My friend Vikram, or Khaz as the intarwub calls him, posted his thoughts on Assassin’s Creed in the comments of my previous post. Since very few people read my blog, and still very few read the comments, here it is in full glory:
Totally unrelated but you wanted to know about Assassin’s Creed. Let’s get the basics out of the way: graphically, music, voice acting (except for the main character, Alta-ir) is all brilliant and anyone who says otherwise is a big liar. And the size of the gameworld is frankly, astonishing. I’ve unlocked about 5% of the game so far and its already bigger than anything i’ve ever played.
The other thing that’s really incredible is the sheer DENSITY of the gameworld. People, alleyways, houses, buildings, mosques, churches, marketplaces, more people, gardens, libraries, town criers, guard posts, minarets everywhere, an entire second level to cities as you can get anywhere in the gameworld without ever having to walk at street level…its incredible. Think old delhi recreated in 3D and your character given full freedom to run around in it like a ninja monkey. That scene in Monsoon Wedding where Dubey washes his face and heads to his rooftop and you get a panoramic view of Old Delhi? That’s EXACTLY how Damascus looks from the rooftops. And I have yet to visit Acre and Jerusalem! 🙂 There is also a world outside of the three big cities. Towns/guard encampents/massive view towers in the “Kingdom” areas (Outside of the three main cities) which you can visit.
You know the “next gen” phrase that’s always abused, Assassin’s Creed is a good example of true “next gen”. A world of this depth couldn’t have been done on the previous generation of hardware.
On to the gameplay, the parkour element is incredible. Basically, if you can see somewhere, you can get there. There is no limit to where you can go within the world. The game basically says “See that tower a mile away and a 100 feet above you? Yes. Go to it and climb to the top! Really? Yes! WEEEEEE!” Unfortunately, unlike the PoP games where the acrobatics were all manually controlled, here all Alta-ir has to do is hold down right trigger to automatically start climbing. All you have do is point him in the right direction. Keep right trigger and A pressed and he enters free run/sprint mode where he basically rips through the gameworld on crack as long as you point him in the right direction and make sure there is a way to get from one point to another. One point I pissed of a few guards, so entered free run mode, ran up these wooden boxes which were all piled up, hup, hup, hup on three beams, grabbed onto another beam, climbed on top of beam, grabbed on to the wall and clambered up it. I bought the game for the parkour element and it delivers that in spades.
Sadly the game commits the cardinal sin of giving you every one of your items and abilities for the first 30 minutes of the game and then takes them away from you. Thankfully the important ones are given back to you fairly quick.
Where the game doesnt deliver is the actual assassinations. If they’re as easy as my first main target then i’ll just delay them for as long as possible. The process is always the same, investigate (Through eavesdropping and interrogations) and then just choosing the right time to assassinate your target. And getting away from soldiers is easier than you think. The combat system is good though but its a little to easy. Its a sweet little dance/counter system which makes for smooth and silky fights against one soldier or many but it isnt particularly challenging and does get repetitive.
Essentially, its worth a buy and the inevitable sequels it’ll be good to see how Ubisoft Montreal improve the disappointing combat, ai and assassination system. The game offers several fresh ideas and approaches to the normal action-adventure game but its clear the developers asked too much of themselves and couldnt focus on what they truely wanted to acheive. It’ll take a sequel or two before Ubisoft Montreal get this just right but right now i’m just gonna enjoy the game at my own pace. I like it frankly.
Edit: Ok, slight change on the AI comment. Just made it to Acre and i’m having a much tougher time there. Already had like 5 chases within 10 minutes. Seems something’s happened and all the guards are on high alert and all the rooftops and viewpoints are guarded. 🙁 Getting arrows fired in my general vicinity constantly. I was in Damascus for an hour and got chased only twice.