: Looks good, great story and voice overs, controls wellThe Bad
: Smaller areas to explore, even less side missions than the first game, annoying camera, nothing new
It's 1191 A.D. and Acre is still not safe from the clutches of the Templars. Altair is once again at war with the seemingly never ending Templars to find the Apple of Eden. No one knows what this strange artifact can truly do, but Altair doesn't want them to be the first to find out.
If you were disappointed to find out that Assassin's Creed II wasn't a true sequel to the first game, look no further. Bloodlines is the first game's only and true sequel. Those who played the original will be on familiar ground as Bloodlines is almost exactly like the first game - both in good and in bad. You still play as Altair and can run, hop and skip to your heart's desire as you play the story through. The main difference, however, is that Desmond Miles is nowhere to be seen, as Bloodlines only concentrates on Altair's story. There are some other rather interesting differences here as well, so you'd better read further.
There are two different sets of controls: low profile and high profile. In low profile, you can walk, blend, attack etc. while the high profile allows you to sprint, run and free run up walls and buildings. You can run up practically anything that has a ledge or some sort of foothold. However, the PSP controls seem to be a little too sticky for my liking. If you are only one or two paces away from anything, Altair will cling that object even if he can't climb it and this can be extremely frustrating when running form guards in order to find some place to hide in. Free running isn't too hard, but just a bit finicky.
The combat system is simple and pretty easy to use and it is exactly like in the first game. Holding down your block button and waiting for a soldier to attack, and then counter-attack is the best route - just rinse and repeat. You can also attack first, but since you're usually surrounded by a superior force, it is usually wiser just to wait and counter-attack when attacked. If the guards are not on alert, you can naturally assassinate them by sneaking up behind them with your hidden blade or throwing knives at them.
The world in Bloodlines is not 'open' in the same sense as the world in the original was. Instead, it is formed of small little areas. Also, the layout of these areas is often a little too restrictive. While in the original, you could find alternate ways to your target, the routes in Bloodlines are often too restrictive and you end up having to fight groups of enemies with no place to hide or run and no way around the enemies. You end up having to fight them all off. The restrictive world is also evident in the lack of high points on the maps. While in the original you could climb on the specially marked high points in order to synchronize your map and unlock new areas, these are few and far between in Bloodlines.
As far as it comes to side missions, there are not many of them available. The available missions range from delivering messages to assassinating targets to helping citizens being bullied by guards. Unlike in the original, some of the side mission in Bloodlines are timed. Another small addition that is different from the original is that after each main chapter you can upgrade items using the gold coins you find throughout the game. This is slightly similar to Assassin's Creed II, but the economy system isn't present.
Simply said, the game is gorgeous. However, it doesn't look like the first game. Bloodlines looks like what the first game would be if it were ported to the PS2: there is no bump mapping, no HDR (high dynamic range) lighting, and the graphics certainly aren't in HD. But even with these limitations, the graphics are highly detailed with great looking models and menus. There is no evidence of slow-down and the voice acting is terrific.
Overall, the gameplay in Bloodlines is perfect for portable standards and running around in the small areas is pretty fluid, even if the controls are slightly awkward. Bloodlines is a great first attempt to get an Assassin's Creed game on the PSP, despite the subtle flaws that make it feel like it was a bit rushed. Nevertheless, I found the sneaking around and assassinating people very satisfying and there were enough areas to keep me occupied. The game takes about 6 hours to finish - depending on your play style - so I found it well worth my money.