Review by _BTT_
"It's okay, but not what I expected."
I came into this expecting a little more, quite frankly. I only recently learned of the Assassin's Creed games, and even more recently got a PS3 and Assassin's Creed. I love the original. The huge environments, the stunning graphics, and - my favorite quality of all - complete free-roaming. Now, being on the DS, I know the first two points shouldn't be held against this game. However, this unfortunately does not excuse the later.
Story: 7/10 - Good
The main plot of the story seems to have no tie in with the console Creed, aside from the same characters and area names. The main plot is that Altair, the game's protagonist and a major-league assassin, is ordered to find the Chalice, an artifact that can stop the Crusades. However, it's very powerful, and must be destroyed. So, Al Maulim, the Assassin's head, orders Altair to find and destroy it, taking Altair to Acre, Jerusalem, Tyre, and Damascus in search of this Chalice. It's good, but I take points off for virtually no relevance to the console Creed.
Gameplay: 7/10 - Good
I'm being pretty nice here, really, in that I'm not comparing the gameplay the the console Creed. This game is more about platforming and hack-and-slashing than gathering info and assassinating. Basically you go from point to point, following blue orbs that, when enough are collected, can increase either Sword power or energy. This is not necessarily a bad thing; once I stopped comparing this to the original, I found this quite fun. However, poor camera angles and slippery controls (more on that later) cause many, many deaths even early on, but once you get the hang of it and laugh at the whole "You're dead" sign when you die, it's easy to get over.
My major complaint, aside from lack of free-roaming, is the horrid combat system. Mostly you'll hack through the weak enemies, curse the Archers until you catch up to them, and only really have fun fighting the armored Templars. They're really the only ones that stand a chance against you, and then you get to unleash the cool combos you can pull. Most of the Boss fights have no such combos involved, and simply have you obeying given button commands. I'll give you some advice, though: don't try countering. It's much harder to do than just unleashing slashing and roundhouse-kicking, and is less entertaining anyways.
The minigames where you pickpocket and push pressure points are hardly worth mentioning; while they're cool aspects, they're barely used. One last word of advice: Upgrade your health. You'll get an uber-blade near the end of the game, which is when the real hard stuff starts.
Controls: 5/10 - Average
The controls sort of disappointed me. I half-expected controls like the console Creed's, which I found extremely cool. However, I had no such luck. Y and X are the commands to draw your sword and use light and heavy attacks respectively, B has you jump, and A interacts with the environment. The R button has Altair crouch, and the L button has him walk or guard, depending on if his sword is out or not. Sometimes the controls seem slippery; I've found myself jumping to far sometimes and accidentally jumping off edges into the abyss. Overall though they're average.
Graphics: 6/10 - Fair
The graphics really aren't anything special. I'd expect about the same from a Nintendo 64. The characters sometimes look sorta blocky, but the general feel is given, and that's sorta what counts. Character portraits look better, but not by much. Overall I've seen better from the DS.
Audio: Not rated
There really isn't much in terms of music, and what there is I didn't really pay attention to. There isn't any voice acting in this game, which is kinda a let down. Overall I didn't feel like I could rate this section based on a lack of audio in the game itself. Although I have to say, the music when the guards are alert is cool.
Replay Value: 5/10 - Average
After you beat the game, you unlock hard mode, which I guess sorta adds to the replay value. I'll definitely go back to a couple levels and redo them, but overall there's not much in terms of replay value.
OVERALL SCORE: 6/10 - FAIR
Once I stopped comparing this to the console Creed, I found the game more entertaining. However, even then the game won't hold my attention for long. If you want a portable Creed with free-roaming, assassinating action, you're out of luck, but if you want an average platformer starring your favorite kick-assassin, then I'd get it. Just rent it first; You'll probably beat the game in a couple of days or so.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 02/11/08
Game Release: Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles (US, 02/05/08)
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