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Assassin's Creed PDF Print E-mail
Written by bobdog with Silver Sorrow's insights   
Tuesday, 08 July 2008 00:43
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Developer/Publisher: Ubisoft
Official Site
No demo Available
Average price at review time: $30

ESRB rating: Mature 17+ (blood, strong language, violence)

Yes, everyone HAS already done a review of Assassins Creed (AC), but as everyone knows, a game hasn't truly been reviewed until it gets a Foxhole Review! And in yet another first, this is a combined review between the bittersweet taste of Silver Sorrow and the crunchy swill of Bobdog! So, winners all around!

SS - I like to think I have more of a salty butterscotch flavor.

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Don't Assassin Anything, Because it Makes an Ass Out of You Twice
What is AC? At it's heart, it is an action third-person game, somewhat similar to Tomb Raider in design. Your character does lots of climbing, running, quest-completing, and, of course, assasssssinating various figures both minor and major. All of this takes place in the ancient Middle East during the Crusades period. And interestingly, it also takes place in your mind. Yes, that's right -- you too can assassinate people WITH YOUR MIND!! Well, to be fair, you are some dufus named Desmond, who has been kidnapped by some creepy scientist and his hot but reticent assistant, and are strapped into a machine that reads the past events of your ancestors. Apparently, your assassin ancestor Altair came across some objet d'art that does ... who knows? But the Templars want it back.

SS - I was interested in seeing the so-called Holy Land, which various random fanatical nutjobs -- uh, *factions*, I mean -- have been killing each other over for centuries now. I thought it was very ... dusty. The scales fell from Paul's eyes, but I just fell off my horse. Typical.

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So you're stuck in this machine (called an Animus) to relive Altair's life until his memories get to the point where you now know where the mystery object is located. The two concurrent story arcs really pull you into the game, augmented by the gameplay itself. After reliving Altair's past, you come back to the present to get more information about your current situation, supplemented through mini-quests (hack a computer, steal a password, perhaps escape?). In the end, you'll find out that Altair has been sold out by someone close to him, while Desmond's adventures are far from over, and if the endscene is any indication, I think we can expect him to visit ancient China and even the Aztecs in future installments. (Oh, please for Atlantis!!!)

SS - I hope it's China. I'd like to simulate an encounter with Scholar Ling, thank you. On second thought, scratch that; the amount of gore spraying from my character's body as Ling systematically dismembers him with her bare hands will shoot the ESRB rating into heights yet to be discovered by even Rockstar.

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Fall from Grace

You'll do a lot of falling in AC, both within the storyline and physically. The story arc follows Altair from a failed assassination attempt, where he loses his skills and weapons as punishment. As he succeeds in his quests, both are slowly returned to him so that at the end of the game, you'll have trained yourself how to use both successfully. This path of redemption is interesting, as you slowly see changes in Altair's character as he grows and matures. Some NPCs that you see in each of three cities make note of this change.

SS - "Altair. You have risen in rank. I bestow upon you the BFG1127. Simply pull the trigger and everyone within a cone-shaped area will dance the Hora until their hearts explode. I trust you will not...hey! Stop that! Do not make me dance until my heart explodes! I am warning you..."

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Physically though, you'll do a huge amount of falling in the game, the epitome of which is the "Leap of Faith" TM. In each city, and in the Kingdom at large, you'll need to get an eagle's-eye view of the surrounding area, which completes your map. By climbing various towers, some of which may only have one route up, you'll get to the top and unlock a view of the immediate area, which also allows you to see any potential quests. You can then jump off the summit, plummeting to your doom ... or at least into a pile of straw. That would have been funny if they made one of the jumps into some manure, but that's another story -- perhaps for the sequel? And how would you have gotten it off your bright white robes? Questions abound.

SS - I hope a sequel takes place in medieval Europe, whereupon I can plunge into a pile of plague-ridden corpses. Now wouldn't that be fun?

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Control Yourself
Altair moves fluidly -- perhaps the best motion capture I've ever seen. From climbing to jumping to fighting, your character is amazingly lifelike and operates largely by himself. The control system is a bit challenging, even though the plethora of buttons is necessary to move around. The very final Templar assassination features waves of gradually more difficult foes encircling you and some of the most challenging gameplay for the whole game -- it took me an hour to complete and I had to actually remap my keys to survive.

SS - No henchmen or squad-based tactics. None of this screaming "I said, 'COVER ME!'" at your Squad O' Morons as they wander blithely into the enemy's fire, or take it into their heads to guard a bunch of goats instead of laying down much-needed suppressing fire. In this, I am grateful. Although I could've used the help on a couple of occasions. Still, at least the key bindings weren't as labyrinthine as Crysis...

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One definite negative is in both starting the game and ending it. You must go through several menus, which take time on both ends -- I noted that to quit out of a scene, it takes 10 clicks!!! and at least a minute -- what a waste! There is a no-intro patch that you'll probably want to install, to avoid the 5 MINUTES of starting the game that you can't break out of ... stupid port.... Speaking of, this means there are no quick saves throughout the game, although to be fair, the game does load from the last completed task when starting the game afresh. If you die somehow in-game, say, by falling off the tallest steeple in town ... thinking it had a leap of faith ... and then finding out it didn't ... heh, heh, not that I did that  Embarrassed ... well, then it will start you on the ground near to where you died.

SS - I absolutely LOATHE the menu system. Do you just want to quit out of the game before you do something violent to yourself or, God forbid, your computer? Good luck there, because this game does *not* want you to quit. Okay, here's how it works:

Hit escape.
Click "Exit Animus."
Choose "Exit Animus" from the next menu.
Say "yes" to exiting the Animus.
Hit escape before the cover of the thingy retracts (otherwise you'll have to sit through the guy getting up).
Push any key to continue.
Select your profile and load it.
Wait for the menu.
Choose "Quit".
Inform the game that yes, you really DO want to quit before you go berserk and bust all your peripherals in a blind rage.

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My Greatest Achievement, or, How I Learned to Love the Flag Corps

In an attempt to enhance gameplay and longevity, the game offers a number of "quests" and "achievements" (some of which are new to the PC edition), starting with the eagle-eye views from summits to various tasks: assassinating various low-level figures, destroying merchant stands, pick up the flags scattered across the rooftop, escort missions, interrogations, pickpockets, and saving various citizens from harm. These are enhanced by several long-term "achievements" to collect all the flags scattered within a certain location, and to assassinate Templar knights guarding treasures. In all, these various quests made the game interesting and certainly extended gameplay -- I tried to do as many as I came across. It would have been nice if these had been tied to some reward -- bloopers, making-of videos, etc. I did find one flag on the top of a column in the kingdom that I couldn't ever figure out how to snag ... but that's what made it fun.

SS - The flag/Templar thing is *very* GTA in nature; I approve. I suppose that's there to give XBox owners a feeling of familiarity ("Dude! It's like GTA3...but with horses!"). I ignored the flags, but I liked killing the Templars a lot...perhaps too much for it to be considered normal. Anyway, I wonder: will finding all of the flags net me a flamethrower back at Assassin HQ? Or an arrow-proof horse?

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The End ... But Not Really
Assassins Creed is a stylish third-person action game that manages to entice you with both its gameplay and its interconnected storylines set in the distant past and in the modern day. Gameplay is fun, varied and challenging on several levels. And the abrupt ending begs for a sequel, which I'd definitely want to play.

SS - A tad more generous than I am to the game, but that's just because I'm a horrible person; I don't disagree that it is definitely a worthwhile title. There's plenty of choice and freedom to be had, which makes going back to linear games so very disappointing.

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Game Rated 9.4/10
 


 

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