Monday, April 7, 2008

Xbox 360 - Assassin's Creed Game Review

Assassin's Creed by Ubisoft

At first impression, you might think Assassin's Creed isn't a game that you'd really want to play. In fact, I didn't buy this game immediately when it was released. I only later bought it on a whim. Occasionally, you find sleeper hits and this is definitely a sleeper.

When I began playing the game, it was obvious that Ubisoft had a winner in this game. A winner not so much in the gameplay (we'll get to that), but the overall storyline. The mixing of old world and high tech works quite well to bring the story across and compel you to play the game just to see how it unfolds. For the same reason that the Half Life story was so compelling, Assassin's Creed is even more compelling. In Assassin's Creed, you play two characters at the same time. In the present, you play Desmond Miles. Desmond has been captured and held prisoner by the biotech company Abstergo in hopes of using a mind viewing device to view genetic memories and determine the location of a device from the past.

The genetic memory amplifier allows both you and the room participants to watch. It also pulls memories from past ancestors and lets you relive their lives through the amplifier. The only problem is that you must become an Assassin in order to fully integrate into the memories.

In the past, you play as Altair who is an Assassin who follows the assassin's creed. Unfortunately, Altair has fallen from grace and must regain his assassin's privileges. That's where the player comes in. You must help Altair regain his honor, privileges and equipment.


The game starts in the lab, but very quickly gets you into the amplifier and begins reconstructing the genetic memories. Each level unlocks a specific set of genetic memories getting you closer to unlocking the target memory.

For most of the game, you'll spend playing as Altair in the past doing assassin missions. This portion of the game is the meat of the game. You can exit out of the past at any time and get back to the present. But, you'll quickly find out there's very little to do in the present. So, in order to progress, you need to complete the past missions.

Playing as Altair


There are basically four types of mini main missions for each level: Eavesdropping, Pickpocketing, Intimidation and timed assassinations or sometimes flag recovery. These 'mini' missions unlock the final boss assassination mission. You must complete a certain number of mini missions before you can do the final boss mission on each level. There are additional unrelated missions in the cities as well such as rescuing citizens, climbing towers to open up your map (views), capturing city flags and assassination of Templar Knights.


The Cities are divided into usually three or four areas. As you complete the game, these sections open up on later missions. So, you might have to visit the same city several times, but in a different section for different missions.


For the first portions of the game, you'll need to get a horse and ride to each of the cities. Once you have visited each of the cities once, you can 'fast travel' to cities and avoid traveling by horse (unless you really want to). Note that there are really no main missions on the roads when traveling between the cities. There are, however, side unrelated missions (flags, climbing towers and templar knights).

Playing as Desmond

When you're in the lab and not on the table, you can wander around and do a small amount of detective work. As you progress through the game, you'll want to talk to Lucy as much as you can. She reveals a lot of information about Desmond, about the company and about what's really going on. But, even as much information as you can gather, it only gives you background information. It is not intrinsic to finishing the game, which is unfortunate. But, if you want to get all of the challenge points on the Xbox 360, then you'll need to do everything in the lab.


Assassin's Creed is another game with stunning 3D visuals. Altair's wardrobe (and that of the other assassins) is top knotch graphic design. The robes flow pretty well, but can be a bit stiff at times. However, there is simulated wind against the fabric which is quite convincing. The most realistic is Altair's climbing abilities. This is where this game excels. The amount of time they put into Altair's jumping and climbing is amazing. When he climbs a tower, it looks like you would expect someone to climb. Obviously, Altair is quite adept at climbing and can obviously do so without slipping or falling no matter what he's climbing.


The audio effects and soundtrack work quite well to move and pace the scenes. There are few cut scenes, but there are some in the games (specifically at the beginning of each level). You can't skip them, so if you're playing through a second time, you have to wait them out.


Assassin's Creed is a bit repetitive. After you have done a few of the four types of missions (listed above), it's pretty well been done. What you do doesn't change, you just do more and more of it. The only refreshing change is the timed assassin missions or flag capturing missions. These are really the only challenge missions in the game. They do change, but again get repetitive. Even above the repetitive nature of the game, the story is still compelling.

The present day lab feels a bit like Half Life. I wish that there had been more to do in present day. In fact, the story would have been even more compelling had there been an equal number of things to do between the past and present to move the story along. But, that didn't happen.

According to a website that I found, there will be three games in total (a trilogy of games). But, I've also read that there were to be a trilogy of books, but were canceled because of some issues to do with some of the material they based the game on. I'm concerned that this may limit, change or even cancel the final two games in this series. It is clear that the end of Assassin's Creed is a cliffhanger. It's also clear that there are planned to be more games. let's just hope they happen.

Ubisoft set up an incredibly detailed and well thought out world. The problem is, they didn't put that much thought into the missions within this world. The missions are too structured, rigid and limited. So, they end up repetitive and banal after a while. If Ubisoft wanted to take this to the next step, this could easily turn into an RPG.


  • Graphics: 9/10
  • Sound: 8/10
  • Gameplay: 6.7/10 (a bit too repetitive)
  • Bang-for-the-buck: 8.5/10
  • Replay Value: 2/10 (not enough to do after game is finished & too short)
  • Overall: 7.5/10 (again, due to its repetitive nature)

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