You know before, I used to affectionally abbreviate Assassin's Creed into "Ass Creed". How little did I know that was ironically true.
I can now finally say Ass Creed is a bad game, with justification.
I thought I shouldn't pass judgement on the game before I finish it, because who knows what might come up? A new challenge, a new boss, or a new type of gameplay. I waited. Then the credits rolled. It never came. This game was such a chore to finish, and you'd say don't play any more if you don't enjoy it, but I needed to so my opinion is concrete.
This game could NOT have been made by 150 people at Ubisoft MONTREAL of all places. It's almost a disservice to the actually talented guys there. The amount of repetition is almost a really bad running joke. The same dialogue from saved citizens, the exact same missions, and more arbitrary padding out of what "game" there is into more than 1 hour. Now I hear 450 people are working on Ass Creed 2: Ass In Ass Boogaloo. Let's hope they can make a bad game into a good one. Because I don't like hating games. I only hate games when I'm not actively enjoying them.
I can perfectly understand people "liking" the game, or even "loving" it. Those are for when you're looking from the outside, as if you're detached. However, someone saying they actually enjoyed the game would be baffling. The controls aren't even as responsive as you'd want from a pure action game. If you love the story, the graphics, the sound, or even just the controls, I'm with you there. And that's all the aesthetics. But that's not part of the "game".
The game is a tech demo. It's literally 15 minutes stretched and padded out with stupid design. Copy and paste of the highest order. It's a perfect case of graphics over gameplay, just like Resident Evil 5. My cousin was asking the question, "If you're not enjoying the game, why are you still playing it?" I said, "FOR THE GRAPHIXXX! No but seriously, this game is a chore and I want it done with so my opinion can be concrete on this game. So the graphics are the only thing tiding me over."
The real problem is, Ass Creed is a completely linear game with a sandbox disguise. This is not a sandbox game, and it's only open world in the way that you can choose which city you want to fast-travel to. The invisible walls might have given you an idea ;). Another big problem that really stuck out and become annoying was the whole puppetering. Maybe the game's giving a metaphorical ironic message by actually removing any kind of choice from the player. You're being led by the nose to do a specific mission in a very specific way. You can't even go into water, for chrissake, which is in the 2nd game, so there's some weird ret-conning going on there. "Memory Fast Forward" and whatnot.
Unlike an open world game, you DO NOT dictate the pacing. That's the big appeal of open world games, being able to dictate the pacing, and go about it however you wish. Do a little of that, and some of that, etc. You have no choice in stealth kills, either they're in low-profile, high-profile, or death from above. The death from above kill (that you see in all the trailers) is severely limited. This is not Tenchu. You can't jump from the side of the building and drop down on a dude with your hidden blade. Nope. It's arbitrarily limited to being exactly with 2 feet above the guy in question. This is an example of how the game gives you hardly any choice, and feels more like a Metal Gear game.
The only choice I ever got was, I could gather all the prepatory investigation (view points/interrogation/pick-pocketing) BEFORE I got to the Bureau. This part is also tedious, because you usually have to get 6 or 12 view points before you can get the investigative missions, like pick-pocketing or interrogation. Why not just one? If it was just one, it would make Altair a more Batman-like character who can scope out a place for one second and know everything!
Doing pre-bureau investigation was especially important to combat the biggest douchebag other than Altair, Malik. You remember Malik? The douchebag in Jerusalem's Bureau who always gave you ****. Even till the game I had forgotten who he was, and apparently he was one of the guys in the temple with us at the beginning who lost his arm! Haha, who knew?! Maybe it's a sign that the plot can be kind of forgettable, or that the boring repetition had made me forget. And I thought he was being a douchebag just because this game has no likeable characters and it was another excellent running joke. I would do all the view points in an unexplored area, like the Rich District of some place, before I touched the Bureau just so I would have a comeback to Malik. I wanted to be prepared for his douchebaggery.
