Review by MetalIceWolf

"IT'S A TRAP!"

After the big success of Assassin's Creed on the 360 and PS3, Ubisoft decided to bring Altair to the handheld market, in the form of a prequel. Gameloft, the developer of this title, have done a rushed, horribly disappointing job. It's an utter disgrace to the Assassin's Creed name. Why? Read on and find out.

First of all, since it's a prequel to the original Assassin's Creed, which had an interesting story, obviously things should be pretty good here. But nope, the only thing here is something so basic, so simple, and so boring. What a fan would have thought, though, would be to perhaps gain some info to help with the story of the original AC, which left lots of things to speculate. Instead, we're here as Altair again, and only him, where you'll have to search for something known as the "chalice." You'll see Al Mualim, and a few other new characters, such as Fajera the dancer, but none of them make a difference. There's no valuable info to obtain from this game's plot. The story is just...boring.

The graphics aren't very impressive at all. Altair and the people are undetailed and shoddy looking. The environments aren't anything special either, there's plenty of recycled graphics. The bottom screen's character portraits are nice though, I guess, as are the three cinematic 3D scenes in the game. Other than that, graphics aren't anything special. The music is good, though you may get annoyed after hearing the same tune so often. Sound effects, like swords clashing and snoring, are well done.

The controls suck, and the game's glitchyness caused some parts to be really frustrating. Clinging onto a wall and accidentally pressing the wrong directional button will make you fall to your doom. While fighting enemies, you may get slashed a hundred times before being able to get back up, only to be kicked down again. There was a point in the game where I was on a bridge and an enemy came at me, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get my sword to hit him, so I was rammed into a wall and killed. The controls and movement of Altair are so slippery, one simple mistake and it's the game over screen for you.

The actual gameplay itself is incredibly linear. An arrow will point you in the direction you must go, and you'll follow that while avoiding traps, fighting guards, occasionally do a touch screen minigame, and continue onwards until you're in the next area and you'll do the same thing there as you did before, except probably with more traps or more enemies or whatever. Jumping around and clinging to things isn't fun at all. You have to make Altair run before you can do a longer jump. There's a hookshot-type item, which you'll use to cling onto certain areas and then swing-jump your way through. There's no free roaming, and as I mentioned, the game is strictly linear. You can use different weapons (crossbow, short blade), assassinate enemies by quietly walking up behind them, grab them with the hookshot, blind them with smoke bombs, blow them up with normal bombs, or punch and kick them around. The fastest way to do it is just use your sword and mash your way through the enemies. Yeah, button mashing, that's all combat is really. There's too many traps, in fact that's pretty much all this game has, and they are horribly done. So much as touching the corner of a wall spike is instant death. Surely they could have made it so you'd just lose some health, but nope, they make it an instant game over, where you'll then see that stupid loading screen again and be back to the last checkpoint and forced to go through that trap again. Doing this was probably on purpose, to prolong the length of this super short game. Once you've beaten the game, the only thing you unlock is hard mode. Wow, such a wonderful prize, a prize that you will probably never experience as you'll probably shove the game back into it's case and never look at it again like I did, or be a better person by completely avoiding the game altogether.

To sum it all up:

Pros:
-Music is decent, with some familiar tunes from the original AC.
-Sound effects are good too.
-The 3D cinematics are nice, but there's only three throughout the whole game and they're short so they may as well not exist.

Cons:
-Disappointing story.
-Too many traps, majority of which will kill you with one touch, too frustrating and annoying.
-The touchscreen minigames (pickpocketing and interrogation) are so stupid and crappy, you'll be glad they rarely occur.
-Horrible controls that will have you seeing the 'game over' screen countless times.
-Full of glitches. Oh look, Altair is stuck inside a wall, being repeatedly shot by an archer, nothing to do now but wait for that game over screen.
-Loading screens. Seriously, a DS game with loading screens? WTF?
-Graphics are muddy and pixel-like.
-Combat system fails, there's multiple moves for you to do, and different weapons to use, but you'll see no point in using them.
-Puzzles consist of annoying "push those blocks" and "get there before the door closes" stuff.
-Touchscreen is used for selecting/switching weapons, totally unnecessary.
-Really short game. Can be beaten in a couple of sittings.
-Absolutely no replay value.

It seemed rather obvious to me that Gameloft hadn't played the original Assassin's Creed. It just seems that Ubisoft told them basic info about the game and made them do a rushed, boring prequel for some quick bucks. Gameloft must have thought "Hey, Ubisoft are the creators of Prince of Persia, you know, those games full of traps, acrobatic wall jumping/clinging, sword fights and puzzles? AC is probably the same, except with pickpocketing, assissinations and a few stealthy things, so let's get to work guys!" Seriously, this game really is more of a "Prince of Persia" than an "Assassin's Creed", which is why I think they must have gotten mixed up with the franchises, or didn't bother to actually play the original game.

I know that 2/10 is an harsh score, but if the only things that were good in this game were the music, sounds, and the two short cinematics, then it's truly deserving of such a low score. I play video games for fun and enjoyment, and this was completely devoid of both.

If Ubisoft actually put some effort into it, the prequel for AC could have been awesome. What they'd need to do though, would be to put it on the PSP. Putting it on the DS in the first place makes absolutely no sense, I mean come on, the touch screen was barely used at all in the game (only for the map, weapon switching and the two minigames.) On the PSP, they could have presented not only a graphical treat, but a more similar game to the original AC, by having a free-roaming world, and perhaps a better story (I would have loved to learn more about the Animus and play out the past of Subject 16.) But no, the only purpose of putting it on the DS was for some quick cash. Slapping on the "Assassin's Creed" title tricks customers into thinking it's a good game, or as fun or as similar to the original. The game is composed of traps, and the actual game itself is a trap. How ironic!


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 07/28/08

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


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