Review by blueninja4444

"Deliberately Designed Poorly Because “Assassin’s Creed” Title Can Sell Instantly"

In the year 2007, a little game called Assassin's Creed was released, becoming such a hit (albeit to mixed reviews) that the name Altair became a household name of gamers' every where sending the Assassin's Creed hero to fame right up there with Solid Snake and Kratos (Well, almost.) So naturally, like all great video games, the fans demanded a sequel. Like all great video games on only a select system or two, the fans wanted a game on their favorite platform, in this case, Assassin's Creed was released for the PlayStation 3 and XBOX360, but never the Wii. So to solve both problems Ubisoft announced this little game on the Nintendo DS, not a sequel, but a prequel to Assassin's Creed affectionately named Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles. Altair was heading to the portable consoles, just like Snake and Kratos, but this one wasn't heading to the Sony PSP, and Altair had a pretty big next-gen reputation to live up to on the DS. So how does Altair and his appropriately named Altair's Chronicles live up to the legend? Well.....

Graphics: 4/10
To sum up the graphics in one word, I'd say “Bland”. Another case of “Not great, yet not poor”. The first thing I should mention is the “3D but not really” Psuedo-3D graphics which end up looking about as exciting as it sounds. The camera is fixed and you can move in eight directions, but this doesn't help you out when the camera starts to kill you more than the actual enemies, especially when it comes to jumping over random spike pits and terrible looking death-traps that look really out of place smack dab in the middle of a busy ancient city.

So if the camera killing you is a problem you might think “Maybe killing enemies is the shining solution!” but alas, this is only if you enjoy choppy and uninspiring animations. Even the walking animation looks choppy and could've been done better on a GBA. Some of the animations you think they would've spent more time on, like Altair using his signature hidden-blade-in-between-the-fingers weapon or swinging his sword are quite poor.

“Well animations look bad, the fixed camera is bad news, what about the models?” Ohh the character models, they're kind of lack luster too. Though Altair looks an awful lot like Altair, almost everything else looks blocky and using cheap animations from enemy guards to the background. Though there is the occasional impressive (for this game) collapsing terrain, but even that's kind of annoying because it usually leads to you dieing.

“What about glitches?” Ohh those? Do you count accidentally walking through a solid wall and plummeting to your death in an endless pit of doom a glitch? If so, you'll find plenty, and I mean plenty, of glitches in this game that'll be sure to have you pulling your hair out, or laughing your guts out as you witness (in terrible frame rate, might I add) just how uninspiring Altair's Chronicles' graphics are.

Sound: 3/10
Yikes! No voice acting?! No exciting battle music? Lame sound effects? This a disaster! You can try to stick up for this game however you want, but I just spent US $30 on it and I can't even say one good thing, audio wise. And being on the Nintendo DS is not an excuse to pass up the opportunity to use good sound. You may have played games with great voice acting and SE and BGM on the DS such as “Mech Assault: Phantom War” but Altair's Chronicles is just an embarrassment in the sound department.

Controls: 4/10
Just because Altair has come to the Nintendo DS doesn't mean this game is automatically “Assassin's Stylus”. The touch screen is only put to minimal use in this game, only being used for basic map and inventory stuff in addition to the rare (and unsatisfying) mini-games. So basically, the game plays pretty much like you'd expect, a GBA game with 2 extra buttons, and because of poor game mechanics (poor lock on, lack of variety, etc.) you are left with a button mashing Assassin's Creed experience that puts Altair to shame. To make it worse, Altair has an acceleration problem, it takes him a long time to get running. Also of note, no DS mic use in this game. Sorry.

Even if you are the biggest fan of mini-games ever, you'll find the interrogation mini-game exceptionally cheesy, and the “pick pocket” mini game, a waste of time because of the lack of programming around that event. You can get “caught” pick-pocketing someone by screwing up the stylus mini-game, yet he doesn't even react to anything by “catching you” (such as killing you) instead you just attempt the mini-game over and over again. “Torturing” someone with the interrogation mini-game is even worse, as the enemy doesn't react, make painful sound effects, or anything that makes you seem like you're not wasting your time doing what you're doing.

And to truly kill any realistic Assassin's Creed experience you can be pick pocketing someone, a guard will walk right up to you and not even notice you. There's no inspiration to play like an assassin, there's no consequences to losing the poorly designed stylus mini-games, and there's just no thought put into the control scheme of this game.

Story: 2/10
They went and did it! They took out my favorite part of the console version, and maybe yours too. The unique futuristic story of Assassin's Creed where you are actually Altair's relative just many, many, many years in the future (Desmond) and are seeing all of the in-game events thanks to the frighteningly realistic Animus project. No longer is the neat back story about the company using you and your memory-filled DNA to gain fortune put to use. When the creators said “prequel” they really meant it!

