5.6

Assassin's Creed review
Assassin's Clockwork

Summary:

It may be hard to believe, but I really like Assassin's Creed... or at least, the idea of Assassin's Creed. Think about it - you're a guy who basically relives the life of an assassin who happens to be one of your ancestors. You get to kill people like one badass mother*bleep*ing assassin. You even get to uncover some spicy shit. Sounds like a pretty cool game, right? Well, the second game is, but since I'm reviewing the first game... ehh, to be put bluntly, it's cool on paper, but pretty mediocre in execution.

Story: I can't really reveal much because it starts off fairly slowly, with all of the juicy bits revealed during the last third (practically, anyway - some of it's in the second third). What I can reveal is that Desmond is kidnapped and placed inside a machine where he has to relive the life of one of his ancestors, Altair. Altair's story starts with him trying to prevent the theft of an artifact from a temple, but in doing so, he breaks the three rules of the Assassin's Brotherhood. Because of this, he's demoted and has to assassinate nine specific people to regain his status.

Due to my mostly spoiler free policy, that's all I can reveal. Everything starts to make sense as it comes to its conclusion, and although it changes the tone, it does so in a way that makes the wait worth it - until then, it just feels like an excuse plot, which wouldn't make sense for a cinematic kind of game. The story is mostly told Half-Life style, in that there are little to no "cutscenes", but rather, it's all using the in game engine and the only transition is that people talk and you can't do much (save for moving the camera and maybe walk in some instances), flowing almost ever so seamlessly. There are a few that are told like traditional cutscenes, but surprisingly not many.

But unfortunately, just as you think you have the basic gist of the story, they piss it away at the end with an ending that basically says “go get the sequel”. There's open ended, and then there's just sequel baiting, and since the ending gives you virtually nothing to interpret, it's sequel baiting. So basically, you have a slow start with a twist already given to you, a middle that keeps you coming to learn more, and an ending that pretty much forces you to buy the sequel – thank god the sequel is a good game, or else, I'd really lose my shit here.

Gameplay: As an assassin, your job is to get to the area, scout the area, gather information about your target, and finally, assassinate said target. It's a simple concept, and believe me when I say that the execution makes things feel a bit too simple... almost to the point of it being *bleep*ing boring after the first hour. Seriously, the biggest issue I have with this game is how repetitive it is. I'm sorry, I really hate to criticize a game for repetition because when you break any game down, you're basically doing the same thing over and over again, but Assassin's Creed just takes the piss. Most missions revolve around holding LB to lock onto your target and either sitting on a bench, or following them around, sometimes holding B to pickpocket. Sometimes, they try to mix it up with some assassination missions (where you kill some targets for a fellow assassin or get flags), but you're only given three cities in the game and all that really changes is how many guards you have around certain targets. Beyond that, well... hope you like repeating the same few missions roughly ten times...

It's all about padding. If you got all of your information from the guy you see at a city's Assassin's Beauru and skipped straight to assassinations, this game wouldn't even be half as long. But honestly, I'd rather play a 5 hour long game that's consistently good than a 10 hour game that alternates between good and boring at the flick of a switch. In saying all of that, the boredom carries over to the assassinations, which all become very samey, and just *bleep*ing boring. It's the exact same two scenarios here – single them out in a gang, or run after them and stab them with the hidden blade. Sounds cool, I know, but after the fifth assassination, it loses its appeal because you've done this exact same thing five times already. Now, I'm of the opinion that repetition is what binds a game together and that anybody who criticizes a game for it is an uninformed retard, but some games go overboard, and Assassin's Creed is one of them.

What I forgot to mention was that you're not always safe. If you stand out in any way – whether it's running and jumping up buildings like a monkey or hitting/killing a civilian, the guards will get suspicious/pissy and may/will attack you. It depends. Simply running around where you shouldn't will cause them to get suspicious, while killing people will obviously piss them off and get them to attack you. Okay, fair enough. But what about those drunks that keep pushing you away? The guards don't care, but you so much as touch even a millimeter of their body with your elbow, and the guards around you will go apeshit. Same with beggars – they're honed in on your presence because... I guess Altair is the richest guy on the planet or something, and the guards don't give a shit. Touching them will make the guards lose their cool and *bleep* you up. Thankfully, it's possible to run and hide – just wait until the icon on the top left signifies that you're safe, then find somewhere to hide (like in a bail of hay, inside some hidey-hole on a building, praying with some scholars, or – and this is classic – sitting on a bench between two people, because some guy in a cloak, decked out with weapons totally doesn't stand out between two ordinary looking citizens).

