Assassin's Creed

2008-12-07 21:54:08

Assassin's Creed(Xbox360)

For those of you who haven't been to a game store and seen the standees with Altair on them or didn't fall victim to the hype train when the game released in November 07 probably because you were too busy playing Halo 3 to notice, but Assassin's Creed was a fairly well hyped Ubisoft game where according to everything on the outside you play as an Assassin in the holy land circa 13th century during the crusades.

But that's not really true. For some reason(which I suspect may have to do with some kind of mind affecting drugs) Ubi decided in order to compel the player to play this game it has to have a modern tie. So you start your new game and suddenly you're dumped off in the middle of an ancient villiage but it's cloudy and the images of the people ghost and glitch like a bad DVD. Some ghostly voice says something about losing Sync and suddenly you are staring at this triangle on the screen, and then the visor apparatus disappears to the left and you are dumped to a 3rd person view of a middle eastern man in blue jeans and a white hoodie. there are 2 people with Lab coats in the room and they start bitching that you are holding up their time.

It's at this point you learn that these people have kidnapped you and forced you to use a device called an Animus to extract memories trapped inside your genetic code. Now this premise is all well and good on the Sci-Fi channel but why does nothing in the game hype key you in on this facet? because it's a molten lump of shit, it's a soft science pipe dream made reality just to have an excuse to make a "game within a game" kind of setting. What do you end up doing in your "modern day" periods? walking to your bed and snooping on the scientists emails. fuuuuuuuuuuun, NOT!

So once you're done with the bullshit of the scientists bickering you can get to the killing. You start off this little rompfest chasing after Robert Le Sable, a Templar in the Order, who is trying to claim a treasure called "a piece of eden." During the first portion of the game you get the distinct impression that your character is an asshole, a person who thinks he is the hottest assassin on the block and that rules are for weaklings less cool than you. While it may give real life assholes a hard on, it makes the rest of us think the character is an ass and deserves to get fucked over. You go back to your Assassin HQ on top of a mountain in an independant town that sounds very middle eastern. You end up being followed by Robert's men and he's aiming to take out your sweet Assassin crib with his posse of ugly white guys. So your master has you show your faith in your master by leaping to your death, when in reality your character just jumps out a tall tower and lands in a bale of hay out of sight. Sadly one of the guys in your team of faith jumpers missed the hay and broke his leg. Proving that this game has the guts to show some pretty ugly sights such as broken legs and chest wounds. You drop a ton of logs on top of the crusaders while they're staring in Awe.

After your master stabs you with his knife to "kill you" you are dumped out of the animus again and told to rest. As time goes on you realize the people who are hooking you up to the machine are using the recordings to discover where they can find the Piece of Eden for themselves. Sadly you are helpless to prevent them from finding it as you play the game. Though signs of things you do in the Modern World leading to some kind of grand escape or sabotage end up being nothing but filler.

Back to ancient times, you're stripped of your ranks as an assassin and forced to start from scratch. I like to call this the real beginning of the game, where you actually have to start as a basic thug and rise back to master assassin. The game is good though it would be great if you didn't have to run down a huge fucking mountain between every mission. The game is very repeatative if you notice the motif. 

First you have to get off your mountain, ride on horseback to some arbitrary archway which then gives you an option of locations you've been to before to instantly travel too. This is handy in that you don't have to ride your horse through the open kingdom often. Why is free riding such a problem? because apparently there is some kind of medieval speed limit on horses, in certain locations you have to hold a button to force your horse to move slower than you can normally walk in order to avoid attention. WHY? at least let it be faster than a normal walk? why do these guys suddenly want to kill me just for trotting past without bumping people? it's a strange mechanic and only serves to frustrate the player unless he wants to outrun the law or kill them on the way to the target.

