Saturday, January 26, 2008

Review: Assassin's Creed

Finished Assassin's Creed today, and I am impressed. This is the first of the games that I have played from Ubisoft Montreal. I skipped the Prince of Persia's (at least the semi-recent ones), so I think this is my first introduction to the Havoc engine and other miscellaneous bouncing off the walls that the character is able to do. In Assassin's Creed, you play two roles. First off you play as Miles, the descendant of a famed Assassin clan from during the Crusades. You have limited interaction while playing as Miles and must glide around the room frequently to see if you can interact with anything. It would be nice here if it would highlight so you could see you could interact from a distance. The second character you play as is Altaïr, Miles' ancestor. Basically the game story centers around the fact that Miles is captured and must relive his ancestor's life through some sort of DNA memory. While this is a little hokie, but if you can suspend your beliefs past that part, you are in for a treat. The story is filled with conspiracy theories, alien technology, and ancient battles, not to mention getting to play as an assassin in a critical time in human history.

The graphics and sounds are executed well and give you a very immersive environment. You get the sounds of battles, plus the sounds of merchants hawking their wares. You get to see swirling dust and flying insects along with copious amounts of blood. The cities are beautifully rendered with tons of space to explore and tons of stupid flags to find.

The gameplay suffers from a few things. Many popular reviewers found this game to be repetitive and I can see where they are coming from. Your bare minimum mission consists of:
  1. Arrive at city
  2. Visit bureau
  3. Do 2 of 6 investigations
  4. Visit bureau
  5. Kill target
  6. Visit bureau

But that is the bare minimum. If you want there are high places to explore, and citizens to save. There are also 6 total investigations to do which all lend to the story and enrich it. Plus if you really would like to get into the role it is helpful to do all the investigations so you can see marked guard placements and good routes to the site. For me the most monotonous part was flag hunting. I got it into my head that I should find all the flags, but after trying to do so in Damascus for 3+ hours, I decided I would just collect the ones I could find (as they are save points) and that would be all.

Another clunky combat / gameplay point is that sometimes it can be a tad grabby. If you are running away from the guards sometimes your character will do very non-elite assassin sort of things like just grab onto a wall or accidentally fall into the water. These end up being very bad things.

But bad things aside, they really didn't detract much from the game and I still had a fun time playing it. In fact I recommend it just to watch the story.

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