Review by Invader_Chimp
"Full of potential but falls flat on its face"
Ah, Assassin's Creed. I was truly, truly hyped for this game. I think we all were. I remember those awesome trailers and wanting this game so bad. I remember game journalists telling us it was actually pretty glitchy and bad. If only I had listened. This game basically takes all your high expectations and tears them to peaces, forces you to eat the torn up expectations and then kicks you in the nuts for the hell of it. This game is terrible. The saddest thing is that you can see the building blocks for an amazing game behind the protective cover of mediocrity.
You are Altair, an assassin living during the Crusades. Basically, Altair has messed up badly. He went crazy on a mission and got his assassin buddy killed. Now he has to work his way back up the ranks of the assassin brotherhood by killing nine targets chosen for mysterious reasons you do not yet know. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, don't forget that the whole Crusades thing is actually taking place in a machine in the future. Enter Desmond, who is like Altair except whinier.
Desmond is kidnapped by some medical company called Asbestos or something and forced to relive his great x 100 grand daddy Altair's memories which in some terrifying dance of logic are, like, in him. If this sounds confusing to you, that's because it is. The cutscenes are boring and talky and never seem to shed any real light on the story. After every assassination you are subjected to a 10 minute chat with your assassin master who sounds like an Aladdin villain. During every assassination you will talk to your victim before he dies. After each random number of assassinations you will talk to the doctors holding you hostage. As you can see this ambitious story soon becomes a repetitive snooze fest in which even the cutscenes are repetitive that might cause to mute it all together.
This is probably the best part of the game. We were promised great graphics and boy, did they not disappoint. Everything looks great, from the architecture to the people. It is truly a breathtaking experience the first time you climb up a tower and just look at the landscape beneath you. However, there are small graphical glitches such as Altair's robes going through objects and vibrating guard corpses. That last one is actually pretty funny. This is the quality the other elements of the game should have had.
The soundtrack could have been so much better. When the game is calm and there are no guards chasing you (almost never) you just hear harmless crowd noises, which I guess is OK. I'm guessing Ubisoft was trying to make the game feel more epic by adding the sweeping, awesome melodies that were supposed to play when you climb to epic places, I guess. Not once did this music activate in an epic place. I would fall off a low building and the game would start off this haunting, amazing melody as I writhed on the ground. Why couldn't they have played this while I climbed to the top of the city?
When the guards start chasing you a generic but decent chase music plays, the problem is guards catch you so often by the end of the game you will assume a fetal position the second you hear it. Also it overstays its welcome, many times I killed the guard who had saw me but the chase music kept on playing for another 10 seconds as I calmly paced the streets. The music in this game is very confused.
The voices in this game are terrible. Normal people seem to feel the need to provide commentary on every damn action you make, so you will jump 5 feet off a box and have like 10 people remarking on your stupidity or bravery. ALWAYS. These people seriously never ever shut up. Sometimes guards will be harassing people and they will call for help. Maybe you don't want to help them; maybe you want to climb up a sweet tower they are under. This is the wrong decision! As you climb up their voices will follow you even if you extremely high above them. So you will be climbing and hear:
I OUGHT to have your hand for that!
Won't somebody help me?
Won't somebody help me??
I OUGHT to have your hand for that?
After a few of these barrages you will be angry enough to break the disk into several sharp shards and pierce your eardrums.
The controls seem complicated at first but you will soon get used to them and have Altair jumping and climbing like a pro. Notice I didn't say fighting like a pro. The fighting controls are good in theory but once you take into account you'll probably have 10 guards slashing at you in a circle every fight, it falls apart. When enemies hit Altair he will recoil and groan like someone hit him with...like, a real sword. Yeah sure you might say that's because he IS being hit with a real sword but if they can make him take 20 hits why can't they make him not go into staggering seizure mode with every slash?!
This makes escaping from guards pretty much impossible; because sometimes you will try to climb a ladder with 15 guards slashing at you and for some reason the game will still think you're locked on and in a fight, so Altair will not go up the ladder. You stop locking on, Altair will turn stiffly but before going up the ladder will be hit and stagger away, fall to the floor and be murdered by the guards. This is how almost every guard escape in the game will go, because of the controls.
Ah, the gameplay where should I start? The first thing to note here is that the whole game is extremely repetitive and you will be doing the same menial tasks for pretty much the whole game. Once you are shamed out of your rank at the assassin's club you can start making your way down the list of 9 targets. If you think you can just walk up to the mission, you are wrong.
Before starting the hit there are six missions you have to do to gather information. The fact you can only do 2 of these missions to proceed shows how terribly useless this information is. Most of the information you receive is stupidly obvious. Every hit will have at least one person telling you You can use scholars to get to the target, well excuse me but I can't remember any times I ever used scholars to get to the target. The worst offender in this tells you I don't know what the target's motives are. THEN WHAT DID I DO THE MISSION FOR THEN?
These six missions before each hit are always the same types, so no fun variation here. In one of them you just sit on a bench to eavesdrop, no skill required except finding a bench. I didn't even bother to listen to them because you never get any useful hints. There are interrogation missions where you beat some random guy up for info, but the guy fights back and for some reasons his punches will do more damage than a sword. There is pick pocketing which is pathetically easy and badly done. The only fun mission type is where fellow assassins ask you to murder random guards in exchange for information, but even a concept as great as this is ruined by its repetitive nature and also the way it is ridiculous how easily or at times how much trouble the guards have spotting you. It's like throwing a coin, sometimes that guard you killed will alert a guard on the other side of the map, sometimes guards in front of you will not notice. There is also another mission type where a fellow assassin has lost flags around the city (How do you lose a flag on a rooftop? Really?!?) but its potential is wasted.
Then we come to the assassinations which should really have been the best part of the game, and they are, but that's not saying much with this game. After mowing though your missions you can take the option to assassinate your target. Run to the location where they are, and you will watch a lengthy, boring cutscene that has to do with the target. None of these ever really feel like they mean anything to the plot though, and there is no way to skip them. The assassinations really feel limited in scope, the same events are scripted so you cannot change them in any way. For example I had a perfect position to kill a target with my throwing knives but for some reason the game forced me to follow its scenario and the target was invincible to knives. Almost every assassination ends with you running after the target through the streets, completely giving up your cover as well as being sucker sliced by guards and staggering around.
There are also a few sidequests such as saving citizens which are even more repetitive than the main mission as well as hunting down Flags and seeking out and killing Templars. These are interesting because you get to explore Altair's world, something you never got to do in the main story.
Overall this game reeks of wasted potential. You have the building blocks for a great game in this, like great graphics, a story set in the Crusades, acrobatics that can be performed easily, a fully climbable world and realistic sword combat. But instead it seems like the developers forgot the most important thing while polishing the graphics: making the game fun. Even worse is that the game basically spits in your face at the end, by leaving several plot threads completely unresolved and setting you up for the sequel. A sequel I will most likely not purchase.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 08/28/08
Game Release: Assassin's Creed (US, 11/13/07)
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