Tuesday, November 13th was an odd day. The long awaited and highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed was released and the reviews started to make their way online. The way it all played out was what made it odd. 1UP seemed be the first to get their review online and it made its rounds like wild fire. 7.0, wow! Within a couple hours, IGN’s review was published… 7.7! W…T…F?! I this point, I was a little discouraged and couldn’t wait for my trusted source, GameSpot to get their review online. Just before I clocked out for the day the relief I was hoping for arrived. GameSpot ranked Assassin’s Creed a 9.0. Not only that, it seemed every review to follow was in the mid 8 to mid 9 range. So what’s up with 1UP and IGN? I think Gabe nailed it.
Assassin’s Creed is an absolutely fantastic game. The amount of time and effort that went into nearly every aspect of the game is clearly evident. The sheer scale of the environments is overwhelming in the best possible way. The 3 main cities are so massive that you don’t have access to them in their entirety from the get-go. After you’ve taken care of a business in each of them, you start to reveal the other districts that were previously closed off. Similar to how sandbox games typically work, but in this case, I think it’s more to the player’s benefit as it doesn’t feel like you’re simply not permitted to go somewhere. But more a feeling of not needing to go there yet. After all, it’s not like you’re going to find faster cars or cooler weapons on the other side of the translucent wall.
More Addictive than Crackdown
I never did write about Crackdown, but man was I ever hooked on that game. I spent more time running across rooftops collecting orbs than taking out the gang leaders. I think Assassin’s Creed might actually be even more addictive. In the fews days that I’ve had it, I must have sunk at least 16-18 hours into it. And here I am, with 5 of the 9 targets assassinated. You’d think I would have beaten it by now, and I probably could have. But I bet this post would read more like 1UP or IGN’s reviews if that were the case. There’s so much to do in Assassin’s Creed, that rushing through it to get to the end simply isn’t the way it’s meant to be played and your experience will be lesser because of it. I’m having an absolute blast and enjoy taking my time and having my attention stolen from the task at hand to help out some woman who’s about to have he hands chopped off, or to sneak up on an unsuspecting guard and thrust my hidden blade through his nick, or to snag that flag I just ran by. There’s a lot to do, and I’m planning to go back and tie up and loose ends I didn’t catch before I assassinate my final target.
(Not) Just Another Face in the Crowd
One of the coolest aspects of the games and watching the environment around you change to reflect your actions. At one point, I had to eavesdrop on a target in the middle of a bustling courtyard. As I made my way to the bench where I was to sit and listen, a disturbed homeless man shoved me. Pissed off, I grabbed him and tossed him. As he was stumbling to the ground, he knocked over a guard and everyone around us quickly scattered screaming. As the guard got to his feet, he began yelling and I quickly became surrounded. Since running is for cowards, I took down every guard that came at me and the courtyard was layered with bodies in a matter of minutes. I decided to leave the scene and let things cool down. After saving a couple more civilians in trouble, I returned to the scene. As I made my way to the bench I passed a guard who muttered, “Hey, I know you.” I slowed my pace and was about to sit down when he shouted, “Assassin!” From then on, any time I return to that area of the city I’m quickly identified and have to flee or stay and fight. That is just awesome!
I’m really happy with the way the main assassinations play out. Each is unique in its own right. While the end goal is the same (you take someone’s life), how you reach that goal is entirely different for each target. The first couple are pretty straight forward. A couple will lead you on a chase through the city. While others will give you all the time in the world to plan your strike and make your escape. The latter have been my favourite so far.
Adjusting to the Sword
One area that’s taken some getting used to, is fighting with a sword. I’ve been playing mostly shooters for months now, and I found it a bit tough having to stick out each fight and take down my opponents one-by-one. When I first found myself completely surrounded with no chance of simply running, my first intention was to pop a flash-bang and dash. But obviously, there were no flash-bangs in the 12th century. I find myself now, picking my fights. If a civilian needs saving but there are 3 or 4 guards making the rounds close by, I’ll come back later and hope in hopes of a quieter scene. After all, you’re an assassin, not a commando.
