To start off, this game is not for those who are trigger happy and play games for great excitement. Assassin's Creed is a game that requires a large amount of both time and patience, and most of all, care. For it to be thoroughly enjoyed, all of the above traits must be taken. It is not a fast-paced action game, where the player can go Rambo and mow down entire armies with a machine gun. It is a game that requires the player to get up close and dirty, and then use common sense to get out of trouble. It is an extremely well made piece of technology, but to enjoy all it has to offer, players must lose all sense of the "Call of Duty mentality".
Someone once said "patience is a virtue". This expression rings true for the entire storyline of Assassin's Creed. The storyline is very ambiguous and "everything" is revealed very slowly. There are really two story lines going on, but the main one is that of Altair. Altair is a disgraced assassin during the Third Crusade, who failed an important mission. The Assassin Leader, Al Mualim, tells him he must assassinate 9 people in order to regain his former rank and prestige in the Assassin Brotherhood. The storyline takes the players to three cities (Jerusalem, Damascus, and Acre) where each of the 9 must be assassinated. Sounds simple enough, right?
Not quite. Remember how I said Call of Duty must be forgotten with this game? This is why... Assassin's Creed is slow. The player has an objective and a map. The game style greatly resembles that of GTA’s gameplay. Most of the time, the player has to walk to where the objective is, unless they have a horse. There is no GPS system, but there is a step count (2000 steps away, for instance). This makes the game very slow, because the players soon realize they have to go a long way before doing any action. For example, Altair has to climb "high points" when he first enters the cities before doing any missions. A high point unlocks not only missions but other high points. It is found out quickly that several high points must be climbed to unlock the correct amount of missions. Missions include pick pocketing, eavesdropping, interrogation, and sometimes minor assassinations. When the right amount of missions are completed, players are able to assassinate one of the 9 names.
The above must be done with every single major assassination. Altair needs to "investigate" on his own, and plan his attack. He can't even kill the 9 on his own. The three cities each have their own Assassin's Bureau, which Altair must visit when he has enough information. When the Bureau leader is satisfied, he will give Altair permission to carry out the assassination. Even after the assassination, Altair still has to return to the Bureau to hide. Sounds repetitive just by reading about it, I think.
The repetition in Assassin's Creed is horrible. Every assassination is carried out in the exact same way. Every time the player returns to a city, he/she must climb more high points and do more missions. The game play that started out great begins to feel dull and boring. It is always fun, of course, to fight 10 soldiers at one time and win, but there is nothing to look forward to. As the assassinations are carried out, Altair gains new abilities. But players become so anxious to finish the missions that they don't use the new abilities to their advantage. Also, as Altair rises in ranks, the guards rise in suspicion. At the beginning of the game, it is hard to alert a city guard. Towards the end, one minor disturbance (bumping into someone) will make them attack. At this point, it is required to have a lot of patience. Players must learn to take their time, even if they don't want to. In most cases, no one wants to alert a guard, because they will either attack or give chase. The surrounding environment must be used. Altair can scale buildings and jump far. He has a good arsenal of weapons that he can use if needed. He can hide in various places. But these abilities can only be used to a player's advantage if he/she is patient about it. Patience is also required during cut scenes. They are impossible to skip... and are usually a couple minutes. All of your major victims have some monologue to tell you, as well as the Bureau Leaders and Al Mualim (Assassin Leader).
But there are some great aspects to Assassin's Creed as well. There are great views of the cities that Altair travels to. At high points, players can see almost the entire city in its glory, which makes high points very tempting to climb. The gameplay, although repetitive, is very good. Sword fights require players to use counters, combos, and sometimes brute force. Players will also take pleasure in Altair's ability to scale almost any building, tall of short, and can jump long distances. A good ability is his "leap of faith" in which he jumps off a high point and somehow lands safely in a hay stack. Despite the repetition and the length, the story is very good. Altair starts off as a young and arrogant killer who is out for blood. Throughout the game, he becomes an enlightened man who sees the bad side of his actions. He starts to question himself, and the Assassin Brotherhood itself. There are many twists and turns in the story too, some which take players completely by surprise. One particular interesting piece of the game is that there is another story to it. Altair is the ancestor of the second protagonist named Desmond Miles (Miles' story takes place in 2012). Miles is being held hostage by Abstergo, a pharmaceutical company that wants world domination. They have created an Animus, a machine that can access memories of a person's ancestors. It is revealed that Altair discovered something important... something Abstego wants. The two stories start to intertwine with each other, giving remarkable twists to the game.
In short, Assassin's Creed is a remarkable and brilliant game, but can't be played like a shooter. It requires time and effort, but it is worth the time and effort.
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