Assassin’s Creed is the newest game from Ubisoft, the people responsible for the most recent Prince of Persia games. It places you in the shoes of a barkeeper named Desmond Miles, who is kidnapped and brought to Abstergo Industries and placed as an unwilling participant into something called the “Animus Project.” Through this project, we are introduced to Altair, an assassin in the holy land during the 3rd Crusade. What unfolds from here is a beautiful, fun, if a bit repetitive game.
The game play in Assassin’s Creed is wonderful at times, infuriating at others. The highly touted “free roaming” works wonderfully in this game. Simple, intuitive button presses give you the ability to run up walls, jump from roof to roof, and basically act like the Spiderman of the 12th century. I found myself, on many occasions, just running around, enjoying the great experience of it all.
The face buttons (Y,X,B, and A) are assigned to different parts of the body. One for the head to look around, one for combat, one for running and one for moving people, pick-pocketing, etc. On top of this, each button has “High Profile” and “Low Profile” commands. For instance, the B button, when used as a “low profile” command, gently pushes people out of your way without disturbing them, letting you pass unnoticed, while the “high profile” command shoves them out of the way, causing them to stumble and drawing attention to yourself. While the controls are wonderful most of the time, you will occasionally find yourself doing the incorrect command. Also, this simplifies the combat to one button. Even though the developers tried to spice it up, letting you counter and do combos depending on what buttons you have held down can’t help but make you feel that the combat is a little lacking as you pound away on the X button for the thousandth time.
The main focus of the game is obviously, the assassinations themselves. And here’s where the game kinda stumbles. At the start of each mission, you are only given the name of your target. It’s up to you to find out where they are, and when the perfect time to strike would be. While this sounds interesting, the repetitiveness of how you go about this starts to get old after while. There are 4 ways you learn about your target, pick-pocketing a important piece of information, interrogating certain people for information, performing tasks for informers, and eavesdropping on conversations. And that’s it, only those 4. While it’s fun the first few times, it starts to become a chore as you progress further in the game.
Once you have obtained your information though the game really lives up to its’ name. You know the whereabouts of your target, now it’s up to you to find a way to slip in unseen and let them feel the sharp point of your blade. There are several ways to do this, such as, blending in with scholars who are dressed similar to you to get close to your target, the previously mention roof running to slip in unnoticed, etc. And how this is done is completely up to the player. It’s really quite exhilarating to stalk your prey, watching them, unseen, waiting for the perfect chance to strike and get away.
Assassin’s Creed is one amazing looking game. The first time you ride your horse up to the city, and find your first viewpoint, and you see the sprawling cities of the 12th century spreading out as far as you can see, you will be in awe. As you move through the crowds of people, every one is beautifully rendered, moving fluidly through the packed streets. Altair moves beautifully, whether it’s slipping between a crowded market, or jumping nimbly from rooftop to rooftop. Unlike some games where it seems the character can crawl up anything, Altair will actually use the cracks in the wall, window frames, balconies, etc, to move up the sides of buildings. While it doesn’t sound like much, it definitely adds to the beauty and realism of the game. And the combat, while a bit repetitive, is great in motion. The counters look realistic, and watching Altair run a guard through with his blade or give them a quick boot in the gut, is good enough to almost make you feel bad for them; Almost. There were more than a few times I stared at the screen in awe at how beautiful everything was.
The sound in the game is done well, and goes a long way to add to the immersion factor. From the clink of the swords as you use a well timed counter, to the sounds of the streets as you move through them, the sounds really draw you in. As Altair moves, you can hear the clanking of his weapons and armor, as well as that of the guards when in combat. The townspeople in the game are also really well done. From commenting on your actions when you perform a “high profile” command when you shouldn’t, or the guards calling for help when something out of place is found, the attention to the little sound details makes the game that much more enjoyable. The dialog, especially the voice acting of Altair, is really well done. Music is sparse in the game, only kicking in at certain moments, like dramatic cut scenes or beginning of battles, but it services its purpose well, and doesn’t intrude into the enjoyment of the game.
Assassin’s Creed is definitely an enjoyable game. It draws you in with its interesting story, and keeps you interested throughout. While the combat can get a little repetitive later in the game, it’s not enough to completely turn you off from the game. The only other down side is that once you have finished it, there really isn’t a reason to go back and play it again, unless you are determined to complete it all and want to get all the collectables.
From the beautiful graphics to the great sound and compelling story, Assassin’s Creed is a definite must play. While some may enjoy playing through it multiple times, it’s almost definitely a “play once and put it away for a while” kinda game. So for those on the fence about it, I would say give it a rental before buying. But you do owe it to yourself to play through this wonderful game at least once.
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