Elegance in Execution
You’ve all seen the videos of Altair hopping across beams and leaping from building to building, running up walls and taking a flying leap off the tallest building. I’m extremely happy to say that none of that footage was BS, and the game plays just as fluently as the pre-release videos we’ve been shown. Not only does it play well, but it’s very easy to pick up and being making huge leaps and bounds within minutes. There’s really nothing to the control scheme, which is both good and bad. I would have actually liked to have seen some of these daring moves me a little harder to pull off. But I’m sure in the heat of a chase, it would have only made it more frustrating.
Assassin’s Creed makes great use of many cinematic effects, like depth of field and motion blur. When you are locked onto a target, he becomes the focus while you are in the foreground out of focus. You can still move around as you normally do, but the camera is tightened up more than usual and is in a semi-fixed position, focused on the target.
Assassin’s Creed is not without its faults. As with any great game, there are flaws which hamper it’s awesomeness, if only a tiny bit. And this holds true for Assassin’s Creed. There seem to be only a handful of speeches civilians give after you save them, which gets annoying pretty quick. Every time a new weapon or skill is acquired, the same dude meets you outside of the fortress and says the exact same thing. They definitely skimped out in the dialog department. Another thing that is constantly annoying me, is once a civilian is saved and they’re giving their thanks, the camera locks onto the group of vigilantes that are now there to back you up, preventing you from making a quick exit if need be. But again, these are minors issues in the grand scheme of things.
Without a doubt, Assassin’s Creed has lived up to my expectations, and then some! If you like sandbox type games (GTA, Crackdown, etc.), then head out and buy Assassin’s Creed straight up.
Hey Matt, great review, I’m looking forward to this game coming out here in Australia. Are there any XBL features?
Crap! Now you make me want to buy it! Good thing I just got a job at Best Buy, the discount will be nice!
Gabe’s review restored all my faith in this game. Assassin’s Creed has never been my most anticipated game this season (Mass Effect has held that spot since I first saw it) but I now own it and am enjoying it immensely. I had to drag myself away from it to comment! 😛
I love Crackdown, so I’m really enjoying all the similar elements so far, but a lot of it is done much better. I’ve somehow put 8 hours into the game this weekend and I’ve only defeated two targets. The side quests and the fights are just so much fun! I totally agree about the dialogue, thought, and AltaÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¯r’s voice actor is just terrible. I could go on and on about this game–heh, and I probably will, but I guess it would make more sense to do that on my own blog, hey?
I’m glad to hear this game is better than everyone is saying… I’m guilty of only really reading IGN’s review and they portrayed it as "boring" game.
Over the weekend, I ran into a few friends who were playing it and they absolutely loved it. Both had the game guide… and carried it along with them hehe.
Once I get my Xbox back I am definitely going to pick this up!
[…] Assassin’s Creed Is Consuming My Life, Written By Matt Brett […]
Getting a copy from my friend tommorrow.. I think I’ll disappear 😉
Great review btw.
Aaargh. I want this game even more now. It wasn’t one I was going to get straight away, but I’ve been really jealous looking at my FL and seeing pretty much everyone playing it, therefore it’s constantly in my face.
I think, as you mentioned as well, there have been a lot of shooters out lately . In fact, the 360 is swamped with them, so I always want to try something a little different, and AC looks to be that game.
One thing I was pretty apprehensive about was the ambition the developers had regarding the crowd’s reaction to your actions. Sounds like they pulled it off though.
On another note, I’ve been thinking about booting Crackdown up again as it was so damn addictive…
Mmm. This game has been on my wish-list for a long while now – since the first videos and previews 1,5 year ago.
But after the negatieve reviews I started to doubt, but your review (and Gabe’s comments) really turned it to the positive side again. Thinking about buying this today (or tomorrow).
But… I thought Crackdown was kinda boring. Played it for a while, but the most fun I had with finding the orbs… the missions really sucked imho.
Maybe I’m wrong, but if AC is the same as Crackdown… should I get it then?
Why does someone have to review a game with a certain score in order for gamers to like it? Why can’t gamers make up their own mind.
Are fanboys so insecure that they need to justify their purchase of a console or something?
