Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines is the PSP sequel to the third person action-adventure title, Assassin's Creed, that first landed in 2007. Releasing alongside Assassin's Creed 2 for the holiday season, Bloodlines is set to tie together the loose ends of the first game, which ended rather abruptly and did nothing more but set the stage for its predecessor. Developed by Ubisoft Montreal in conjunction with developer Griptonite Games, Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines hopes to offer the same non-linear gameplay and open world environments as the first game, but does it hold up to the reputation set by its predecessor?
Taking place a month after the events of Assassin's Creed, players will find themselves back in control of Altair, hunting down the remnants of the Templar order. Set on the island of Cyprus, players are taken from city to city on a quest to remove the last vestiges of the Order's leadership. Assisting the local resistance, helping those in need on the street, and taking on specific hits all bring Altair closer to his goal. These are the contacts that Altair must work through, learning about the political circles of Cyprus and how to best move amongst his enemies. Though many of the characters encountered in the sequel are new to the series, Templar Maria from the first game has a returned to assist Altair, although not entirely of her own free will.
Mechanically the game is near identical to its predecessor. Given third person control of Altair, players are again faced with the High and Low Profile options. Movement is done using the PSP's Analog Nub while the Profile is controlled using the right trigger. Depending on what Profile state the player chooses, Altair will walk, run, or sprint actions that will draw a low to considerable amount of attention. Being in a High Profile also allows Altair to rapidly scale objects, climb walls, leap small distances, the very foundation of the Assassin's Creed series. Health (or Synchronization) also functions the same as the first game, damage taken from falling or combat is undone over time or instantly by completing a mission. Upgrades to health, damage, and hiding abilities can be purchased between levels with currency acquired from exploring and finishing an objective.
Unfortunately Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines also mirrors all of the worst traits of its predecessor, as well as adding a few issues to the list. Movement using the Analog Nub ranges from flawless to absolutely frustrating as the Nub's sensitivity is unpredictable. Much of Assassin's Creed flow came from the ability to control the camera and plan the next route to safety, but lacking any real form of camera control it's difficult to get a sense of direction. With no way to quickly look ahead, players find themselves running Altair into a dead end, or slipping off a ledge, or even comically leaping off a building only to see that there is no slightly lower rooftop below and instead falling to death. This would be less of an issue if the game offered more opportunities for stealth, however much of the fast paced hit-and-run gameplay has been watered down to nothing. Enemies will attack seemingly on a whim, whether in Low or High Profile, and it's difficult to tell when Altair is successfully blending into the crowd around him.Straight combat has taken over most of the game, and is never really challenging or engaging enough. All enemies, bosses included, are beatable by simply mashing attack combos. Combat also forcibly works its way into almost every single mission and side story, even times where the player must sneak past guards to steal an item end with Altair being forced to melee. Each of Altair's three weapons have unique kill animations, which in itself is fine, however some of these animations tend to result in glitches. From assassinating the same man multiple times and somehow killing everyone around him with each stab, to getting stuck on a corpse that fell in the wrong direction. It's these unpredictable bugs that break up the monotony of combat.
Graphically the game looks very nice, extremely similar to its console counterpart only with far less detail. The cities are broken into various sections, though with similar architecture none of them really stand out as unique. Exploring, a focal point of the first game, has been cut down with the reduction of side quests. With the breakdown of cities into several sections, a small amount of tasks to complete, and an unremarkable city design there's no reason or encouragement to roam freely. Some coins are scattered across rooftops (and other out of the way areas) and obtaining them gives currency for item/ability upgrades. The sound effects and voice acting in game are also unremarkable, and occasionally the voices will skip, or tracks will run over one another.
The faster paced story and lack of side missions make Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines an extremely short experience, which may be to its benefit. Visually impressive but lacking on all other fronts, the game feels largely incomplete. Diehards of the franchise who are looking for just a little more Altair action may find some satisfaction to be had, otherwise a myriad of glitches and bugs keep the attention far away from any sort of immersion.