Video game review: Assassin’s Creed

assassins-creed-header

Will this bridge the gap between video game and art?  Not with gameplay like this

Assassin’s Creed is one of the prettiest games on this generation of consoles. Detailed landscapes, meticulous textures, and realistic lighting bring vibrant, illustrious settings to life. The stage is set for a mind-blowing experience. But Assassin’s Creed falls short with poorly executed gameplay mechanics and glitchy animation.

Main storyline

You start as Desmond Miles and you’re forced into a machine called the animus; a machine used to explore the memories of Altaïr, a demoted assassin tasked with killing the nine Knights Templars. The story is a little disappointing.

Tracing the ancestry of a line of Assassins from the early 1200’s is a unique idea, but it falls down during the execution. It’s slow to move, and there are breaks that repeatedly stop the action. Although there are interesting twists, the story never hits full stride.

Gameplay

Characters are touchy, and often misguided. On many occasions, I found myself jumping off walls for no reason while trying to scale a tower or local structure. It would break my momentum and cause alarm from guards I was trying to avoid.

Conversely,  I’d struggle to move from point A to point B while scaling a wall and my character wouldn’t jump when I wanted him to. (I just can’t win!)

There were also inconsistencies with non-player characters (NPCs). Assassin’s Creed is a stealth game, and one of the mechanics is to blend into a crowd by holding the ‘x’ button. It enables you to slowly walk past a guard and eventually out of his sight. But guards would be unnecessarily alerted to my presence, and I’d have to start the sequence over and over again. After a while, I knew I wasn’t the problem.

Chasing an enemy is challenging, but not by design, rather by design flaw.

Some missions required you to run after a target. The beauty of your surroundings should make this an enjoyable (and challenging) task. Altier’s movements, in terms of animation, are pretty smooth, but from a functional standpoint, didn’t work.

Chasing an enemy is challenging, but not by design, rather by design flaw. You run by holding R1. When you want to climb a wall, or jump over an obstacle, you simultaneously hold ‘x.’ But this frequently caused my character to start climbing a wall that wasn’t intended, causing me to lose my target, and restart the mission. This was one of the most frustrating flaws in the game.

Occasionally my viewpoint and objectives would disappear from the map, causing me to wander around aimlessly. There were also technical issues with my map, because climbing large towers is supposed to unlock different areas, but some of my areas would remain locked.

I enjoyed the option to train with your new moves and weapons as you collect them. It gives you an opportunity to get used to the controls. But since the they’re so choppy and inconsistent, it remains a challenge.

Presentation

I was very impressed with the graphics art design. Assissin’s Creed is pretty, and that’s its saving grace. There were some technical glitches with pop-ins. I saw an entire group of people just pop-in before my eyes. My biggest distraction in terms of presentation was the voice acting. Altier’s is the worst. It’s forced, over pronounced and some lines are a little cheesy.

Assassin’s Creed 2 apparently addresses many of these issues. It’s in my backlog of games, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ve done to correct the problems from the original.

Are you a fan of the Assassin’s Creed series?  Which game is your favourite?

 

UPDATE: I appreciate different points of view, and I found a post on Forbe’s from Carol Pinchefsky called 8 Reasons Why ‘Assassin’s Creed 1’ Is Still the Most Awesome Game in the Series. She brings up some great points (and she’s a good writer). Give it a read and see if you agree!

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Assassin’s Creed 1 is definitely rough, but it does have my favorite assassinations in the series. I really like the way they played out and how the information you gathered played a part (even if getting that information could be a little boring). AC2 is a big improvement overall and my favorite in the series though.

    1. Grady Meston says:

      I’m looking forward to trying AC2 when I have the chance. Have you played all the games in the series? AC3 looked impressive, but I’ve heard of a few problems with it.

      1. Yeah I have played them all (well not the handheld ones). Brotherhood is another good one though a slight step back from AC2 in my opinion. I was actually really disappointed with AC3. Both storylines ended in a way I wasn’t happy with, the colonial cities lacked the intricate architecture of previous entries that made them fun to run around in, it was extremely buggy (even more so than other entries), and well I could go on for a while. It just didn’t live up to expectations at all for me.

  2. Joel Palermo says:

    I love AC 1 so much. It’s much more simple that it’s successors, but that’s what makes it so good. It felt so much more humble in its presentation. I love Ezio, but he’s a bit over the top sometimes. Altair was always calm and collected, but wasn’t afraid to rebel when he needed to. Definitely my favorite in the series.

    1. Grady Meston says:

      Did you find the same technical problems I found? I really didn’t like the controls at all. Also, did you get any of those bugs with your objectives disappearing off the map?

  3. Sloop Lion says:

    Digging in the vault for this game, huh G-mes? whats next on the review list…Tetris? Cant disagree with your review though, you nailed it!

    1. Grady Meston says:

      Thanks, Sloop!

      Actually, Tetris is a little new-school and advanced for my tastes. I’m thinking Pong.

      Blacklist is next! Almost ready 🙂

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