Assassin’s Creed was easily one of the most anticipated titles of the 2007 holiday season. The early CGI videos from Ubisoft showed the game having some of the most advanced graphics and gameplay ever seen; it appeared that you would be able to choose how to you take down your target, either by going in quietly or killing everything, the choices appeared limitless. I was sceptical at first because I didn’t know if what they were showing would be anything like the actual game, many titles claim amazing things but few actually make the grade. The game launched in early November 2007 to mixed opinions. I personally wasn’t sure about the game after the first couple of missions but then I realized what a true gem this game is.
The story involves you taking the role of a stealth assassin called ‘Altair’. The main storyline is completing 9 assassinations on targets across 3 cities Acre, Damascus and Jerusalem. Before actually completing the assassination it will require you do some tedious investigations to scope out the target and to find out when and where to attack. These are some of the most boring things in the game and just become a chore to complete after a while. My main dislike about Assassins Creed though is that before you can do an assassination it has a modern day section; in essence the entire game is about loading memories using a animus from the ‘Altair’ assassin world for the apparent gain of a private company. I do not want to go into too much detail because it would spoil the story but I didn’t really think it made any sense at all. I wished they had just stayed with the main ‘Altair’ story; not only didn’t it make any sense but also made the story fairly complicated as well. The story is extremely long compared with most next gen titles, even to do just the main story will take at least 10-12 hours gameplay. Not only do you have the assassinations to complete there are optional tasks to complete throughout the world including high points and save citizens. The high points involve you climbing to the top of a certain buildings and observing the surrounding area, save citizens tasks are pretty self explanatory.
The game allows you to use 4 different weapons a small concealed dagger in your arm, a long sword, a short sword and throwing knives. I had hoped to be able to use arrows and crossbows, like it showed in the first CGI video I might add, but it appears this feature was removed. Ubisoft later said that it would have made the game far too easy, I think this is a weak excuse personally. The gameplay is pretty limited in some aspects; it just doesn’t allow you to complete each assassination in the method that you would like, there just isn’t enough choice. The lack of choice leads to extremely repetitive gameplay, what makes up for this is that it can be extremely fun even if it is repetitive. Exploring across the game world and hunting your target, escaping and evading being captured. What I did find hard was the game will not always respond well when doing certain tasks, and even when I tried desperately to sneak up on my target they still saw me. It isn’t half infuriating when you get spotted when you are so close because you instantly have tens of enemies on you and it ruins the entire experience.
The graphics and the game world are the most outstanding features of Assassin’s Creed. The cities are detailed and vast, when you stand on top of building and look into the distance you think I surely can’t go there, but you actually can. Ubisoft have completely delivered with the game world, when you reach the first city you realise the sheer scale of the game. The textures are bright and colourful, it is incredibly immersive. The cut-scenes are well thought out and have good animations; each one has ‘glitches’, these are where you get a split second to press a button to get a different view of the scene, you have to pay attention. You can’t skip any of the cut scenes which I hope they change for any sequels.
The sound and audio is pretty basic, throughout most of the story there is no background music, I think they believed it wouldn’t fit in with the style of the game which is true to some extent. I can understand why there is no background music if they had spent longer in other sections like the speech in the cities, but they just haven’t. Each enemy will nearly always say the same thing, ‘thief, you are filth’, I am not sure if those are the exact words because after a while I just droned them out. Each sword and action will always sound the same; which means it is easily playable without sound, some games I find that it is incredibly hard without sound. I know by playing the game they have spent the majority of their time creating the cities but I think they could have shared more their time efficiently.
Even when the campaign is so long it has absolutely no replay value, the only reason I can see to play it again is to get the achievements. The length of the game somewhat makes up for the short fall. The entire game is based around this amazing, immersive single player campaign, which means that a multiplayer would almost entirely be out of the question. It would just be too complicated to work competently so I can see why Ubisoft didn’t even try. This has got to be one of the biggest Xbox 360 titles which has absolutely no Xbox Live support, if multiplayer isn’t possible I think leader boards is probably the least we should expect. Maybe in sequels they could do co-op assassinations because that sounds like a lot of fun.
Overall this is a solid title, yes it has its problems but this game is unique. There are almost no decent titles like this around; the setting is almost never used in games, just because it is too complicated. This is clearly going to be the start of a series, and this first one made a great impression. The score may not be brilliant, but does a game always have to get an amazing score to be good? Assassin’s Creed is so amazing just because it is so different and fresh, it is what makes this game a must have.