Thursday, 14 August 2008

Game Review - Assasin's Creed

Again I have the opportunity to tell you about a Video Game I've recently completed. Assassin's Creed was one of the big releases of early 2008 with an intriguing plot and a bold setting of the Crusades. I'd warn you about the spoilers, but the fact that a game set in medieval history is on this blog pretty much gives it away huh? It has had a mixed reception following release, but it remains a popular game with a sequel planned and a prequel released on DS.

Rough Plot

For most of the game you play as Altair, a top member of the game's interpretation of the Hashashin clan, from whom we derive the word "assasin". At the beginning of the game your are show to be arrogant and get one of your fellow assassins killed. For this you are demoted and given the bottom rank and equipment of the secret clan, and to earn your way back into the favour of Al Mualim, leader of the clan, you must carry out several key assassinations to take away the enemies of your leader. But as you travel to different cities and take down different leaders you discover there is more linking these men than violence and corruption and a bigger plot than the one you seek to take down.
You also see the story of Desmond Miles, descendant of Altair, who has been captured by a mysterious corporation who want his anscestor's memories and have a very unusual way of getting at them - but I'll come to that in a bit.


The game utlises a number of different skills and tactics to make your way through the game. As an Assassin you are meant to be invisible and so the game relies on stealth rather than outright combat. You use free running to escape pursuers and quickly navigate across rooftops, you character nimbly hopping across poles and doing incredible leaps that are still kept within the realms of what the human body is capable of. You can't just show up and killa guy though you need to investigate and plan your attack - first you have to find view points that shpw you where you need to go, then you can complete investigations such as pickpocketing, interrogation or even assassinations to gain information on your key target and then you plan your attack.
While the controls are innovative, the disadvantage is that after while you become attuned to them and the leaps, feats and combat are eventually just a matte of holding down the right button. With powerful counter moves even combat against large forces becomes easy to the stage that I would run away from a fight because I just didn't believe it was realistic. Thankfully though, running and hiding is just as much fun as combat!

Sci-Fi stuff

I wouldn't be discussing this game here if it wasn't for some Sci-Fi element. Whilst I was perfectly happy with the medieval setting and didn't need any wizardry to help me enjoy it the sci-fi side is quite intriguing and I think it will earn it's place in the sequels, assuming they live up to expectation.

The Animus

A key element in the game is the Animus. This device is a unique creation of a secret supercompany in the nearish future. Once a subject lies down on it's surface the device taps into their DNA code and unlocks what is called "genetic memory." These are the instinctive memories of an anscestor, passed down through their genes. The company attribute this for what we would call "animal instinct" as well as other intuitions. The device lets captive Desmond Miles access the memory of his ancestor as if he were really there. It is also able to "fast forward" or skip certain memories, though jumping too far can damage the subject or the device.

Abstergo and the Templars

OK, real spoiler territory here.

*BIG SPOILERS*The game unfolds a conspiracy between the Assasins and the Templars, known as a group of Knights of King Richard but truthfully, according to the game, a secret order comprised of men on both sides of the conflict seeking to change men and rule over them. Each one denies the claims of Al Mualim, saying that they are doing good, but each shows evidence of evil. They also posess a treasure capable of great power - but I'll come back to that. Their bid for power is halted as Altair slays them one by one, but one leader remains - Al Mualim, head of the Assasins -he reveals himself to be a Templar who wanted the treasure and it's power to himself and uses his student to kill off his rivals. He is eventually defeated by Altair - it is unknown what happens next as Altair comec into contact with the treasure.

*Little Spoilers* The tension between Templars and Assassins has continued to this day. The Templars, under the guise of the Abstergo corporation, are undergoing a quest to gain the treasure and other powers. They abduct Desmond Miles, who belonged to secret clan,of assassins but new nothing of their importance and left. His genes are enough for the Templars though and they use the Animus to get what they want. Some Assassins try to rescue Desmon and fail, but not all in Abstergo are who they seem...

I'm going to address the treasure itself in a seperate post along with the religious issues the game brings up, so I'll post that soon.

Worth Playing?

I've mentioned the game's downside, and I certainly felt them along the way - but I did find it a fun experience, though it was quite bewildering to begin with. I have certainly enjoyed it and would reccommend that you have a go. My friend said that it's not necessarily a game you'd play through twice unless you're an achievement hunter so maybe wait until it drops in price, but when it does, be sure to lay your hands on it.

No comments: