Review: Assassin's Creed

Master the art of a kill

The original Assassin’s Creed game turned heads and not only opened one of Ubisoft’s most significant franchises, but also one of the best series of games in history. Although Ubisoft had the Tom Clancy games copyrighted, the developer/publisher was struggling to create a game that put it’s name with the big boys (EA, Activision, Rockstar, etc). When Assassin’s Creed hit store shelves back in 2007, gamers immediately found fun, drama, and a handful of history lessons thrown in.

The game starts off with its main character, Desmond Miles, being kidnapped by a company called Abstergo, and tested on in a machine called the Animus. The Animus lets Desmond see the memories of his ancestor, Altair Ibn-La’Ahad (Don’t worry I can’t pronounce it correctly either), a Syrian Assassin during the Middle Ages. Altair has been stripped of his weapons and armor due to his disobeying of the Assassin’ Brotherhood code. The leader of the Assassins, Al Mualim, has decided not to kill Altair for his crimes, rather use him to eliminate nine Templar targets. After Altair eliminates a target, Al Mualim rewards him by giving back some of his armor and weapons.

Although Desmond is the main character in the Assassin’s Creed series, his role in the first game is really limited and there aren’t too many chances to be in his shoes outside of getting in and out of the Animus and going to bed. Altair is the playable character and he stretches his open world roaming from Masyaf to Jerusalem, and many cities in between. While killing the targets are the main objectives, several side quests are available to keep the game from being too short.  Synchronizing viewpoints, or saving civilians from Templar knights were two of the common missions, as well as completing objectives for other assassins who claim they are unable to do their job themselves. Here’s where the game gets very, very repetitive.

There’s no variety in the side missions. They’re really great if you enjoy doing the same thing over and over again. There would literally be ten side missions that required Altair to save a civilian from Templars in one town, and none of the ten would be any different from the last one. Even though climbing towers is one of my favorite things to do in AC, the buildings and towers were all generic and identical. The only difference being the fact that some were higher up than others. I have to admit, though, performing the leap of faith was pretty cool. Once the viewpoint was synched, climbing all the way back down would have been a serious buzz kill (bigger than Buzz Killington). Instead, Altair could simply leap off the stand and fall into a pile of hay. This maneuver let me get back to missions much faster and the game would be very frustrating without it.

For being a game released when the “next generation” consoles were first coming out, the graphics were very good. Polished down to each detail from every tree and building, Ubisoft’s team has done an outstanding job setting the bar for high quality graphics in open world adventure games. The sound is also crisp. The characters have accents from the areas they associated. If Altair climbed up the scales of a tall building, I could hear the wind.

The fight engine had many good qualities, but also had some aspects I didn’t enjoy. I could go from Altair’s hidden blade to his sword with just the touch of the D-pad, but there wasn’t a way to upgrade any armor or weapons. The combat was fun, and I enjoyed the satisfaction of sticking the sword into the mid-section of a confronting foe, or sneaking up from behind and taking out an enemy with the hidden blade. However, when faced with multiple enemies it was hard to string together combos and take out the enemies swiftly. The best way to battle was to counter the attacks each Templar had.

Altair himself was a legendary assassin. Playing as him gave me the sense of being able to handle any and every enemy, regardless of the amount that surrounded him. He was intelligent, but arrogant; reliable, but disobeying. He could hunt down anyone he was ordered to, but had his own sense of wrong and right. After killing one of the nine Templar targets, Altair could talk to the victim for his final words regarding how the Templar figure wasn’t as evil as Al Mualim had stated. Every victim leaked out more info which not only swayed Altair’s beliefs, but mine as well. This made for an epic ending and one that will be talked about for years to come.

In order to appreciate Assassin’s Creed, I had to look past the repetitive game play and focus on the things that made the game and franchise great. Does it have flaws? Of course, all games do. But AC developed game play that was ahead of its time. Games like [Prototype] and InFamous have benefited from AC’s wall-climbing mechanics. If you’re just getting into the Assassin’s Creed series it’d be good to play just to learn the background of the story, however it wouldn’t be necessary. If you’re looking to kill some time (and people) I would recommend picking up a copy due to the wallet friendly price of under $10 for each console. You’ll be collecting Templar flags and synchronizing viewpoints for a good couple of weeks in order to find them all.

-By Geoff Barry

Final Verdict: 79%