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Kill.  Rinse.  Repeat.
By Chris
2009-02-25

Anyone who has been reading the site for a while now will probably have noticed that one game has remained in The Queue since the beginning of the site.  Since Julie was allowing me to pick our next game to conquer, I decided to vanquish this dastardly foe.  I finally took Assassin’s Creed off the shelf, more than a year after having purchased it, lamenting the fact that it’s now $30 cheaper than when I bought it.  Sigh.

One reason that the game slipped so far down the list was the divisive scores that the game received from various reviewers.  It’s pretty rare that a game’s scores will range from 100 (Gamepro) to 40 (gamesTM).  While we here at completionist.com don’t attach silly scores to our reviews, I would probably put myself more in the camp with gamesTM than Gamepro.  Not a 40, though, but definitely not 100.

When I first put in the game, I immediately liked it.  It reminded me of why I was intrigued by the premise so, so long ago.  You are Desmond Miles, a young man in modern times who is the relative of Altaïr, an assassin during the Third Crusade.  Desmond is being held in a lab in order to have his ‘genetic memories’ accessed so that the people holding him can learn more about Altaïr by using a device called the ‘Animus’.  When in the Animus, the player takes control of Altaïr as he attempts to eliminate an assassin target, as assassins tend to do.

At first, the premise of visiting one of three cities (Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus) and performing tasks to learn about your target with the ultimate goal of tracking him down seems incredibly exciting.  It’s everything an assassin based game should be, really.  It hearkens back to the glory days of the Hitman series but without all the frustrating nuances that caused instant failure.

I said at first because the game quickly wears thin for one glaring reason: it’s the same thing, over and over and over again.  There are six tasks to perform: Synchronize, Pickpocket, Eavesdrop, Informant, Intimidate and Save Citizen.  Synchronize involves climbing up a tall building, usually the minaret of a mosque, and surveying the map to reveal the other tasks.  Pickpocket is self-explanatory, as is Eavesdrop.  Informants will give one of two tasks, either kill a defined number of pursuers or collect a a series of flags within a time limit.  Intimidate requires you to follow around a person and bully them into giving you information.  Finally, Save Citizen involves killing guards in order to stop them from harassing a citizen of one of the three cities.  Once you complete a set number of those tasks, you can go on to kill your assassination target.

That’s it.  That’s the whole game.  Yup.  Employees of a game developer’s Quality Assurance division often have to play a game multiple times before it is released to ensure the game is bug free.  I’m pretty sure there must have been at least one suicide in the QA department.  The game is probably more suited to a 2-3 hour experience as opposed to the the 15-20 hours it ends up taking if you actually complete every one of the tasks in every city.  The reward for completing all the tasks?  Well, nothing, really.  In the first few levels your health increases every time you complete 15 tasks.  After a while, however, your health caps at which point it’s pointless to do all the tasks.  Of course, that didn’t stop us at completionist.com from doing it, it just turned out to be completely useless.  Consider it FYI.

In the same vein of doing the same tasks over and over (and over and over) and over again is the fact that the game’s producers, fellow Canadians Ubisoft Montreal, decided to record a minimal amount of dialogue to support the sandbox nature of the game.  This only serves to accent the fact that you are performing the same actions when you hear the same dialogue.

On the topic of voices, the voice acting for Altaïr is horrendous.   The delivery is monotone in nature, almost as if the actor is trying to mimic Dirty Harry without pulling off the gruffness.  Instead it comes off as flat in comparison to the rest of the voices in the game.

Some things did go right for Assassin’s Creed, though.  The graphic style was extremely impressive and level design made it fun to run through the streets of the city or vault to the rooftops to avoid pursuers.  Other reviewers lamented the innovative control system.  I found it to be very intuitive and generally enabling as opposed to hindering.

In summary, if you can find Assassin’s Creed in a $10 bargain bin, by all means pick it up.  Play it for about 3 hours and then drop the controller.  The game does lay a great foundation for future games.  Since Assassin’s Creed 2 is already in development, I can only hope that they add some variety to the missions to keep the player engaged, otherwise I’ll be happy to stop my progress in this series after game one.

Assassin’s Creed, for me, was a huge disappointment.  It looked great, and the idea of it was appealing, but the delivery was lackluster at best.  The voice actor who did Altaïr must have been sleeping with somebody at the studio, because basically every single other voice was better than his.  The animations for climbing buildings and fighting guards were amazing, but even that got tired after executing the same group of actions over and over and over.  This game got so boring that I would bring the DS to the basement to distract me while Chris killed hundreds of guards to save dozens of citizens who then thanked him with the same 4 phrases.

I think the first place that they went wrong was confusing “stealth” with “slow”.  Sneaking is one thing, but this game just required that you tip-toe past everyone in order to keep from getting noticed.  You can’t gallop past a guard on a horse, you can’t walk past a guard at a regular pace.  This just served to drag out an already over-extended game.

My number one pet peeve of this game was beggar girls.  While exploring the cities, you will occasionally come across a poor, unfortunate woman who proceeds to follow you around pleading for cash.  For me, this was the area where the lack of recorded dialogue was the most glaring, because these women follow you around screaming the same three shrill sentences until you climb a building to escape, or (in our case), stab them in the neck.  They will constantly step in front of you, blocking your path, begging for money, and in addition to just being in the way, they will also disrupt missions that require stealth.  Their presence in the game was completely unnecessary, and served only to once again prolong a game experience that was tragically limited.

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Comments
4 Comments • Comments RSSTrackBack URI
  1. NotSoMuch
    2009-02-27 13:19

    Great review! Despite the repetive-ocity (get out the Scrabble dictiontary!) I really do enjoy playing this game. I find that “rampaging” through the city a la grand theft auto is a lot of fun. Therapeutic even. I would run at a protected boss guy, alarm his 50 guards, and then be chased by the 50 guards across the roofs of Damascus! There would be an epic fight with many corpses push over the sides. Sure, it gets a little dull, but I’ll put it away for a few months and then pull it out again for another session. :)
    So DON’T listen to Chris or Julie and pay $69.99 for this game! I score it 150/150!

  2. NotSoMuch
    2009-02-27 13:20

    Also, Dead Space ……….. best game EVER! You didn’t’ enjoy it fully, you aren’t human.

    Have a good day!

  3. Rob
    2009-03-03 8:20

    GG Dead space. Good game, good story, well executed control FTW.

  4. Rob
    2009-03-03 8:20

    Guess we’ll have to see how RE5 handles with no wii-mote-point-and-shoot-zombie-head-explosions.

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