9 out of 10
I’ll admit I’m a sucker for a good Crusades story and Assassin’s Creed gives me that along with a few sci-fi twists and turns that would have made L. Ron Hubbard proud.
By now I’m sure many of you have read about the confusing plot, its not really that confusing. If you read the games manual before you play (you do read the games manual before you play right?) you will see a series of e-mails between the two scientists in-between the game tutorials. This gives you all the background information you need so you are not surprised when you put the game disc in and the game starts in some laboratory.
Essentially you (with the aid of this machine) are being forced to connect with your ancestors in the past to ‘unlock’ something this company wants. So essentially you are a puppet master and the games main character Altair, plays like that. The beauty behind that is a simple series of button commands which allow you to perform some of the best killing moves I have ever seen in a video game. Yes the AI is dumb, but the game plays more like a movie and much like a movie when surrounded by 6 guards, they will attack you one at a time and you can satisfyingly kill them one at a time.
Basically you have to perform nine different assassinations, which involve doing a lot of repetitive stuff. Essentially you go to one of the three cities (Damascus, Acre or Jerusalem) you do some pick-pocketing, eavesdropping and intimidation as well as a few side assassinations or min-games (mostly time trials) before you have enough information to be give permission to perform the kill. Along the way there are citizens to save from guards and many, many buildings to climb.
Besides the beautiful killing moves (like I said the best I have ever seen in a video game), the second best part is climbing the towers across the cities. Climbing towers are important because it unlocks your map, and both quest and side objectives, plus you get a nice cinematic shot of whatever city your are in when you reach the top. When you are finished you take a ‘leap of faith’ and plunge from these very high towers safely down into a pile of hay. Leaping from church towers never gets old.
The game could have been a bit better, namely to mix up the information gathering part of the game. Essentially you do the same thing 54 times, yes the story advances and you get to learn about your target and why he might just deserve what is coming to him, it does sort of drag. The good news is that the objectives are easy to spot and easy to accomplish, so despite the repetitive nature, you do get the feeling you are accomplishing things. There are also very few side quests, aside from saving all the citizens and climbing every tower, there are many different crusade flags (Templar, Hospitalar, Saracen, Jerusalem Cross, Richard’ the Lion-heart, Assassin’s Flags) scattered about which does encourage some exploration, but really not enough. There are also 60 Templar’s scattered about the game map and since the Templar’s and the Assassin’s dont’ get along, they give you a nice chance to practice some more killing moves.
Graphically the game excels, the motion of your characters is life like and fluid, crowds in the street react well to things like bodies falling from roof tops and mostly they don’t like getting bumped into. The sound is marginal, but does not distract from the game-play in anyway. As I’ve said before the killing moves are the best and you don’t have to be an expert button masher to achieve it all. The Environments are life like and representative of the time, when you play you really do get the feel for the era and everything seems to fit together perfectly from there.
I would suggest that you rent and watch the movie “Kingdom of Heaven” before playing this game, because where that movie ends, is essentially where the game begins. Richard the Lion-heart has arrived in the Holy Land and represents the Crusaders. The world of Atlair is in this delicate period before Richard moves on Jerusalem and that delicate balance between the Saracens and the Crusaders is what the Assassin’s are trying to preserve, because too much of any one thing usually isn’t good. This game is well worth the price and has fairly lengthy game-play. Its a must buy for any fan of the Crusades (are there actual fans of the Crusades), but its also just worth playing because it is so pretty to move in, fight in and look at.