Review by Death_Cry666
Reviewed: 03/03/08 | Updated: 11/30/09
An Incessant Euphoria
Assassin's Creed, created by Ubisoft, is indeed a great experience. It takes place in two main time-lines; the year 2012, and the crusades, specifically in 1191. The game is based on actual history that has happened, and is, for the most part, accurate. Don't fret however; you do not need to be a history buff in order to understand or enjoy the game to its fullest, so don't let the setting deter you from this wonderful experience.
The story of Assassin's Creed lays the thought of nothing being perfect to rest. Around the time of the crusades of the 1100's, there was a sect of Assassins, dedicated to keeping the world stable and free of corruption by means of taking lives. In opposition to this sect stand the Templars, an organization dedicated to the unity of the world under one Templar Governance. This is all based on actual history; the two sects actually existed, and the majority of the assassinations you carry out have actually taken place. The Templars were angered by the Assassins and their actions, namely their assassinations.
Various connections between the two time-lines are periodically made as the story goes on and the plot increases in enjoyability every time.
Basically, you play as Desmond, a barkeep who is being held captive by a man named Vidic who works for a company called "Abstergo", which is latin for cleanse. Off to an aberrant start already. But that's okay, we're in a new generation of gaming now, we like aberrant, and Assassin's Creed does not fail to deliver. Vidic is bent on getting a certain treasure and is relying on Desmond to help him find where it is, or rather, Desmond's ancestor, a man named Altair. He forces Desmond into a machine called the "Animus", a device that allows the subject to enter the memories of their ancestors. This is where the main game is played; you choose memories of Altair's from the Animus and play them. Do not let that theme fool you however; the memories are anything but linear.
In Altair's story, you play as Altair, an assassin that has dishonored the Brotherhood by breaking various tenants of their Creed and almost compromised the lot of them as a result; his master strips him of his rank and abilities as a consequence. Altair starts off as a fairly unlikable character, however, that changes as the gamer progresses through the story. To redeem his actions, Altair must regain his honor by carrying out the assassinations of nine men his master has decided need to die, for the better of the world. Altair and his master butt heads often and it gets really interesting as the game progresses.
The game also has many interesting insights expressed by many characters.
All in all, Assassin's Creed is an original game full of many surprises that will often slap the gamers with surprise.
The gameplay of Assassin's Creed was one of the best experience's I've ever had in gaming. It is really involving, and it does it all without the magic of Sony's Sixaxis aspect. If anyone would ask the question, "How can anything get more involving than motion sensors?", Assassin's Creed would be the answer.
The traditional Health Bar has been added, but it can be increased by doing good deeds for the citizens of whatever city you are in. It is referred to as the "Synch Bar". Respective to its name, if you run out of "Synch" (health), you will be "Desynchronized" from the memory (you will die) and will have to re-enter from your last checkpoint. Players also have the option of turning the HUD and any other on-screen displays off, opening the view, making you feel less squeezed. I recommend the player does this to get used to it from the start as it makes the experience significantly better.
There are a total of three beautifully rendered cities in the game, all of which are extremely big, all of which most likely took a hell of a while for some team to create, but it is all worth it. There is also a playable environment connecting them all called the "Kingdom", which is huge in itself. Everything is here, from beggars to merchants to realistic shadowing. There are a few frame-rate issues however. When these do occur, they are rare; I've only ever had two issues with my copy freezing, but nothing to throw any tantrums over. What with massive cities and large bodies of people moving on and off-screen, I'd say the two freezes/frame-rate issues you'd get, most likely the only two you'd get, would be understandable.
The game also lags once in a blue moon, but it doesn't get to the point of being unplayable, and is mostly due to the player letting a build-up of guards swarm them. Something that never fails to make me laugh here. People are playing as an assassin, and for some strange reason, they think that waiting around and killing every guard should cause them no problems. This is their mentality: "The game wants me to run away when I've got a swarm on me; it's part of being an assassin. But I don't want to, I want to KILL EVERY GUARD I SEE". Most players end up dying unless they've mastered the controls.
Long story short, don't screw yourself over by taking away from the environment the game sets for you. Use the hiding spots that the creators didn't just put there for the hell of it, guards will get off your ass, less people will be on screen at the same time, decreased chance of lag. So long as you aren't some kind of meat-head that likes sitting around killing people then throws a fit for the lag you've created, your game should be pretty much lag-free and you should be pretty much stress-free; there'd be no problems to get stressed about, so don't let these stories of "zomg this game freezes/lags to the point of being unplayable!" freak you out. So long as you keep your system/discs in decent condition, and so long as you don't neglect what the creators have put in the game for you, you should be fine.
Now onto control schemes. Pretty uneventful with Desmond; you mainly walk from point A to point B, though a little sleuthing around Abstergo can get interesting as well.
There are two schemes for Altair however, a sort of dual way to play the game. The first scheme is called "Low Profile". Most movement in this mode is calm and un-attracting; you look like any other citizen walking about. In this mode, you can use gentle pushes to set people aside, getting them out of your way. You can also "Blend" by holding down a certain button. By blending, Altair will resemble a peaceful Scholar, easily getting out of sticky situations. It saves your hide quite a lot; you'll find yourself smirking more often than not once you get more advanced with hiding around as you progress through the game. The last main thing to be done in Low Profile mode would be using your "Eagle Vision", an ability that colour-codes various people for a period of time that Altair sees fit to consider. Enemies are coloured one colour, allies another, informants a separate colour, and so on and so forth.
The second mode is called "High Profile". It is, well, the opposite of Low Profile. Actions are much more noticeable. You can activate this control scheme by holding down a certain button. Gentle pushes become hard shoves and blends become sprints. You can grab people and throw them around, something incredibly fun to do because you are in no way restricted to what you can and cannot do to people. You could even kill random chumps if that suited your fancy, though you are punished for it by losing some of your synch. Eagle Vision can't be used because it requires focus. Interesting how that thought was considered.
