Angry Robot

Assassin's Creed: My Bad Idea

I had the idea for this game long ago. “Sure Toku” you might reply, “whatever you say.” But it’s true. I was among many who bought Grand Theft Auto 3 when it was first released and played it to death, wishing there was more. Then I played Splinter Cell and had this wonderful idea, what if there was a game that involved espionage and assassination, but took place on a city-wide scale filled with people? Why wouldn’t that be great? Alright, so my idea took place in a futuristic wonderland, not a medieval landscape… close enough.

After I got over my slight annoyance I started to play the game… and loved it.

It starts off in the present-day and follows a former assassin named Desmond Miles. Desmond wakes up one day and finds himself in a lab as a prisoner. The doctor there has strapped you into something called an Animus. This doctor tells you that somewhere in your genetic memory is a secret held by one of your ancestors, Altair Ibn La-Ahad. So, in order to access this memory Desmond has to relive certain events via “the animus.” We then jump into the memories and play the assassination missions that Altair went on. The story of Altair is pretty heavy-handed and involved, and I don’t think I’ll even try to explain it. It deals with mortality, morality, duality and all sorts of other philosophical questions that warp your perception. My suggestion, don’t do what I did and play this ‘til four in the morning, because after three beers your brain screams at you.

The game has been called repetitive by some critics, and to a certain degree it is. Each assassination mission goes by a pretty predictable formula:

The mini-missions that uncover your information about your target are all the same. There are only four sources that you can go to:

  1. you can intimidate a guy
  2. you can pick-pocket a guy
  3. you can eavesdrop on a guy or…
  4. you can ask a guy.

And really that’s it… There are some B.S. citizens you have the option of saving, but it’s not important to the assassinations, nor does it help a whole lot. There really isn’t a lot of variance in the story, but fortunately the gameplay completely makes up for it.

For me the highpoint of the game-play is the free-running. Last year Crackdown came out and suddenly everyone was leaping across rooftops like anime character. Assassin’s Creed has a much more down-to-earth approach to those rooftop shenanigans. The way Altair climbs and jumps around is more reminiscent of Lara Croft, and feels much more real. Altair can’t fall ten feet and magically grab onto a ledge like John McClane. Because of this climbing and roof-jumping feels much more precarious, and is better for it. Now, instead of being able to leap small buildings in a single bound and survive bone-shattering falls like Crackdown, we are left with something that requires a little more patience and tact, which is the nature of the game itself.

The only problem with the free-running system is it can be a bit glitchy. There are an abundance of moments where Altair gets stuck climbing a wall… and you KNOW he can keep climbing and you can SEE the next handhold, but he just refuses to go for it, and you are just left there hanging over a street like and idiot, made worse by the fact that the crowd below makes irritating comments at you while you dangle.

I have a love/hate relationship with the city populace. Beggars harass you, crazy people push you, people yell at you when you knock them over, they make comments about you, they point you out to the guards. All-in-all they are very well done… I just wish they weren’t so damn irritating. Every once-in-awhile I stealth-knife one or two just to get them out of my way. It’s against “the creed” but fuck! Those goddamn beggars blocking my every move yelling “please sir, I have nothing!” while I am so tactfully trying to sneak up on a target makes me want to jam my Corona through my TV screen –

And if knifing beggars is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

So… the combat.

I personally like to silently take out the archers on the rooftops, and then let them drop into the streets and waiting for the delayed screams. It’s fun. However, every once in a while some of the other guards will see you do it and then comes the combat. The Combat is… well…alright, though nothing spectacular. So, I won’t say a lot about it. It’s alright, it’s reasonably challenging if you don’t know how to counter-attack. Altair can do some pretty cool shit, but all in all it’s not the selling point. Luckily, if you play right you don’t HAVE to get into combat all that often (although I did unlock that one achievement for defeating 25 guys in a single combat… yay.)

So finally, because everyone wants to hear it: THE GRAPHICS.
yes, there are indeed graphics in this movie, and they are quite good. The mix of the archaic world with the modern images from the Animus works surprisingly well. The look is original, and even though the odd Animus “flash” is slightly distracting, it doesn’t take away from the gameplay. The cities look awesome. They actually look like people may, in fact, be living in them and could very well pass as authentic. There has been a moment or two when I have fallen through the map and died. Oh well… It looks so good, it’s forgiven.

So why am I playing this game like a drug? Because it’s kinda good. Despite all the hype that usually goes with BAD games this is actually quite good. It’s challenging without being impossible, it’s fun, looks pretty and has a decent story. So it’s got the odd problem here and there, but who cares? I liked it.

Even if they stole my idea.

2 comments on "Assassin's Creed: My Bad Idea"

  1. D says:

    I haven’t gotten that far yet as I only just started playing; maybe an hour or two in. But I love it so far. The plot has me hooked, and the tutorial aspects are so well done. I wasn’t sure how I’d like the control scheme, but it’s pretty intuitive. There are a lot of great ideas packed into this game so far.

  2. Me says:

    Honestly, this game is one of the greatest combat games ever. This is my reason: It has free runnin, knife gashin goodness. The funnest aspect of the game is counter grabbing templars and throwing them off of the nearest roof ledge. Ahhhh sweet death of those insolent harasers. Love the review by the way, puts a great perspective on things.

Comments are closed.