Assassin’s Creed didn’t exactly live up to expectations. But we did expect a hell of a lot from the game. What boiled down from a free flowing world, epic sword fighting and action, towns and cities to climb and a deep plot… all became just one big mangled mess. But is this mess bad? Sometimes being messy can be awesome and sometimes it can even leave your room looking slightly better than having a poo-flinging contest. So… without further ado, let’s look into Assassin’s Creed, and for all it’s faults, it hopefully still manages to hold it’s own.
Assassin’s Creed takes place in the crusades, 1191 to be exact, if by ‘take place’ you mean ‘back in time’ then you’re absolutely right. Because actually you’re playing A.C through the genetic memory of Desmond Miles… let’s just start over. Desmond is captured by some big company and strapped into the ‘Animus’, a machine that let’s you see your ancestor’s memories, which for a sci-fi concept is actually pretty good. The trouble is, one of his Ancestors just so happens to be caught up in a war between “The Templars” and “The Assassins”, the story never goes bold enough to explain their rivalries and more than likely we’ll see it fleshed out in A.C II.
It’s a pretty cool concept for a plot, but it doesn’t manage to ever shine out from the crowd. I don’t know what this is, but it’s probably down to poor plot devices or plot lines just being placed everywhere. Plus, after each assassination, you literally get a speech from the guy you just killed… as in, chopped his head off or sliced through a heart. You’d think it’d be bearable if it was an exciting and dramatic speech or even if the speech was actually well written: but these “mini speeches” are just so badly done. They’re not written right, although the messages carried are kind of OK, and they’re unskippable.
The gameplay wheel of A.C works like this. You climb a huge mountain to talk to some guy about how the world is bad for 10 minutes+ of unskippable babble, then you go down the mountain and get on your horse, then ride into the city, do a few errands for… yourself and finally kill the dude. You’d think these ‘errands’ would be like ‘stalk a guard’ or ‘beat a man until he talks’, but all you do is the same 5 tasks over and over again for each assassination. You pickpocket, you eavesdrop, you collect… flags and you do all sorts of pointless ‘investigation’. On top of that, you have to climb to the highest building in the district to find these errands.
On top of all that, you have to visit the city assassination agent who can either be stereotypically stubborn, stereotypically violent or stereotypically helpful (if that’s possible). All of these errands, agents, cutscenes, talks and all other things just make you seem like you’re doing someones laundry. I can’t forgive Assassin’s Creed for giving me a shopping list, not ever, not even if there’s free form combat, free form climbing and even the inability to swim, I can’t and won’t forgive Assassin’s Creed… hold on…
Yes because apparently Assassin’s Creed has good points… like many other games… it does manage to actually hold strong in many cases. One of these cases is the plot, I’ve already explained how good it can be, but I’ve got to say again how genius the concept is. Another one of the cases is the freeform climbing, you’ve probably already played this now thanks to the likes of Infamous and Prototype, but Assassin’s Creed is the one to thank for this. You can just about climb, clamber and grab on to anything, and it all flows so well it’s… beautiful… oh and you can’t swim.
The combat kind of holds it’s own ground, while allowing for some epic confrontations with around a billion guards at once, the AI doesn’t exactly leap them all in. It just throws 3 at a time which is sort of laughable when in a situation when you are surrounded by a gazillion armed dudes ready to cut you up. You can attack, dodge and brutally counter-attack guards but all you’ll really need it the counter-attack, which sort of renders every other attack useless. Apart from upbeat and to the face sword fighting, you can also throw dagger knives at people, and use them in combat.
For all of it’s excessive use of the shopping list, the useless lack of real attack, heavy cut-scenes and sort-of-dodgy controls… Assassin’s Creed is one of the finest games of the generation. No doubt that now many future games will take it’s mechanics and perfect them in ways that Ubisoft couldn’t have done with A.C. In a way, Assassin’s Creed messed up but that mess sort of helped to make everything tidy. It’s a bit like trying to trash your room, only for it to be nice and clean after you’ve done with it. I do hope the sequel helps define the plot of the Assassin Creed series.