When I went down to the beach, the first thing I did the next afternoon was held to a game store. Surprisingly (…or not), there aren’t many game stores around Myrtle Beach. So, I had to stop by a Lamestop, listen to the very cynical rantings of an employee there (not nearly as fun as it sounds) and put down around $85 for the latest version of NCAA Football and Assassin’s Creed. Assassin’s Creed has been out for nearly a year now, so it was great to get it used.
The plot to Assassin’s Creed has some sci-fi flavor to it. That’s odd, because the hype leading up to the game had me thinking it would be more of a historical fiction. A historical sci-fi? Anyway, the game is about the story of a bartender who’s kidnapped by some evil corporation. This bartender is actually the ancestor of a Third Crusade-era assassin named Altair. This evil corporation has a built an impressive piece of technology that allows the user to relive their ancestor’s memories. Apparently, the evil corporation wants access to those memories.
I’m sure there is more to it than that but I never really cared. There’s no subtitles and in a game with a heavy plot like this, I’d love to know just what the hell people are talking about. The game keeps you in the dark for 9/10 of the way. Instead of enlightening you at points (like other games would), the player is still in the dark until the very end…then the lights all come on. Everyone’s had that experience where your eyes take a moment to adjust (although it’s super annoying). Assassin’s Creed takes that super annoying experience and has acted it out in your game. Then, because the ending is rather inconclusive, instead of wondering “what happens next”, I felt very “meh”.
Still, the plot wasn’t hyped as one of the game’s strengths. What about the assassinations? Assassinations are pretty fun, although they are rather formulaic. To assassinate a target (to advance the game’s plot anyway…you can assassinate pretty much anyone on the street), the player must first get information about that target. This is accomplished through missions like eavesdropping, pickpocketing, as well as missions from informers (which usually involve killing x number of guards in y time frame or collecting z number of flags). This sounds fun the first time you do it, but by the time the end of the game approaches, the missions are more tedious than fun. The only change in them is how difficult they are. And then there’s the occasionally silly AI.
Still, accomplishing missions allows you to explore the rich, detailed world. Modeled after the Third Crusade-era Holy Land, Assassin’s Creed is a graphical behemoth. It’s massive, loaded and it looks great! The four cities (Acre, Damascus, Jerusalem and Masyaf…all linked by a hub called Kingdom) look truly alive with all the people walking the streets. It’s impressive and words alone can’t do it justice.
And exploring the game world is tons of fun, thanks to the superb controls. The controls are simple enough to understand, yet there’s enough depth and variety to learn some of the more complex features. In fact, having played the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, the controls are solid on both systems. The 360 version feels better but only because the PS3 has such a dated controller. The game’s tutorial, while overly lengthy, does a good job of introducing the player to the game. The difficulty gets rather brutal towards the end, but the excellent controls don’t have the player feeling entirely helpless.
Assassin’s Creed massive world and numerous optional quests (which usually involve collecting flags, but the more fun ones have Altair scaling some of the game’s landmarks and assassinating Templars) will keep the player occupied for a while. If you’re the kind of player who plays Grand Theft Auto or Saint’s Row every now and then, even after beating the game, well…Assassin’s Creed has a similar feel.
Assassin’s Creed is a helluva game. I wouldn’t say it should be as critically acclaimed as it should be, for reasons listed above. If you’re looking for a stealth alternative to Metal Gear Solid or Splinter Cell, this game is worth checking out. History buffs might also want to buy, since this is a nice look into the Crusades-era (although how accurate I’m not sure…I’m not critiquing it on that basis and never bothered to do so while I was playing). I wouldn’t score it as highly as other game sites, but it’s still pretty damn good and worth the time of any avid video game player.
Besides, throwing a guard off a roof into a crowd of people is just hilarious.
Final Verdict: 8.3 out of 10
“It’s not what I believe. It’s what I know.“