Artistically an achievement, but not for everyone.
Assassin's Creed is one of those games that can impress anyone simply by a picture or a video, the amazing visuals come with an excellent and intriguing story. There are two stories happening at the same time, one takes place in the year 2012 when a bartender named Desmond Miles is kidnapped and forced to be the subject of tests for a company, basically one of his ancestors was an assassin and they are doing tests with his DNA to search for remains of memory from this ancestor. The other story is with this very ancestor, named Altair, who is an assassin, and his quest to eliminate targets commanded by his master, Al Mualim.
Some might say the game mechanics are overwhelmingly repetitive, I say it fits right at the purpose of the game, you in the role of an assassin who needs to investigate and eliminate targets, you're given a name and a location, it's up to you to find the victim. It's also up to you how to approach the target, and how to take him down, the moments preceding a kill are sure to be exciting. To make the investigations on your target you first need to recognize the place, so you climb at some of the various high points in each city and examine the surroundings, by doing that you spot numerous places for information gathering. Then it's time to go on and actually get the information, it can come from hearing other people's conversations, pickpocketing items from people around the city, forced interrogations or from another of your fellow assassins scattered around the cities, they will surely ask you some favor in return that revolves around killing stalkers or collecting some flags around.
Often, you're gonna be summoned by your master, who will give you the orders and targets' names, you need to kill nine different persons, with the orders in hand you head to one of the three big cities, Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus; reaching the specified location you need to find the city's assassins bureau and speak to the representative assassin there, he will help you a little bit and show you the better places and directions to start searching and gather information, but the actual target's location will be up to you to find by what you discover in the streets.
The real fun about this game is the stealth and assassination system, you are forced to stay unnoticed, due to obvious reasons, and will be given a Synchronization Bar which tells you how much health you have; it also gives you another important information, how noticed you are at the moment. If the center of the triangle in the bar is white you are completely unnoticed, no one knows you're there, people don't even know you exist. If it gets yellow things are still good for Altair, but citizens and guards around you know you're there, at this moment they don't necessarily already know you're a cold-blooded assassin with uncontrolled thirst for blood but they are aware of your presence, so watch out your actions; depending on your actions the center of the triangle will start blinking and if the actions are extreme or too much out of the socially accepted a guard may start watching Altair's actions, which will give you a red alert. Note that only the center of the triangle changes at first, for the entire triangle to become yellow or red certain requirements must be reached. An entire red alert is when the guards are chasing you with you on their sight, and an entire yellow triangle is when you're in a chase but out of the guards sight. If you're only a suspect yet, only the center will blink and change color.
The last color you have is blue, the blue color appears when you were being chased, broke their line of sight, and successfully hid yourself in one of the locations available to you, which are benches, rooftop gardens, haystacks, haystacks carts and blending within scholars. After a few seconds hiding you should be fine to continue your quest normally. When you're being chased you can either fight or run away and hide, if you choose to fight, other guards may come in and confront you too, eventually they will stop swarming and you'll be free to go, but you should exit the battle location quickly because other guards will reach the spot and start asking question about what happened there and who was the responsible for that mess, and since you're the responsible for that and the streets are full of citizens with enough will to talk, it's better to disappear as fast as you can.
There's not much variety in the tasks you are asked to do, that's true, but they are always pretty fun and seems incredibly real. You have immense freedom on how to achieve your objectives, and that adds to the non-linearity of the game, allowing you to choose which sources of information you should go for or which place to visit first. What makes this game really shine is how easily you feel immersed, not to mention the overall idea which is very out of the ordinary, and ultimately executed amazingly. Controlling Altair through the alleys of the immense cities, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, trying to keep the appearances of a normal citizen just walking around will keep your adrenaline high, and when the action finally comes and you have to evade the persecutors, the climax of adrenaline kicks in.
All that come alongside with one of the most amazing aspects about this game, the graphics. They're beautiful, absolutely gorgeous, it's certainly one of the best technical graphics as for today. They're not only technically impressive, and that's what makes them so amazing, they're artistically coherent. The cities are flooded with people, average people of all kinds, merchants, scholars, beggars, guards. Every city has three types of districts; the poor, the middle and the rich district. Each show differences in architecture, number of beggars, quantity of guards, etc; and each will be available at some distinct point of the game. You can climb on basically every single building in any of the cities, and it's easy to do so, just by pressing one or two buttons and running against a wall and you're done, the system is simple and easy but still leaves you the impression of freedom, and without being too simple for its own good.
Spoken dialogs are practically mandatory for today's games, and Assassin's Creed is no exception, every dialog has voice-over and it was nicely done. The story develops in a very interesting way, with the character evolving and learning to question his own acts, and the acts of the ones in his group, especially the ones with most power. Each assassination you're asked to perform demands a different kind of approach and to think about what you're about to do, sometimes will be easy to just go there and kill with just some guards following you, but sometimes will be harder and could even demand different kinds of strategies and some serious stealth action from your part. The fights are actually pretty fun, there are some techniques that helps them to not fall into a mere systematic button-mashing.
There's no multiplayer, but the lasting single player experience will probably make you come back for more after you finish it for the first time, just to do everything you've done, but now after you mastered the controls, using different kinds of approaches, and really getting into the intriguing and complex story. It's not a surprise to see they added lots of collectibles to keep you playing long after you finished, and there really are numerous things to be found, hundreds and hundreds of flags scattered all around, various Templars for you to kill, and of course, all that in a world full of little details, alleys and hidden places. A tricky task, and a very satisfying one as well.
In the end what you get is a game that succeeds truthfully in putting you in the skin of an assassin, the job might sound tedious to some but it should be done, and you probably will do it since it's really fun, but the very nature of this game puts it in the love or hate field, if you like the adrenaline of stealth action in an amazing 12th century atmosphere this game should be a must play. It's safe to say Assassin's Creed hides much more within its richly detailed graphics and apparent repetitive missions, and ends up being a prime example of a game that has a soul.