When I rent a game I judge it on my own standards. If I like it, I buy it. If not, I move on. I don’t let other people tell me what I should and shouldn’t like whether it’s games, movies, music, etc.
Most of the games that I’ve had the greatest experience with are games that got terrible reviews. I’m sure glad that I didn’t take the reviews to heart and turn into a mindless sheep, otherwise I would have missed out on some of the greatest game experiences of my life.
Damn it. I just got Call of Duty 4 last night and not that I don’t love it, but now I really, REALLY want to buy this game. Guess I will. Thanks Matt.
I really enjoy this game, I’m like 5-6 hits in.
My only beef is there were two parts that had me SWEARING at my TV.
Right after getting ambushed in the slavers wearhouse, and right after killing the guy appointed to run the town while king richard is gone.
It just gets frustrating when there are a ton of guys after you and you accidently push the wrong button or miss a ladder or something and your guy just jumps into the crowd of people to get his ass handed to him.
thats a minor complaint, but yea, sometimes I get mad at the game 😛
I rented AC on friday and I’ve been playing this over the weekend, and I must say the combat control scheme is a little weak. I’ve had more than my share of times cussing out the screen because Altair won’t swing his damn sword.
I agree though that this is a great change of pace from the shooters I’ve been playing lately. Very addicting.
Wow, great review Matt, thank you.
Believe it or not I’ve been waiting to buy an xbox360 until Assassin’s Creed came out. Once I began to read the big reviews (and how lousy they thought the game was) I started to panic.
But I trust you – a real gamer – more than some corporation stuck with deadlines.
Thanks for the review Matt.
I beat it last night – awesome! One another thing that bugs me is that you can get easy achievements in it – like going in and out of cover with the monks, and jumping thru news stands over and over.
I know its probably tricky in code to track them in "real" situations, but still – don’t award achievements for mashing buttons.
Ubisoft have done their bed with this game.
My only concern is with the below average resolution used in this game added with the post blurry effect (Prince of Persia was using this method). The AI in this game must have been a truck load of codes to accomplish.
It’s more a great evolution than a new revolution…
Since the MGS’s games… it’s the first game to really grab my attention.
i’m totally addicted by this game as well
i think the major of this game, that you should have mentioned, is the story
i got amazed playing at Jerusalem and i’m trying to follow the story and checking the culture of people
the game is just beautiful
It seems I completely agree with the above review.
Sorry for the double post, but I felt the following needed linking, considering the first paragraph of Matt’s article:
Gamespot Editor Fired Over Kane & Lynch Review?
@Retodon8: Yikes, I hope that doesn’t end up being true. I really enjoyed Jeff’s reviews as he seemed to be the most brutally honest on GameSpot’s staff. A trait which may have actually cost him his job. 🙁
Well, I managed to get this game this week on sale!! and i’ve been on it all weekend. I love it!!! Love the interaction with everything in the game!!
Great review. I just beat it tonight, and I must say that although it was a great, engrossing game the ending left me a little bummed out. I was expecting a little more, especially since every target killed was such an epic experience that seemed to be leading towards a big ending (which I thought would have me controlling Desmond fighting his way out). Besides that it is a completely addicting game, and I’m now going back to find all those damn flags.
Hey, no spoilers for the ending please. I haven’t finished the game yet.
So I finally got around to playing this the past month and you were definitely right on with your review. I quite enjoyed the game, although it did get a little repetitive… but I guess what game doesn’t?
There is one thing that absolutely drove me fucking nuts though… my game would sporadically give me the "Cannot read disc" error. This was a minor problem at first, as I usually was collecting flags so there wasn’t much back tracking… until one day…
I was on my 5th or 6th assassination, which required me to return to Acre… well I repeatedly got the "Cannot read disc" error when entering Acre… didn’t matter if I walked through, rode a horse through, used the "jump to from Masayaf, etc.
I can’t tell you how annoyed I was… but a quick swap of discs (thanks Blockbuster) and I was good to go. 1000/1000 FTW!
[…] are doing. A great place to start would be the Splinter Cell series, Prince of Persia series, Assassin’s Creed, and best of all Dead […]