|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Griptonite Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 17, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Andrew Groen
More than two years have passed between the release of the original Assassin's Creed and it's direct follow-up Assassin's Creed Bloodlines, so it's easy to assume that some refinements have been made to the system. But, has the original formula that prompted critical praise and retail success for the predecessor grown stale in the meantime?
The short answer is no; it has not. This is a good game based on a similar design as the first game in the series, so if that was something you enjoyed, then Bloodlines with give you more of the same - albeit, this iteration in the series is somewhat optimized for its portable system, so there are some changes.
The major staples of the Assassin's Creed series are here, though. It's still based on stealth and platforming gameplay in which you sneak around to silently assassinate key figures of the 12th Century. The full, free roaming 3D world is here as well, although it's obviously not nearly as big or as detailed as the console versions. The city is chopped up into small sections of a few blocks, and the whole area is traversable from the city streets to the rooftops.
It might be scaled down, but it's still an impressive feat for a handheld system. It shows that even after nearly five years on the market, developers are still finding new ways to push the PSP and tap into previously unknown potential.
However, there is a trade-off for the free roaming world: there's virtually no color in this place. Even more so than its console predecessor, Bloodlines color palette seems to be made up purely of gray and other colors mixed with gray. The entire AC series technically takes place in a dreamlike state, so it's possible the developer was trying to display a dream-like aesthetic. But even if that's the case, it's still not very attractive, making for a rather boring world.
Despite being quite similar to its console predecessor, Bloodlines does have subtle differences which generally seem to have been implemented to offset the shortcomings of a portable device. For instance, guards are much less aware of their surroundings in this game. That may be something of a backhanded compliment, but the fact is that the game would have been extremely frustrating if they were more alert. Due to the difficulties the PSP has in controlling a 3D gaming world (lack of camera control), the guards needed to be a little dumbed-down, otherwise the player would get caught every two minutes unless they spent a gratuitous amount of time struggling with camera control to survey the surroundings before striking.
The toned down enemy AI allows the game to be more free flowing and keeps frustration to a minimum. As a result, this game is faster than the original. The population of the city streets is lower, so it's easier to get a mark alone and take him out quickly. It's usually as simple as sprinting up to him, jumping on his back, and driving Altair's signature knife through his neck. If that sounds harsh and visceral to you, that's because it is. The PSP still manages to maintain the thrill of the kill when Altair takes out an enemy.