Another interesting aspect was the input of High and Low Profile kills. The only weapon that is applied to that innovation would be the Hidden Blade. I won't spoil the differences in killings for you. All I'll say is that killings in one profile with the Blade attract much more attention than in the other mode.
Now onto combat. The combat is probably what drives most people toward this game. Just the right touch of gore. But wait, what if you don't like gore? Blood not your fancy? Don't worry about that, you can turn the blood off if you want. As for fighting, you can tap repeatedly for quick, unrelenting attacks, or you can hold down the button for stronger, slower attacks. A mixture of the two drives boredom away, and the combat will never get repetitive. There are also counters that you can pull off, which trigger amazing graphics of your kill. Repetitive use of these can make combat easier, but repetitive use of counters tend to make combat boring as well.
There are four weapons ready for use at your disposal. The Hidden Blade, your Sword, Throwing Knives complimented with a Dagger for enemies that come up too close to hit with Throwing Knives, and your fists. We'll get into what your fists are used for later.
Now for the main part of the game, the sleuthing. Investigations are done in three simple methods. Pickpocketing for items of interest, such as maps, interrogation for beating information out of whoever has caught your eye, and eavesdropping. Pickpocketing is easy. Too easy. The only way you'd get caught would be if you accidentally rubbed into the guy you were to pickpocket too much. Interrogations are easy as well. These are where your fists are used; you wouldn't want to kill the man with a sharpened combat-ready sword capable of guard-breaking. However, these are also too easy. A simple punch 'n guard that requires limited skill. The eavesdropping is uneventful. You find a bench, sit in it, and eavesdrop. It does however add to the feeling of being an assassin and does involve the gamer in the experience that much more. Sadly, they are all painfully repetitive.
"There are a bunch of guards on me, what do I do? Fight 'em all? But I don't want to fight them all, I'd like a little break from that and there are too much of them anyway!". A question you might be curious about by now. Never fear, hiding spots are here!. The hiding spots were a wonderful innovation; the game would be nothing without them. Rather than turning to fight for your life like every other cliched hero in a game, you can chose to run away. Just to tie the AI into this point, it is fairly decent. Guards are persistent and will not let up easily. They box you in corners when they can, pursue you on top of buildings, and interact with the environment to jump to wherever you might be. What's more, they chase you down through streets, alerting other guards all the while. They provide an excellent challenge. The hiding won't make you feel like a wussy; the gamer will have a fun and challenging time doing it, involving them that much more.
To end off this section, you're barely restricted in the game. Level-wise, action-wise, you can do pretty much anything. Whether its going on a serial-killing rant or starting fist-fights with random thugs, you can do it all. Most buildings are climbable. You may not be able to completely scale every building, but even still, you can partially climb the ones you cannot scale. Tons of hiding places and lots of fun. The main thing dragging the score down here would be the repetitiveness of investigation methods.
The only game I've ever felt was close to perfect graphic-wise. The levels were beautifully rendered, everything from the buildings to the citizens to the swords wielded by the guards. Voice acting is appropriate. The accents were realistic and various tones and pitches in voice were used when necessary. People in pain and people dying actually sound like they are in pain or dying. Most people seem to dislike Altair's voice acting. I think it was realistic and decent. It amazes me how people think that a man bread for killing people from a young age for reason no more than he was told to should have an enthusiastic, out-going persona.
The sound was incredible. That crunch from your sword landing on an enemy, the way the music shifted from calm to fast-paced whenever you were found to be an assassin, the dramatic ring of your hidden blade meeting its target's neck. The only flaw would be the occasional leaves that fall in the background in some locations. They look fine from far away. Close up, they look like animated cut-outs that had been pasted in frames to be animated onto your screen, which is what dragged the score down here. All wonderful aspects that added to the effectiveness of the game. It is without a doubt a visual feast.
Though there are many aspects to this game, the playtime varies. It depends on the type of gamer you are. If you like collecting bonuses and such, you will take a much longer time to finish. It took about a good week for me to finish it, and that was without making time for collecting bonuses. If you do intend to collect any bonuses, I recommended that you do these as you progress through the story. Once you beat the game, you will have to watch the credits every time you want to play it again and that can be a severe inconvenience should you wish to fully complete every bonus quest. Not much incentive for replaying the game at all. If anything, after completing the game, you may wish to take a break from it for a while and start a new file. I've done so and am enjoying every minute of it as it stands.
A wonderful, original, involving game I absolutely recommend buying. You will not be disappointed, and what's more, there is a sequel on the same platform, as well as some side-stories on the Nintendo DS and the Playstation Portable. You will not regret your choice after buying this game, it is an asset to next generation gaming and makes excellent use of its platform's capabilities.
- original story will keep you playing for hours
- interesting links are often made between the two plots
- plot will often slap you with surprises
- involving experience, even without the use of the Sony's Sixaxis Motion Sensor controller
- combat will only get boring if you are boring
- visual feast
- sound is realistic, appropriate, and adds to the effect of involving the gamer
- intelligent AI
- hiding aspect does not make you feel like such a wuss
- free to do pretty much anything you want to
- will only lag if you are letting guards flood your screen
- freezes, what little there are, can be remedied; a patch is available for download online on the playstation network, an option accessible on the home screen
- cut-scenes follow pretty much the same frame
- investigations are repetitive
- frame-rate and freezing issues, however, nothing apocalyptic
- horrible replay value
- forced to watch credits if you intend on replaying for bonuses you may have missed
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Assassin's Creed (US, 11/13/07)
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