Review by FeralBerserker
Objective review of a sub-par game
This is a strange game. Most of the time you start playing a game and whether you hate it or like it your feeling will usually be the same for your whole play-through. When I started this game I couldn't stand it, it was terrible. Then I got a ways in and decided it wasn't terrible, it was just bad. Later my opinion went from bad to decent. Even later it went from decent to great... and eventually back to terrible. Reflecting on the whole experience, I really didn't like the game much. Regardless, I will try to provide an objective review.
Gameplay - 7/10
First and foremost, all the trailers I saw for this game billed it as a stealth oriented game. You should know that it isn't. You can kill anyone, anywhere, anytime with little or no repercussions. Very rarely (about once or twice per chapter) you will be required to actually stealth kill one to five targets. This is, however, a sub-mission. For each main mission you will be required to complete 3 sub-missions, and there are always more than three to be completed. Ultimately, you never have to actually do stealth kills.
The most impressive part of this game is the functionality of wall climbing and other acrobatic type moves. Almost any structure can be climbed in almost any place. Compared to any other game that features climbing and such, this game is without a doubt the most advanced. I can't imagine the amount of time the designers must have spent making it so functional. From time to time you'll find yourself saying, "Why can't Altair grab that stone?" These situations are very few and far between.
The least impressive part of this game (in fact, it wasn't impressive at all) was the combat system. You only use a few different buttons for combat and the controls are clunky, at best. Combat quickly becomes mundane and can even be frustrating. Assassin's Creed features the 360 degree fighting system that I first saw in Blade II for the PS2. Sadly, control for 360 degree fighting is not very good, and I would venture to say that Blade II's system was more functional.
In combat you'll either be jamming the only attack button over and over, or standing and waiting for the enemy to attack so you can execute a counter-kill. Don't be deceived. Though it is called a counter-kill, it does not always kill the enemy. No doubt you will be frustrated time and time again as Altair decides it is wiser to smash the enemy's gut with the pommel of his sword than run them through with it. Since you don't have any control over what counter-kill is executed you can waste minutes fighting battles that should be over in seconds.
It should be noted, in all fairness, that Ubisoft tried to compensate the mundane combat system by providing you with sometimes massive amounts of enemies to fight simultaneously. Some battles will have only three enemies, while others can be at twenty and upwards. This really does compensate for the lackluster and clunky combat system quite a bit. Of course, these situations can be frustrating when Altair refuses to actually kill the enemies when you perform counter-kills.
While most games are repetitive, they usually offer something unique about each situation. Assassin's Creed is averagely repetitive, but doesn't ever offer anything unique to spice a situation up. For example, you'll always be fighting on flat ground, in a fairly wide-open area. Since you only have a few actions you can execute in combat, it will feel like you've fought the same battle countless times.
Aside from combat, the other tasks you can do are pickpocketing, assassinations, eavesdropping, and interrogations. Pickpocketing is straightforward, you wait and listen to the target while he talks about unimportant information, then walk behind him and hold in the circle button until the pickpocket succeeds. Failure means you will simply have to do it again (but they won't bother wasting your time with the dialogue again). Assassinations are about the same as pickpocketing, except you press the attack button instead of the circle button. To eavesdrop you sit on a bench and then press triangle, upon which you'll have to listen to yet another pointless dialogue. Finally, interrogations consist of listening to a dialogue and then engaging in a fist fight with a single target. All these sub-missions are pretty much busy work, and absolutely feel like chores.
The closest thing to sneaking you'll have to do is called blending. To blend you hold in the X button and move. Altair will assume the position of a walking scholar and will magically be beyond suspicion, and will walk extremely slow. Needless to say, this is not fun. Furthermore, Altair has an arming sword slung across his back in a gravity defying manner, a hand-and-a-half sword or saber on his waist, a hidden blade that looks like a gauntlet and several throwing knives. Not to mention he dresses more like a european than a middle-easterner. How he isn't viewed as suspicious is beyond me. At any rate, don't worry about sneaking in this game, because you'll never be required to do it.
Throughout the game you can collect 400+ flags littered about the various cities. On the PS3 there is no point to do this, as you get absolutely nothing for collecting them all. Their only purpose (that I was able to identify) is that they'll fill up your health and save the game. If you pick one up during a mission, though, it will not act as a checkpoint in the event that you die.
Something that is very annoying and cost the gameplay a point, are some of the citizens of the several cities in Assassin's Creed. There are beggars and drunks (or crazies maybe? they babble a lot) who will annoy you to no end. Beggars will run after you and stop in front of you, begging for money. When you walk around them they will just run right in front of you again, and again and again and again. If only Altair had money I would give them some just so they wouldn't destroy the pacing of the game... but he doesn't. Drunks will approach you and push you. This is very annoying, and can result in failing an assassination mission. There's something magical about Altair, because I've never seen a beggar or drunk harass anyone but him.
One last thing I find extremely important to mention is that the hardest enemy you will ever face will be your camera. Camera views are constantly changing in combat because someone had a hard-on for cinematics. This not only messes with the 360 degree combat system, but will also place trees and other various obstructions directly in front of your camera. As I'm sure you know, it's impossible to avoid a hit when you can't even see the battle. To boot, the counter-kills aren't that visually spectacular, so your camera will be getting moved without a good reason.
Story - 0/5
The story in this game was the worst I've ever seen, and none of the story sequences could be skipped. In fact, the story was so bad I wished that Ubi wouldn't have even put one in this game. It's extremely thoughtless and simple, and could be summed up in about two sentences. Very sad, since I usually favor stories that integrate religion.
Graphics/Sound - Nil
I don't really care about graphics, but this is the only game that really wowed me, aside from Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. The detail is really what got me in Assassin's Creed. More specifically, the detail of the cities. It was by no means necessary for them to be so outstanding, but when I was climbing buildings I was glad that I had something nice to look at. Character models and textures weren't anything special, and model animations weren't either. I did, however, enjoy the color schemes. Everything was dull and drab, which I like a lot.
The sound effects were good. Like usual, though, the voice acting was terrible. Some voice acting was alright, but Altair's (who speaks the most) was downright detestable. NPCs who give sub-missions had the best voice acting, though it still wasn't good. Regardless, the voice acting makes no nevermind since the story was paper-thin. You might as well turn it off. Instead of listening to the game's music I opted to listen to Tomaso Albinoni, so I have no input on that.
Play Time/Replayability - 1/5
For the genre of game, the play time was average. If you really enjoy the game and do everything available to you then it will take a few extra hours to complete it. Replayability, however, was well below average. Not only was it an extremely linear and repetitive game, but there were no notable variables to alter the outcome of a particular situation. The lack of an adjustable difficulty level also depreciates the replayability.
Final Recommendation - 4/10
I found this game to be below average, both in terms of an action game and a stealth/assassin game. I was stubborn enough to play it all the way through, but I only had fun for a couple hours. I recommend renting it when you have a full day to spare. You'll have no need for it beyond that.
Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Product Release: Assassin's Creed (US, 11/13/07)
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