Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Assassin’s Creed comes to (and dies on) the PSP


By James Booth

Assassin's Creed was one of the more successful console titles of 2007, and has remained so until this year's release of Assassin's Creed II. Coinciding with that release is Assassin's Creed Bloodlines, the franchise's debut on the PSP (Playstation Portable).

How well does this title translate to the small platform of the PSP? Is it a success? Should you "heed the Assassin's Creed?" Or is it best to let Assassin's Creed Bloodlines, shown in Figure A, fall to the wayside?


Assassin's Creed Bloodlines for the PSP (Playstation Portable). (click for larger image)

The history

For those unfamiliar with Assassin's Creed, players take on the role of Altair (All-tie-ear), a member of the Assassin Brotherhood during the Third Crusade to the Holy Land. As an assassin, Altair is pitted against the Brotherhood's nemesis, the Knights Templar, whom are rousted from the Holy Land by the end of the first game.

In truth, the real protagonist of the Assassin's Creed franchise is Desmond Miles, genetic descendant of Altair and captive of Abstergo Labs. This pharmaceutical company of the near-future is attempting to extract historical information from Desmond via the genetic memory of his ancestors stored in his DNA. Through a device called the Animus, Desmond is able to relive Altair's memories in an effort to locate the missing information. It turns out that he is an assassin himself, a life he has turned his back on, and Abstergo is the modern incarnation of the Templars.

That should be sufficient background on the franchise to bring you up to speed on Assassin's Creed Bloodlines for the PSP. Taking place between Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed II, Bloodlines continues Altair's pursuit of the Templars as they flee the Holy Land for the island of Cyprus.

Setup and style

Like its console brethren, Bloodlines is played from a third-person perspective; which, as I've mentioned before, I feel suits the PSP quite well. Also like the console versions, Assassin's Creed on the PSP uses a puppeteer control scheme, wherein certain buttons are tied to specific body regions, i.e. the Triangle is paired to the head for talking and visualization, the Square to the weapon arm for combat, X to sprinting and blending into the crowd like shown in Figure B, etc.


Blend into the crowd so as not to draw attention. (click for larger image)

Free-running is a major part of Assassin's Creed. Altair can shinny up the side of most buildings, trees, or poles in order to gain access to the rooftops so as to traverse the city in freedom, for a quick getaway, or to skirt a patrol.