Review by _FifthWarrior_
Flawed severly, but enjoyable in parts.
Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles
Let me begin by saying I have never played the original console Assassin's Creed, thus my review will consider this game by itself, there will be no perspective in regards to it as part of a series.
This game has its plus points, but overall is bogged down by a few visual problems, tons of glitches and shoddy programming, and bad control. I would suggest you do not buy this game right now: either wait for it to be cheaper, or rent. Just do play it once if you like platforming games, you might be able to enjoy it more than I did.
Again, I do not know anything about the original Assassin's Creed. This game has an interesting story, and what I like about it is the presentation: the story gives good reason for you being where you are. You need this information, you can obtain it from that person, so you're running around his area's rooftops trying to get him. That provides for a good flow between the levels.
However, the actual WAY the story is told is disappointing. The dialogue (unless it's in-level), moves very slowly and cannot be accelerated. The dialogues are not well written and tend to be unnatural.
Let me tell you, I really like the music. The problem is, it is absent for most part of the levels. There are nifty battle or mystery or puzzle songs, but they only play for a while, and then disappear. =/ I don't know why they thought having the levels devoid of background music would be a good idea.
The sound, on the other hand, is quite bad. Pots breaking, bridges crumbling - that stuff is good, but Altair's voice (which is what you'll be hearing most of the time) is...just plain laughable. "AIIIYEEEH". No, I really don't think he would sound that shrill o_O
The game is psuedo-3D. While you can move in 8 directions, the camera is fixed, and you generally only move right or left- never into or outside of the camera. Sometimes buildings and structures get in the camera's rigid view, but that doesn't become too much of a problem, as they grow transparent when that happens. It looks cheesy, but doesn't obstruct your vision at least.
The graphics create a good and diverse atmosphere, but have blurry and pixelated outlines to objects. Sometimes Altair mixes into a white wall. There are plenty of nice touches such as dust clouds under falling roofs and such, and the game's physics (collapsing tents, tilting bridges) are dead-on.
Talking of dead, I simply hate how Altair dies. The whole screen abruptly goes black, you zoom in at the speed of light at Altair, who lies RIDICULOUSLY mangled, and revolves around him. And the game says, in a not-so-endearingly-simple manner: "You're Dead :)" Ok, not the smiley, but yeah.
Next up are the visual glitches. How the hell does Altair and the enemies simply shift from one spot on the screen to another with no provocation? o_O And why do the snakes abruptly disappear if you swing your sword in their proximity? There are many other little glitches that spoil the mood of the game. You can simply be teleported through a wall and just die.
Combat is mind-numbingly dull and slow. You hack away with X and Y, and the enemy (the AI is non-existent) sit there waiting to be slaughtered. There are "combos" you can pull off, but the battles are so sluggish that it's not worth the while. I just try and run away as much as possible from the battles, but it can't always be done. Oh and did I mention, if you can't pull off the combos (which you often can't, thanks to the sluggish controls), the enemies take around 7 hits each to kill? The battles just suck.
It must be said, however, that there are plenty of abilities and cool interaction with the environment here. You can swing across ropes, hookshot onto certain objects, sneak around guards and stealth-kill them, crawl across narrow ledges, and generally be a ninja in white. That's good. The platforming is neat in how many different methods it uses, and the controls outside the battle is quite good once you get used to it.
Next up, we have the save system. There are too many checkpoints for this game to be challenging. For every challenging thing you do, there's a checkpoint. Not fun, but might provide respite for players who don't want to be challenged too much.
And what's really good are certain touch based aspects: picking pockets and interrogation. You have to drag the object that you want out of the victim's purse's opening without having it clash with the other objects in there, and before this you have to locate the object by wiping away the darkness in the purse with your stylus. Neat. The interrogation is much better, though. Basically, think of a grimmer, torture based Elite Beat Agents. XD You have to tap when the shrinking outer ring touches the numbered circles, and drag the circles along fixed paths. It is odd how there are no gasps as you hit these pressure points and how the victim and you on the top screen don't move at all, this remains fun to do and I find myself looking forward to it.
However, the game is very linear. There is a fixed path to venture, and green arrows POINT THE WAY OUT FOR YOU. Even when you switch the arrow off, it is very simple to figure out where to go and what to do, as cut scenes basically spell out what you have to do. You gotta drop crates on these 4 switches? The camera will zoom in on the crates and the switches. Not cool =/
So, mind-bogglingly bad battle controls, above average graphics, cool gameplay once you get used to the controls. The platforming is good, so if you're a fan of platforming, you would like to at least try this game once. It is NOT worth the current price though, so you might want to wait.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles (US, 02/05/08)
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