Know What You’re Getting Into With Assassin’s Creed

Posted: April 26, 2009 in Action

If you’re thinking about buying Assassin’s Creed, consider what you really want out of a game. The first thing that struck me with AC is how similar this is to Hero of Sparta in layout and feel. But let me review AC as a standalone game. The graphics and animation are very smooth, and I didn’t notice any framerate issues. The voiceovers are done well in placement (but not in practice), and the controls while not the most accurate, are adequate. There are load times in between certain levels and missions which are tolerable and expected.

I’ve never played the original so I’m going at this as an AC immaculate. When you first open up the game and after you’ve gone through the opening video, the first menu offers three options: Play Game, Combat Tutorial, and Memories. The only option that is unlocked is Play Game, and I’ll explain the reason later. Under Options, you can choose from three modes of difficulty: Easy, Medium, and Hard (locked until you complete Medium). You can also select either 360 pad or an 8-direction pad. I tried both and didn’t notice much difference in either type of control scheme. Under Sounds, you have the usual volume and sound effects options, but you can turn on/off the voiceovers which comes in handy. The voices can get irritating after you’ve gone through a few levels.

The game has 9 cities with anywhere from 1-4 sublevels with various weapons including swords, daggers, grappling hook, and bombs. You also have a shield used to block attacks.

During the game, your main controls are the main directional pad along with your shield, swords, and jumping abilities. Depending on the fight you’re engaging in, additional controls will appear such as one for combat and another which involves assassinating someone with a specific weapon. To be honest, it’s rather mundane how it happens. For example, when you interrogate someone, a diagram of a person’s back appears, and your objective is to tap on various numbered areas at just the right time. Do this consistently, and you complete the interrogation. That’s it. Even the art of pick pocketing is reduced to rubbing on the screen and dragging a pre-specified item to an opening. During the course of the game, just as in Hero of Sparta, you collect crystals which either appear in plain sight or come at you after you’ve dispatched an enemy. The crystals can be exchanged for health and weapons upgrades. A green arrow points you in the direction you’re to walk.

You will spend a considerable amount of time walking, climbing and jumping in addition to fighting. The fighting sequences are your basic hack and slash, rather enjoyable but also simple. Most of the time, I’m not even getting hurt, and I can wipe out the other guy in two or three hacks. Climbing on ledges was not a big deal, but you obviously have to do this carefully. Like I said, unlike others, I don’t have any issues with the controls. One thing to note with the ledges and bridges is that some will collapse under you, leaving you unable to reach wherever you’re supposed to go. This happened a few times, and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out where to go. So I did the next best thing, I restarted the mission. In general, I liked running around and jumping the rooftops/climbing walls but keep in mind, this is an “on-rails” kind of game. As you collect crystals, you’ll see visible checkpoints which look like stardust clouds. Reach them and it saves that as your last level completed until you reach the next one. I’m glad they didn’t do a voiceover of “Checkpoint” because Fastlane Street Racing would pop into my head.

Now back to Combat Tutorial and Memories. As you progress through the checkpoints, you acquire different skills and weapons. As you do so, a window pops up that demonstrates the use of the weapons with a text description. I actually like this set up and wish other games would do something similar. For example, when you acquire the Face Backhand skill, a video appears and shows it in practice. All of these fighting and weapons skills are stored in the Combat Tutorial which you access as a standalone at the beginning prior to starting a game or during the game by tapping the triangle in the left-hand corner which takes you out to the Options page. For Memories, this keeps track of the levels you’ve completed and allows you to replay any of those levels again.
The mini-puzzles is where things unravel somewhat for me. These mini-puzzles seem to focus on several themes: interrogation (get the information out of someone), pick pocket (you already know how that process goes), informant (do this for me and then I’ll tell you). The other thing that sort of bothers me is that I’m an assassin in this game. Yet, whenever I’m supposed to be quiet and in stealth mode to keep others from discovering me, low and behold, they find me. Of course, then I hack at them and on my merry way I go.

What do I think of the game? It’s a game of sword fights and solving mini-puzzles which generally is my kind of game. For those who haven’t played Hero of Sparta, this could be rather enjoyable because I like the visuals and the controls. The game is beautiful and outside of the voiceovers, the sound effects and music are good. For me, it just doesn’t feel as satisfying as it should be especially for a game about assassins and spycraft.

Check out my impressions at TouchArcade http://toucharcade.com/2009/04/23/gameplay-video-of-gamelofts-assassins-creed-for-iphone/

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