From the creative minds behind Prince of Persia comes the evolution of stealth action in the form of the Assassin’s Creed. The Montreal Studio’s are a hot bed for talent, and Assassin’s Creed continues to prove their worth in the videogame industry. Assassin’s Creed is everything the hype led us to believe and then it gets you, a dagger in the back if you will; Assassin’s Creed is nothing short of brilliant. This is Sam Fisher, 11th century, injected with the Princes natural athletic ability.
Assassin’s Creed is an interesting subject matter that is perfect material for building a game. The idea of playing a cut-throat assassin in the days of medieval times is almost too perfect. There have been some similar games in the past; Thief: The Dark Project (1998) comes to mind as well as Ubisoft Montreal’s own Prince of Persia franchise. Even though both those gamers are incredible in their own right, Assassin’s Creed takes us somewhere else, to the dark side of the blade. Filled with deception and murder, meeting up with the lead character Altair usually has one conclusion, death. Assassin’s Creed open-world concept of a stealth action game is revolutionary on its scale. If any game this season has made you feel apart of its generated parallel world, it is Assassin’s Creed.
Set in the Third Crusade, 1191 AD you become the puppeteer of the ruthless assassin Altair. Altair belongs to a secret society of Assassins who use their natural ability of stealth, and combat to suppress conflicts and keep peace in the Holy Land. In the early stages of the game Altair’s aggressive nature finds himself on the outside of the brotherhood and he is asked to prove himself once again to the Creed, starting from the bottom up. In his revaluation, Ubisoft sneaks in a great way to instruct the player in the tutorial stages, as you re-learn the proper methods of assassination. This is Assassin’s Creed on the surface, however Assassin’s Creed is has an in depth storyline that keep you surprised and intrigued until the final segments in the game.
The world created within Assassin’s Creed is almost colossal that gives the player full freedom to explore and approach the game in their own desiered way. Assassin’s Creed will take a few hours of playing before you’re on your horse and out on the countryside, however once you reach this point Asssassin’s opens up. In the playing field your focus will be one three major cities, Jerusalem, Damascus, and Acre and their surrounding locations. Many of the missions start with a destination, and horse and the freedom to travel as you wish.
Assassinating a target in Assassin’s Creed isn't a one two step, and you’ll quick learn in the Creed that gathering intelligence before you strike is vital to success. Before you even have your target in your sites there is ground work you’ll need to provide before you’re given permission to strike. The first lesson you will learn will be to know your surroundings. In Assassin’s Creed this is done by climbing highpoints in the city and synchronizing with them. This gives a little more of the map and highlights some areas of interest. The high points which can be church rooftops, bell towers, or high outposts need to be found to gain the advantage. All across the land you will find these highpoints that are highlighted by an icon on the map. The interesting part, besides the challenge of climbing some impressive architecture is that it’s not a required objective in the game, but its one you’ll want to do for fun, and then for the tactical advantage it gives.
Gathering information before you strike also includes other tasks like pick pocketing, eavesdropping on conversations, intimidating people for information and more assorted tasks. This is the major complaint I’ve been hearing about the game because the objectives are usually the same with only changes to the location, and environments. For me this is plenty enough and I never got bored following and pick pocking one more assailant to evil. The reason, Assassin's Creed never got dull for me is because of the amazing job Ubisoft did on creating a real life city filled with twists and turns that never makes one event the same.
Unlike other open world games, Assassin's Creed is packed full of NPCs, some hostile to your cause, and others willing to help. The streets are crowded and filled with challenges; even walking in a crowd can grab the attention of a nearby guard who will alert the city to your whereabouts. The population has intelligent A.I. attached to their behaviours that give the sense of realism. Kill an innocent in the street and there is a chance that the crowd will chase you informing the guards of your location which calls for a hasty retreat. Other times become the crowd and blend in when enemies are chasing you, find a bench to put your head down, or a group of monks to blend with. The conditions in Assassins Creed change with every step and to be successful you will have to learn to adapt to your surroundings. When a city is on high alert after a major assassination you better get ready to run, jump and use your head as much as your athletic ability.
If you want to fight, it’s an option, but one you might not win. Combat in Assassin’s Creed is on fair ground between the guards and your player. Until I found my groove, I had a hard time fighting off a group of hostile thugs, but once you get it you feel like Neo in the Matrix, unstoppable. The mechanics in Assassin’s Creed is based off timing, and counter attacking. Like the games basis, Assassinations, combat works on the same premise, wait for the right time to attack. Being vicious in combat swinging wildly won’t get you anywhere, it’s waiting for the right guard to advance your way, block his attack, and swipe down his attempt by hacking the back of his legs.
