When I picked up Assassin’s Creed last week, it was only because I had to play something till the release of Mass Effect. To be honest, I was not even intending to buy it because of all the negative press it got, what with repetition and all that. But I did go ahead and buy it and, in the end, ended up enjoying it a lot. Free-running is one of the best innovations in recent times. Obviously, the game has borrowed a lot of concepts from the new Prince of Persia series – even more so because both games come from the same development teams – but still Assassin’s Creed took the concept of free-running to a whole new level and it kept me quite involved with the game till the end even though there were lots of other flaws in the game. The game’s presentation really made free-running as fun as it was. I loved the way citizens would pause and say stuff like, “He is going to get hurt and when he does, I won’t help him” and so on which made the whole world very immersive and realistic.
Apart from free-running, I loved the game’s story and was absolutely pissed with the ending which blatantly leaves it open for the, as of yet unannounced, sequel. I really liked the unique two-faceted approach to storytelling and the game did quite a commendable job in keeping me interested in the plights of both Desmond Miles and Altair. Albeit, the main focus was obviously on Altair and I did become quite attached to him over the course of the game. Even more impressive was Altair’s characterization. Altair starts off as an arrogant, over-the-head sort of guy who thinks the assassin’s “creed” is below him and this gets him in trouble. However, as he completes each assassination and hears the confessions of his victims, he gradually becomes softer and it felt as if he was constantly maturing throughout the course of the game. I cannot wait for the inevitable sequel to move the story forward. The ending does pose some interesting questions as to Desmond’s bigger role in the sequel and it will be interesting to see what Ubisoft can pull off with it.
I found the missions themselves to be quite interesting. The investigating to be done before the assassination was fun for a bit but it got repetitive and boring by the end of the game. However, I did like doing these missions just for the heck of it. Following the victim to a secluded place before beating the heck out of him to get the info and then silently doing off with him was intensely satisfying each time. I also liked pickpocketing because it was always funny to watch the people’s reactions after they have been picked off. The assassinations were a bit of a disappointment for me personally. What was a bit of a downer was that you always had to move through the crowd and fight the battle, there was no means for silent killing. In 2 or 3 missions, I got on buildings and waited for a few minutes for my target to show up before realizing that you had to be within the crowds before the memory actually began. That being said, I did have a few surprises. In one of the missions, the vigilantes that appeared when I saved a citizen took hold of my target and I took a big leap before driving my hidden sword into his neck which was intensely satisfying. I also did quite a bit of planning as to which escape route to take back to the Assassin’s Headquarters which was also a lot of fun and helped me overlook the game’s repetitive nature.
The extras were also fun to achieve but it was also sad that they did not have any bonuses attached to them. I did not go out of my way to collect all the flags or kill all the templars. Both of those, I did whenever they appeared in the place I had run to. Still, jumping inside a narrow street after becoming anonymous only to find a templar waiting was quite satisfying. I did, however, try to save all the citizens and did visit almost all the view points in each of the cities, which was also a lot of fun to do. It was pretty sad that even the architecture of the viewpoints started to repeat over time and even across cities as well which took away from the immersion a bit.
There were other issues with the PC version such as an overly-long exit process (thankfully, Atl+F4 worked fine for me) and the fact that the game was always displayed in 16:9 aspect ratio. The aspect ratio issue was more annoying for me because it caused a lot of letterboxing at my resolution (1280x1024). There was an unofficial fix for this but it started crashing with the 1.02 patch, so I played without it. However, I did not really notice these issues once I really got into the game and, overall, I found Assassin’s Creed to be one heck of a fun game. It was not without its flaws but then what game is. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending it to anybody who is looking for a quick way to pass time and run riot within three cities during the crusades for the Holy Land. For more, I have posted a review on the Gamespot reader-review pages here.