Review by Delirium_Tyler
A rare gem that could use a good polish.
Assassin's Creed is a third-person stealth/action game in which the player takes the role of Desmond Miles, a bartender who is connected to a line of assassins. The Abstergo corporation kidnaps Desmond and forces him into a machine called the Animus which recreates the memories of his ancestor during the Third Crusade. Through the Animus, you control Altair a member of the Assassin's Clan that resides in the town of Masyaf, and you are ordered to eliminate 9 individuals who are contributing to the Crusades. The Abstergo corporation has hidden motives for obtaining information gained through Desmond's memories.
/- Gameplay -\
The control scheme is very intuitive and easy to pick up and play. Each button corresponds to a different part of Altair's body, and each are context sensitive. For example, the A button represents your character's feet, and controls walking, running, jumping, and dodging. The function changes depending on the context of the situation.
Also, actions are classified as either "High-profile" or "Low-profile". When the Right Trigger is held down, all actions are done in High Profile, so walking becomes running, a stealth kill becomes an obvious murder, etc. This all works very well, and very rarely do you ever perform an action that you didn't mean to.
While the control scheme is excellent, the time you actually spend in the environments is great the first hour and a half of playtime...but from then on you are basically repeating that first hour or so over and over again, with different scenery. The objectives that you are asked to complete are always the same, with slightly different context. After you've scaled your 10th tower to familiarize yourself with your surroundings, you'll wonder why the camera needs to pan around in exactly the same path each time. Or the 20th time a civilian thanks you for saving him with the exact same line of dialog as the last 5 people you've helped, you'll ask yourself if the same guy is just pissing off guards for attention.
Everything follows the same formula, throughout the entire game. Gather info about your target, get the "O.K." to off him, and then go do the deed. This would be fine if there was some variation in the methods you use to get the information, or if there were multiple ways to go about the actual assassinations, but there really isn't. I see it sort of like a racing game only having one really sweet car to choose from, but getting that car in 9 different colors.
/- Story -\
The storyline is well developed, and interesting. Honestly the storyline was the only thing that kept me playing through the last 2 or 3 missions. It's rare that actually playing through a game begins to feel like a chore, and the story is what keeps you dredging through it.
/- Graphics / Sound -\
The visuals in this game are stunning. The first time you approach Damascus on horseback, it will take your breath away. The game does a great job of making the cities feel real. A large number of character models populate the screen at the same down, with little visible strain on the machine. I only experienced frame rate dips once or twice, and they didn't last long. The facial motion capture techniques that were used produce phenomenal results, and at certain times you forget you are playing a game and not watching a movie. Lighting and movement effects are top-notch. This is where the game truly excels.
The music is great, and is used sparingly. The cautionary beeping sound that alerts you when a guard is getting suspicious of you is a great tool.
/- Playtime/Replayability -\
I logged somewhere around 22 hours played, with 35/44 achievements unlocked. The game isn't long, but if you take the time to explore the cities a little bit, search for a few flags and Templars, (These are hidden throughout each area as collectibles) then you can spend quite a bit of time in the Holy Land.
Once you play through the game, the only real reason to keep playing would be to collect every Flag, kill every Templar, scale every View Point, and unlock every achievement. Doing all this adds some level of replayability, but to be honest, doing all of that isn't a whole lot of fun. I was satisfied at the conclusion of the game, and have no desire to unlock every achievement, I'm content with 35.
* Final Thought *
Give this game a try. Borrow it from a friend, rent it. It's an excellent game, and the series has a lot of potential, but it really doesn't warrant a purchase. There just isn't enough there to keep you playing it more than once through, unless you really want every gamerpoint possible. In this case, the hype was bigger than the game itself, but that doesn't mean it should be overlooked.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Assassin's Creed (US, 11/13/07)
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