The Assassin’s Creed: Monotony Above All Else

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UPDATE: Just beat it. HORRIBLE ENDING. If I had known what I’d have to go through, I would have broken the disc in two a few days ago. How disappointing.

I remember my first foray with Assassin’s Creed. It was E3 2006 and I donned headphones and controller to walk around a sprawling virtual city as an assassin skulking for prey during the the Third Crusade. After a successful kill and subsequent escape from the guards, some strange cybery holographic display kicked in with this female voice over and then all went dark. Ubi Soft was mum, but it piqued the interest. Of course, subsequent demos showed a little bit more, but always canned with these secretive side, like there was this deep, dark mystery underneath it all that will make Assassin’s Creed the end all be all game. Unfortunately, as demo after demo went on, I started to bcome suspect… because every demo seemed to be the same routine. So now that I have Assassin’s Creed and discovered the mystery, which is kinda silly, boring and distracting, I find myself stuck with a game that isn’t as good as it should have been.

The basic premise is you’re diving into genetic memory to understand an assassin during the 12th century, and what you do as this an assassin is kill people. Over and over and over again. Worse, the method for everything (locating a mission, finding a victim, escaping) is routine. For example: Upon reaching a city, you can’t just enter it because the guards will attack you, so you save a citizen who’s being harassed and then a bunch of cloaked scholars warp in, and you can blend in with them and enter the city. You do this EVERY SINGLE TIME. I mean, c’mon, couldn’t Ubi have varied it up a little? Essentially, same shit, different city.

Now, Assassin’s Creed is occasionally fun. Running through the crowd, hopping over fences and hiding in hay is sometimes interesting, but the two biggest problems are that the AI isn’t very good and the city architecture is all the same. The AI is bad, so bad that they attack me one at a time when there’s like 8 of them surrounding me, and bad that if they’re chasing me, I run around a corner, sit down on a bench (the only white robed guy there) and they’ve lost me. The architecture, while seemingly a minor issue, is really kind of a major letdown. The abilities of the assassin allow him to climb virtually anywhere, using window jams, latticework, etc. to scale. But in Assassin’s Creed, you come across the same buildings, with the same patterns, and it’s like you’re climbing the same building over and over again. And to improve your character or become fully aware of your surroundings, you have to climb similar buildings around the city. Of course I understand that most likely every building was identical way back before architectural creativity gave way, but there’s nothing challenging about holding down a button and just pressing up. Have some shingles break away when I land on a rooftop, or a window ledge come undone, forcing me to scramble to another foothold – just don’t make it predictable!

I could go into more detail but hopefully, you’ve already decided against checking out this game. I’m still slugging through it, because I want to solve it completely and am hoping it will win me over, but I’ll leave you with a few other choice nitpicks:

— It’s an open world game, so you need to travel between cities via horseback. If you ride your horse too fast, it enrages the soldiers and they try to kill you.

— At times, you fast forward to recent memories. It’s so inconsistent, sometimes you fast forward before battles, sometimes just enough so that you can ride a horse for 10 minutes. I wish I could fast forward through the cutscenes.

— All the real world scenes suck, even with Kristin Bell voice acting. In the early part of the game, it’s essentially a somewhat interactive cutscene that just has you standing up and going to bed. I
fully expect the two worlds to crossover, but I so don’t care right now.

— Too much cybershit. Yeah, I get it; it’s technofusion. They even factor it into the cutscenes to make it seem cool, but all you’re doing is changing camera angles. Ooooh, but don’t have the screen glow blue and mask everything underneath it while I’m running around collecting stupid flags, which leads me to…

— What was the first game that introduced the egg hunt? Where you have to run around a giant map trying to collect 50 CDs or 100 tickets? Whoever came up with that should be punched. Assassin’s Creed doesn’t just have 1 flag hunt, but like 7 (find the 30 crosses, find the 100 Richard flags, find the…). So horrible.

— The mini-missions. In cities, you can occasionally do things like save citizens (by fighting guards), pickpocketing people, interrogating citizens (by fighting them), flag hunting (get 20 flags in 3 min. type crawls, horrible), and the worst one: Eavesdropping. What this means is sit on a bench, point at someone and hit the button to watch a cutscene. That’s a mission!?

So disappointing. I wish I wasted time this weekend with Call of Duty 4 or Mass Effect. I just played and finished Condemned: Criminal Origins, a Xbox 360 launch title, that I felt had more substance than this turkey. Jeers!

NOTE: I’m being overly negative on this. There are games that are far worse than Assassin’s Creed, like Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.