Now you play as Altair, hence the game's sub-title, in a very unenthusiastic story which is not told with any voice acting or appropriate cut scenes but just little slow moving captions, that can't be sped up and will bore you to death. The quality of the story is very poor and it almost seems like some history class drop out sat down with a notebook, pen, and map and just threw a couple of random ancient cities, mysterious artifacts of doom and of course, the Altair character, and thought it would instantly be great because you visited Jerusalem.

The story is only “Go to (insert ancient city) and (insert stylus mini-game) some random dude who won't even care if you pick pocket him and fail over and over, because we need that (ancient artifact).” It's bad. And to make it that much worse, it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the console Assassin's Creed. It will really make you wonder if the guys behind the scenes even played the first Assassin's Creed. At least the Animus makes a cameo as the main menu.

Gameplay: 3/10
Gameplay was what made Assassin's Creed what it is today. Assassin's Creed isn't Assassin's Creed because we loved the graphics, or story, it is what it is because you felt like you were really an assassin back in the day doing whatever it is you had to do to complete your mission. This game takes away everything that made you feel like an assassin, and replaces it with the gameplay of a budget N64 game.

No longer is stealth a priority, but rather your main goal is to jump over the ridiculously lame spikes and other death-traps inserted along your adventure. Even if stealth was a priority, the guards are ludicrously unrealistic, they will swarm you if you run, because only walking is allowed in these times, apparently, yet they can witness you interrogate someone and not bat an eye?

Since stealth is all but important in this game you'll probably want to know about the all out battle techniques with guards, that is, if they aren't cartoonishly sleeping on the job. Well you can bust out your sword for some slow-as-can-be sword fights with massive amounts of guards, but be aware, the enemy AI is terrible (yes, in this phase also). You can string together some pretty poorly animated combos for some uninspiring killing with your sword, via X and Y, but that gets real old, real fast. And don't even think that the auto-aim feature will help you, because it's stale. You can throw in the even more uninspiring cross bow and other weapons, but they all become stale too.

I wouldn't say Assassin's Creed has horrible game play, but the “action” parts are extremely boring, and the in-between parts, such as jumping over many obstacles or using your other ninja talents like swinging on ropes, are insults to Assassin's Creed. The assassin experience is 100% gone, so what motivation is there to even play anymore? And if you really wanna know about the touch screen based mini-games, look above this section for my review on “controls”.

Replayability/ Longevity: 2/10
Let me put it to you this way: If you can sit through this game long enough to beat it, you are a true champion! If you bought this game, you probably didn't do much research, and the moment you play the game you will feel like the creators are challenging your intelligence and your patience. It doesn't even take 5 minutes to realize you are not getting anything close to a genuine Assassin's Creed experience. And then try to blow your mind by letting you unlock a hard difficulty as if one play through wasn't frustrating and depressing enough. Even if you had Altair posters on your wall and bought this game the day it was released you wouldn't find the motivation to play it twice, I promise you, and obviously the game testers didn't either with all the bugs and glitches. Free roaming? Forget about it!

Ohh and let's talk about Ad-Hoc and Wifi, or more importantly how there is no multiplayer at all in Assassin's Creed. Why not try to distinguish this from the console by adding an ad-hoc co-operative mode, since the console was one player only. Instead you are left with one less reason to pick up the game, not that you could talk your buddy into getting this game to play co-op with you anyway. Replay value? Non-existent. If anything this game makes you want to put the console Assassin's Creed in your PS3 or Xbox just to embrace the fact that Altair's Chronicles was just a bad dream.

Overall: 2
A two out of ten is not a good score under any circumstances, and if you come across someone sticking up for this game they'll probably throw some garbage at you like “Ohh it's just a DS game! What did you expect? PS3 quality?” but that's just trash, because I own a DS and you probably do too, and we both have played games that make this look like rubbish. They can say “It's a portable, of a great game of course they're gonna rush it!“ but you know there are games like Chains of Olympus that blows that theory out of the water. And they can say “Assassin's Creed!! Come on, it doesn't get any better than that, it's my favorite game on the PS3!” but that's a bunch of crap too because if you take away the genuine assassin experience in Assassin's Creed, you're left with nothing but a blemish on Altair's record of great games, one and done.

What's left to say? A game full of sub-par graphics, glitches and bugs, lackluster audio, a drab story, useless stylus mini-games, no free-roam, gameplay that feels like anything but Assassin's Creed, and has no real replay value whatsoever is just a horrible game, and if you are an Assassin's Creed fan you are probably ashamed to see Altair get dragged through the mud on this disgrace of a game. But never fear, Assassin's Creed is still a young game at heart, and this is just the “Snake's Revenge” (Solid Snake) for Altair. I can't even tell you to rent it, because you'd probably sue me for your money back.

Let's make a game, put no effort into it, call it a prequel to Assassin's Creed, include some Altair stuff like his hidden blade, rush the release, slap Altair and Assassin's Creed on the cover and we have a WINNER!! Yeah right, they're seriously hoping you're stupid enough to buy that.


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 03/24/08

Game Release: Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles (US, 02/05/08)


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