We Will Be There Soon

Over the Thanksgiving holiday of last year, I performed a gaming trifecta: I finished two games and got 100% completion on the other. I never got around to talking about those games. One of those games was Assassin’s Creed.

Assassin’s Creed is a parkour assassination game set in a fictional Holy Crusade period. You play an assassin named Altair who must perform a series of assassinations with ever increasing difficulty. Sadly, I can’t give much more story detail without giving away too much.

I need to also mention, it took me a long time to finish the game but not for the reason you may think. I would play for hours one day and not pick it up again for months. This had nothing to do with the game, although at the time I thought it did. Anytime I would go into a menu or change a setting, the game would lockup for up to five minutes. It was the same for leaving a menu. So as you could imagine, changing one setting and it taking so long dampened my desire to play the game. The issue turned out being a broken DVD and BluRay program I had installed.

Let me start by saying just how beautiful the game is. While someone on the team may have loved lens flare a little too much, the graphics are gorgeous. The environments are easy to lose yourself in while not going overboard in nextgen brown. The costuming is greatly detailed. As you get new or upgraded weapons, you see appearance changes in Altair clothing. If learn the ability of throwing knives, there appears a belt with throwing knives on Altair.

Depending on the location, you will need to do a certain amount of intelligence gathering. Once you have completed a certain amount, you have the ability to proceed with the assassination. The objectives you complete in each area become increasingly repetitive as you do the same ones in every location – but you do have the ability to skip some of them. Some of the side missions can help with your escape from the assassinations.

NPC voice acting is limited and by the end of the game you have heard every line dozens upon dozens of times. This sounds like a minor gripe but it really gets old.

The story is interesting (if not a little overdone), but they do put their own unique twist on it. There are some very big surprises in the game, one being at the very beginning. The game ends on a big cliffhanger and which usually doesn’t settle well with me, but it gives you a lot of information to mull over until the sequel comes out. You really do want to see what happens next.

From the very beginning, the game screams “PORT!” and truly the worst kind of port. For one, fonts are huge and the HUD graphics are oversized. There is a console-based system of saving your last completed task but not the progress you have done on your current task. It also has a console port sin: the nine step quit game process. That process can been seen here in video form. Another console port sin is the unforgiving, hard to remember control scheme. Instead of simplifying it for the PC which has more control options and inputs, they did a button for key map over. A good example of this is that the game, including tutorials, calls the left mouse button ‘Button 0’ and the right mouse button ‘Button 1’.

One good thing about the game being a minimally touched port is that the game runs really great. It had a very small memory footprint and ran great maxed, although there are limited tweak options.

There is a moderately steep learning curve in part due to the previously mentioned Button 0 and Button 1. I found myself having to relearn the controls every time I would pick the game up again. Once you do learn the controls though, the sense of freedom you get in the game is refreshing, very similar to GTA3.

The combat, again once you learn the controls, is fun and rewarding. You do feel a sense of progression as you character improves. Periodically you receive better weapons and learn new moves that will be needed with the every increasing difficulty and number of enemies. You reach a point in the game where you truly feel powerful and I found myself going around and killing all rooftop guards not because it was required, but because it was fun. Running and jumping rooftop to rooftop, throwing a dagger across an alley to take out one guard only seconds before you bury a knife in the neck of another guard never gets old. You start getting to the point where you can see all the different paths you can take to get to the guards.

I seriously enjoyed the game and after the ending, am dying to play a sequel. Let me leave you with a couple of words of advice for enjoyment of the game. If you have a console, you may consider getting the game on it. Try out a demo and see if you like the control scheme. I really can’t think of another time that I recommended someone to play a game on the console. Also, just do the minimal investigations for assassinations. Skip the repetition and trust me, you’re not missing anything.

To end this off let me mention one small peeve I had with the game – you may be the most badass assassin in this whole holy land but you like Fido of GTA3 and have a fatal flaw. Water. Yep, that’s right. You can’t swim.

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