Published on Wednesday, 23 February 2011 19:00
Written by MuNkY
|System Availibility||PC, Xbox 360 and PS3|
|Release Date||November, 14 2007 (Xbox, and PS3)|
April 8, 2008 (PC)
|ESRB Content Rating||M (Mature)|
|By It Now On|
"Kill one, to save a thousand" (The Assassin's Motto, 1191 A.D.)
First off, let me say right off the bat, this is an odd review for me to write. In the last month I have played through Assassin's Creed 2
and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
, back to back. While the original Assassin's Creed
isn't a bad game by any standards, it felt like a step backwards in time when I revisited the game to write this review. It makes sense because this was the "original concept" for the series. But the newest two installments in the series take the original concept so much further and make it much better.
The story starts out in the year 2012. You play a character by the name of Desmond Miles. Even though you don't know it yet, you are a descendent of a long line of an ancient order called The Assassin's Brotherhood. You have been taken captive by a group known as Abstergo Industries. These people are the descendants of The Assassin's enemies, The Templars (A.K.A. The Knights Templar). Abstergo has a seemingly infinite amount of research, technology, money and manpower behind them. They have captured you, because they have a piece of technology called The Animus, which allows the user to access memories of ancient ancestors, much like hereditary memory in animals. These memories lay dormant in the human mind. But The Animus allows the user to re-live these memories, passed down from generation to generation through DNA, as if they were actually there living the events themselves. Abstergo, and The Templars, want your memories.
You don't know why, but they intend to force you to use The Animus to view these memories.
This is where the main portion of the story takes place. Inside The Animus, Desmond relives the memories of his ancient ancestor Altaïr Ibn La-Ahad (Altaïr for short, pronounced All-tie-air). Altaïr is a high ranking assassin in The Brotherhood in the year 1191 AD, in the Middle East during the time of the third crusade. He is cocky, and overconfident of his skills and decisions. In the very first mission, Altaïr is tasked to secure an artifact from The Temple of Solomon. Due to his overconfidence, he promptly screws up the mission and the rival Templar Knights escape with the artifact. Usually failure is not tolerated in The Brotherhood. But due to his high ranking status and success in the past, he is given a chance to give penance. Altaïr is stripped of his rank and his weaponry, and is tasked with a mission to kill 9 high-ranking members of The Templar order. Each successful mission gains you a little bit of respect and rank within The Brotherhood.
The gameplay style for Assassin's Creed
is not your typical action game. Most games of the genre are shooters, or hack n' slash type games. Assassin's Creed
is all about what is called, "free running." Altaïr can run across rooftops, scale walls, and balance on structures with the greatest of ease. Normally, most action games would have you press the jump button for each individual gap you need to jump across. But not this game. There is a feature in this, and all Assassin's Creed
games, called the "free run button." As long as you are holding the free-run button you can easily run from one feature to the next as if gaps weren't even there. You can scale walls by use of window ledges and other features, better then if you were spider-man. Assassin's Creed
would be a horribly tedious game if you had to actually time your jumps like Super Mario Bros. But the free run feature makes things easy, innovative and fun.
The downside to this feature is that, in this first installment of the series, the free running was far from perfected. The responsiveness is usually clunky at best. Sometimes you will be free running on rooftops and all the sudden the game decides that you wanted to jump 4 stories straight down to the ground. If this doesn't out right kill you, you take a lot of damage. Other times you may try to run across a ledge and the game decides you want to jump into water. And in this game, jumping into water is a boundary line, which means it's an auto death (they fixed that so you can actually swim in the newer games). The free running was far from polished, and could be really frustrating at times. Some times it almost feels like this game should have been on the last generation of consoles like the PS2, not the PS3 or Xbox 360. But it was a needed feature in this style of game and is much more refined in later entries in the series.
The mission structure is presented in 9 DNA sequences that you must "synchronize" in order to unlock the final DNA sequence that The Templars want access to. Because these are memories of an ancestor, they are events that actually happened in the past (in game). Each sequence is supposed to represent all the steps that Altaïr actually went through to perform his tasks. In each sequence you must gather information about the up coming assassination. Sometimes you have to pickpocket a courier who is carrying information, others you have to listen in on a conversation without being noticed. The more side tasks you perform before the assassination the better the memory sequencing will be in the end. While this sounds like a great way to progress through a mission structure. It is actually my biggest problem with Assassin's Creed
The game is VERY repetitive. Every mission has almost the exact same set up. Go pickpocket this guy, then race this thief so he will give you information, then listen in on this conversation, THEN you can finally perform the assassination. Wash, rinse, repeat. The final part of each sequence, when you actually get to perform your assassination, is very fun and original for each mission. But the lead up to each assassination is very repetitive and boring. Which is disappointing because each individual assassination feels fresh and new as you progress through the game. One mission you may have to break into a stronghold and perform your kill by jumping off a roof onto your target. The next you might have to bust down the door and fight through 30 guards before getting to your target. The next your target might spot you right before the kill attempt and take off running, and you have to chase him down and kill him in the street.
Each successful assassination reveals a little more of the conspiracies and shady stuff going on behind the scenes. You (Desmond and Altaïr) are not being given the full picture of what is really going on. After every few DNA sequences in The Animus, Desmond has an opportunity to return to the real world. He gets a chance to see just how deep Abstergo, and The Templars power goes. But as the story progresses he realizes he is not alone. Desmond sees that he is not the first test subject to enter The Animus. It is also revealed that his Animus operator Lucy is a modern day Assassin that has infiltrated Abstergo. These are two story arc's that carry over into the next 2 games. So pay attention.
presents history from a different view then we were taught in school. It may be fiction, but it is fun to see this huge "what if" scenario play out in front of you. What if the Templars still existed today, and were controlling politics, wars, TV stations, technology, and financial systems? What if some of the most famous, and infamous people that you have ever heard of from history were Templars? Hell, what if they were Assassins? The gameplay may not be the most refined. But the story is one of the best in gaming today. If I would have reviewed this game when it originally came out almost 4 years ago, I probably would have given it a higher score based on story alone. But having just recently played the newest 2 installments, this first game feels dated, old, and completely unrefined. It is worth playing the first Assassin's Creed
just to get the main plot points in the story. Then once you complete this game, move on to Assassin's Creed 2
, then Brotherhood. The story only gets better as the series progresses. But the gameplay progresses too. You can pick up this game now for less then $20. My suggestion, play it to get the story, otherwise you will have missed a lot of the great story points. Then jump right into the next 2 games. it really is a story worth visiting and the next 2 games really deliver what this game could have when it comes to gameplay.