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May 26, 2008 | by  | in Games |
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Game Review: Assassin’s Creed

Game: Assassin’s Creed
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3, PC (windows)
Genre: 3rd person adventure
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft

I really don’t know what I think about Assassin’s Creed. Half of me wants to proudly proclaim it the spiritual successor of the Prince of Persia series, and probably one the best games on offer this summer. The nastier side of me wants to slit its throat and watch it bleed to death in its own filth.

Assasin’s Creed transports the player into the 11th Century holy land – a strange world of intrigue, violence and myth. You play as Altair, a hot headed assassin who is demoted by his homies for being a little too eager with his sword. He is voice acted by the biggest retard this side of a straight to DVD B movie. Seriously, he’s fucking terrible. Why would a Middle Eastern assassin sound like a failed The Bold and the Beautiful star. But I digress. After getting a stern reprimand from the chief assassin, you are sent back to earn your sneaky stealth killing wings. In the three cities of Damascus, Tyre and Jerusalem are nine nasty villains who need taking out. That’s your job.

The Prince of Persia comment is apt. Ubisoft brought us the revival of the famous Prince of Persia series, with the well received Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time, Two Thrones and Warrior Within. Assassin’s Creed follows the same free roaming, third person orientated style. But it adds a special zing. The game is absolutely fucking beautiful. Real attention has been given to the Middle Eastern crusader cities. The vistas are absolutely jaw dropping. Especially when viewed on a decent computer — the Xbox360 and PS3 can’t hold a candle to resolutions 1650x and above.

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The cities are also meticulously well designed, the streets snake around each other, and large churches and mosques loom over the markets and houses. And thank god they do. The major selling point of this title is vertical gameplay. You can climb virtually everything. Every ledge that looks like you can grab onto, you probably can. Every city also has strategically placed ‘view points’ at the top of prominent buildings. Once you get to the top you can view the city and points of interest pop up on your mini map.

But that’s kinda it. Assassin’s Creed is only fun as a glorified parkour simulator. Climbing wickedly cool buildings is fun. It’s really fun. But Assassin’s Creed claimed it was more than that. Supposedly there was some great stealth element to the game. It doesn’t show itself very well. For a good stealth game you need decent artificial intelligence. I don’t know if the developers were keeping things historical, but the AI in this game is moronic. Soldiers on rooftops will angrily draw their sword when you approach them, but then ignore you obliviously when you drop below the ledge of the building; once their back is turned you can put a knife in it. Wow. That was challenging.

When you can’t be fucked dealing with stupid AI while you try to sneak around Damascus you can always take on guards with a direct assault. Altair draws his sword and takes on the guards, who always call their mates and gang up on you. Fucking pussies. The combat is awesome at first, the animation is really slick. Altair performs his attacks with masterful grace. It looks pretty. But it gets boring really fast. Basically you hold down the block key, and then ‘counter’ whenever a guard goes in for a strike, resulting in a vicious instant kill. The guards attack slowly one at a time, making combat a chore. A game that makes combat a chore is not a good game.

Granted, Assassin’s Creed is a very sexy looking game. And its one that plays well. The animation is superb. The voice acting is abysmal. The combat is disgraceful and monotonous. The building climbing is revolutionary. Argh, why did you have to be so bloody schizophrenic Assassin’s Creed. Fuck you. Sigh. This game is a badly flawed diamond. But not the type you’d pass off to your girlfriend.

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  1. “The other half makes me want to slit its throat and watch it bleed to death in its own filth.”

    Zero Punctuation, much?

    But influences aside, that’s a pretty fair review. There’s still a couple of other points I think are worth mentioning though:

    The medieval environment is brilliantly realised (although not exactly GTA IV in terms of complexity), but the metanarrative – in which our protagonist is only a direct descendant dreaming that he is Altair – is absolutely piss-poor in its execution. The concept works reasonably well as a framing device, and the overarching plot of secret global conspiracies is compelling, but those segments are about as interactive as an episode of Blue’s Clues. Your options are literally ‘go to sleep’ or ‘talk to the only other person in the room and then go to sleep’, and on the first playthrough I must have wasted nearly an hour walking around rooms on the assumption that there must be some point to them actually being there (pro-tip: the bathroom is purely decorative, despite the creepy switch to security camera footage). Ironically, the game would be more immersive if they just stuck to cutscenes.

    One more thing – I’m aware I’ll sound like a fanboy, but I suspect it’s a far more enjoyable experience on the 360. The parkour-style gameplay (or as I call it, Ye Olde Batman) is dependent on intuitive but densely mapped controls, and the 360’s triggers are a surprisingly simple way of of navigating them. So, yeah.

  2. IF says:

    What hurt my experience was the repetitive game play and audio (“I’ll have your hand for that!”), that you couldn’t run in the present and that you couldn’t skip cutscenes (ugh). The present does have a bit more to it – you can steal a security pen/password, get access to computers, get into the board room to get more notes and (ultimately) get hints to the sequel set in Japan – not heaps, but a few hidden elements.

    If they can address those three gripes, improve the AI and adjust the combat, a sequel could be a great game. The level design is absolutely top notch and I doubt they’ll throw that away without flogging it a few more times.

    Hell, you could remake Tenchu with this game engine and it’d be pretty good.

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