Review by lordofthefarm
"Late Game Of The Year entry?"
This is an Ubisoft game, in which an accurate description would be that it is a mix of Prince of Persia, Thief, Hitman and Spiderman. You could say it takes the best features of all of these games and puts them together, and that would be true on some fronts.
This game is definitely a landmark of modern gaming. It combines a good combat system, which I'll explain later, brilliant exploration and movement in cities and great assassination mechanisms which, if done correctly, can produce a spectacular kill.
What I mean by the movement and exploration being brilliant is of course the free running. It has mainly realistic climbing and movement which look and feel fantastic of which very few games can achieve, and even the more surreal actions look amazing, and you won't find yourself asking 'how and why did he do such an impossible thing'. Never (apart from the latest Spiderman games) have I wanted to explore the towns for such a long time, running, jumping and climbing your way through a massive city. The feeling of freedom is very much alive in this game, even if the levels have specific missions set up.
Coming back to the combat system, I must say there has been a lot of debate about this recently. People say it is way too easy to kill dozens of guards by your self, making you a 'one man army'. In one aspect I agree, and it would have been nice to see an emphasis on running away through the spectacular cities. On the other hand, I quite enjoyed it, and I like having a fair chance to kill anyone apposing my way, as I can still run away if I feel it's going to take a long time to kill, or if my odds are against me. It is a very simple system anyone can pick up, and I do like the varying counters for different weapons, which are always pretty gruesome.
The AI of this game varies, as some of the harder enemies or 'bosses' don't just stand around, they do something, usually involving shoving their sword down your back while you're trying to kill his guards. I have complaints, but I know it wouldn't any more fun with guards which can think for themselves. It's not any worse with the civilians, nor is it any better and that's all there is to it.
The additional side-quests you can do in every city are pretty darn repetitive, as with some things in the game, but you might still end up doing them all like me for the sake of it being fun. They are either going to every view point in a certain area of the city, or rescuing citizens from evil guards. This is pretty basic, and sometimes I wish there would be more of this, as exploring would be much more fun. There are loads of things called flags with are little things, which differ in amounts in most cities, and you might want to try that with all of them, even if this is extremely time-consuming. There is also no reward for doing this on the PS3 version, until Home comes out, and even then it's not for sure.
Controls are as easy as it's gonna get, with most things just one or two button-presses away. This will let you get on in the game without any hassle. There are sometimes minor problems, such as having to hold R, X and the left analog stick. This seems fine, but when climbing building you will need to tilt the camera angle, and this is where it gets tricky and uncomfortable. Also, you cannot change the controls to set your own configuration, which is a disappointment in a game like this.
Weapon selection is good, but not great. You get a short sword, a hidden blade thing, throwing knives, a dagger and hand to hand, which is useless apart from interrogations. Some of these get upgraded after missions, which is a nice touch but nothing more that that. That happens to skills too, and some are useful, while others are just extra things to play around with.
Everyone expected and knew the graphics were going to be amazing. It didn't disappoint in that department, and I've ran out of words to describe how good it is. The cities can be seen from one end to the other, even if the buildings at the other end look like tiny little toy houses. The area of vision seems nearly infinite. I have no complaints with the character models, but the clothing is somewhat static, and it feels like there is no wind, as soft cloth barely ever moves.
In terms of fighting, I liked the effects of when you counter it sometimes slows down and zooms in, you can see the blade go in, and the blood splatter. The motion in the fighting and the game in general is very smooth and it looks natural, which is what I think this game was trying to create anyway.
The story in this game at first put me off a little, and I thought mixing the past and present/future was a little lame, but after a while I got used to it and accepted it, and it turned out to be quite a good story with twists and secrets revealing themselves in both worlds. I can't say a lot without spoiling anything, but it is two stories which intertwine closely, and is interesting to follow.
First off, the character voices. I liked the voice acting, and thought they did quite a good job on it. Some of the voices, like Altair's voice has an American accent, and as you may know he is in the time of the Crusades. As most things though, you will get an explanation for this. As far am I'm aware the rest of the voice acting is accurate enough for the date. There is, funnily enough, also an explanation for why everyone, nearly always, speaks English in the old, Arabic settings.
I might be wrong in saying this, but I will anyway. I hate, and I mean I hate the comments made by the citizens in the street while you're climbing up. They're always the same damn things, they're said in the same voices, and they're just annoying. Another thing I don't like are the comments made by the guards, as sometimes it doesn't work properly due to a glitch and wrong things are said at wrong times. However, this is just a minor annoyance.
Music in the game was designed to fit the mood. Getting chased turns on faster, moving music. Fighting provides something similar to this. On the other hand things like walking around the streets of cities, or free running about the buildings lets the music set the scene. It's Arabic, but it's good, as it should be. It doesn't hurt the ears, and if needed, reminds the player of where he is. Having something like rap music, or heavy rock in the game would be silly, and I'm glad a mistake like that wasn't made.
Normally this wouldn't be separate, but it has been a center of arguments in the boards. It really depends entirely on how you enjoy the game. If you like it, you will try and find those silly flags, and you will do every side-mission, like me. If you don't, or just want to complete it, you can do the minimal amount in 10-15 hours. Doing the rest can take another 50+. After completing the main missions, you can unlock a thing, which lets you go back and do anything you want, including killing citizens without penalty, which can be fun for a little while.
In terms of replayability, there isn't much because you can go back from your original save file, and starting a new one seems pointless then, as there is no difficulty settings.
I think apart from all of the minor glitches and things that could and should be tweaked, we have something which shows the possibilities of the next-gen consoles. Yes, it has been over-hyped, but as long as you weren't expecting the greatest game ever, you'll be happy once you've picked this game up.
Rent or buy? I think this is up to taste. If you like old style games with swords and knights and assassins then by all means buy. But, if it off your normal agenda, then you might think about renting the game to see if you like it.
Overall score: 9/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 11/26/07
Game Release: Assassin's Creed (EU, 11/16/07)
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