Review by ZavionSrath
"Assassin's Creed: Reminding me it's a game."
Assassin's Creed: Reminding Me it's a Game.
Before I begin, I want to say two things. Firstly, that, I really wanted this game to be good. It could had been good. It should had been good. Secondly, this review has minor spoilers and while I usually try to avoid spoiling a game in a review, this review is not possible without them. I apologize for that. Also, what I 'spoil' will be obvious within 30 seconds of playing the game. Some of you won't count that as a spoiler, but I know people that don't want any more information than what's on the box, and while I respect that, I feel that without knowing this, you might be getting a completely different game than you expect. So view at your own discretion.
I don't have much to say about this, and while I'm baffled by some of the architecture, I'm told that the style is authentic, and I'm in no position to deny or affirm this claim. The world, for the oddity that the city was designed in, looks realistic. People look like people, water looks like water, etc. The graphical 'flaws' in the game that detracted from the game I will explain more in depth in the story below, and are part of the plot, so I don't blame the engine on it, so much as it's a design problem. The graphics are, however, the highlight of the game. It all goes downhill from there.
Ok, I must admit that the sound effects themselves are very well done. Metal sounds teeth gratingly like metal, the horses and feet sound like what they should on the surface they are. The voices, despite being kinda out of place with the accents at times, are well done.
This sounds like it should receive a higher score, except that a few problems seriously mar it. Altair's voice actor can only act slightly better than I could, and that's a serious flaw. If a Random Citizen sounds out of place, I can buy that. When the main character sound out of place, that bothers me, especially when his contemporaries sound like they've actually taken a class or two.
It still wouldn't be so bad except that, they really skimped on the writing. Really really skimped. There are like 12,000 different voices, which is pretty sweet, then you realize that all of them are saying the same things over and over. Now, it annoys me in a game to hear the same voice to say the same thing twice in a row, but that's sometimes unavoidable, but to hear 2 different people say the exact same thing strikes me as baffling. It's like, they have all this memory to make all these different voices, and then, as a cruel joke, they make them all say the exact same thing. Put that in with the fact that the omni-visionary populous will comment every time you so much as move faster than 1 mile per hour (more on that later), and it gets extremely annoying. You hop forward 3 inches and then you hear:
"Will someone tell me what he is doing?"
"Will someone tell me what he is doing?"
"Will someone tell me what he is doing?"
Every single time.
And what is worse is that, the sound has an awkward directional scheme. Any time the game believes you're somewhere that can echo, if you look right at them, you hear them as if they're right next to you (as you should), but if you look an inch to the left or right, then suddenly they're a football field away. If an object like (say, a 3 foot tall chair) is in the way, they start to echo so badly it's as if you're in another room.
Here is where the entire game starts to fall apart. No matter how well the story may or may had not been, no matter how realistic the game might had been or how authentic, if the game pauses constantly to remind me it's a game, it's completely ruined.
There is no immersion. As soon as you really start getting into it, going "Ok, I'm Altair, and assassin, gonna do me some assassinatin'", the game finds a way to pull you out of the experience. Now, (spoiler time, by the way), I realize you're really some guy in a DNA memory machine (the, by the way, stupidest rendition of collective memory ever, and the sloppiest understanding of genetic code ever) called the Animus reenacting the memories in your DNA, which for some reason they need you for, which for some reason they can't get a blood sample from you for, and as soon as you do something distracting to the memory that your ancestor didn't do (like dying), you desynchronize with your DNA and have to start over from the last checkpoint.
Now, I personally don't mind having infinite lives. Just leave it as that. Don't invent some story about how or why I'm not really dying. It kills the mood. The game reminds you constantly you're in a computer simulation. Your lock on bar makes little molecules and computer code pop around, the movie sequences in the game have, no joke, 'glitches' in them (I thought those were bad to leave in a game?), which doesn't make the game more realistic, it makes me remember it's a game.
Areas of the city you can't get to don't just block you, there is a giant blue wall in the way with computer jargon and DNA molecules and crap that you can barely see beyond, and you can see the walls coming up from a long way away. It's like "Here is the end of the world, now get your video game butt back over there and complete the objectives.", and it's an eyesore.
