Assassin’s Creed Impressions
Before I get some things off my chest I want to make it clear that I’ve been looking forward to this game for a long time. It looked amazing and playing as an Assassin set during the Crusades had my mouth watering.
Now, if I had to sum up my feelings of Assassin’s Creed in one word; disappointing would be up there, as would repetitive and even flawed. I could also throw in gutted just to mix things up.
SLAP ME IN THE FACE PLEASE
I borrowed this game off my friend yesterday upon it’s release in the UK and despite some mixed reviews I was eager to start running about rooftops and scaling some of the great architecture that I’ve seen in the various videos.
Then came the almighty slap in the face. The first hour of the game is spent doing nothing more than an incredibly boring tutorial. How to walk, how to push people, how to throw them, how to move your head, how to counter etc etc. This would be great if the controls were complicated but the opposite is true. They are incredibly simplified.
Whether this is a bad thing or not is down to your gaming experience but as somebody that has been gaming for just over 20 years, I felt insulted with the way the game held my hand throughout the opening stages of the game.
The main selling point of this game was Altair’s ability to climb around any part of the environment that sticks out, in an incredibly cool fashion. Great, a game combining free running and assassination! The thing is though, you don’t really feel fully in control when you climb up buildings or move across beams. The controls are too simplified.
You hold R1 to go into free running mode, then you press the right stick in whichever direction you want to move in, while pressing X makes Altair jump over gaps. Simple, too simple. You don’t feel like you’re in any danger while your scaling up massive heights using the smallest grips imaginable. You can’t really make a mistake and fall great heights to your ‘death’ unless you press X by accident and jump off.
By making the controls so simple it’s taken away some of the excitement and seat of your pants gameplay moments that come from being chased around rooftops by guards. It feels as if a lot of the work is done for you. All you need to do is hold R1 and move the right stick in whichever direction you want to move in.
I’m not saying that the free running side of the game doesn’t look great because it does. The animation is fantastic but you never feel like you’re doing the movements. You don’t really feel fully involved.
OH SO REPETITIVE
Another major flaw for me is the combat system. L1 targets the enemy and you can either hold R1 to constantly defend, then press square to do a lethal counter attack just as the enemy attacks you or you can bash square repeatedly, in-between holding R1 when other guards attack you. Repeat constantly for every single battle you have with multiple guards, and there’s plenty, it soon gets repetitive fast!
It may look cool pulling of lethal counter attacks but they are so easy to do it’s not even challenging.
Assassinations are nothing more than staying in low profile and pressing square when you’re near your target to plunge you hidden knife into their neck. Then you leg it until the guards lose sight of you.
You can also revert to high profile and attack your target and any nearby guards that are alerted, by using the above repetitive combat techniques.
Oh yeah and you can grab people and throw them.
It is initially cool when you first plunge your blade into your victim’s neck and they hit the floor but the novelty soon wears off.
Then there’s the poor AI. There’s been times where I’ve killed a guard right in front of another guard and he looks around as if he has no idea how his mate suddenly hits the floor dead, while a mysterious figure walks away wearing THE SAME TYPE OF CLOTHING AS ALL OF THE OTHER MEMBERS OF THE ASSASSINS GUILD! Come on man!
Why can I walk past guards on foot and they barely blink at me but if I ride past on a horse I’m suddenly the Crusades Most Wanted! There’s probably a reasonable explanation for this but it hasn’t been explained to me during the game, other than being told that it’s better to walk past guards on foot. 😐
SIDE QUESTS SUCK!
To mix things up you can help certain civilians that are being attacked by guards. Your reward for this is a thank you and the help of some renegades that will hinder pursuing guards. You don’t actually gain anything for saving civilians and you don’t need much help in evading guards. All rather pointless and repetitive.
There’s no variation, every single civilian being confronted by guards involves the same process: Target guards, kill them and receive a thank you and off you go. There’s no worthwhile gain in doing it and it soon gets boring after you’ve saved the 8th civilian.
You also have to gather information about your next target by either sitting on a bench and listening in on a conversation, then pickpocketing or beating up somebody to get some info.
Repeat over and over and over…
Despite the cities being heavily populated, you can’t actually talk to anybody that isn’t directly involved in the story or part of the crappy side quests. Yes some people make remarks about why you’re climbing up buildings and roof tops or make surprised noises when you drop down from a great height, but generally they just potter about doing what amounts to nothing more than making up the numbers.
You feel like the people around you are emotionless mutes walking around in a set pattern that doesn’t change.
It really does effect the levels of immersion that you feel in the game.
One of the biggest mistakes for me though is the story and how it’s revealed to you. I think anybody that’s followed this game knows there’s a time travel element to the story. To say the story is completely ruined in the beginning is a big understatement.
Why the hell couldn’t they have led you to believe that you are actually Altair during the Crusades, then revealed the time traveling twist at or near the end?!? To do it near the beginning is just stupid!
It ranks up there with the ludicrous twist in Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy for NA readers) for stupidity!
On top of that, the lead character isn’t even like-able. He’s an irritating arrogant ponce with the personality of a lamp post.
The only things that have kept me playing are the excellent designs of the cities (especially the rooftops and climbable buildings that tower over parts of each city, resulting in some truly spectacular views) and the free running side of the game.
It’s also breathtaking watching Altair take a leap of faith down into a pile of hay. It turns my stomach every time (mainly because I’m scared of heights 🙂 )
The problem is though it just isn’t much fun to do it all the stuff that seemed so cool in the preview videos. You plod along from rubbish side quest to rubbish side quest then kill your target, run off, hide and move on to the next target.
There are also some flaws in the graphics department. During some in-game cut scenes, body parts and scenery like curtains and swords can be seen passing through each other. Then there’s parts of the scenery like grass that suddenly changes in colour and density the closer you get to it. Marvellous.
STYLE OVER SUBSTANCE
I’m very disappointed in Assassin’s Creed. The game had so much potential to be a true AAA title but I feel Ubisoft has made some monumental errors in the story line, combat and controls that leaves Assassin’s Creed no better than an average game at best.
Maybe this game is a ‘grower’ and I may end up liking it the further I go into the game. I just feel there are better games available on the PS3 than Assassin’s Creed that warrant people’s attention like Ratchet & Clank, Uncharted and CoD4.
If you’re interested in this game then I’d recommend renting it first and see if you’re still interested in it after you get past the first couple of hours, which are definitely the worst part of the game that I’ve played and I’m around 10hrs in. It really doesn’t improve much though.
I must be a sucker for punishment…