2008 Reviews

Assassin's Creed

  • Review Date: 2012-04
  • Release Date: 2007-11
  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Rating: 6.0

I was expecting big things for Assassin's Creed - fantastic visuals, a proper open world, fluidly leaping across rooftops, a great story. Instead I got a consolised piece of crap. What the hell happened Ubisoft?

So what is wrong. Firstly, it's buggy, at least for me. I got to a mission where I needed to sit on a bench, point my mouse at two people having a conversation and press a button. Sounds simple, but it wouldn't work. A game-ending bug, or so I thought at the time. Turns out you could climb towers which reveal other missions. I climbed a few towers and nothing revealed so I assumed I had to do this mission first before any others would reveal. In hindsight, I must have just been unluckly that others didn't reveal.

So I tried to play on using other users save game files, but Ubisoft don't seem to know how to create a functional save game system. In AC, if you've completed the game you can go back and play any mission, but you can't load at checkpoints or save points throughout the mission unless you die, then the last save gets loaded. If you quit the game, you have to start the entire mission over, which could be a few hours long. Ridiculous.

Anyway I found another save game from somewhere who was only just past the point where I was stuck, so I could indeed play on from here. Not that I really cared to, but seen as I'd been playing the flood of sequels I thought I better get through this game so I know what the story is about.

So what else is wrong with this turd of a game. Firstly, it's just like everyone says - it's repetitive as hell. The entire game revolves around visiting the same four cities, all of which look almost identical, repeating the same damn objectives over and over. NONE of which are fun at all. I suppose the stealthy kills are okay. The rest are mindless bores.

The sound. Perhaps my sound system isn't setup properly - it's kind of new. But on a 5.1 surround the voice audio jumped from one speaker to the other, depending on what side you were facing. As soon as you get more than a few metres away you could barely hear them. So I had to have the volume up very loud, with voice audio set to 100% and SFX/music set to 10%. What it meant was running through a town I'd hear voices all around repeating the SAME FUCKING THING over and over again nearly bursting my eardrums, but then as soon as a cutscene plays I have to jiggle my head around to actually get the sound to come out of the speakers properly. Again, it could be my setup, or a bit of both my setup and the game. But after a while a light bulb went off and I realised I can just set my audio to stereo instead of surround. Problem fixed.

Furthermore, I know Mercenaries 2 was laughable in it's characters repeating the same lines over and over, but AC takes this to new extremes. It's as if Ubisoft tried their best to find the most annoying voice actors they can. It was headache inducing everytime a woman would run in front of me begging for money like a broken record.

I don't much like stealth games, but I can tolerate them. I tolerated Thief 3, Splinter Cell and Hitman. At least they had quicksaves. AC doesn't. When you do happen to lose your cover in a city you'll be inundated with an army of soldiers that are quite difficult to escape from. You're supposed to find a spot to hide and wait till they lose you, but this doesn't work very well. Attempting to climb to get away, or even running, often results in you inexplicably falling again. God knows how - perhaps a random arrow? You're better off fighting.

Which brings me to the combat. It's fucking rubbish! The strange controls are all over the place. I can understand this might work on the console, but I couldn't get a good grip over the controls and was still tweaking the keys to try and make things easier by the time I quit AC. You need to press all sorts of random combinations to kill someone, because if you just rely on attack, it can minutes to kill an enemy. They all stand around in a circle waiting for their turn, but sometimes one will come up behind you and smack you in the back or throw you to the ground. Not much you can do about it since you're already locked onto another target and it's too complicated trying to lock to someone else. You do get a heck of a lot of health, but if it's ten on one eventually it might not be enough. Ubisoft failed in keeping the combat simple, in my opinion. And if it's not simple enough, it's not fun.

I would have enjoyed this game a lot more had it done away with the stealth and just been an action game with some proper hack n slash combat. Let me properly control who I'm fighting and don't throw swarms at me. Though I do say that about every non-action game, in this case the combat and stealthy missions were tedious.

What AC does get right is the fluent way of climbing anywhere and everywhere. Except that you need to hold down TWO, yes TWO keys to do it. More stupidity. But it is fantastic to climb any huge structure in the city and gave out at the beautiful sights. AC is a great looking game. It's the one saving grace of AC. Well, it doesn't save it. But without the looks this game would have been a complete flop. It's a gorgeously vast open world with intricately detailed cities and towns. The mass of civilians always in your way might make things feel more bustling, but it still really looks fantastic. The only downside is once you've seen the first city, you've seen it all.

AC is not true open world either, because many areas are blocked off by giant murky walls in the middle of the city. I've never, ever, seen such a crude way of blocking you for unlocked areas. At least invisible clipping is slightly more realistic.

There's been many a positive review for AC. It's not as well-received as it was on the consoles, despite being an extra six months worth of development Director's Cut. The best summary I've seen was probably EuroGamer - it's a 9/10 for graphics, 6/10 for gameplay. Actually, that's being generous. The 9/10 for graphics is right, but I think the gameplay is almost worth a 5/10. I didn't even get halfway before I threw on god mode and instant kill on any enemy that got close to me. That's how little I was enjoying the actual combat. I only played on to see the story and visuals. I do hope AC2 improves on this thing.