Game Review: Assassin’s Creed

My adventures in Assassin’s Creed started last Christmas when a good friend bought me Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag after hearing me say it looked interesting. During various Steam sales, I picked up all five previous games and have, over the course of the last six months or so, played through them all.

With new Assassin’s Creed games launching last week, I figured I’d better get some reviews up. I’m waiting for Rogue to be released for PC, and it’ll be a while before I get a new video card that’s capable of Unity. One of the downsides to running a mini-ITX computer with a single-slot graphics card is that you usually can’t get the latest and greatest crammed in the case; I’m still using a Radeon 5770 slim card.

Expect weekly reviews for the next six weeks.

Assassin’s Creed is an ongoing science fiction/alternate history video game series. Launched in 2007, it’s been releasing at least one major game a year on a pretty insane production schedule. The general quality of the games has gone up and down, so we’re going to start at the beginning.

Assassin’s Creed (the original game) started the whole affair. Players switch between modern-day prisoner Desmond Miles and his ancestor Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad. (I so copy-pasted that.) The modern plot is just a framing story for the real action, in this case taking place in 1191 during the Crusades.

Altaïr is a powerful, high-ranking Assassin in his order. However, during his first mission in the game, he breaks the tenets of the Creed and, as a result, is busted down to novice after barely escaping a well-deserved execution. As penance, he has to hunt down nine Templars in order to restore his rank.

It would be unjust to judge Assassin’s Creed by comparing it to the later games; it established a new universe and played smoothly (for the most part). The combat system is largely counter-based, and attempting to take offensive action instead of counterstriking usually doesn’t end well.

The game offers a variety of weapons (the infamous hidden blade, swordplay, and throwing knives) and is fairly open-world, although the objectives stay the same. Unfortunately, the game suffers from obviously being a game – by which I mean there’s a set pattern you follow for each assassination. Arrive at the city, talk to the local Assassin’s Bureau contact, gather intelligence, talk to the contact again, and then head out to knife your target. The first time, it feels cool; the sixth time, you’re ready to chuck a controller out the window.

The character of Altaïr also feels a little flat at times. He doesn’t seem to have interests outside of sticking sharp things in other people; and while he is hunting down Templars to restore his rank, he doesn’t seem real concerned about it either. He just feels flat, like characters often did in older video games. (Although, given its 2007 release date, Assassin’s Creed could have – and should have – done better.)

While later entries far exceed Assassin’s Creed, it’s still not a bad game – it suffers from having created the baseline all the following games started from and improved upon.

Definitely worth playing.

Verdict: 6/10

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