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Assassins Creed: Bloodlines brings back Altair, the assassin from the best-selling 360, PS3 and PC game Assassin's Creed, in this exciting sequel for the Sony PSP. In the continuation of the first game's story, you'll hunt down the remaining Templar's on the island of Cyprus and help the local resistance to bring down their quest for power. Using the PlayStation Portable's excellent visual capabilities, Bloodlines will let you roam in the large cities of Limasol and Kyrenia, introduce eight new mission-types and deliver a gripping storyline for all fans of the Assassin's Creed series.
Too often portable versions of the big console releases end up as being nothing more than watered down ports of the main game, or disastrous side-stories that are meaningless to the overall fiction. But Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines is very different and its launch alongside Assassins Creed 2 gives the franchise more depth as it bridges the gap between the first game and the new sequel.
Although Assassins Creed 2 moves the setting from the Holy Land to the Italian Renaissance, Bloodlines takes place after the events in the first game and puts you in control of Altair as he continues his mission. Instead of sticking with the same setting the game moves to Cyprus and gives the PSP a chance to show off its capable hardware. And this is, initially, the most impressive aspect of Bloodlines - the game looks tremendous and the vista's and architecture of the Cyprian cities are unbelievably crisp and detailed. But the visuals can only carry a game so far and fortunately Bloodlines contains a great amount of story depth and satisfying gameplay to justify buying the game.
The same open-world action and environment from the first game is present and this makes the experience surprisingly authentic if you've played the original console game. None of the control simplification from the previous DS game has been made here and the elements of parkour-style platforming and the stealth crowd-interaction are all in full effect on the PSP. The combat is fast and flowing, just like the original game, and it's hard not to feel completely bowled over by how well Bloodlines looks and controls whilst playing.
The new mission types in Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines are a welcome addition, keeping the gameplay fresh and exciting throughout the main game and helping to avoid the familiarity that plagued the original console version. These missions are especially important for the handheld game as any repetition makes for a pretty irritating experience, but the way they are structured and implemented means every mission leads to new or incredibly satisfying moments.
This rich visual and gameplay feast makes Bloodlines an excellent PSP game, but what interested me more was how it bridged the story between the first game and the new Assassin's Creed 2 for PS3 and Xbox 360. Bloodlines explored the link between Altair, his present day descendant Desmond Miles and the new protagonist Ezio Firenze. This wider part of the story that crosses from platform to platform gives the whole franchise such an impressive amount of depth that I couldn't help but be swept up in its fiction. Even though I had my misgivings about the original game, the way Bloodlines turns the fiction into a sweeping epic leading into Assassin's Creed 2 got me fully involved.
This link doesn't just end at story-based details as completing this game unlocks features on the PS3 version of Assassin's Creed 2. Although it's a small aspect of the franchise this type of interaction makes these games so compelling. With the visuals and controls as impressive as those of the first console game, Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines for the PSP is a truly extraordinary extension of the Assassin's Creed franchise, and a worthy purchase.
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