Developer – Ubisoft
Publisher – Ubisoft
Platforms – PC (Steam or Disc)
Release – 11/05/08
You know a games going to be good when it puts a warning label when its booted up. Assassin’s Creed a nice disclaimer mentioning the game is made by a multicultural team of different faiths. Translated it says “We can be as racist or stereotypical as we want because we are only insulting ourselves”
Assassin’s Creed is completely crazy. The story is all about a bartender called Desmond in the future who may or may not be an Assassin and has also been kidnapped. But at the same time, its all about his ancestor Altair, an assassin in the times of the Third Crusade who goes round stabbing anyone who he is told to by his master. This mismash is explained by the fact a machine called the Animus allows someone to experience their ancestors memories due to storing them in the DNA. The story is crazy but it actually becomes much better later on when Desmond starts looking for an escape.
To be honest you don’t play Assassin’s Creed for its story. You play instead play for its gameplay. Assassin’s Creed has the best acrobatics system I have ever seen in any game ever. Instead of having to hammer the jump button like a caffeine addict, you instead hold down a button to switch to high profile mode. This then tells the game to automatically jump, roll, dive or swing depending on the obstacle. Although it seems lazy, it makes many of the chases both look good and play well preventing some of the anger usually associated with jumping around. The main crux of the gameplay is focused around the assassinations. Instead of just giving you all required information, it instead sends you off to find it yourself.
Nice idea, but when its the same task for every kill it gets a bit repetitive. The PC version does include a few extra missions but they are basically more of the same. That said though the actual killings are great fun. Planning it out before jumping off a wall with a wrist mounted blade and stabbing someone in the face. The combat is quite good, though you have to learn how to use counter attacks very quickly if you wish to proceed beyond the first set of missions. Again, like the platforming, it looks great and controls as well.
Its obvious that Ubisoft has put a lot of work into the game engine behind AC. The game looks beautiful and allows some spectacular views over the three cities (Damascus (Arabic), Acre (Christian, but only recently) and Jerusalem (Arabic but about to be invaded)) and gives each its own atmosphere. For example, Acre has just been besieged and so is dark, with an effect reminding me personally of the film Kingdom of Heaven. These effects and visuals give it a blockbuster style effect, which carries over into the audio. I don’t know what it exactly is, but the game sounds exceptionally good. Voices seem especially good, though the quality of the other noises shouldn’t be lessened. It also has a very good system for positioning of sounds, making sound a useful tool for planning your assassination.
However, there are some problems. As said before it is very repetitive. Its also very punishing if you don’t use all the tools available to you. Even worse is the state the PC version was released in. It requires an insanely powerful PC to look its best and is also picky about the hardware it is running on. The list of programs or configurations it has issues with is really, really long. Another flaw is the fact its an obvious console port. The number of clicks and loading screens required to get out of the game, a normally fairly trival task, is so many that the makers actually recommend using Alt-F4 to gain a minigun exit the game. As well as this there are other signs of consoleification, such as the game only displaying in 16:9 leaving most gamers with letterboxing, somewhat ruining the cinematic effect.
All these faults aside, Assassin’s Creed is a game everyone needs to play, either on console or PC. It has so many smart ideas, and shows them in such a stylish presentation that it is enjoyable, though it does become repetitive after a while. It will be great to see what the team do with the feeback of this game in terms of Assassin’s Creed 2