Assassin’s Creed Review

Jade Raymond. Now that she is out of the way we can go ahead.

Designed for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC; Assassin’s Creed takes current-gen gaming to the next level with stunning graphics and an immersive story. The game itself actually takes place in the present, where a bartender named Desmond has been taken hostage by scientists who are trying to get a specific memory from his mind. The only problem is, the memory isn’t his. It is one of his ancestors.

The scientists continually get Desmond, who was once an assassin, to lie down on a machine called the Animus. The Animus allows Desmond to see memories of his ancestors, and in this specific case, a person named Altair (all-tie-ear), which is Arabic for "The Flying One". Altair lived during the Third Crusade in 1191 and is a member of the Hashshashin that roughly translates to "assassin".

The game starts off with Desmond’s first memory, which is of Altair and two fellow assassins’ on their way to recover a treasure and slay Robert de Sable, the Grand Master of the Templar Knights. On his way in, Altair leaves no man standing assassinating innocent by standers as he makes his way through. Once he finds de Sable, an un-stealth like move gets Altair thrown into the next room and one of his fellow assassin’s killed while de Sable leaves with the treasure.

Because of this, Altair is then demoted to the lowest rank in the Assassin Order and all of his skills and weapons taken away. Now, Altair must travel to different cities such as Jerusalem and Acre and assassinate nine men in order to redeem himself. This is where the game truly starts.

Before setting of on each mission, Altair speaks with Al Mualim, the leader of the Assassins, who informs Altair on where to go and restores a weapon and a new skill. After speaking to him you can then leave the building and train your new skill, which only takes a couple of minutes and is definitely worth it. Once you get down to the gates you can get a horse and ride through what is known as "The Kingdom" which is pretty much the land that joins all the cities.

Throughout The Kingdom there will be random enemies to practice your skills with and viewpoints to climb up to light up your map or help in the completion of side quests. The Kingdom itself is rather large and can be bit confusing at first. You may find yourselves constantly pushing "select" to view the map to make sure you are taking the right path. If you want to get straight to the action then don’t worry, after the first couple of assassinations, the game allows you to fast-forward your memory and will re-sync at the city entrance.

As you make your way through cities during each mission, it’s not hard to find yourself impressed at the amount of work and detail that went into creating them, especially when perched on a viewpoint where you get a glimpse of nearly the entire city. In a normal game you may notice the same couple of people placed everywhere or the same couple of buildings placed around in a city, but you won’t find that in Assassin’s Creed. Granted, the human models are used more than once and I’m sure the building models are used just as much as well. However, the point is that you will have a hard time noticing two of the exact same models. The amount of detail that is placed in Assassin’s Creed really enhances the sensation that you are part of a living, breathing community.

Each city easily contains hundreds of civilians, guards, and buildings. If you kill someone, the people will scream. If you climb a building, onlookers will become curious and crowd the ground below you. It also seems that each and every possible roof to roof jump was meticulously planned out to deliver an adrenaline-filled experience; just be careful though as you may injure yourself from falling too far or in our case, drowning in a canal because we were more interested in performing parkour.

While you are in the city, it is your responsibility to gather information about your target before you can go assassinate him. In order to accomplish this you need to hit up the assassin’s bureau, and then head towards your targets. Depending on the game, you must complete various objectives such as pick pocketing, eave’s dropping, or simply dishing out a severe beating until he divulges the information you need. However, the developers made this rather easy. Instead of going throughout the entire city and searching for your informational targets, they put icons on your radar to let you know where to find them. Although, if you haven’t been climbing your viewpoints in the city, you may not see the icons at all.

Once you gather the needed information, you can return to the assassin’s bureau and get permission for your upcoming assassination. When you approach your target, there are numerous ways you can attempt to assassinate him. Do you want to go in swords blazing? Do you want to perch on a ledge and jump down? Do you want to distract the guards while you quietly sneak in from the back?

Throughout the game a player can choose to use either low profile commands or high profile commands. The guards may be more aware of the player if the player uses high profile commands such as running, climbing buildings, or attacking someone. On the other hand using low profile commands such as blending or walking will conceal you within the crowd. A player is made aware of how noticeable they are to the guards by their alert icon. If it’s red then you may want to use low profile commands and if it’s white or yellow then it is generally safe to use high-profile commands. Keeping a low profile while doing your prerequisite missions will in the end, make your assassination attempt easier.

Unfortunately, doing the same thing over and over and over again becomes decidedly monotonous and dull. Talk to the guy, get information, get more information, go back and talk to the guy, go assassinate, go back and talk to the guy again. After about the 5th assassination we started to get bored with the game and couldn’t play for more than thirty minutes compared to about three hours when we first popped it in our PS3. Fortunately, there are side quests you can do such as climb viewpoints, collect flags, or save accused citizens to help relieve the constant routine.

While the controls aren’t as in depth as games such as Heavenly Sword, they are far from the button mashing type of game. You select your weapon using your directional pad and attack by pushing square. Simple enough. But in order to do things such as a counter attack or a dodge, you have to time your attacks and face in the proper direction.

This brings us to the artificial intelligence. While not entirely incompetent, the AI could definitely use some work. We understand that the game is about stealth, but if you walk up and kill a guard from behind, it isn’t too much to expect that his compatriot standing two feet away to hear him fall and take notice of your actions. While you are in combat, the guards do throw you around, dodge your attacks, counter attack, but if you have a mob of guards on you, you can expect that half of them will just be standing around doing nothing.

The voice acting isn’t the best in the world, but like the controls, it’s not bad either. From what you hear, it seemed as if Philip Shahbaz, who was the voice of Altair, just didn’t "connect" with his character unlike James Taylor, who did an excellent job voicing Tidus in Final Fantasy X.

Even with all the great gameplay and amazing story, there is alas, another downfall. The game was consistently freezing which, depending on what you are doing, can set you back. This isn’t something that was happening every ten minutes, more like every other hour, but it is something that should have been taken care of before the game was released. Ubisoft did release a patch to fix the problem and although it does fix a majority of the problems, Assassin’s Creed still freezes from time to time.

On the other hand, one thing that we were personally was impressed with was the historical accuracy within the game. We’re not saying that there was a guy named Altair going from city to city assassinating 12th century influential leaders, although if there was then more kudo’s to Ubisoft, but we are saying that the most of the names used during the time period are accurate.

Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Ubisoft Montreal did an excellent job with certain aspects of Assassin’s Creed. The graphics, the story, and the city designs were amazing and while they are some minor flaws with the game, they are nowhere near enough to not warrant a purchase.



The Final Word

Despite some notable faults, Assassins’ Creed is an amazing experience, delivering the perfect amalgam of story telling and immersive gameplay. With the chance to take control of a 12th century assassin, this is a gaming opportunity that simply cannot be passed up.