Assassin’s Creed II launches next week and PlayStation 3 fans everywhere are anxiously awaiting the chance to step into Ezio’s capable boots and slink through the 14th-century streets of Venice. But Ubisoft isn’t going to leave PSP owners out in the dark; Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines, which can be considered a direct sequel to the original title that released back in 2007, will be on store shelves on the exact same day. Hence, November 17 is a day when all stealth/action aficionados should be excited as you can test out new assassin adventures either in your living room or while on the go. And while many of you are wondering if Bloodlines will be a big step back simply because it’s on a handheld device, we’re here to assure you that Ubisoft has indeed worked to make this a full, accomplished, complete experience.
This game picks up where the first title left off, after the assassination of Robert de Sable. However, we should note that Desmond, the true main protagonist of Assassin’s Creed, doesn’t make an appearance even though you’ll certainly play as Altair. Altair starts off by continuing to chase de Sable’s girlfriend, Maria, and upon catching her, he learns more about the mysterious Templar Knights of Cyprus. He then embarks on an entirely new quest loaded with fresh locales and fluid style of authentic gameplay we found in the first game. In fact, if you’ve examined any of the available gameplay videos out there, you might notice that it looks pretty damn good for a portable adventure. Furthermore, if you played Assassin’s Creed, you should realize that Bloodlines adopts the exact same control format, so you should adapt immediately. The only difference centers on camera control: you have to double-tap the left bumper to center the camera, or hold the button to guide the camera with the face buttons.
The camera issue is a recurring one on the PSP but veterans have long since gotten used to it (we hope). And besides, if you’ve forgotten much of the first game, you’ll get the benefit of a long tutorial that allows players to become acquainted with the “passive” and “aggressive” modes of combat and movement. You’ll definitely have the ability to choose how you approach each objective, in that you can opt to be stealthy and conduct your business from the shadows, or you can simply run out and cross blades with guards. Doing the latter results in the same style of battle found in AC; you can block and strike with precision blows and of course, counters are usually the name of the game, as you can handle large groups easily with well-timed counterattacks. As for the expansive city areas, you might be surprised at just how large they are in this PSP iteration. They may not be quite as huge or as loaded with intricate detail but you won’t feel claustrophobic, ‘cuz there are plenty of areas to explore.
And Altair scampers and clambers just as cleanly as he did in the original. You can climb just about anything and hiding places are equally important, so you’ll need to be both quick and attentive. Now, the missions will also be familiar (although some maintained that these were far too repetitive in the first game); AC vets will quickly recognize the objectives that require you to reach lookout points around the city, saving citizens from over-aggressive guards, reaching a particular point without being spotted and obviously, nailing any number of assassination targets. We just think it’s excellent that Ubisoft is keeping the “free running” concept intact and we never had any problem with the implementation and execution of the quests in the first title. Oh, and you’ll want to search around for hidden Templar Coins scattered around; collect enough and you’ll be able to unlock a variety of sweet upgrades for Altair. Permanent stat increases, more damage dealt, better weapons and more await you…Remember those bad-ass throwing knives? You know you need ‘em.
So yeah, both Assassin’s Creed II for the PS3 and Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines for the PSP will launch next week on November 17. Maybe for the ultimate assassin experience, you’ll need both...
11/10/2009 Ben Dutka