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Assassin's Creed Review
|ON OTHER PLATFORMS: Xbox360, PC|
developer: Ubisoft Montreal
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Nov 13, 07
|» All About Assassin's Creed on ActionTrip|
Before I begin this potentially inflammatory review, let me just state that, no, I am not a professional and have never been one in the true sense of the word. And I have a good reason for it. I play video games. By definition professional-minded hardcore gamer is a contradiction in terms. We lack the meticulousness, the work ethic, the objective approach, the staying power and the ability to perform menial tasks in order to achieve a goal... those who don't play World of Warcraft anyway (Hear, hear! - Vader).
Forgive my sweeping generalization; I'm simply giving my honest opinion.
Otherwise, we wouldn't really be gamers. Other gamers wouldn't give a rat's crap what we have to say. What gamers want is fun, what gamers lack is an attention span. I, like so many other gamers, lack all of that to a healthy degree, and I'm sure many of you can relate.
Gamers by definition do possess an inquisitive mind and often display traces of intelligence. As such, we want to be entertained and yet challenged in a way that won't hurt our feelings by equating our sense of narrative fidelity to the hordes of people watching "Big Brother."
So, it is my opinion that in order for the game to be successful, or widely accepted, it has to marry these seemingly contradictory requirements. To further generalize this, gamers like South Park. Gamers like sites like Penny Arcade. It's because these guys deliver exactly what we need - accessible yet intelligent entertainment that is designed to take us out of our boring routines and offer glimpses into creative minds greater than our own.
The reason why I had to get all of this off my chest is because Assassin's Creed, in my humble opinion, simply fails in this.
For the last couple of days I've been spending hours playing the game and as I progress further, I keep wondering whether someone is playing a practical joke on us.
Going back to what I said about professionalism (or lack of thereof), I will tell you right off the bat that I haven't finished the game. I hear it's got a cliffhanger ending. OK, fair enough, nothing new there.
Assuming that you are familiar with Assassin's Creed back-story by now, I will tell you that the narrative was not the reason for me to stop playing. In fact, the story, the very concept of it sounds quite interesting; far-fetched yet intriguing enough to tickle your imagination.
Assassin's Creed tells the tale of an ordinary guy who gets caught up in a weird scientific experiment. Memories of his notorious ancestor, an assassin who lived in the greater area of Jerusalem at the time of Crusades, are extracted from his gene pool in order for it to be used to change the present. I rather liked this idea. Furthermore, the dialogue and the moral spins on each assassination are not without substance, not without whatever credibility the writer needed to inject in order to keep our attention.
The reason why I eventually gave up on this game, scratching my head in disbelief in the process, is that the stuff you do in the tutorial is pretty much what you will be doing in the next six to eight hours of playing it.
Assassin's Creed seemingly has it all and yet it has nothing. It has a unique enough main character, it has good dialogue, the animation of the main protagonist is drop-dead gorgeous and so are the graphics. The combat system is very organic and fun. Each battle with the guards was enjoyable if only for the exquisite yet extremely gory nature of your counter-attacks.
And yet, as you progress through the main campaign, you will have a VERY hard time telling one city from the next - Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus - where the hell am I now?
But more importantly, I certainly wasn't able to comprehend the outrageously menial and repetitive design of the missions.
It all boils down to this: you were stripped of your rank. A bunch of abilities, most of which you can easily do without, is added with each successful assassination (your ancestor is redeeming himself through performing these deeds). You enter the city in one or two repetitive ways (for example, pretending to walk amongst scholars as they pass by the guards), you climb the tall buildings and survey the area revealing one of three ways of gaining information from the citizens: pick-pocketing stuff, questioning them by beating them silly, or overhearing their conversation. Once three out of six investigations have been done, you go back to the "Assassin's Bureau" and you get the lock on your mark. You kill your mark in a strikingly similar fashion.
And it's rinse and repeat.
Rinse and repeat.
Rinse and repeat.
Rinse and repeat.
You get the point. The seemingly sandbox design of the environment is loaded with the same NPCs and same locales, everything looks the same. If you look real careful, you're going to see it's not all the same. The architecture actually varies depending on the predominant religion in the city, but the color palette, the beige overtones; it just makes everything look the same. The best analogy that I can offer is walking through an Eastern European city or actually paying close attention to its architecture. If you had just walked, they'd all look the same. Trust me on that one. Once you start paying attention, there are subtle differences. But now take that analogy and apply it to Assassin's Creed. Why would you do this, why would I pay close attention?
6.9 Above Average
Great combat, animation, story and dialogue, beautiful graphics (if you can take it out of context);
The mission design is one big joke - what you do in the tutorial, you will be doing for a hefty portion of this game, the scripted acrobatics do take some serious getting used to; every single facet of AC feels derivative and repetitive, even the good stuff.