Review: Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines

AssassinsCreedBloodlines.jpg When I saw the word ‘Bloodlines’ in the title of this game, I was drawn back in time five years to another game – Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines.  That game was released with some serious flaws and at a time when being about vampires wasn’t an ‘instant sell’, but underneath was a gem of a game that after a bit of patching is now recognized as one of the best RPGs of all time.  If you were wondering how far I would stretch this analogy, let me just say: no vampires, no gems, plenty of flaws.

As an aside, let me mention one thing that annoys the crap out of me as a PSPgo owner – when games I bought as a digital download on the PSN Store start off by suggesting I do a ‘data install’ to help decrease load times.  Of course, being a digital download the game already IS on the memory stick!  This generally tells me two things: the game is not going to be very good, and the load times will be awful.  Check and check.

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has become well known over the last couple of years, and is set in the 12th century.  You play as the assassin Altair, and Bloodlines is set in the events following the original Assassin’s Creed (but before the sequel) and has you tracking down the last of the Templars who have fled the Holy Land and retreated to the island of Cyprus.

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The game plays as a third-person action-stealth adventure where you move around the world, use stealth to sneak through situations, and attack from hiding or as a straight-out assault.  The overall structure of gameplay is much more like a cut-down version of the original game with little to no recognition of the advancements that have led many reviewers to look at the original as merely a ‘tech demo’ for the much better Assassin’s Creed 2.

Working your way through the world often involves a series of uncomfortable button presses and holds, and also a lot of patience.  Each section is broken down into smaller sections, and moving between those requires waiting for a slow load to finish.  And unlike the original game there is absolutely no freedom to explore: you have very restricted movement areas, and there are even invisible barriers to further restrict you.

Once you spot an enemy you have a couple of choices: sneak up and use your concealed blade to kill them or pull out your sword and have at it!  Each has its uses, but generally the enemy AI is so inept that you are never forced to use timed stealth kills. You can kill people in the open and most of the other enemies won’t even notice.

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The game looks and sounds great, and the cutscenes are nicely executed – there is no doubt that this franchise could have a load of potential on the PSP.  Unfortunately it is a disappointment in every way, feeling rushed and poorly thought out, just something Ubisoft had to finish in time to co-release with Assassin’s Creed 2 in order to cash-in on the co-branding of the products.  If you have a system to play the console version, I have heard nothing but good things, but skip this one, as it isn’t even a shadow of its console cousin.

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Pros:
+ Decent combat system
+ Graphics are very nice

Cons:
– Long load times
– Terrible camera
– Feels like a cut-down cash-in

Game Info:
Platform: PSP
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Griptonight Games / Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: 11/17/09
Genre: Action/Adventure
ESRB Rating: Mature
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!