Well I had heard mixed reviews about Assassin’s Creed, very strange for a game actually… One review i read in gamesmaster gave it 5/5, one review in official 360 magazine 98% and then there was 360 gamer which gave it 2/5 and Edge 3/5… so very mixed and confusing reviews. So much so infact I almost didn’t buy the game, however after hearing from friends it was worth playing and the adverts looking so exceptionally good I thought I’d give it a go… and damned am I glad i did.
First off, Assassin’s Creed is actually set in the future… supprised? Me too! You are actually just a normal citizen who unfortunetly for yourself have an ancestor who was an assassin. The game begins with you being held hostage slightly in the future by a doctor who tells you that he can read your ancestors memories through your DNA… All you need to do is relive them through his machine so he can see them. By playing the game you are giving him a window into the Assassin’s mind… obviously he is looking for something locked within these memories… something he tells us to be very important to modern day and the future exsitence of man-kind.
The story although unbelievable at first really works, the link between the two worlds is sound. You will spend 90% of your time in the times just after jesus’ death. You have been stripped of your rank as a master assassin and told you must begin once again as a novice. Your mission was of great importance and by failing you have brough great shame to your name and brothers, and the only way to regain respect is to kill 9 high priority targets, each leaders who are in your masters opinion corrupting their people… However all is not what it seems, because as you kill your targets they give you cryptic messages in the moments of their deaths telling you that they were doing this for the good of man kind… and that you are doing the world in-justice… You begin to question why these 9 must die, however in doing that do you wish loosing your rank and perhaps life… once and for all?
Enough of the story, that is not what is important… The gameplay for this game is nothing short of magnificant, beautiful and a breakthrough in modern day gaming. The gameplay in my opinion is broken into three elements - general, movement and fighting. Lets start with general, the general gameplay is very ’stealth’ like. Very simular to metal gear solid, you move throughout cities of hundreds of people, acting like a normal cizilian. If you raise suspician by hitting an innocent, climbing the side of a building or even looking at a guard funny guards will start to notice you and your profile will raise. If your profile goes to high they will chase you and you’ll either have to hide or have to fight. This sytem really works and the game is made very complicated… certain missions you need to stay hidden and that will mean blending with the croud… other missions you will need to go all out attack but then hide until your profile drops so you can return to base without being caught or leading them directly to the assassins base.
In terms of the world… never before has a game let you run so freely, imagine Spiderman, Grand Theft Auto and Tomb Rainder all thrown into one… that will give you an idea of the scope the world has. You can run through streets, climb buildings, but the beauty comes with how fluent this is… in GTA I always found the jumping and movement too computer game like, humans could not really move like that, it was too much like a robot… Assassin’s Creed is different. You can climb buildings, but it feels natural, you really think a human could do this if he tried, you grip window frames, you grips carpets, bricks… the ‘free-ness’ the game has is superb, nothing touches it… you can literally spend hours running around jumping around hunting for things and admiring views.
The fighting is also great, imagine dynasty warriors type battles in grand theft auto and you are 80% there. The battles can often be between 5 and torwards the end of the game 15 enemies deep. They will use numerous moves to attack you and as you progress through the game you will gain more skills to combat these. You begin with the basic chopping motion, but eventually get blocks, counters, dodging, etc, which make the battles more about skill.
To complete the game you must work through ‘DNA strands’, this means each mission is broken into pieces of DNA. There are 11 DNA strands in total, the first is an intro, there are 9 for each of the assassination killings and then 1 for the final boss. Your master has given you the 9 targets you must assassinate in order to restore peace to the world. Each DNA strand has a number of missions as well as optional missions you must complete before you can assassinate the target and move onto the next strand. These missions will be designed to gain where-abouts or tips on how to assassinate the leader, for example one might be to easedrop on a conversation between two guards who know his location, obviously staying concealed the whole time… another may be to beat up someone you know who is aware of the leaders whereabouts until they give you information. You will also find informers who will only give you information if you assassinate targets for them in less that 3 minutes… you only have to do three missions to move on, however there are six missions for each assassination as well as numerous other optional missions such as climbing all the tallest towers, saving innocent civilians from thugs and finding hidden items such as crosses, flags, bosses. You don’t even have to do this the first time through, there is a means of replaying ‘memories’ (levels) through the time machine!
All in all I would place this game as one of the best games I have ever played… certainly the best action/adventure game, it is everything Tomb-Raider tries to be mixed in with the free-roaming capabilities of Grand Theft Auto and the battles of Dynasty Warriors. The graphics are amazing and the system holds together well, I never experienced any loading times during gameplay and considering at times there are more than 50 npc’s on the screen at once, that is incredible. The games completion time I would say is about 12 hours, 20 if you do all the side missions… My only gripe with the whole game is the plot, I think by the second killing you kind of get the idea and not a great deal happens to shock, supprise or even grow in terms of story line and the ending is rather weak and obvious. However this is stated to be the first in a trilogy and therefore is a great set-up. I can’t wait for the rest!!!
Game Play: 5/5
Best Game on 360 to date… can’t wait for the sequels.