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 Assassin's Creed Review

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Harden Cox
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PostSubject: Assassin's Creed Review   Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:35 pm

Okay so if you don't like seeing a game you probably loved put down then do not read this Assassins Creed as a game was pretty much terrible (for me at least) For me it was the the sequels that saved it so yea lets get into it.




The premise, as you can likely surmise from screens and videos, has most of the action taking place in 12th Century Middle East. [SPOILER ALERT—START] However, as has been revealed in at least one spoiler article, there’s a modern-day, science-fiction thread running through the game. Without giving too much away for those who hope to play it, Assassin’s Creed lets us look into the complicated story of Desmond Miles, the game’s main (well, secondary) character. He’s “working” in a lab, using a futuristic device in an effort to connect with his past.


“If I get up there, I’ll know the lay of the land.”


It seems that one of Desmond’s ancestors was an assassin, and the “animus” in the lab enables him to “puppeteer” his ancestor and control his actions. The people behind the lab want him to recover something of vital importance to their plans of global domination, though there’s little question about Desmond’s likelihood of surviving once that info is unearthed and passed to the lab’s owners (his chances are slim to none). Their motives are sinister, though Lucy, the animus technician (voiced by and face-mapped from actress Kristin Bell of “Heroes” and “Veronica Mars” fame), dishes some key info about the plot to Desmond when the lead (and cranky) doctor isn’t in the room. [SPOILER ALERT—END]

Assassin’s Creed’s control scheme is vastly different from other titles, and the game isn’t a button masher (for the most part), despite it being like a 3-D platformer. Here, according to the Assassin’s Creed development staff, you press a button and the action happens when the time is right, not an instant after you hit the button. The mechanic enables you to do such things successfully as block, dodge and parry at the center of a ring of guards, all bent on your destruction. Early on, it’s not hard to survive these battles, but as you go through the game, it gets more difficult with tougher AI adversaries and higher counts of people in the cities in general, many of which you’ll learn don’t like your presence all that much.

The most stunning advances in the project were made in its advanced character movement. The NPCs are all doing different things as they flow through the cities, which brings the neighborhood to life with action and sound. If you happen to drop down into the street among a group of people, they’ll gasp and recoil from the potential threat—and perhaps you’ll rile up a guard or two, prompting them to go into attack mode against you.

Controlling your character becomes pretty reflexive once you do it for a while, but it’s not all that intuitive when you start—and you may find problems as your journey continues. The face buttons basically correspond to parts of your body: The A Button guides your legs; the X Button manipulates the weapon hand; the B Button pilots the empty hand; and the Y Button handles such things as your head and brain. These buttons enable you to do such amazing things as scaling the side of a building, tear off into a full run or engage the enemy in combat with a shove, punch or stab. You can also “blend,” which puts you in a mode that resembles a slow walking prayer, but which can be used to move among guards in a relatively safe and stealthy way.


Mainly, though, you’ll find yourself mesmerized by your character’s almost effortless flow through the world, which is quite organic. Altaïr (which is pronounced “Al-tie-ear”; Ubisoft Montreal said it translates in Arabic to “bird”) is deft at climbing and moving among the townspeople, at street level or on the rooftops. For his ascent, Altaïr needs only a slight lip or handhold in order to get to higher locations, and he swiftly skims up the side of a building to get to peak locations where he can survey the surroundings. Key among those are the “view points” where you climb to the highest spot, then press the Y Button to “synchronize,” which offers a movie-like rotation around the building top as he sits, perched like a bird. When the synchronization is complete, it writes numerous missions around your location onto your map and enables you to swan dive in a “leap of faith” from the height into a wagon full of hay for a cushioned landing.

Horses are also provided (and nicely animated) in the game as a faster way to get from city to city—and you’ll be happy this is provided, because the mount can get you across vast expanses in much less time at a gallop than you could at a walk. And there’s a lot of Point-A-to-Point-B travel between the main cities…and other locations that I’ll talk about shortly.

The gigantic cities offer a lot of missions where you can earn key info to figuring out where to pursue the assassination: Pickpocket missions usually earn you something like a map that show where guards are posted around the assassination target. You can also eavesdrop on conversations to pull out pertinent details. Save Citizen missions require you to rescue a civilian from a clutch of soldiers, which rewards you with you a group of vigilantes or scholars to make hiding and moving easier. Informer missions can be good and bad—good when you have/get to stealth assassinate a few nefarious types; bad when you have to complete a flag-grabbing circuit event that puts you up against the clock and is kind of old-school tedium.


