Review by YaroKasear
Assassin's Creed. We've all heard of it, and some of us have played it. It is supposedly one of Ubisoft's "great" titles, but anyone who knows a lot of Ubisoft's games might already know what I'm going to get into. Ubisoft is one of those game companies that definitely puts way too much development into graphics and presentation than anything of substance in a game. This game is no exception.
At the time this game was released, I didn't have an XBox 360, so I was never hyped at for this game. I bought it purely because I love stealth games. If you were to see me play any Elder Scrolls game, you'd notice instead of being a warrior or a mage, I'd be an assassin handy with a bow and good with poisons, ready and willing to hide in and strike from the shadows.
This game has *none* of these elements. In fact, as far as stealth games go, this title offers surprisingly few honest stealth gameplay elements to it, it relies more on you simply avoiding crimes while killing your targets, then running away and hiding in preset objects to ultimately evade the guard. Imagine Metal Gear Solid except instead of going out of your way to remain hidden from the guards, you jump straight to evade mode after doing every significant task. I'll get to this.
Graphics are a 8/10. The game looks incredible, even on the XBox 360's now-dated poorly scaled-to-1080p hardware. I imagine the graphics are significantly improved on the PS3. For the most part you get plenty of variety on the extras. The guards and the environments lack variation and all look the same. Granted, this is the middle east during the Third Crusade, but one does get tired of the same color in the environment all the time.
Sound is a 5/10. The quality of the sounds are great, clanging of swords and the like. Voice acting is only really good with characters of any story significance. The music is forgettable and bland, though. And unfortunately Ubisoft failed to write more than maybe 5 lines of dialog for each extra or guard, making for an extremely grating, repetitive dialog experience.
Story is not graded, as I haven't played through the whole game. For the most part I have a hard time connecting the relevance of the dialog aside from the fact apparently Altair is being lied to.
Gameplay is a poor 3/10, Freerunning is fun although it requires very little skill or actual play by the player. Still, fun to climb buildings and run around. But maybe that's the only really good aspect of this gameplay. Combat is poorly done. Direct combat is frustrating since the guards seem to invariably parry every attack you make. Once you unlock counters, you've basically unlocked a guaranteed victory in every single battle in the entire flipping game. Seriously, you just wait for them to attack, and watch Altair one-hit-kill his attacker. Repeat this for every guard and you win without even trying. Making combat very dull and repetitive.
Even worse is that every task is the same exact thing. This game is excruciatingly repetitive, and this is usually a hallmark of Ubisoft's game design habits. You run around town saving civilians, climbing onto tall toward to update your map, beating up civilians for information or listening in on conversations. Then you go to your local office and whine at the poor clerk there about your target, then you go and kill your target, which almost invariably involves blending with scholars until you're close, stabbing your target, then running away.
Finally, the worst for last. This game is just plain not a stealth game. It purports to be, but since it is severely lacking in things like sneaking, hiding in shadows, or actual *stealth* this is not a stealth game. Instead it's like a very poorly-done Grand Theft Auto clone, except you can't even be a bad boy without the game penalizing your health. What's worse is that the guards will "spot" you and attack attack attack you for even non-infractions in the game. Don't run and certainly don't sprint, and the freerunning is hampered by the guards apparently finding your presence on the roof offensive. And on the overworld between cities do *not* even thing about using a horse. The only way you can use a horse without guards going after you is basically trotting very slowly. This essentially makes horses useless in this game. The manual says that guards will have three modes, unaware, alert, and suspicious or something like that. Guards are never, ever, ever actually unaware. If guards are in any proximity to you, they will be alert, defeating what little stealth this game would claim to have. Do ANYTHING "high profile" and the guards will get suspicious and ultimately attack.
Let me go over the stealth games versus this game thing again. In a genuine stealth game, the focus is generally to remain *undetected* through all aspects if you can help it, with maybe three or four prescripted "you've been discovered" battles you *must* fight in. Still, the idea being you should be able to sneak in the shadows, get past any and all guards, kill your target, and go the reverse way, still remaining undetected. It took lots of skill and planning and environmental awareness. In this game you can play all the way through without once attempting to stay hidden, and when you do remain hidden, it's far less mapping out the area and the environment and simply using the same "blend in with scholars" gimmick over and over to get past guards, if climbing over rooftops past them won't work, that is. And the game will not allow the "leave undetected" part of a stealth game happen. Ever. There *will* be guards, they *will* see you commit the act, and you *will* have to run, eliminating any thrilling "stealthy" exit you wish you could make.
Basically, it's a game that pretends to be a stealth game, but never actually delivers an actually stealth-based gameplay. Your character does very little sneaking, and most of the combat he'll end up doing is direct melee without an ounce of a stealth kill. When you kill a guard with the "stealth" weapon provided will still result in direct combat, eliminating any real stealth benefit the hidden blade has aside from making the dull, simple, effortless combat one guard faster. The throwing knives are *not* stealth weapons. They barely damage anyone. Every stealth based game needs a good weapon good for taking out guards at a distance. This game does not have this.
Summary being that this is your typical Ubisoft game, good on the presentation, poor on delivering the promised gameplay goods. I do not recommend buying this game, maybe renting. Though as one previous reviewer stated, because of the terrible repetitive nature of this game, as soon as you assassinate your first major target you've basically played the entire game. You could maybe play the first half hour, then return the game. If you want a true stealth game, get Hitman or Metal Gear Solid or even Morrowind, Oblivion, or Skyrim when it comes out. All those games will deliver the goods any stealth fan will love.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 10/31/11
Game Release: Assassin's Creed (Platinum Hits) (US, 12/31/08)
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