The controls, are intuitive, however they will take you a few moments to grasp understand. Once you start to master Assassin’s Creed it will go from a confusing few minutes to a fluid flowing experience. This then carries over to the way you play the game and the path you follow to complete your objectives. Assassin’s Creed gives the player total freedom. As the game progresses in the story, Altair will gain new skills and weapons that give you new ways to kill and tackle the busy streets of the 11 AD. The pacing of Assassin’s Creed is wonderfully thought out in the way of the storyline, in game objectives, and awarded skills and weapons. Keep in mind that Assassin’s Creed is more of thinking mans action game, and runs at a slower pace then a Grand Theft Auto. In total expect to complete the main storyline in 15 to 20 hours. To keep gamers busy besides the main storyline, and small side quests, Ubisoft takes a page from Crackdown’s great orbs hunt. Creed version of the orbs are hidden flags placed in each area that adds up into the hundreds. Gamers who have played Crackdown know how addictive those glowing blue circles can be and the same is true with Assassin’s flags.
I’ve referenced Prince of Persia multiple times in this review, and once you have a go at Assassin’s Creed you’ll understand. Ubisoft Montreal takes the platforming athletics from the Prince of Persia franchise and attaches them to Assassin’s Creed. Like the Prince, Altair is a nimble and flexible enough to scale walls, jump across dangerous distances with fearless grace. The hawk is the animal associated with the Assassin and as Altair soars across the rooftops and down on top of his victim it’s a natural association.
The approach taken towards climbing in Assassin’s Creed is a more hands off approach that simplifies the controls and makes it simple to transcend from the ground, to thirty feet in the air. To climb up and object Altair automatically will grab a ledge, or climb an object if pushed in that direction or you can press the jump button to grab onto higher objects. You would like an automatic system would cause the character to get stuck all the time on things in the game world, but this isn’t so. Advancing the climb mechanics even more is the interesting architecture placed in world. Altier can climb more than straight angles, he even vaults onto stepper angles and climbs accordingly to his surroundings. The game engine is well designed, with levels that match that intelligence making the cities in the ancient playground.
Assassin’s Creed is graphically stunning, perfectly matched to its subject matter. The character animation on Altair and in the NPCs in general is realistic and fluid. In combat or scaling the walls of a villa, Altair has no errors marking out as one of best animated characters I’ve seen in gaming. The NPCs might not all have the high level of attention that Altair gets with his flowing clock and nimble limbs, but all in all, Assassins is outstanding.
The graphics in a whole have a natural feel that texture and shade the world into a believable organic world. I mentioned the architecture being a high point in the games environments, and it is. Assassin's Creed can look a little repetitive because you’re either crossing desolate lands on a horse, or in an ancient city built of brick. Given the setting the redundant enviroments are understandable, and without spoling anything, Assassins does a good adding in other elements to the game mix, In the city or out on the countryside if you see a building you can reach it, the scale of Assassin's Creed doesn’t immediately hit you but once you climb to the tallest peak in Jerusalem you’ll be in awe of the city below.
Competing for attention is the audio portion of Assassin's Creed that equally impresses. The wind breezing past you character, the excellent deep emotional deliverances from the voice actors, and the haunting soundtrack all combine to great a great surround sound project. The cities are alive with a fountain of pouring noises coming out of every alleyway and busy town center, with guards telling you to step aside, and beggars asking for charity. Assassins feels alive, thanks to the quality of the audio, and the inclusion of multiple nationalities to the mix making the cities feel like a meeting place of the world. There’s more, add the sound of feet retiling in the sand as swords clash together in battle, Assassin's Creed is as close to perfect as I’ve heard in a project this scale. In a true representation of a good project, nothing is highlighted as Assassin’s Creed runs in harmony with its congestive self, blended into one.
Ubisoft Montreal's Assassin's Creed feels the second coming of the Prince. Darker and more compelling, Assassins Creed gives the player a world of hidden agendas, deception, and murder. The lead charcter, Altair is the perfect anti-hero, whos brutal resolve lets him step above the laws of mortal men making him a saviour with a blade. Assassin's Creed is a bold new step for Ubisoft Montreal which pays off. Assassin's Creed might have a few minor flaws, however at the end of the crusade Assassin's Creed is one of the monst intriguing games I've expreinced all year. Assassin’s Creed brings together a world full of imagination and clever design in its storyline and its gameplay elements. Stealth, action fans, you’re new Splinter Cell has arrived in Assassin’s Creed.