Review by horror_spooky
"Haven't I done this before?"
Assassin's Creed was released to an extreme amount of hype, fresh off the heels of the mega commercial success Halo 3, and it looked like Microsoft's console was going to enjoy this title that Sony lost exclusivity for. Unfortunately for both companies, Ubisoft's hype train turned out not to provide the goods as Assassin's Creed is ultimately one of the most repetitive games I have ever played, which is just a shame on the current generation of consoles that definitely have the power to provide more noteworthy experiences if the developers put in the time.
The concept behind Assassin's Creed is that Prince of Persia meets Grand Theft Auto meets Metal Gear Solid and a lot of these mashed up elements admittedly work out well together. On the Grand Theft Auto side of things, you can free-roam to any location in the game world very early on and the non-linearity is so intensely present that you can kill off the bosses in any order you so wish.
Prince of Persia is an obvious influence on this title, and it's a no-brainer considering it is the same developers behind the games. Anyway, a lot of the platforming in Prince of Persia consists of running up walls and leaping across large gaps, which is the basic concept in Assassin's Creed, except Assassin's Creed is a lot more open than Prince of Persia. The platforming is exciting and very easy to get into.
Practically every stealth-based game that is released nowadays is influenced by Metal Gear Solid and Assassin's Creed is definitely no exception. When guards notice you, you have to hide before they see you, whether that be in a haystack or by blending in with the large crowds. Enemies can be taken out either stealthily by using Altair's trademark hidden blade or they can all be taken head-on by utilizing Altair's swordplay abilities.
A stealth meter will warn you of how aware the neighboring area is of your presence. This meter also represents your health, and your health is deduced by getting hit by enemies or even killing innocent people for some weird reason, which definitely detracts from the free-roaming gameplay. There are ways to make this not happen, but when it does happen, it just a pain in the ass.
To get around in this free-roaming world, you will need some sort of transportation. The Grand Theft Auto series relies on vehicles to get players around, but Assassin's Creed relies on horses, similarly to The Legend of Zelda or Oblivion. While it is a lot easier to ride horses in Assassin's Creed than it is in Oblivion or Zelda, they are still a problem, especially since you can run them to death, making travel not nearly as simple as it should have been.
The sword fighting has been hailed as some of the best sword fighting in video games, but I couldn't disagree more. The battles are a complete mess and require nothing but guesswork on your part as you tap the face buttons, block, and parry occasionally. It really can't be more boring, but it definitely isn't the worst part of the game.
What is the worst part of the game then? Well, after you enter a new area, you definitely will need to know the lay of the land in order to get around successfully. Instead of just finding a map or having your map filled in as you walk around, you have to climb watchtowers and then take a leap of faith into a small bale of hay. At first, this is easily the most exciting parts of the game as you watch breathlessly as Altair dives to his almost death, but when you do it fifty times in thirty minutes, that really kills the awesomeness.
Assassin's Creed's repetitiveness doesn't stop there either. While you can attempt to locate your targets relying solely on your exploration skills, you are more apt to find them by collecting information in various, repetitive ways. Basically, you notice a person being harassed by guards and then you save them. You pickpocket some man. You eavesdrop on a conversation. You find your target. You get a new weapon. You do the same thing in a different town. It's all so ridiculously repetitive that to this day I have problems trying to figure out why people like this game so much.
When you're not repeating the same tasks over and over in the past, you get to enjoy brief adventure segments as a modern day man named Desmond where your goal is to complete small tasks in order to activate his next memory.
This leads to the plot of Assassin's Creed which is a hit and miss. Personally, I enjoyed the strange concept, but I have a feeling a lot of people are going to disown this own quicker than they disowned the ending to Halo 2. Desmond Miles, a successful bartender, is kidnapped by an elite organization so they can use the Animus device in order to see Desmond's ancestor's memories. His ancestor just happens to be an assassin named Altair. The plot moves on at a somewhat slow pace, but it is at the very least interesting throughout. The action sequences definitely could have used some work, but the shocking revelations and twists along the way make playing Assassin's Creed worth the repetitiveness. It's not as shocking as BioShock, but it definitely comes close.
Extremely awesome lighting effects are a major highlight of Assassin's Creed. The sun bathes the land in a very realistic way and everything works out brilliantly. The environment is definitely eye candy as well and shows off what kind of graphics Ubisoft can pull off on the Xbox 360. Character models are equally impressive, with a ton of detail put into them, plus there is virtually no pop-up present, an issue that hinders other big games like Grand Theft Auto IV and Mass Effect. There is some occasional lag and slowdown, but these annoyances can definitely be forgiven after taking into account the awesomeness that is Assassin's Creed.
The voice work is equally as impressive, providing some emotionally fueled moments that works with the amazing graphics and intricate plot to keep the game interesting. The soundtrack is exactly what you'd expect, but that's not a bad thing at all. While the tunes definitely don't match up to other games in the genre like Metal Gear Solid, they definitely get the job done and do their part in making sure that Assassin's Creed has an epic soundtrack.
After you complete the game, you are given the option to keep playing with previously mentioned penalties stripped away. The point of this is to basically complete various, and repetitive, side missions and find all of the flags, which are Assassin's Creed's version of hidden packages. The achievements will keep players playing if the previous mentioned don't appeal to you, but the repetitiveness of the story mode means that you probably won't feel like playing through the game again to relive the awesome story, which is a shame.
Assassin's Creed was hyped to high heaven, but it ultimately fails to deliver. There are definitely some good things here, including the eye-pleasing graphics, great soundtrack, and brilliant plot, but the average and sometimes awkward mash of gameplay keeps Assassin's Creed from reaching its full potential. However, this means that there's only room for improvement. Ubisoft could easily fix Assassin's Creed by giving the players more entertaining things to do for starters and then take care of the bland combat system to provide the ultimate stealth experience for the seventh generation of video games.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 12/01/08
Game Release: Assassin's Creed (US, 11/13/07)
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