Assassin's Creed 360 Review - -

Gameplay 8.5
Graphics 8.9
Sound 8.8
Value 8.6
Distributor: UbiSoft
Review Date:
December 2007
Edwin Millheim


Assassin's Creed

As always the ultra cool teaser trailers and screen shots for a game gave tantalizing looks at what the over all experience would be for a gamer. Over the years of doing reviews and of course being a gamer, I have learned to not let the giddy thrill of seeing a cut scene make me so excited for a game it would pre cloud my judgment, one way or the other. A delicate razors edge of the writers creative mind to be sure. Of course no game is a 100% master total slam dunk. But boy they sure are a close second to some of our favorite things. I have come to the conclusion that Ubisoft just does not grow tired of creating or being part of some of the coolest gaming experiences on any platform.

With neither high hopes nor low regard, I popped in by game disk for Assassin’s Creed, with the Xbox 360 loading that familiar Ubisoft logo and then in to some inspiring visuals of the Assassin’s Creed gaming world.

In an interesting twist the game technically takes place not really in the present but some kind of future world that you really do not get much of a look at. Some organization has a machine that can access genetic memories of a subject. For a reason that you never really find out until much later, the players character Desmond Miles is the subject, while the genetic ancestor is Altair lbn La-Ahad a trained Assassin who is part of a guild in the year 1191. Altair is actually more fun to play than the future ancestor of course and the Science Fiction twist to the game offers little to the over all experience. I would have been just as happy, in not more so to only be in the past as the character Altair. While there is a bit of a plot twist surprise later on, to those Impulse Gamers I am sure that it will come as not much of a surprise.

Assassins Creed makes use of a stealth kind of system. Using stealth certainly makes the characters activities easier. There is nothing harder than to go about your virtual business with the whole of the city guards hunting you down. The player can of course choose to go with a higher profile, but this makes things very difficult. There does not seem to be any particular order that the missions need to be played in, so there is some minimal level of re playability here. Playing in a different sequence or style can of course change the over all experience of the game. Playing as the stealthy assassin or the hell on wheels terror of the holy land should be a bit of a spin on this interesting game.

That aside as noted, stealth does in fact play a key role in this game. Unlike other un named stealth style games though missions do not end if your discovered, they just get a bit more difficult. So the developers did an excellent job at balancing things out.

The game itself when all is said and done is not very long. That seems to be the trend these days, with gee wiz graphics going hand and hand with shorter game experiences that the consumer is paying more and more for. Assassins Creed is split into what can be considered levels. In each city there is an assassination to complete, before embarking on any assassination missions there are some investigations to be done. Gathering information about the intended target can give some clues on how best to take them out. The investigations are sometimes pick pocketing so as to get some tid bit of information, or sitting on a bench and eavesdropping on conversations to gather some information about a target. There is also a time where the player character has to strong arm a character to get information. Intimidating them by beating the crap out of them and then offing them anyway more times than not, so as not to leave a witness.

Blending into the crowd is a tactic that is a recurring theme in the game. Walking along or sitting on a bench and just relaxing, you know looking normal. There are also areas where the player character can hide, such as a convenient hay stack, or some roof top shed. When the heats on, sometimes it is best to hide till things calm down and the player character can go about their business. While we are on the subject of blending in and having assets in the city, it is always best to assist citizens who are being attacked by soldiers. Those city inhabitants will be indebted to you and assist where they can. Sometimes getting in the way of soldiers if they are chasing you, or letting the player character hide amongst scholars as they walk through the city being…well scholarly I guess. (They look more like monks to me as they walk with hands clasped in front of them selves and head bowed.) One other tactic, if you’re really good, is to remove some of the patrolling guards who are roaming about the rooftops. This will result in leaving a clear path for you later on.

Now some other reviewers have come down hard on Assassins Creed for being a bit repetitive. It is, it really is, but not so much so that it becomes a throw-away game. There are enough elements, such as the roaming guards that keep it interesting; the leap of faith does get a bit old after about your fourth or so dive. What this is is a really fast elevator down from a very high place, diving into most often a hay wagon.

Graphics and sound have the appropriate one two punch for such a game. There are some graphical glitches where city people wandering around would disappear or spawn from a dead end alley that I know I just explored and no one was down there. Now and again there would be the odd lower resolution graphic rearing its ugly head but this was not enough to upset the game experience at all. Some times wandering around in the game world and taking in the sites can give you more of an appreciation for the work involved to bring such a graphically gorgeous game to life.

Sound is satisfying, with sudden cap hits at the appropriate time of an assassination. Steel on steel sounds pretty good, and there is a satisfying fleshy sound as a sword or dagger thrust dispatches an enemy. Voice acting is generally good, with some of the dialects being interesting, entertaining at times…and once in a while hard to understand. Dialect aside, the main character, even when the action involved the Assassin ancestor, they speak in a very American accent. Not overly bothersome, but I expected a bit more here. After all the ancestor in question is definitely not American, so a different accent more for the region would actually been welcome and assisted in the over all emersion of the game experience.

Game controls took a bit of a learning curve; using some combinations of button press and stick movement at the same time. Nothing really to worry about, learning the ropes happens fairly fast. It only gets clumsy if the player is trying to change weapons in the middle of combat. It does at times turn into a desperate button mashing in the mindless sense of the word, particularly in combat. Thankfully if some of the moves are done right there is a cinematic death blow that plays out, showing how bad ass the Assassin character is, and giving the player a short break from finger fatigue. A word of caution in the heat of battle, the targeting system is none too forgiving and can often times target some innocent slob running past as they try to get out of the way of the battle that just exploded in their midst. Throwing knives in particular are a pain in the butt to use. If you hit your intended target you doing way better than I have been doing. As the action gets hot and heavy with sword swings or knife throws, the camera does tend to go into fits. The camera decides on the most inopportune angles that sometimes will get the player character killed.

The game is a surprisingly fun experience. In all fronts of site, sound and to some lesser degrees, story telling. Grab this one for your Xbox 360 if you have not done so yet, like a few other well done games out there that have sequels coming out in 2008, Assassins Creed puts a smile on your face and leaves you wanting more.

Have fun, play games
Edwin Millheim


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