Review by Exodist
"Whilst the game isn't that bad, the repetition can get to you."
From Ubisoft Montreal comes Assassins Creed, a highly anticipated game! I admit I wasn't really interested in the game until near release, I just kinda decided to get it (although I did know what the game was about etc, I didn't just randomly buy it). The game certainly has an interesting premise, you might think it's similar to the Hitman games, but it really isn't. What makes Assassins Creed so different then?
The story was alright, pre-release saw a lot of mystery behind the story. A lot of people suspected some sci-fi elements, and there was certainly enough evidence to support this. If you don't want any spoilers, skip this paragraph! The game starts with Desmond, a simple bar man who has been kidnapped by a science company. Using a machine called the Animus, they can obtain the memories of Desmonds ancestors, one of them being Altair, the character you mainly play as. Altair lives in the Holy Land, 1191 AD (I think that was the year, I don't fully remember). Altair is part of the Assassins Creed, and is a highly skilled acrobatic and fighter. Sent out on a mission, Altair is disloyal to the Creeds rules and is stripped of his ranks. However he is not killed, Altair is given a chance to regain his ranks. He must assassinate nine different targets to regain his ranks. Meanwhile in modern day, the mysterious science company are after something, they strap Desmond up into the Animus looking for something. However Desmond cannot handle the Animus and the required memory cannot be accessed. Thus you must play through the game until this memory can be accessed, after killing all nine targets. There is a lot of mystery behind the story however I feel it was a missed opportunity, they could have done more and there are a lot of questions left un-answered, however it leaves it off for a sequel so I guess its alright to leave questions left in our minds.
So the gameplay? The game is set in five different locations, Masyaf where the Creed is located, the kingdom, which links all three cities, and the cities of Acre, Jerusalem and Damascus. Once obtaining your target at the Creed, you set off to whichever city to assassinate them. Once you arrive at the Bureau, you must do investigations (up to six for each target, the further you get the more pieces you need as a mininum). To obtain these you must climb up to high points, these are towers etc, where you can view the surrounding area to find sub-quests. These include pick-pocketing, interrogations, eavesdropping, informers (which set you out to kill guards or collect flags to obtain their information), and citizens (saving them isn't for investigations, you simply get achievements and vigilantes for saving them). Once you have enough information, you must head over to the target and assassinate them. You basically do this for all nine targets. The game is incredibly repetitive, the investigations are never new, and informer investigations mainly consist of killing guards which gets the most boring. Whilst the game premise is good for a while, it gets boring, leaving you wanting more variety, the targets are interesting, but when it comes down to it, they're not very different.
As you may have seen Altair is a skilled acrobat and fighter, how does this handle? Altair can interact with most of the environment. You can blend in with the people, sit on benches and hide in roof gardens to hide from the guards. When holding RT you enter free-running mode. Altair will climb and jump automatically, you simply control which direction he goes with the analog stick. The free running system mostly works, you can scale many buildings with ease, however there a few occassions when the system will do something completely opposite to what you wanted, despite you not really doing anything wrong (like jumping off the building instead of to the next). They mostly work though and are easy to get used to. The fighting isn't to great however. You press LT to pull out your weapon (selected with the DPAD). You then lock onto your target and use the X button to attack. There are many over buttons to dodge their attacks but they're usually to hard to press, by the time you realise what attack they're going to use you have missed the chance to counter. Eventually you will just counter every attack for an easy kill, the combat gets boring and often very frustrating, especially toward the end. Its a good attempt, but it doesn't quite work, hopefully the combat will be improved for the sequel.
The graphics are great, definitely worth looking at. The character models are pretty good, although some of the peasants etc are a little lacking (although thats not much of a problem), although they're generally pretty good. The cities are apparently accurately designed, although im not really sure what Jerusalem etc looked like in 1191! Although it didn't happen much, I did have some framerate problems. Once the frame rate just stayed the same, it was very hard to play with such a low framerate and it didn't change, I had to turn the game off and on again to fix the problem. Thats only once, although I have encountered numerous slow downs, although they're nothing major. The music isn't too bad, although there isn't too much music. The voice acting was pretty good, it certainly didn't sound out of place (apparently the Animus translates, thus every one speaks English).
Overall, Assassins Creed is definitely worth a try, but don't expect too much. Its not that the game is that bad (apart from dodgey combat), its just incredibly repetitive, killing one target is almost no different to killing over targets. The items to collect in the game are ridiculous too, there are hundreds of flags hidden every where, I doubt many people want to search for flags for hours on end. If you're a fan of action/adventure games its worth a try, just don't expect much variety!
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 03/06/08
Game Release: Assassin's Creed (EU, 11/16/07)
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