Assassin’s Creed Review (Xbox 360)

Normally spoken, when I see a game with the word assassin in the title, I usually pass up on it as these games are normally based on stealth and if there’s something I’m kind of terrible when it comes to gaming it’s stealth games or stealth missions within games, but the reason that I picked it up was because one of my friends highly recommended it.

So Assassin’s creed is a third person historical action-adventure open world stealth game (I know, quite a mouthful) that was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and it was released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows and Mac.

 

The story

The very start of the game is slightly confusing, but in a good way. You don’t really get an introduction and you’re plunged right into the game and you get and explanation of how to control your character. During this segment, you will hear voices and one name in particular, Desmond. After this segment, you’re plunged into the first cut scene and you get to meet Desmond Miles, Lucy Stillman and Warren Vidic. Vidic and Lucy work for the company called Abstergo Corporation who have kidnapped Desmond who is a bartender. In Abstergo, Desmond is forced to use the Animus, a machine that can use the genetics in someone’s DNA to be able to see what their ancestors did in their lives. In the case of Desmond, the memories that Abstergo is interested in is those of his ancestor Altaïr ibn La-Ahad. Altaïr was an assassin during the Third Crusade, the first memory you will play through reveals that he attempts to stop Robert de Sablé from taking an artefact from a temple but in doing so he not only gets a member of the Order, but he also breaks all three of the Order’s main rules that all assassins have to live by. Because of this, the leader of the Order, Al Mualim, demotes Altaïr to the rank of a Novice and he then gives the assassin 9 tasks which he must complete if he wants to regain his former rank.

Even though Altaïr is the 2nd lead, doesn’t mean that Desmond isn’t unimportant. In between the sections that you walk around through Damascus, Acre or Jerusalem, you get to step into the shoes of Desmond. During these sections, you can find out more about Lucy and Vidic, it’s not just that, you can also hack into the computers if you manage to steal the right stuff for it, this allows you to have a look at e-mails that are being sent back and forth.

 

The Third Crusade

The sections where you have to control Altaïr take place during the Third Crusade, meaning that you will come across the three cities that played a role in the Crusade, Acre, Damascus and Jerusalem. Each of these cities will be in control of one of the factions that played a role during the Crusades. Jerusalem and Damascus will be under control of the Saracens while Acre will be under control of the Crusades. Because of this you will hear different things in the cities. In Jerusalem and Damascus you will hear preachers telling the people about how King Richard is supposedly a heretic while in Acre you will hear the preachers telling the people about how Saladin is the heretic.  I suppose this is what happened during the real Crusades so it’s a good attention to detail.

 

The gameplay

The game play is amazing if you ask me. It’s not just the fact that there’s a lot of attention to detail when you walk through the Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus or Masyaf, but it’s also the attention to detail when it comes to the characters. During the first cut scenes you might recognize the voice of Lucy Stillman if you watch a lot of Veronica Mars; this is because of the fact that Kristen Bell leant her face and voice to the character.  This is the case for pretty much all the characters, they based the faces of the characters on real people which gives the characters an extra dimension as their faces don’t look like the standard computer generated faces that you see in some games.

Controlling Altaïr might seem like a challenge because you get introduced to his different moving profiles, but in reality it isn’t that hard at all. The game provides sufficient ‘training’ with the different profiles so you are able to get a hang of them fairly quickly. These movement profiles, the so called low profile and high profile, help you with moving through the game. There is one important detail that you have to remember, whenever you’re in high profile, the guards that walk around the towns are more prone to spotting Altaïr and labelling him as suspicious.

Because of this you have an interface which shows you when the enemy is suspicious of you, the beacon will flash yellow when the guards are keeping an eye on you and when it flashes red, you either have to stand and fight or get the hell out of dodge as fast as you can and hide until the enemy loses its sight on you. The only downside about controlling Altaïr is that sometimes you’re running over the rooftops of building and you’re really getting into the spirit of things, the thrill of evading the guards that are after you is rushing through your veins, you make split second decisions or dodge the occasional enemy blade or arrow but then when you take an epic leap of a building, you manage to plunge head first into a body of water. If this happens, you will get desynchronized, which is basically the game’s way of telling you that you died, which can be annoying, but this is the only drawback that I can see in the game. The health bar is called the synchronization bar and it’s basically meant to show how synchronized Desmond is to Altaïr’s memories. You can upgrade the synchronization bar by doing side quests which basically means that you either have to save citizens or the viewpoints that are scattered around the cities.  Those aren’t the only side quests though, for each main assassination there are certain assignments you need  have to complete before the leader of the assassins  bureau that you have to visit before each mission gives you permission to carry out the assassination. These side quests range from beating someone up for information, pickpocketing, listening in on conversations or carrying out assignments for fellow assassins.

 

The conclusion

So even though I was weary to pick up the game at first, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this game wasn’t like anything that I expected. The gameplay is brilliant, the attention to detail is more than fantastic and the story line is great. The fact that this game is set in the middle of the Third Crusade, in the cities that played a major role in it makes the game all the more interesting as you won’t only encounter the soldiers that fought in it, but you’ll also come across King Richard the Lionheart. The times that you are able to control Desmond makes for a nice break from running around Acre or any of the other cities.  Overall I think this is a great game if you’re in the mood for some stealthy assassination and free running across cities.

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