It doesn’t take long for you to realize the benefit of these rewards, though, such as the scholars. Instead of trying to bash your way through some guards blocking an entrance, you can blend and meld with the scholars’ group, which moves you quickly and without an episode past the threat. You can also hide among the scholars when you’re being chased, which is as helpful to your survival as a roof garden or bench that enables you to get the bad guys off your trail and return things to a non-alert status.

Each mission you complete fills in a portion of the “memory block” (what the game’s levels are called) of your ancestor’s target and gets you closer to the main assassination. You don’t need all of the side missions to unlock each kill, but there is a lot of benefit to doing it all, namely pulling in all the potential achievements that are being offered. There are nine assassination missions in all, with some twists along the way.

You also bounce back and forth between the cities and Masyaf, the assassin’s home base. This is the place you head to before and after each mission, and where your master informs you of what’s going on. You see, you’re a demoted killer, and you have to prove your smarts before you’ll earn your weapons and skills back. Gradually, you get a full complement of a sword, throwing knives and your stealthy assassin’s blade. The latter enables you to slink up behind someone and drive the blade home without alerting anyone around you that you’ve taken someone out; or you can take a run at someone, which has you leaping onto them, stabbing them and driving them into the ground in one swift, dramatic motion. It’s like Splinter Cell set during the Crusades.

You also get to learn such helpful abilities as dodging attacks, counter kills and blocks. These enable you to survive much better in the game’s combat modes, which often surround you with adversaries that you have to pick off one at a time—before they pick you off first. If your “synchronization bar” (kind of like a health bar that shows how strong the connection is between you and your ancestor) drops to zero, you die and need to resynch with your relative again.



The game’s graphics are quite stunning in your first viewings. The view points in particular reveal the high level of detail Ubisoft’s designers built into the land. The futuristic angle has every person you target looking like it has a swirl of chemical symbols, characters and flickery graphics floating around it. Your loading screens also have this effect, and it reminds you that you’re playing a sci-fi-ish title.

The whole game also offers a slick cinematic style that surfaces now and again. When you take out an assassination target, the view switches to just you and your prey, with him lying bleeding in your arms and swirls of symbols flashing around both of you. This is supposed to represent a millisecond-long connection to the one you killed, enabling you to get some info from him. However, at key moments, the screen will flicker with a “glitch,” which is when you should hit a face button. When you do, the shot will change to your target standing and lecturing about his beliefs for a few seconds, before the image switches back to him in your arms just before death. It’s a dramatic storytelling effect—and one that might help you earn a “glitches” achievement.

Speaking of glitches, it became evident to me after I played for a while that there’s a good amount of glitchiness to the game. The flowing animation and character movement are great at the beginning, but with some travel under my belt, I found that there was a surprising lack of polish. Things like texture seams and collision problems (such as where a dead character sinks into or bounces on the face of the terrain) are everywhere, something that many game studios take the last few months cleaning up. Similarly, if you run through a town, you’ll often see people pop up around you. And the camera during combat often rocks and spins disorientingly as it tries to keep you in its frame, which can make aiming your next blow difficult. If you can’t get your bearings as you try to hold off sword-wielding enemies, they’ll quickly knock off some of your synchronization bar by pounding on you for a while.

Also, the missions quickly become repetitive. Sadly, this has nowhere near the variety or scope of a Grand Theft Auto game, and I only wish the world here was as diverse as it is large. Other missions don’t provide that much challenge, such as the pickpocket missions that can succeed in a mere few seconds after you take the goods, or have the person appearing to look over his shoulder right at you as you snatch his papers without triggering any alerts.

By the last city level, the challenge is compounded, because you’re surrounded by hundreds of people, including beggars and crazy street people that give you a solid shove when you get too close to them. It forces you to frequently move very slowly, so as not to cause an already-alerted guard to square off (with some of his friends) against you. You can have the guards in an alert status, then “blend” to lower their awareness level, only to have a drunk village resident push you out of your “blend” state and spark the guards into an offensive. If you’re on a mission with a timer, it might scrap the whole mission, causing you to start over.

For me, Assassin’s Creed really came apart about 95% through the game, when I was preparing for the ninth assassination. Where most of the game was an incredibly elegant action/adventure with lots of stealth and a touch of combat, at this point it became a relentless combat game separated by some l-o-n-g horse runs between cities. And then the combat became even more of a brute-force exercise, often surrounding me with some of the hardest fighters, but backing me up against “memory walls” that hindered my ability to use the battle strategies I’d been honing (not that I could use them that effectively in those locations anyway).

