Assassin's Creed Reader Review
I think Ninjaís are as cool as the next person, and while they perhaps donít rank as high on my list as rum swigging Pirates, this is after all Assassinsí Creed, and not Pirateís Creed. Granted the later would be an interesting concept, but for the sake of fairness I wonít hold the lack of Pirates against it.
This review is perhaps a little behind when it comes to Ďhot off the press,í after all Creed was released towards the back end of last year so a good few months has gone by already. After finding it in my Xmas stocking thanks to a special pirate someone in my life it didnít take me long over the festive period to stab and soar like an eagle through the game.
Recently I decided to sit down and give it another play through, there was bound to be things I missed and no doubt being more familiar with missions would help as well. So a week ago, I sat down and started to play it, second time around.
Without giving to much of the story away, which probably wouldnít matter anyhow, as every gamer interested in Creed has a) already completed it b) read the spoilers on their forum of choice and c) couldnít give a monkeyís either way. Regardless, for the sake of it, Iíll try and keep it as Spoiler free as possible.
So, the basic premise behind the game is that you play as Altair, and as youíve probably guessed by now, heís an Assassin. Being an Assassin is great stuff, but for me, what really got me interested in the game was its location - in this case, Jerusalem and its surrounding cities, set in the time of the holy wars, so think Templarís and Orlando Bloomís half decent, Kingdom of heaven (granted the latterís probably off by a mile in terms of historical significance.)
One of the first things you find out is that youíre a bit of a disgrace to your fellow Assassinís, but that is soon put to an end once you get your chance to redeem yourself against a well armed unit of knights, that want nothing more than to crush your people under their heavily armoured foot.
Itís during this time that you really get the feel of the game, and itís where you first start to notice the excellent graphics, with a special mention to the animation too, of which I believe is some of the best Iíve seen in a game to date.
You make short work of the Knights, a series of jumps (one of which, the impressive leap of faith) which result in some logs landing on top of them, of which, not even their metal helmets (and I presume sweaty helmets - this is the middle east after all.)
In essence it acts like a tutorial, getting you to grips with the games controls (which do work really well by the way) and so on. This part of the game I really liked, it was dynamic, had a few nice in game cut scenes (see logs above) and set the tone really well.
Almost single handily saving your sneaky sneaky friends from certain doom; your honour is restored, well parts of it at least. The rest, along with more of your equipment (new attacks / moves / weapons etc) gets restored as you progress through the game, itís the age old simple concept of - Ďfinish a mission, get something in returní coming into play. With the Knights now defeated and running back across the kingdom with their sweaty tails between their legs, itís now to start on the main storyline.
You donít really get told much as you begin, a name and a few directions to a Bureau in one of the three cities is all your given, from there itís up to you to find out (read: do missions) more about your target. A map is present to help you find your way around, although youíll have plenty of fog of war to contend with until you climb one of the many view points, from which your should take advantage to dive of the edge in a leap of faith, donít worry though, a nice stack of hay is always there to break your fall. Quite how a small stack of dried grass can break your fall from at least four stories up is beyond me, but one would presume Altair has learnt how to fall, a bit like that Only fools and horses episode when Uncle Albert throws himself down a cellar, same deal really, except with less hay and more cockney talk.
Anyway....once you get given a name, itís your job to see his life doesnít last much longer - your knife plunging into his unaware back always granting the desired results, for example.
You canít just Ďstealthí your way to your target though, far from it. Before you even get a chance of doing some stab stab action you must first gather some intelligence on him. Gathering information is done quite simply, and it will only take an average of 15-20minutes for most to gather the required info needed before you can slit some throats.
Itís a good system...in theory, but after the third or fourth Assassination target it soon starts to get a bit repetitive, itís a real shame that some of the dynamic-ness of the first encounter with the Knights isnít carried on throughout the game. Every area is varied only by the assassination itself, of which, all are individual and have a small story behind them.
Itís a shame that the small missions which comprise mainly of eavesdropping, pick pocketing, helping a fellow assassin with some killing work, or collecting his flags heís conveniently set up for you. Once youíve done each mission type a handful of times you may soon find that whereas at the start you took your time, enjoyed the experience, around mid way through youíll find yourself just ploughing ahead to get to the finale.
I should really talk about the combat side of things, mainly because it is executed quite well and the combo moves on offer are always quite satisfying to watch. A series of well time attacks will result in a sort of mini cut scene showing you defeating your opponent in a quite stylish fashion. If you prefer yourself a more defence minded combatant, you can wait patiently, as just like in the movies, even if youíre surrounded by twelve enemies, theyíll only attack one at time.
A quick tap of the X button, while holding the right trigger down will perform a counter attack, either knocking your opponent to the floor - making an ideal time to switch to your concealed blade and stab him through his neck. If you counter doesnít knock your opponent down, then youíre more than likely about to watch you do a fancy spin or side step, with the end result of your sword penetrating an important body part.
It is possible to just stand there with your finger on the block button for a few hours and watch as enemy attacks just bounce off, but to say this is a negative thing would be wrong. Just why would you stand for hours blocking anyway? The game is made so the combat is quite flexible, you can choose to run away at any time, making your way across roof tops and through side alleys until you lose the will now be swarm of guards baying for your blood.
Of course, this is Assassinís Creed and while it may suit a pirate to swarm into a group of guards looking for a fight, sometimes, the subtle approach is needed, and of course, is more satisfying. Blend in with the crowd and make your way towards your opponent, and when the opportunity is right slide the hidden blade into his soft flesh, and then make your way away from the area in amongst the crowed and listen to the helpless "who did this?" coming from the guards.
For me the benefit of not having to stealth around all the time was a huge one, Iíve never really been a fan of that sort of gameplay and while I enjoyed the occasionally stealthy attack on a lone guard I was never to fussed about having to fight back a handful of them if need be.
Iíve seen a lot of people say that Assassinís doesnít offer much in terms of replay value, and while I do agree with them to a degree, this is really a game that will be as good as you make it. If you play your role as an Assassin and stealth your way through the game (if thatís your cup of tea of course) youíll be happy to go through the game again at some point. At the same time, someone like myself who doesnít always like the sneaking side of things has still found it enjoyable a second time around.
Yes, Creed does suffer from a lot of repetition, but there are some dynamic moments that help make up for it. The sheer beauty of the cities and animation canít be sniffed at either, and the cities just look fantastic as each segment flows together nicely, this is especially true when you are running along the roof tops, jumping from wooden beam to another with a host of guards in pursuit, great stuff.
By all means Iíd recommend playing Assassinís Creed, but go in with a clear mind. If you got swept up with the ĎUber-Hypeí prior to the games release, you probably will be a bit disappointed, but take the game for what it is, and youíll have a good time playing through it. It doesnít have a lot of depth, but then, it never was going to have the sort of background to it as say a fully blown RPG. Bottom line is simple, if you like action / adventure style games, I suppose similar to God of War in some ways then do give it a try. Donít let the negative thoughts and feelings of many of the internetís gaming population put you off, yes it does have its faults, but it does have a lot going for it.
A solid game in the end, nothing spectacular but a solid game none the less.