Name: Assassin's Creed
Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3 (Reviewed for Xbox 360)
These days, the term "next-gen" is thrown around nearly as much as "innovation" when it comes to gaming buzz words. When quizzed on their titles' merits, many developers will inevitably answer, "It's next-gen," which really means, "It's pretty." But that isn't what "next-gen" truly means. None of the big games to come out since the launch of the Xbox 360 and PS3 have taken full advantage of either system's respective powers. All three next generation consoles have had at least a year to mature, and developers have had time to learn the ins and out of the systems. Thankfully, the flow of graphically enhanced ports has slowed, and the real games of this "next-generation" are beginning to come out, which is why it may look like every gaming website is giving recent releases such high review scores. Doing something that could not be done on the previous console is the real meaning of "next-gen," and by that rule Assassin's Creed truly is the first.
Never before has there been this much freedom in a game. The engine employed allows for unprecedented levels of interactivity. If there is a crack in the wall, it can be scaled. If there is a windowsill, it can be grabbed. Games in the past have had specific items that players were told to use to get from Point A to Point B. This is not the case with Assassin's Creed. Everything in the world is exists for you to climb on. This is next-gen tangibility. If you can see if, you can climb it. It isn't climbing like Spider -Man, it is climbing like only a next generation title can do. There was never a time when Altaïr would grab something that didn't look right or reach onto a nonexistent block to climb. This isn't the illusion of being able to grab onto anything you should be able to, it's the reality of doing it.
Leaps of faith land you in in a bail of hay - most of the time.
(Minor Spoilers in the following paragraph, be warned.) As hinted at since the game was first shown, the plot of Assassin's Creed is much more than it lets on. Altaïr's story is only half the tale. The rest is devoted to Desmond Miles, a bartender who is a direct descendent of the assassin. He is forced to relive his ancestor's life through a Matrix-like machine that can remember the past through the memory of genes. Between levels you play as Desmond and slowly gain hints about what is going on in the present while the secrets of the past unravel.
Altaïr is quested with killing his way back up the ranks of the assassin's guild after a series of errors lead to the deaths of his brethren.Targets must be researched in the city they are located in by various means. These include interrogation, pick pocketing, and doing missions for informants. After enough is known about the target Altaïr brings the information to the town's assassin's guild representative and lets him know the plan.
With this, the hunt is on. The player must find and kill the target, then escape the onslaught of guards that will attempt to chase them down. This is where the game is the best, which is a good thing because it is all there is to do. The game doesn't throw any heavy gameplay curveballs in your direction as it moves on. From beginning to end it is clear: you are an assassin. Don't expect much variation from researching a target and killing him. If you want something else play a different game, it ain't called Assassin's Creed for nothing.
Soak it all in; take time to stop and enjoy the beauty.
The fighting system and controls were both complaints when the game was first demoed for live play. I understand where the complaints came from because at first they were mine as well– the fighting seems shallow and the controls take a bit of time to master. These were both temporary issues that resolved themselves with practice. By the end of the game Assassin's Creed has a deep fighting system that requires timing and style.
The controls also become less about sharp movements and more about finesse. Guiding Altaïr through the air and having him land perfectly on a overhang is as rewarding as it is fun to watch. In the beginning of the game it is described that controlling Altaïr is like using a marionette, with the face buttons being assigned to the body. Holding down A sprints (feet), tapping B grabs (off-hand), pressing X attacks (main hand), and Y activates a first person view (head) to allow for studying the people populating the game's cities.
Each city is exquisitely modeled. From crates and barrels in the merchant's tents to the crosses on the tops of towers, Assassin's Creed is the most beautiful game ever made. It blows its competition away with incredible character models with unrivaled animation. The voice acting and music are also top notch, bringing a level of polish to the game that makes me happy to be a gamer.
Like any other work of art, the game is best given time to soak in. It runs at just under twenty hours before the plot drops off in a cliffhanger that will spill into Assassin's Creed II. The game’s repetition will not be a problem if the game is played at a normal pace, but if it is rushed like a mad dash over Jerusalem it will seem worse then it is.
Killing in Assassin’s Creed isn’t something that just happens, it is an art and a business.
I had weird hopes for Assassin's Creed and to be honest I don't think they could have been met. Once I started playing it I realized that I wasn't even sure I knew what I wanted from the title. My expectations were not met, yet I was not disappointed. On the one hand, it is a unique experience that will set the bar for games to come in terms of environment and interaction. On the other hand, it had some weak points and wasn't the bit of Eden I hoped it would be. Either way I walked away a happy gamer, content with it and eagerly awaiting the sequels that cannot come soon enough.