Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles review
Meet The Crossbow


Assassin’s Creed produced a record-breaking amount of hype last year and all I can say is some of it was well wasted but when people heard that a Nintendo DS version of the game was going to soon be released people began to underestimate the credibility of the franchise’s success. As a great fan of the console version of Assassin’s Creed I heard that the storyline in the DS version wouldn’t follow the events of the title I had been playing so I decided to get myself the game to find out what happens in this particular chapter of Altair’s adventures. I have also been a fan of the popular mobile phone game and had mixed reactions to find that gamesloft were helping with this game too.

The game doesn’t clearly state when it was set but fans can only assume that it is set within the period of the console version, 1099 but because this is a prequel you could guess that it is set a few years before. Altair is still within the assassin’s order but you don’t get to see a lot of their stronghold which is a relief to those still looking back on how you had to revisit the stronghold every time after you successfully assassinated a target. Instead, Altair seems to go about his own way, killing who he deems appropriate and whatever way he feels like. It makes Altair seem more of a brainless mercenary rather than the professional assassin he is portrayed as so elegantly in the console releases. Altair is called upon to locate and retrieve a golden chalice that is believed to be a valuable treasure. Altair gets straight to where his master points him only to find that the chalice is rumoured to be in a desert temple sealed by three keys, each key in the possession in some of the most powerful people. That just about sums up how predictable this game can get. Yes, you’ve guessed it! You are required to trollop around the slums of each major city finding the keys along the way. It is a very poor storyline and is hardly polished up by minute roster of characters that make the odd appearance. However, like in the previous game, there is a twist involving the only people close to you, all I will say is that if you have played the console version you will have a good idea of what the twist is before it actually occurs.

The first thing fans will be wondering is how the DS version of Assassin’s Creed compares to the console title. There is no sense of free roaming in this game apart from if you screw up a certain part of the plat forming you have the freedom to roam back to the point where you can attempt it again. There are still guards and citizens wondering the streets and they will act exactly the same to you as they would on the console apart from they barely ever move and have a very short line of sight. You can either run about the place gaining attention from both the citizens and guards or try and blend in with the massing crowds to remain unnoticed but the thing I don’t understand about these games is that the assassins wear a distinct uniform that divides them from pretty much everyone in a crowd so there would be no sense in hiding from guards in a real life situation but the game keeps your profile low allowing you to brush the hilt of your blade against guards without them bothering. Combat is done simply by equipping your blade using the stylus and then simply bashing X or Y until you see results. Blocking and countering is also allowed, counter an enemy’s attack to leave them completely open to a fatal blow which is a common yet boring tactic available to the player.

The major thing I was upset with in the original Assassin’s Creed was finding out that weapons such as the crossbow displayed in the beautiful trailer were non existent in the game itself. However, in the Chronicles it is available along with many other gadgets and features I hoped to see in the console version including mini bombs, smoke bombs and a grappling hook that can also be used in combat to tug enemies to the ground leaving them open to finishers. Altair will also be able to adopt disguises in this game but only when it is needed such as dressing as a scholar or a guard to sneak into certain areas.

The game may replace the behind view for a 2D stage view but it is happily accepted as the game does focus a lot on platforming. If anyone is searching for a decent platform game for their DS this is it. The game fills in ever gap between assassination with plenty of puzzles and plat forming which consists of a blend of urban jumping and leap rooftop to rooftop when trying to avoid a horde of Templars. However, some of the traps and devices put into the platforming do not fit in with the theme of the original game. Fans of the series will undoubtedly say to themselves, “hey I don’t remember there being huge snakes, swinging axes, fire traps or rolling boulders in Assassin’s Creed?” It may not be some of the most superb graphics and sound displayed on the DS system but it is definitely an improvement on the mobile adaptation including short but slick cut scenes and also little mini games to get away from the platforming and sluggish fighting. These mini games include a pick pocket game or an interrogation game and can only be triggered at certain points in the game.

In conclusion it turned out to be quite a good game after all and yes there will be a sequel but little is known if it will be another DS title or if it will go to any other console. This game may not have pumped out as much hyped as the original but it proved that the DS can still do a good job of ported titles. The game isn’t suitable for everyone but if you are a fan of the series or simply want to get a slice of the action it is a must buy title.

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