The combat is simple enough and each fight does end up being very, very samey, but the idea is there and ripe for picking. You'll either hit the X button to swing your sword and hope that the guards stop guarding for even a split second so you can land a few hits to kill them, or you can hold the right bumper and press X just as they're about to hit you. The latter is preferable as the former will result in potentially arthritic thumbs because the guards love keeping their guards up. Not to mention that it's set up so that one will attack at a time, which may seem weird at first until you get the idea of how combat works, and why multiple aggressors going for you at once just wouldn't work too well. Too bad it sucks. Again, it has to do with the fact that you're doing the exact same thing over and over again, and even with the additions you get as you kill certain targets, you don't really feel the need to use them – just attack or counterattack. You only have a sword, a hidden blade and throwing knives, which could still be cool, but nope, it just feels limited.

Replay Value: There are many collectibles throughout the cities, like flags and... more flags. To find them is a bit of a tricky task, as you'll need to look in every nook and cranny throughout the biiiiiig cities. Free running is simple and yet fun.. pretty much because the cities have many nooks and crannies to explore, and even if they look about the same, what separates sections here and there are the layouts, and even without that distinction, the sheer size and where all the flags are hidden will help in mixing it all up. However, that's what'll keep you playing... what, you mean you want to get 100% synchronization via doing the shitty missions that are all the exact same thing?

Controls: Assassin's Creed controls like the Prince Of Persia games, in that any and all actions have a lot of conviction behind them, despite only using as few buttons as possible. For instance, free running, including running, jumping across gaps and climbing, consists of holding RB, A and the left stick forward. Sounds complicated, but it winds up very easy to get the hold of as you just hold them while running like a monkey. Combat is as easy as pressing or holding the buttons, depending on the action. Really, all that's wrong is that half the time, you do what you're not meant to do, either because the guard was a pixel off and you assassinate a beggar instead (that happens so often because beggars don't leave you alone until you get out of a certain radius), or you climb up a building when you're intending to just turn while running. After a while, it gets pretty *bleep*ing annoying and you're often doing some unnecessary micromanaging so that you don't kill the wrong person and piss off the guards. However, that's often the result of going for realistic physics...

Graphics: But if Assassin's Creed gets one thing right, it's the graphics.. well, the environments, at least. I mean it's one thing to have pathetic looking blood that was just slapped on at the last second to appeal to people who think they're too cool for Mario; it's another thing to have some mediocre human models that look like they're half rendered, looking like they're from a PS2 game. It really clashes with the fully rendered and, quite frankly, *bleep*ing beautiful city visuals because it's like they ran out of money when it came time to design the humans... I'd rather have beautiful repeated stock models (which they have, by the way) than a huge variety of mediocre looking models (actually, I'd rather the best of both worlds – that's just if I HAD to choose one or the other). It's especially annoying when the main characters look on par with them... but oh well, they're at least tolerable to look at.

The cities aren't safe from my wrath, or at least, not in the presence of technical problems like the occasional moments of lagging, texture pop in and screen tearing, all of which are a result of having lots of big environments. But when you look past them – which isn't hard because it's not a common occurrence - you'll see some very nice looking cities with very appropriate textures, making them look quite realistic. For a game released in 2007, this is very, very impressive, really showing off the 360's power at that point... for better or for worse.

Audio: Sadly, the sounds of Assassin's Creed are pretty mediocre. The sound effects work very well, managing to pull you into the heat of the moment with every hit and every clash of the blade having a lot of oomph behind them. Usually, they'd be joined by the soundtrack, but the soundtrack is barely there. The idea is to feel intense or beautiful, but I'm not feeling it. Every song sounds competent enough, but with more oomph, they could really immerse you into the game. As for the voice acting, well, aside from the fact that Altair sounds like he's a 21st century American visiting a 12th century Israel, it's competent enough. Nothing that'll set you alight, but nothing that offends your ears either.

Overall: Assassin's Creed has good ideas and a great concept, but the execution is mediocre at best. Repetition is what keeps a game together, but it can get to a point where every minute is virtually the same as the other, and when it gets to that point, anything that could've been cool or fun winds up boring, and at that point, you're just playing in hopes of it doing something to mix it up, like a twist in the story or a cool and different kind of assassination. Plus the story, which is the only reason to even bother with this game nowadays, boils down to being an excuse plot and has an ending that just forces you to buy the sequel due to how little is actually explained. Again, there's a difference between an open ended ending and a sequel baiter, and Assassin's Creed shows this. Do one better – don't bother with this game. Skip to Assassin's Creed 2. It's a much better game.

Scores:
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 7/15
Replay Value: 4/10
Controls: 7/10
Graphics: 4/5
Audio: 3/5
Overall: 28/50

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