Thursday, April 28, 2011

Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed. I'll this game has been out for almost four years, now. Much of what has been said is very similar to the gameplay of AC: repetitive. The biggest complaints, aside from the aforementioned, is the combat, certain characters, and elements to the story. Zeropunctuation, or Yahtzee, delivers his usual talented metaphor-generating verbal beating review of this game, but takes times to admit that Assassin's Creed is good and often fun. He also finds the story intriguing enough to finish the game, which says a lot from a reviewer who's very nit-picky on stories in games. IGN gave it a 7.5 and was awfully unforgiving, claiming the story was poor and that the "twist" was given away in the first five minutes. They are also very harsh on Philip Shahbaz, the actor for the main character Altair. GameTrailers was alternatively very generous, giving the game an overall 9.1 and forgiving its struggling gameplay. There are many other reviews that cover these elements more in depth, but ultimately they confess the same excitement and frustration.

If anyone was most fair to the game, it was Zeropunctuation, but that does not mean he's completely accurate. IGN is probably the most inaccurate portrayal of this game, and GameTrailers is a bit too generous at least in their scoring. Not being afraid of spoilers now that we're approaching the fourth year mark and the franchise has become very widely successful, I won't have to tip-toe around any details. Truth be told: the story is very engaging and the "twist" that IGN is referring to is, I can only assume, the man sending Altair on these missions is also a villain. If this is not the twist they are complaining about but rather the presence of Desmond, the Templars, and Assassins even into the modern day, then they're simply bitter for whatever reason I cannot understand. Though elements of the plot are very clear early on, and yes, the Desmond sequences can be somewhat droll, they are not completely negligible and nor are they bad. They provide intriguing information and moral discussion from the very beginning, which parallels well the progression of the game. The story is good. As GameTrailers points out, there is a duality to this game that is both intriguing and unique. Moral implications, consequences, and motivations are brought into question from the very beginning. You, like Altair, quickly gather more is going on than you are told. You also begin questioning your own mission because of the words of those you're assassinating. The game does a great job making you feel they are villains, such as watching a man order soldiers to break a man's legs so he cannot escape, but then hearing his final words before death makes you wonder how evil he really was.

There is also nothing abysmal about the voice acting. Altair is soft-spoken as well as having a particular tone, none of which I believe is poor acting but rather curious directing. The story is good and though Desmond and Lucy aren't terribly interesting, the story still is, and Vidic says very interesting things in the mornings. Though you don't attach too much to any character, Altair does have an arc and it is noticeable throughout the story. The gameplay truly is terribly repetitive. GameTrailers was a bit too forgiving about the climbing, which--though fun--can become tedious and frustrating. Visually it is perfectly animated and constructed, but the mechanics are still early. It's important to note that this game was a big risk for Ubisoft. They spent a lot of time developing this game, tying it in historically, as well as spent a lot of money in the design. The world is expansive, the controls are very inventive, and this game was a beautiful step in the right direction for sandbox games. I have no doubt that without AC, there would not have been inFamous only a year and a half later, which even follows the parkour climbing that AC introduced. Though the climbing eventually grows tedious, as the controls (especially combat) grows frustrating, and engine (stupid AI with odd perceptions on what makes someone an assassin), these are all new and inventive ideas. The mini-games are also truly repetitive.

Nonetheless, Assassin's Creed is a good game. Not only that, but the story is smart. It may also be easier to forgive Ubisoft for so many short-comings, now, since it's follow-ups made great improvements. That being said, IGN was unnecessarily harsh and inaccurate in several of its key and extraneous complaints, and though the game has many failures, it truly is a lot of fun, especially once you master the stealth and combat controls. Unskippable cut scenes are a pet-peeve of mine ever since Final Fantasy, which I do not have much patience for as a franchise infamous for its extensive cut scenes, Metal Gear Solid, has always made their cut scenes skippable. The game doesn't have too much replay value aside from killing citizens, especially the lepers and beggars which are particularly obnoxious and repetitive, but it is still worth one complete run. AC has great strengths both for entertainment and historic value, as well as its artistic and unique conception.

Assassin's Creed Website.
Zero Punctuation's review on Escapist Magazine.
Written review of AC on IGN.
IGN's Video review on their website.
GameTrailers review of AC.
Gamelife on Wired, a review on AC called "Why Assassin's Creed Fails.
And the extremely general info of AC on Wikipedia.

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