Heck, even the collectibles have this effect. And if you look past that, the game freezes after certain objectives and announces it's 'Fast Forwarding to More Recent Memory', and pulls you out of Altair's story so you can walk around and be lectured in bad science and bad philosophy by the mad doctor and his shady Shadowrun/Illuminate-esque giant corporation. I don't care about that, I bought 'Assassin's Creed' not 'Bladerunner.'.
Now, I must admit that I do like the controls, and I do like the ability that you can climb, fairly realistically on just about anything. Even if every way has too many convenient windows or whatever, but it works out. I like the ability to scale about 80% of the walls in the world, without like, Spiderman powers or something. Altair actually climbs on the pieces of the wall too, and just just 'up' walls with the right texture. I also like the ease of being able to run across gaps and small jumps without trying to stop and time every jump. That's about all the good in it.
You're supposed to mingle with the population and stay out of trouble on way to missions, saving some people on the way, checking out the landscape, and do some investigating. All of this is broken. All of it.
The guards have three alertness levels, unaware, suspicious and aware, then chasing you. They will never, ever be unaware. Now, if I saw Altair, I would know something was up too, but that's not the point. If you walk more than 1 mile per hour, they will become agitated. If something walks into you, they become agitated. If you walk at the same speed as the rest of the township, that's too fast, unless you're following some monks. If you climb up a ladder, they will become agitated. I can understand them not wanting you on the rooftops, but, to put ladders up there and gardens?
Then, any time you're on a horse, for any reason, they will start to chase you unless you motor along on the horse slower than you can walk. No joke. That is sad. I'm not a history buff. Was having a horse in that time period illegal? Why do they own saddles? And I don't mean, if they catch you stealing a horse, which I can understand. Even if you take one from an entire area away, they will know. As if your horse had a tracer on it and they had Doppler radar. Actually, considering you have a GPS (not 'a map' or 'a memory', but they actually CALL it a GPS, which again, kills the mood), I'm not surprised they have the horses electronically theft prevention tagged, so I rescind my complaint.
Basically, the summary is that, the guards are going to chase you eventually if you don't do the really slow walk. They will chase you more readily if you run. They will chase you when you do your objective, if they are around, even if there was no way they saw it, and they are everywhere. So you might as well just run right up and do what you've got to do and try to hide and lose them. There is little reason to be stealthy at all, except to try to make the game slightly more realistic.
And, then we get to repetition. You can pick pockets which is so badly done that it's hilarious, you can beat information out of people, and you can eavesdrop which is basically the same as starting a cut scene.
This is all fun the first, maybe 2 times you do it. Then it's old. And, it's not even done well, so much as that the fun is novelty. Although it is hilarious to steal something from somebody after standing there watching his conversation only 2 feet away, only to have him instantly realize it's stolen, look me in the eye, not realize I did it even though I'm alone, only to have a guard turn the corner that didn't see me yell "Thief!" draw his sword, while I run 20 feet away and sit on a bench next to two fat women that look nothing like me (I think they were women?), have him walk up, look me in the eye, and not know where I was.
Actually, this wouldn't be too hard to fix. A little variation, more action and less 'being chased for having a bum try to hit you and doing nothing about it', and let me stay IN the game long enough to like it, and it would had been a decent game.
Replay Value: 0/10
There is absolutely no reason to replay this other than to pick up flags. Consider that you can start at any mission you've already done, there is no reason to play the whole thing a second time. The time taken to play the game isn't even that long. Within 4 hours the game was half way done. When they give you a list of names, I thought that was the opening area. It is not.
Final Score: 3/10
This could had been a great game. It should had been. It just reminds me too hard I'm playing a game. It would be like if Mario stopped the game half way through, and was like "Seriously, son, you're wasting your life. Go outside. Do something. You're just wasting your whole damn life.". There are people that will enjoy it. I recommend that, if anything, you rent or borrow it. Even IF you like it, the game is short, and you'll be done before the rental time is up. Let one of your friends (suckers) pick this up, and then loan him something for it. Save yourself the full price.
Reviewer's Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Originally Posted: 12/17/07
Game Release: Assassin's Creed (US, 11/13/07)
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