, this Assassin’s Creed, not Zelda.

ACBL1 The development team at Griptonite have been given a difficult job to do with this game though, trying to squeeze cities the size of Acre or Jerusalem into the PSP is no easy task. Here it’s places like Limassol or Kyrenia and though they may not be as big, they have got to try and offer a similar playing experience. Much like the other AC games there’s a map to help you find your way around but if it weren’t for this map, you’d be lost, big time. Navigation of these towns becomes a difficulty within itself purely because of the way the whole place looks. That is to say it all looks very similar. We can’t expect the PSP to do what the PS3 or 360 does, but the lack of definitive textures here will get you lost pretty easily. Camera control is another thing we had problems with in Bloodlines. This seems to be a running trend for third person games on the PSP, and while Griptonite have tried to work their way around the limited controls, they seem to have hit the same walls many other developers have hit in this area. The camera is rotated by holding down a shoulder button and using triangle, square, circle and X to move it up, down and around which is a good solution to the problem. However, couple these controls with a bit of intense action and what you get is Altair turning his back on a previously locked-onto-enemy, and taking a sword to the face or back in the process. Enemy spawning is another thing that we had issues with. Just after killing a guard, as you move the camera back to where his dead body should be, you find him running towards you being very grumpy indeed. Not so much of a hassle if there’s only one guy, but if there are a few you will find yourself fighting the same guys over and over again until you can nudge yourself away from the spawning area.

ACBL2 By now you’re probably thinking that ACBL is a total waste of time and money, but you’d be wrong. Despite these annoyances, ACBL does its job on the PSP as well as it could be expected to. Given the hardware and its lack of nubs (come on Sony, give us that extra nub!) Bloodlines’ job is to flesh out the story of Altair and his quest of understanding the piece of Eden he has acquired previously; that, and extinguishing the lives of the remaining Templars. There are little sub-story lines that run along with this game that give you a deeper insight into Altair’s way of thinking, and that he’s not just a mindless assassin but someone trying to understand this changing new world around him. Assassin’s Creed Bloodlines also has a very handy link-up system tied to the AC2 game. What this means is that your progress in Bloodlines can be transferred over to AC2 for things like extra money, abilities and weapons. It’s not just a one-way system either, progress from AC2 can give you extra stuff in Bloodlines too. Every ‘boss’ you kill in Bloodlines will give you a weapon to use in AC2. These weapons aren’t represented exactly the same way in AC2 as they’re found in Bloodlines, but nevertheless it’s a great idea and gives Ezio a few extra toys to play with.

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You're fat, I'm thin, who do ya think's gonna win!!!

On its own merits we’d say Bloodlines is a sub-par game, but as a continuation from AC and a window to events in AC2 it does a humble job of giving you insight to the fairly hard-to-follow plot of the AC games. This is one for the hardcore followers of this game series. If you absolutely need to know what happens between the two games from the bigger systems, then this is an insightful (but still fiddly) journey in the AC worlds. Or if you want to give yourself an extra helping hand in AC2, then play this first and do the link-up. If neither of the above reasons appeals to you, we’d advise you to just let this sit in the shops.

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Written by R.Furie

Ross has been playing games since he can remember and has had games machines around him all his life. He's what we now refer to as "Old Skool" because he grew up playing games with a hand carved wooden joystick on a TV forged from rope and stone. Nourished on a diet of Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Joust, Gauntlet, Bomber Jack and other various wholesome arcades he has grown to become a versatile and open minded gamer. Favouring the style of open-world games he's sure VR can't be far away, and looks forward to attaching himself to a colostomy bag and slipping into a deep VR coma so he need never have to deal with real life again.

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