Once you are there you have to look around and find some guards roughing up a guy just outside the gates, because the gates are defended by 4 guards who will never let you past even if you blend. So you have to get in a sword fight with about 4-6 people maybe more to free this harassed guy and he repays you by spawning a group of scholars. you can then walk up to the scholars and hit blend and Altair will walk in between them and they will all walk through the guards who will back out of the way for them. Why these guys get preferential treatment, and how the guards can be so blind as to not see that I'm wearing throwing knives, a longsword at my side and a curved blade on my back in plain sight while the scholars wear sandals and white robes escapes me. But then again it shouldn't suprise me since these are the same guards who will get pissed at me climbing up a wall and onto a building, and will continue to be pissed until they eventually attack, but if I hit the blend button once I'm on the roof which makes me steeple my hands like I'm a scholar I'm suddenly cool to be in unauthorized areas of town. AMAZING! more like Amazingly bad AI. a simple steeple of the hands shouldn't be enough for someone looking at me up close to not notice I'm bad news.

Once your in town you have to visit the Assassin's clubhouse, appropropriately on the roof of a building. the Assassin leader then bitches at you for being too cocky, and then tells you where you should start your research. You go to these places, scouting them out and have to perform 2-3 small tasks that vary from pickpocketing something off someone, eavesdropping on a conversation(which only was used twice in the whole game), and Interrogate, where you get to rough up some poor robed smuck in a back alley after he gives a long winded speech.

In fact this game does a whole lot of talking, too much in fact. but I'll get to that in a moment. Another thing you can do is help an informer, who will usually give you x amount of time to collect some items around a circuit(kind of like a roof top race event) or kill X amount of templars in Y time(usually 3-5 minutes). Once you've done these tasks you then go back to the bureau, and they hand you a white feather approving of your plan and let you go kill the target.

When you get to the target you have to watch yet another cutscene which usually gives you better understanding for how the target is evil and deserving of death, then you have to execute them. There is a variety of ways, but more often than not the hidden assassin blade doesn't work right away to do it. Once you slay the guy it drops to a cutscene where Altair holds the dying man in his arms and the guy explains how Altair is an idiot for killing him, that he is being used. Now amazingly these conversations can last 5-10 minutes, all while the target has a gaping throat wound. when youIn the end the game really takes a dive in that the last act of the game has you no longer being a stealthy assassin but running around a lengthy narrow passage killing everyone in sight with your weapons, and it won't let you run away it boxes you in with the cloudy animus blockades. Which makes me wonder if the whole animus thing was merely a ploy to explain why you can't just climb around everywhere at the beginning of the game.

Either way the ending is anticlimatic as you are spared from being killed by the hands of your captors, as they run off to use the info they stole from your dna, So you are left in the office in the modern day, unable to do anything, until you somehow realize you can use Eagle Vision(a vision mode that allows you to see stuff in the crusaders era and identify people are friendly or enemy or target.) on the floor, you see a couple of wierd smears of blood that spell stuff, and then the credits roll.

And do they fucking ROLL! what is it these days with games that put extra content at the end of the credits like some kind of fucking movie, and then make the credits not only unskippable but exceptionally lengthy? Call of Duty 4's credits weren't terrible, but Assassin's creed's takes the cake. After sitting around for 10 minutes regaling how awesome their company's CEO is to be in the credit reel(I mean what the fuck did he do during this project? did he write some of the code? if not fuck him and move on!) you can finally go back to the animus and read the epilogue to your Altair story, and that's it, game over. Wow, you sure won, what living your ancestors memories correctly? not escaping the prison of mad scientists? all in all you end up failing, since you haven't done anything but hand over to the evil corporation the information they need to make a mind control satellite.

Beyond all the shit there is a small helping of good. Using the controls for free run where you can run climb and jump just by pointing in the direction you want to go is fluid and believable. Altair scales buildings quickly and realistically. I felt like medieval times batman, going from rooftop to rooftop, perching on towers and church crosses to scope out the terrain below(a game mechanic called syncronizing, revealing sub-missions in the general area.) Fighting is also well laid out, with plenty of moves to get the job done, though Templars are unruly bastards compared to Guards, Templars have a magic fucking ability to grab you and be unbreakable in their grab, and are almost impossible to counter attack and when you do instead of a slaying counter you just punch them in the gut or kick them down. This just makes templars unrealistically difficult, but they still die in the end.

I give Assassin's Creed a 6/10, the gameplay is fun and well executed, the outer plot is rubbish and the game should've stayed in the past.