Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Assassin's Creed review

    I am going to be playing Assassin's Creed until Christmas time, so I've decided I would catch up on some of my reviews of its games, media and so on. As such, while it's a bit late to declare it Assassin's Creed month on The United Federation of Charles, we'll be doing a month of Assassin's Creed.

    Assassin's Creed is the game which started it all but, sadly, is the worst game in the series. This isn't to say it's bad but there's a lot of parts which are. All of the game's enjoyable parts would be refined and perfected for its sequel while the worst would be discarded.

    In short, most gamers I know suggest newcomers skip Assassin's Creed and go directly to Assassin's Creed 2. Those interested in the story of Altair would be best served by picking up the novel, The Secret Crusade by Oliver Bowden. There's a lot of potential in this game but it's largely unrealized.

The Holy Land is an interesting setting, foreshadowing the great locations of future games.
    The premise is you are Desmond Miles (Nolan North), a New York City resident raised by a weird cult who has since escaped to become a bartender. Captured by a mysterious corporation called Abstergo, he is forced into a machine called the Animus. The Animus allows Desmond to relive the memories of his 11th century ancestor, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, who is involved in a plot between two ancient conspiracies.

    The central conceit of the game is you are playing a video game within a video game. As such, things like death and re-spawning are glitches within Desmond's story as well as your own. It's a surprisingly immersive device and one of the series' great innovations. The majority of the game is attempting to maneuver past the guards present in the Holy Land to eliminate a series of targets belonging to the Knights Templar.

    The stealth elements are emphasized over the action ones, which can result in some levels of frustration. Later games in the series offer a wider variety of choices for assassinations, including more or less just killing your way there. Many times, Altair must modulate his speed so not to draw attention to his activity. This prevents high speed chases when those would be very welcome to spice up gameplay.

    Unfortunately, after each target, you have to return to Alamut (the Assassin's Headquarters) in order to get your new assignment and this is a tedious journey each time.

The horse-riding is fun in the game, more so than in later ones.
    The biggest problem is, in my opinion, Altair himself. Our introduction to the character has him murder an innocent man for the thrill along with other horrific behavior. The game is meant to be about his learning a lesson in humility but given he's a arrogant murderer belonging to a secret society, it's hard to care.

    Altair is learning about how to become a better murderer, not reforming. It's doubly problematic when many of his victims prove to be more sympathetic than Altair himself. I'm not sure our protagonist "winning" is a good thing. It doesn't help many of the Templars have sympathetic backstories and motivations with only a few really 'deserving' to die. The fact, at one point, Altair lets King Richard of England live despite the man's many well-known historical atrocities is difficult to swallow.

    Despite this, Assassin's Creed has a lot going for it and you can see where the game would go on to form an amazingly popular franchise. The Animus works wonderfully as an explanation for most "video game-isms" of the series because your character, in a very real way, is playing one. The Modern Day segments, while widely criticized are one of my favorite parts. I love conspiracy fiction and this is an excellent example of it.

The Animus is a great concept. Even if, yes, genetic memories are incredibly stupid.
    Nolan North and Kristen Bell (playing Lucy Stillman) both do a bang-up job with their performances. North manages to sell the naive every guy in a situation beyond a regular person's comprehension while Bell makes her character more than a generic love interest. I'm less fond of Philip Shahbaz's Altair because the character just sounds bored and angry all the time, which may be the character's personality but it's not terribly enjoyable.

    In conclusion, Assassin's Creed isn't as good as other entries in the series. Everything good about it is taken to future entries in the series with the bad elements left behind. Altair is an unlikable hero and the travel times kill the enjoyment factor.

    The game is slow when it needs to be fast paced and seems to punish you when you really want to go wild. It is, however, the game which began one of my favorite series. The foundations are there for something great and I would recommend giving it a try used, even if I'd keep the receipt.



  1. That is exactly how I feel about the first Assassin Creed Game, at here was a lot of potential there and something unique, but mired in a unlikeable main character in Altair (though he grew on me in revelations and the last book on him where I felt he came to really be humble). The modern days segments in this game feeling intrusive and uninteresting to me (this got rectify a bit later on I feel but Desmond never grew into an interesting character I feel personally). Though one thing I felt this game did right was the Templars when compared to Ezio's era where they became too bond villain in their methods and goals. Here while still extreme their goals and methods were to an extent understandable.

    This got rectified I felt from Assassin Creed 3 onwards with Rogue being maybe where they were portrayed the most believable I feel on a human level.

    You know another Ubisoft game that has got me feeling this like you do for this game... Watch Dog, with that game having some potential and premise mired by again a boring main character and other uninteresting elements in it.

    Wonder how Watch Dog 2 will come out as, will it be like AC" in realizing it's potential or will it end up being Prototype 2 and sink that series.

    Looking forward to your reviews on Rogue and Unity, played them recently myself and they provide some interesting compartments and as well as speculation on where the franchise goes next.

    I also have Dragon Age Inquisition to go through next when it comes tomorrow or Friday for me here in England.

    Also I'm wondering are you planning to do a review of Interstellar in the future by any chance, I imagine you would have a few interesting things to say about Nolan's latest film, I must admit it left me feeling a lot of different feelings.

  2. I wanted to play Watch_Dogs but all of the reviews were pretty scathing. It also touched on several nerves with its use of disposable female characters to up the male leads angst and its use of sex-trafficking. Overall, though, I'm loving Rogue and will be having a review out for it soon.

    Awesome-awesome game.

    Unity, I'm holding off on until they patch it a few times. Far Cry 4 is another game I have on my list.

  3. yeah I would agree with you on Watch Dog's treatment of women, it isn't good that's for sure. It's a problem I believe with Ubisoft as a whole, thye year they really have made themselves look sexist and bad in many ways, this was a very bad year marketwise for Ubisoft.

    You won't like how unity treats Elise, you'll see once you play it, graphic wise it looks beautiful at times, but Arno is probably the weakest main character yet for Assassin Creed, he feels to me a cheap copy of Ezio with none of the his depths and charms. But there are some good elements in it so worth playing at least once I feel.

    1. Consider myself warned about Elise! Ugh, and she's a cute spunky redhead too!