I’ll come right out with it: Assassin’s Creed has to be one of the, if not the, best video games I’ve ever played. I’m usually content with flash-based games or the occasional gracious defeat in Command & Conquer 3 but Assassin’s Creed has given me a new taste for video games and a renewed faith in the video game industry that new IP can be, and is being, successful.
You, the player, take on the persona of barkeeper Desmond Miles who in turn is kidnapped by a group of scientists. They make you enter a machine called the Animus which extracts genetic memories from your DNA. Stay with me. The premise is that your DNA holds memories of your ancestors which this machine can access. Your player, Miles, is the distant ancestor of an Assassin; Altaïr – “The Flying One”.
This machine lets you take control of Altaïr as he completes missions throughout 4 [said to be] historically accurate cities, 3 or which are highly detailed worlds in themselves. As the game unfolds, you discover that the people you are charged with assassinating are actually Templars with the goal to unite humanity. The scientists are found to searching through these genetic memories to seek the location of certain artefacts which can help them revive the Templar mission and unite humanity under one cause.
I knew very little about Assassin’s creed before it was released. I had followed a few articles that Digg gifted me with and a few discussions on the Xbox.com forums and was partially excited by the rumour a major theme of the game would be time travel. Although this particular rumour isn’t technically the case, the game does live up to the hubbub surrounding it pre-release; albeit that some of the hype was unfounded.
The games industry is always hungry for a new concept and new ideas but at the same time are weary of the claims that are made about them. Assassin’s Creed was no different and the eye candy and demos Ubisoft provided created high expectations of the game. The tid bits of information that Ubisoft trickled out to technology blogs and journalists certainly caught peoples’ attention and the end product didn’t fail to impress in most areas. The battle system and basic character interaction system has improved much since the last demos which many are thank full for.
History is Beautiful
You play the vast majority of the game as Altaïr in the delicately crafted cities of Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus as well as Masyaf which is the assassins’ stronghold. I play the Xbox 360 version of the game so I don’t know whether the Playstation 3 version has different textures but what I can say is that the textures and the graphics in general are just beautiful. You feel you’re in those towns in that time because the look and sound of the cities is immersing.
It may be because my computer is rather lacklustre in the graphics department but the graphics Assassin’s Creed provide are nice, at least from my viewpoint and considering it’s a games console and not a PC. Shadows, textures, buildings, hay, horses and character models are really detailed and look beautiful.
The game is very easy to play and the control system becomes second nature after you’ve played through a few memories. Engaging enemies and scaling the scenery is quite exciting and although escaping enemies becomes rather easy, it still remains rather thrilling finding a pile of hay or a rooftop hide to disappear in. You’re able to disappear into the crowd as it were in a number of ways. Firstly, you can just blend in by pressing a button but for short-term anonymity you can sit on a bench or for long term anonymity you can join a group of scholars who are dressed similarly and walk around the city unnoticed, but very very slowly.
Greatness or Guillotine?
Assassin’s Creed is a wonderfully crafted game but it’s not perfect. If the developers had spent as much time as they did on making it look as good as it does on game play and the story line, it would be one of the best console games ever. The world is huge and patience is a virtue that one must learn as quickly as possible if you’re to stay under the radar and keep to the creed.
You develop a range of weapons and skills during the course of the game which aren’t exactly put to good use except for the main kills you have to make. Silly side track missions such as ‘interrogation’ and ‘pick pocketing’ deter you from what you really want to do – explore the cities and be able to assassinate your targets in a number of different ways (which are limited still by the paths you can take and the weapons available to you).
I hope that rumours of it being the first in a trilogy of games is true but now it has been released, this seems less likely. This game is a great buy and the ability to complete it a number of different ways and the atmosphere the graphics and sound makes will make sure you really get into it. The mystery surrounding the characters (which I’ve probably spoiled if you bothered to read above) and their intentions is exciting to unravel and learn for yourself. I would like to see more Assassin’s Creed games and if the idea of a film becomes reality, I wish everyone involved well and good luck.