One thing I hate and is so contradictory to the whole game is, killing interrogation targets. Where does it say in the Creed you can kill the poor messengers? Literally Altair will say "ok, I will stay my blade if you tell me the info", and then he'll say "can't have any witnesses! teehee so evil aren't I?!". WTF, Altair. He kills ALL of them. If the target does tell anyone else, THEN you have authority to kill him because he broke his promise. Not just because you're a sociopath, Altair?!
The big problem with the lack of choice and puppetering in this game is, the game stops empowering you. All this arbitrary limiters like "High-Profile" and the "Synchronisation Meter" just make the game more tedious than it already is. Having to get 6 view points. Invisible walls (IW) everywhere. Worst use of IW is in the actual Assassination area. It's easy to say, this is no Hitman game where you can sabotage a place, and let a chandelier fall down on your target, and get out of there without a scratch.
The only reason I didn't mind alerting everyone and saving citizens was because combat was so easy and actually enjoyable. It's just a unique combat system, and it's just more around timing than button combos. It's extremely barebones, but I'm glad they evolved it a lot more in Prince of Persia ( 2008 ) to add some rhythm. You get some sickly satisfying counter and kill animations, that give a great payoff. However, again the half-assed job is shown again in the combat when the game never offers you any more challenges EVER till the credits roll and instead opt to just throw more guys at you, like when you're going to Arsuf. Contrast that to Resident Evil 4 where there are new challenges at every corner, and I can already feel that you're nodding your ass off.
The only purely good gameplay mechanic in this game that doesn't have a noticeable flaw is: the free-running. Even if the level design is super copy and paste to allow you to run through a whole city's rooftops really fast, it's the one empowerment you get from this game that's now the "in" word for games (Mirror's Edge, Prototype, inFamous). Yes, it's still very boring having to hold down Right Trigger+A the whole time, and the only control in your part is aiming the left analog stick. Nevertheless, the automatic free-running button of Right Trigger allows you to do more stuff with the rest of the gameplay. Which is where Prototype comes in, but I've already discussed that before.
I can guess what went down at Ubi Montreal. The game was in 4 years of development, but they spent 3 years in making the Scimitar engine (the graphics are good!) and 1 year on the actual game. That's why you have a very rushed job of a game here. I'm just surprised there were some critics who were lenient on the game. Here's what blatantly copy-and-paste in the game: the cities, the missions, the NPC dialogue, the encounters, the assassination targets (3 after 3 and then the final 2). So much déjà vu for the locales, I thought I was in Acre when I was actually in Jerusalem. There's just not enough of a "game" here. Asides from the Gears of War series, this has to be the most boring high-profile game I've ever played.
This is not just my opinion, even my cousins hate the game and so do any person on the street or gamestore. They might not articulate it as well or bother to give their opinion on some website like I do, but they are aware of the suckage as you should be. This game is not worth playing, which is why I'm glad I didn't pay $60, and you'd rather just play Crackdown or Prototype or Infamous.
I even bothered to get the name of the guy responsible for mission structure in this game: Marc Antoine Lussier. Blame him. They've probably fired him from the 2nd game, since they said they're re-vamping everything.
What I did like was everything that isn't the game, like I said before. The revisionist tale is handled surprisingly well with enough intrigue to want to know what the Templars want. Corey May, I tip my hat to you. Great writing in the game. Presented through terribly expositional storytelling in the form of forced cutscenes. Problem with storytelling: if it's in-game but you don't bother to actually direct a cutscene and just have Altair move around and be able to change camera angles, NO ONE will care about your story! If you want to stuff it down our necks and hope it sticks, just do a normal cutscene with close-ups.
The music is excellent obviously since it's by Jesper Kyd again (Hitman, Kane and Lynch). Altair himself is a very iconic character design, and one I wouldn't mind cosplaying as.
There you go, I dissected the game like the over-analyser I am. If you disagree at any point, start with "Speak Sense" because Altair says that all the time. If you agree completely, start with "*nodding*".