Assassin's Creed is one of those games that I always find amusing. Most gamers get sucked in by its visuals hyping the game up to a tremendous scale, but once it comes out, these same gamers find fault when the game isn't a perfect slice of heaven on a disc. This generation of consoles has seen this happen time and time again becoming more and more amusing to me. I keep telling people, just wait. Don't hype yourself up; don't cream your pants over trailers, just wait for it to come out. Gamers aren't known for their composure so my advice will constantly fall on deaf ears.
The story of Assassin's Creed takes place within two time periods. You begin controlling Desmond Miles in the year 2012. Desmond's been kidnapped and been told that he has to use a device to discover memories of an ancestor of his. Forced into the device, the story shifts to Altair who is part of the "Assassin Brotherhood" in the year 1191. This is during the Third Crusade where the Crusaders are fighting against Muslim forces throughout the Holy Land. As Altair, the game's story will unfold as Altair has to assassinate nine specific targets.
As expected, a game called Assassin's Creed is a stealth game. You're given the task of who to kill from "the Teacher," and you have to go to one of the three cities in the game to carry out the task. When traveling through the different cities, you may cause the guards to be alert and give chase for a variety of reasons mainly being any violent acts you may have done. The task to kill your target requires you to do a little legwork. Altair needs to find the whereabouts of these targets, and he does that by doing some simples tasks such as overhearing a conversation or pick pocketing someone. With the target information finally known, an event will play out giving you an idea of what's needed to kill the target. From there it's up to you on whether you can take the stealthy right, or just try the straight forward approach with guns, I mean, swords blazing. Once the target has been slain, you're given a cutscene that progresses the storyline, and then comes the chase.
Just like other stealth games, when the guards are after you, you'll have to find a way to hide from them. This comes in a few ways with the main focus being these curtained gardens that you jump into to and stay until the guards have given up. Obviously, this is easy at first but later on these chases become harder and harder requiring much more fighting of guards and traveling throughout the city.
It's this travel throughout the city that really caused gamer's jaws to drop. Altair is an acrobatic bastard that can climb almost any building with each using the smalls of nooks to make his way up to the roof. Throughout the city and outer parts of the city, you'll have to take Altair to the very top certain buildings to get a bird's eye view of the area thus showing parts of the area where you can complete those simple tasks to find the target that I mentioned earlier about. While some of the small tasks are used to get the target, other tasks get you to befriend villagers who will help you when needing to get away from guards later on.
Combat comes in different forms. The most famous in the game is the quick kill using the hidden blade. This small blade pops out when you equip it, and provides an instant kill if you catch the person off guard. I say person because if you have this weapon equipped, you can easily quick kill anyone that's nearby. It's this hidden blade kill that provides the most gratification when used properly like a good snapping of the neck, but do not try to actually kill guards with his when they have their sword drawn since you will not get close enough to use it. Then Altair has his fists that used for one reason and that's interrogating people by beating them down until they talk, but like the hidden blade, don't even think about using this on a guard with their sword out. To fight the guards, you need to use either the short blade or long sword. Obviously the difference between the two is the short blade being faster with more combos but less damage per hit, and the long sword being the exact opposite. To complete the weaponry is the throwing knives to allow some range attacking.
When in combat, your sync bar acts as your health bar keeping with the story that Desmond is in-sync with Altair and the more damage Altair receives the less in-sync the two will be. Once the sync bar is depleted it's game over. When fighting, your actions are simply to block and attack. Pressing the attack button multiple times will lead to combos. The block action is self explanatory but it leads to the most needed action: the counter attack. After a successful block, there's a small window of doing a counter attack. This attack is a necessity later in the game where the counter is the only way to land an attack on some enemies. Also, later in the game is the common sight of Altair fighting several enemies at once which isn't as hard as it sounds.
Right now, I'm going to cover a few cons because it's the gameplay that has caused a lot of uproar among the gaming public. First, my personal con of the game is the lack of true "social stealth". That game was touted as having this "social stealth" that you can disappear within the crowd, or if you cause a scene, a crowd will gather leading you to be discovered. Well first off, you don't really disappear within the crowd. Like I said before, there are some spots to hide, but it's not like you can just go within any group and boom you've disappeared. And while a small crowd does form when you climb up a building, it's only a few people and nothing happens. Later in the game, you're more recognizable so yeah it's easier to be caught.
Probably the biggest complaint about the gameplay is the combat. It's almost too simple for more people's tastes. The pressing of just one button for attacks is so damn repetitive especially when you consider you have to fight several enemies at once. There's just not a good go-to move to use aside from counter attacks. Personally, I didn't find this a big deal because rarely do stealth games have such a good combat system to go along with it. Yet when you add the lackluster combat, and the fact that later on you have to fight a lot of enemies makes for a less than stellar experience for some gamers.
The graphics are nothing less than stellar. From the beautiful architecture to the mass amount of people on screen at once, Assassin's Creed will push the system's resources providing one of the most beautiful looking games for this gen. Nothing is better than climbing up the highest perch and taking a good look at the city. It's such a perfect sight. Either the PS3 or Xbox 360 has such great graphics that you won't notice the subtle difference between the two.
Every part of the audio is great as well. The score is excellent giving you the best music to along with whatever action is happening within the game. From the frantic escape music to the peaceful melody while looking down on the city, the music is just right for every occasion. Voice acting is also a treat. While the voice of Altair seems like a terrible match, people seem to forget that everything is a memory of Desmond so yeah it makes sense that Altair is not Arab looking or sounding. Still, the characters' monologue when they die really makes you feel for them as they slip away into death.
While the game has longer gameplay then I expected, 15-20 hours, it had the expected lack of replay value. Once you beat the game, you're done and that's it. You can go back and find the flags/templars that are scattered throughout the world yet there's not a big reason for it. So if you got some OCD in you, you'll probably want to play again, but for everyone else, the only reason to play again is to experience the game all over which isn't a bad thing.
Assassin's Creed was so close to be the absolute best game for 2007. Its combat and overall repetitiveness was the biggest hit on the game keeping it from being the best. Nevertheless, it has so much greatness going for it that it's hard for me to understand why people blast the game so much. Then again, very few games are for everyone with this being an example of that.