Toward the end, you end up facing some tough groups: A collection of fighters made up of all of the assassination targets, so it’s like nine minibosses trying to pound you into the ground simultaneously. Yet another situation had me fighting against the hardest boss in the game, who then cloned himself into a handful of himself for that much more work.

This is what I call a “kitchen sink game,” where it gets harder and harder until the point that everything gets thrown at you, seemingly in an effort by the developers to keep you at arm’s length from finishing. There’s little reason to do this these days, because of the large storage capacity of game systems, but some designers think this is the best approach to making a challenging game. I feel that games like BioShock prove that you don’t have to make a title where only the elite can win anymore, and that it’s rewarding to run the player through a lot of story and action scenarios, and put up enough resistance to keep them engaged. They don’t have to die dozens of times against seemingly insurmountable odds to taste success...provided they get there before quitting or hitting exhaustion.

And then when it was over, it was really over. [SPOILER ALERT—START] The sci-fi story took a quick strange turn, and then the people who coordinated the work in the lab took off, leaving Desmond pretty much alone—with the clear indication that much of what info I pulled out of the lab simply was a lead-in to whenever Assassin’s Creed 2 hits stores. This wasn’t a smooth cliffhanger, but a dropping-off-the-wall-and-landing-with-a-thud jolt before the credits ran. [SPOILER ALERT—END]

Oh, how much promise Assassin’s Creed held…that it started off so enticing and thrilling, like a first date with the pretty girl in your neighborhood, but after you spend a lot of time with this once-exciting partner, you gradually see her numerous flaws, which become more amplified in the face of their repetition and shallowness.

If you’re a completist, you’ll probably be disappointed by Assassin’s Creed’s structure. As noted previously, it’s not necessary to finish every mission in order to get the assassination mission activated. Flag-gathering (each city has a number of flags scattered all around that you need to pick up) and templar-killing progress seems to be tracked throughout the game—and that progress is reflected if you go back in and grab a few of those collectibles. Getting all the side missions, though, isn’t as easily accomplished, because you basically have to play through an entire “memory block,” from start to assassination in order to complete your progress on the mission list. Oh, and when you go back to play a memory block, you play at the fighting level you held when you entered that area the first time, so it’s kind of handicapping.

In playing the game through for this review (as I noted at the start, I’m almost done with my second full playthrough), I’ve found a lot of things that I like. Mostly, though, I’ve seen a game that could have been the Game of the Year contender I felt it might become from the couple of hours I spent on the game in Montreal. Instead, the whole of the game was an uneven ride with too many weak design decisions for my liking—especially the shift to a muscle-over-mind battler.

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PostSubject: Re: Assassin's Creed Review   Thu Oct 20, 2011 12:41 pm

The order I played Assassin's Creed in is: Brotherhood, Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed II.

And i can say that the first installment is my favorite. It's the only one that's difficult to actually beat.

The fighting system needs timing and strategy to actually win a fight without getting half of your sync bar knocked off. You can't block with the hidden blade, and you have a smaller amount of time for countering. Throwing knives also are single-target, and don't one-hit kill any enemy you see. You're limited to only blending in with scholars, which makes getting to your target more difficult, unless you want to blow your cover and most likely get killed by guards.

With the counter time knocked down a notch, you can't just mash R1+Square and kill the rest with killstreaks, instead you have to keep an eye out for any other guard who lets his guard down after seeing you assassinate his comrade. I mean, come on, when you get the crossbow, hand pistol, and throwing knives in Brotherhood, you can basically kill anything that moves, more than one at a time, even, very quickly. There are also no dual Hidden Blades for double assassinations. And you can't assassinate by jumping down from a building, throwing him off it from the ledge, etc.

It's also the only game that gives you information about the assassination beforehand for you to plan. Guard locations, routes to the target, weak points, etc.
I liked that, how it needed you to be resourceful to pull off a perfect assassination. It also gives you a more satisfying feeling with each assassination.

And well... water=death.

Yeah, it does get repetitive towards the end, but if you play it right, following each clue given for the main assassinations, it's definitely a satisfying game.

Oh, and i played through it using only the hidden blade, lol. No blocking, counter, counter, counter.

Also protip: If you counter one of the final boss's attacks with the hidden blade, he falls onto the ground, walk up to him and assassinate him and he's dead. Makes it much easier and avoids any of his annoying stuff, haha.

EDIT: R1+Square is what you press to counter on the ps3 version. I'm assuming it's just as simple on the Xbox.

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