Assassins creed : Bloodlines (AcB) is a game for the psp, designed to bridge the gap between the console releases 1 and 2. In the game you are Altair and are running around roughly a month after the events of AC1.
Altair has travelled to cyprus from the Holy land areas, as the last of the templars are meeting there to find the apple of eden. The historical relic which allows the beholder to control the minds of the people. It's Altair's task to track down the 5 templars on the island and assassinate them, before they find the apple and cause widespread damage to the world.
The story is very smooth and you are forever gaining information in similar ways to the console, interregation, stealing, eavesdropping are all ways of preparing yourself for the final challenge.
The game is set mainly in Cyprus , although you start in Acre castle learning the basics there and in the Animus. The assassinations take place in two of Cypruses cities, Krenia and Limasol.
These make for intresting level designs due to the big marketplaces , castles and docks situated inside of them. However they dont have the diversity of the consoles levels and so both feel pretty similar, not only that but the amount of loading screens which plague the city make it feel a lot less open and more like they are individual sub-levels, especially when every loading screen takes around 9 seconds.
The games area's do feel as though the developer is hitting copy and paste at some points, nearly all buildings are connected by wooden planks and have a hiding place. All the windows are set in the same way and every other building also has a ladder traversing between the different housing storeys. When climbing castles the stonework juts out and looks as though it has been glued on, not like it is a piece of the same stone structure.
Although , the palm trees , market stalls and people are designed well , albeit in a rather clunky style they dont have the variety they should. Apparently every 3rd person in Cyprus is an identical twin according to this game.
Just because it's on the PSP doesn't mean it has to have a second rate feel to the levels.
The gameplay is also a mix bag because of this, one of the most exciting things in the AC series is investigating all the areas of the map, the parkour side of the game is actually very fluid which surprised me. Ubisoft have passed over Altair's cat like balance and movement very well, it's just a shame the area he is running around in doesn't have a little more care.
The fighting mechanics of AC1 also appear in this game, unfortunatly thats not a great thing. The Knight's templar were meant to be the cream of the crop, the best fighters in the land.But like it's console counterpart they resemble an average man who has had the sword forced on them and pointed in Altairs direction , flailing with his weapon like a child. Big groups are easily despatched with swift , quick attacks and any attempts at blocking dont last long as they soon drop their guard.
Graphically the game is OK , Altairs robes flutter around his legs as he runs and small sparks fly off colliding metal. The best way to describe the sorroundings would be that when you are far away they look really good, but as you get closer you can see it lacks that final polish that it unobtained in many titles. It leaves it with that typically portable, blocky and smudged design. It doesn't really ruin the game but it is noticable.
The sounds in the game all sound good but are repeated often, the sound of clashing swords and shouting soon become very similar and a little annoying.
Voice acting in the game is average for a title like this, it feels a bit clouded at some point and the voice of Altair is very different , this doesn't help continuity at all as it's a game to bridge the gap, it seems to miss out the part where Altair's spent his holidays in a place near india and picked up the accent.
The soundtrack in the game doesn't add much but slightly raises the atmosphere , again its quite repetitive but their is the option to turn it off.
Around 10 hours of gameplay, it also has connection with AC2 on the ps3, allowing you to get exclusive weapons.
To be honest the game is pretty generic, whilst it shows what can be done visually , it lacks that extra detail in almost all areas. The team obviously didn't pass on the feedback from AC1 and let the PSP versions make the same mistakes.