Review by tranquilchaos11

Reviewed: 11/20/07

An amazing experience; a few minor hitches.

This game definitely took me by surprise. I didn’t know much about it past what it looked like and the fact that there were 9 assassinations to complete before buying this game. This game is pretty damn good. I’ll start by saying that, and then a lot of my review may sound negative, but I’m just trying to point out the things that didn’t work so well.

Let’s jump into it.

Story: B+
The story is pretty good. I won’t spoil that big spoiler that happens right in the beginning, but it only makes the story better. As far as the rest of the story goes…it’s good, but I don’t exactly know what happened. It gets drowned in its own names (of which there are a lot, and they’re hard to remember). In any case though, it’s a story of intrigue and mystery, and while it may not completely keep you hooked, the rest (i.e. the spoiler) will certainly keep you playing. Ubisoft claimed that you never lose control of the character, which is true to a degree. During story segments, you can walk around somewhat, kind of creating your own blocking, if you will, and change the camera angles. This could have been neat, but the camera angles aren’t very cinematic, you never get a good shot of the faces. In this respect, I really would have liked a little more effort put forth to creating a nice cinematic story presentation, instead of leaving in the hands of the gamer – an interesting concept, but poorly executed. But that’s only a minor complaint, the story is still intriguing.

Graphics: A-
Quite incredible really. A few framerate hiccups here and there are easily forgiven when you get to see the gigantic panoramas of the cities. Oh, the cities…they’re HUGE – and there’s no loading times within each city. The animation is superb as well Before AC came out, all I heard about were the things they were doing with animation in Uncharted, but after playing the Uncharted demo, the animations’ fluidity don’t even compare to those of AC. Simply amazing. The free-running along rooftops, up buildings, and through the streets with all the people, is simply stunning. There is a bit of clipping (with animations of kill scenes, or sometimes with Altair’s cloak), but it don’t detract at all from the overall graphics of the game.

Gameplay: A
Great fun! Free-running, as mentioned before, is a blast. It never gets old. The assassinations are completely satisfying, and the fighting, while a bit unrealisitic (with multiple enemies waiting for their turn to attack), is really fun – timed button pressing, not just tapping wildly. The mini-missions/investigations before each assassination can be fun too – they mostly consist of minor assassinations, flag-collecting, and pickpocketing. Scaling the viewpoints is awe-inspiring each and every time you do it. The only problem, is once you scale a viewpoint, you can’t get the panoramic ‘synchronization’ shot like the first time.

Controls: B
I’ve got some gripes here. The control scheme is pretty cool, honestly, just not quite as intuitive as you’d think. The face button on the controller all control body-parts (head, hands, legs), and R1 lets you go to ‘high-profile’ – running, attacking, etc. The problem? Free-running and blending in, both require the use of the X button. During these segments, you’ll constantly be in need of changing the camera angle – which you can’t do while holding the X button. I’ve found myself holding X with my thumb to sneak around, while controlling the camera with my index finger (same hand) too many times to count. I’ve had just about enough of console games that don’t allow button switching. It should always be an option to change button configurations. Also, while the head-hand-feet button layout is a cool idea, it’s not really any different than it would have been had they labeled it differently. Square is attack. O is grab/push and X is run/walk. Nothing too revolutionary there. Still, I’m starting to rant, and really, the controls, for the most part, are milky smooth. Parkour is a breeze, and Ubisoft have created a great fighting scheme using pretty much one attack button.

Sound: A
The sounds are really well-done. I didn’t notice that many overlapping voices, and the accents really set the time-period (EXCEPT for Altair’s…strangely enough – though the Animus does describe this – but it still doesn’t quite jive). No complaints really. The music is minimalist except during chase scenes – the little swell of chords when you ‘synch’ a viewpoint is nice. Also, on the PS3 disc is like 6 or 8 different languages, if you’re so inclined to take advantage of these.

Presentation: A+
Pretty well done. Superb voice acting, great story, big-budget panoramic vistas. It’s really something that hasn’t exactly been done before, and it’s been done in this case, quite nicely. It always seems to be dusk/dawn with the sun barely above the horizon (i.e. no day/night cycle), which is sort of disappointing. The story segments could have been more cinematic, but this facet of the presentation is really in the eyes of the beholder. It takes about 15-20 hours to beat, or probably as few as 10 if you rush. The story ends rather abruptly, but what’s left is certainly enough material for one or two more games, realistically. While it is a cliffhanger, it is the end of Altair’s story. This chapter is finished. Expect the next game sometime next fall, I’d wager (Assassin’s [insert word here] ).

If you’ve been looking for a good adventure game that doesn’t go the easy route of the FPS genre, get this game. Some compare it to GTA, but it is its own animal. 1 part GTA, 1 part MGS, 1 part epic-trilogy-in-the-making. Haven’t you always wanted to stab someone in the throat with your left middle finger?

Overall: A

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: Assassin's Creed (US, 11/13/07)

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