|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Griptonite Studios||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 J. Matthew Zoss
September 14, 2009 - Far too frequently, a handheld game that is released alongside a high-profile console game is nothing but a watered-down version of its bigger brother. These portable versions often retell the same story, but with gameplay and graphics that are greatly scaled down from the console version. Sometimes, the handheld version even goes in an even more unfortunate direction: a side story that doesn't even fit within the fiction of the series. Happily, Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines won't fall into either of those traps. Ubisoft has far more ambitious plans for the upcoming PSP exclusive, which will launch alongside Assassin's Creed 2. Unlike those other underachieving portable spin-offs, Bloodlines is an integral part of the Assassin's Creed franchise and aims to recreate what worked in the original game and bridge the gap between it and its sequel.
While Assassin's Creed 2 moves the action from the Holy Land in 1191 to 15th century Italy, Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines takes place after the events of the first game and once again puts players in the role of the assassin Altaïr. Not much has been revealed about the plot thus far, but Ubisoft has revealed that Altaïr has come to the island of Cyprus to eliminate the remains of his sworn enemies - the Templars. Changed by the events of the first game, Altaïr is now more curious and less trusting, and he is on a mission to find his own path and destiny. No longer following the lead of assassin leader Al Mualim, Altaïr is now his own man who chooses his own missions. Unfortunately for the Templars, the missions he chooses will all end with bloody results.
Perhaps the most important aspect of Bloodlines is how it will relate to the other games in the series. Bloodlines will explore the relationship between Altaïr, his descendant Desmond Miles, and Assassin's Creed 2 protagonist Ezio Auditore di Firenze. It's unclear if Ezio will appear in the game at any point or just be referred to, but either way we're curious to see how the three men tie together. Separated by hundreds of years, Ezio could easily be a descendant of Altaïr. Our guess is that while in Cyprus, Altaïr will meet the woman that helps establish the "bloodline" that leads to the Italian Ezio's birth. According to producer Frederic Lefroncois, Bloodlines is the only game in the series that will reveal the truth behind their relationship, so for dedicated Assassin's Creed fans, the PSP release will be a must-play title.
Fortunately for those fans, Bloodlines will offer the same open-world, non-linear action that made the original game such a hit. Unlike the Nintendo DS spin-off Assassin's Creed: Altaïr's Chronicles, Bloodlines doesn't simplify the action. Ubisoft is promising that Bloodlines preserves as much of the console gameplay as possible, including Altaïr's parkour-inspired movements, his stealthy use of crowd interaction, and, of course, his brutal and deadly combat skills. The first video released by Ubisoft shows Altaïr using the same kind of fast, flowing fighting techniques that made combat one of the most satisfying aspects of the original game.
While Ubisoft hasn't specified what they might be, the publisher has stated that Bloodlines will feature eight new mission types. Hopefully, these new mission types will feature a wide variety of activities. Satisfying as the combat in the first game was, one of the biggest complaints about the original game was that side missions weren't varied enough. How many times can one eavesdrop on a conversation before it gets boring?
After the huge success of Assassin's Creed, it is obvious that Ubisoft has high hopes for the franchise as an ongoing series. Clearly, Sony feels the same. One major feature that Ubisoft and Sony are touting is the connectivity between Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines and the PlayStation 3 version of Assassin's Creed 2. Connect your PSP to your PS3, and you'll unlock exclusive weapons and Templar coins that will be usable in both games. Obviously, Sony is hoping this exclusive deal will drive devoted fans towards the PlayStation 3 version of the console game, as Xbox 360 players will never have access to this content. If you don't yet have a PSP, Sony has that covered as well in the form of a limited edition Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines PSP bundle. For $199, the bundle will feature a white PSP 3000, a copy of Bloodlines, an as-yet-unnamed UMD movie, and a 2 gigabyte Memory Stick PRO Duo. Both the game and the bundle will be available this November.
J. Matthew Zoss
CCC Freelance Writer