Review: Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines
Following in the footsteps of many other game series, Assassin’s Creed has made its way to the PSP. While it doesn’t entirely do everything its predecessor did on the console, it changes a lot of the side-quests and structures it to be a bit more relevant.
Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines is a continuation of protagonist Altair’s story as he journeys to Cyprus to hunt down the remaining Templars and search for the answers of the Apple of Eden, the mysterious orb he uncovered in the first game. The game does have some tie-ins to the sequel: Assassin’s Creed II, but it isn’t anything special. The main focus is about Altair killing Templars, and you can’t complain about that.
The controls for Bloodlines work a lot like what you’d expect. The face pad covers all the action commands: Attack, Jump, Blend and Grab. The D-pad is used to equip different weapons and the R button is used for Altair to run. Two big problems with the control scheme are that to move you have to use the analog nub, and to move the camera, you use a combination of the L button and the face pad. I have never been a fan of the analog nub and Bloodlines doesn’t change my opinion on it. The nub is never precise enough and the game never tries to compensate for that. Even worse are the camera controls. Holding down the left trigger, you open up the option to control the camera. You then use the face pad to move it which is an absolutely horrible way to do things. It wouldn’t be so bad if the camera could somehow compensate for this, but the way the game is designed does nothing to help its cause.
Like its predecessor, Bloodlines is basically a third person game with some stealth elements and the ability to climb buildings. So when you do get into cases of the enemy chasing you down, you always opt to run to the rooftops and hope to lose them. The problem comes with the control scheme. As I stated before, the analog nub is never precise enough for you to properly control exactly what direction you want Altair to move. Add in the fact that the camera control is only really useful when you’re not moving, and it makes a lot of instances really hard for you to decide whether or not to make a left or a right. The camera position tries to keep up and frankly, it does its best to try but it is never enough.
A lot of what you do in Bloodlines is pretty much taken from the original Assassin’s Creed, just a bit updated. Instead of doing side-quests to improve yourself for the assassination attempt, they’re kept to a simple rewards system. The quests give you money which can be used to upgrade Altair during certain intervals. So they’re basically just another way to get money fast. All the side-quests from the first game make their way here (pickpocketing, delivering messages, timed races etc etc), but it isn’t mandatory for you to do them. At first, I was a bit confused with the system as it never really tells you in-game. So when the game told me to go assassinate a certain character, I was looking around for people to tell me how to go about doing so, which unfortunately never happened.
Assassinations work like in other stealth type games. You enter an area and must make your way towards the enemy. The game gives you the option to go about this stealthily, with your typical indications that Altair can climb here and jump there. Or, you can opt to go aggressive and just kill everyone in your path. Or, you can simply run past all the guards to your destination. While the guards may hit you here and there, it isn’t bad enough for you to go and say “Ok, maybe I should kill these guys,” and once you do reach your destination, all the guards disappear, leaving you with your target and maybe some henchmen around him.
The reason for this is probably just how the game was designed. While it is still technically an open world, it’s made up of closed off areas leading to other closed off areas. So when you do go after an enemy, once you reach a travel point the guards just disappear.
Graphically, the game looks fine, though the environments are not that diverse and some facials look a bit awkward. You still get to see some awesome looking death scenes when you fight some bad guys. The only real negative I can give is Altair’s climbing. One thing I could watch Altair do all day in Assassin’s Creed was his climbing. He would move his hands onto every holding possible while making his way up a building. I thought it was amazing seeing him grab onto anything he could hold onto which put him in some interesting positions. In Bloodlines, they opted for Altair to make long reaches while he climbs. It makes him move a lot faster, but you do lose a lot of the intricate hand movements that he once had.
The music keeps the ambiance in the right mood for the situation most of the time, but where the game lacks is in the voice acting. Philip Shahbaz does not reprise his role as Altair and the developers opted for someone who doesn’t sound anything like him. It’s a bit of a transition from what you remembered and this Altair talks a whole lot more than in the previous one. Other voices are just as generic and every civilian still sounds like every other civilian. One other thing to note is that when Altair climbs up buildings, he makes some sort of grunting noise that sounds bad quality. And, as soldiers run after you and climb up buildings, they also make this generic grunt. And it kinda takes you out of the experience.
It should be assumed that if you didn’t like or play the first one, then you really have no reason to go ahead and pick this up. While I am all for big name games making their way to a handheld system, Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines is a downgraded version of what you played on the console and in no way tries to compensate for it being on a portable system. Which in truth, isn’t Bloodlines fault, as other popular game franchises have done the exact thing.
|Title:||Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines|