Murdered By Hype
When Assassin's Creed was first circulating screen shots around the web, I liked what I saw. Not since Tenchu on PS1 had I had a decent chance to be an assassin in a game, and never before one during the Crusades. I rushed out to pick up my preorder and pop it in my 360. I couldn't wait to be an Assass-
Why the fuck am I in the future? Desmond? I wanted to be Altair! It goes down hill from there.
Unfortunately for me, that was the first few minutes of the game. Minority Report-like setting aide, the plot gave me the immediate feeling that it was being forced on me. Going in to a bartender's DNA to relive his ancestor's memories? You have to be shitting me.
My hopes were dashed once again after making it out of the hub world to the various cities. While many of the mechanics in the game are solid, the game does a very poor job at explaining all of them. You're given some strong arms and legs and almost told to "go nuts" and explore the city looking for random peasants to help or fellow assassins that are too lazy to do their jobs and beg you for help. Climbing like a spider monkey on crack along the way in what is the most ridiculous mechanic I've ever used. It's almost as if there's nothing Altair can not climb. If there's a window or a quarter inch of ledge, he can climb it. It would have felt better if there was some restriction, or if the movements were within even fictional reason. Altair just told physics to fuck off.
Assassin's Creed has a lot of foreplay for a game with "assassin" in the title. You only actually have a chance to Assassinate a hand full of people, usually in circumstances that don't allow a stealthy one. After the excellent moment of killing your target, you're left to deal with his goons for however long it takes to kill them and run like a puss back to your local "bat cave" in the district. The missions, aside from the set up of the assassination missions, are cookie cutter throughout the game. Even the assassination missions themselves don't offer any unique mechanics to their design. Altair is free to run in and kill everything, hide in a bush or hideout, and have people forget soon after. This is repeated through the game nine more times, as each of the three major cities: Acre, Jerusalem and Damascus and only a section is open at a time, at which you need to complete the other two cities' first sections in order to progress further in another one. But, the final process of unlocking a new area is the only redeemable feature in my eyes: actual assassination.
However appealing the idea being a bad ass assassin can be, Ubisoft has severely limited Altair's choices, and even other games that aren't assassin centric have more assassination options to offer. He has a sword, which supposedly is stronger than the knife, and said knife, which is supposed to be faster than previously mentioned sword. I found almost no difference between to two, so I stuck with the sword. Altair also has the ability to randomly steal knives from local fat guys to huck at enemies later. This is more welcome than the ambiguous sword/knife mechanic the game tries to persuade the player in to thinking it exists. Last, and most disappointing, is the hidden blade. While it's cool the first four or five times you stab someone quietly, or the first few times you jump stab someone in the face, it's use outside of that is limited, and fuck all if there's more than one guard you have to silently kill; you've only got one and people still take notice of it. Combat is dreadfully boring, and it basically becomes a timing QTE without the prompts. There is a major lack of poison and traps, so much so that it's more fitting to call this "Free Runner Warrior" than "Assassin's Creed".
I hate giving actual grade ratings; I'd much rather prefer to give a recommendation for a game based off of games you enjoy, but this game was just absolutely passable. While the merit badge kid in me will go back to finish tedious achievements left unfinished for two years, this title doesn't have an interesting or fun experience to a fledgling or veteran gamer. So much potential, wasted on lack of combat and assassination options and too thoroughly invested in the convoluted plot.