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Assassin’s Creed

There was a lot of hype going into Assassin’s Creed.  Aside from the fact that producer Jade Raymond is extremely hot, more so for being a video game dork, which in of itself led to a lot of hype, but the unique premise added to this.  The game itself is actually two story lines: you play the role of Desmond Miles, a bartender captured by an evil pharmaceutical company with flashing pens (Yes, the greatest technological advance in the future is pens will have flashing lights in them), to perform VR tests on to regain the memories of his ancestor, Altair, the assassin.

The Desmond Miles part of the game, while interesting from a storytelling perspective is boring and long.  In fact most of the talking parts of the game are long and drawn out (which is a plus because it gives you time to get a fresh drink, munchies, have a short conversation, etc).  Desmond isn’t very interesting, and you can’t even go to the bathroom.  All you do is listen to people ramble on, and sit on a table.  Well, you also go to sleep on top of the covers with your shoes on, which is quite odd.  Without spoiling anything and as stated before, the rest of the game is through your memories of Altair.

The game play is an interesting cross of 3rd person stealth similar to MGS, and random death over a large sandbox environment like GTA 3/Vice City/San Andreas.  While this combination of aspects makes the game interesting, the development is a bit cliched.   But then again, I have never been a fan of the games that give you ultimate power but not the ability to use it in the first level, and then in the next drops you down to weaker than a kitten.

Also, the game is quite repetitive:  Go to a city district, save citizens, pickpocket, spy, climb around like spider man, and finally kill the mook you were sent to kill.  And I’m sure many of you have read this before, but the people you will want to kill (beggars, and drunks with Retard Strength!) cause you to lose health.  the beggars because the flock to you, and only you, where ever you go, no matter what has just happened.  Maybe its just me, but if I was poor, the last person I’d beg money from is the guy loaded with weapons, covered in blood, and being chased by the local guards because he just gutted some guy 5 feet away.  And as for the retards (I apologize for the disabled community, but even they would hate these characters), they attack you and only you.  You will be trying to come up to someone when you get trucked by these freaks.  Later in the game, you just kill them anyways.

But of course these are not the reasons you will be playing the game.  Killing guards is a family fun experience.  You start with only a long sword and the needle, and can either block or attack, fast or heavy.  Later you get counters.  Now what really makes the game stand out is that when you counter or assassinate someone, the game goes into a cutscene that is part of the gameplay and pops right back out into the game.  This is also great for those moments where you are cornered, can’t see shit, counter and hooray, now I can see the 4 mooks still standing.

Did I mention most of these aren’t fast, painless deaths either?  When attacking, your fallen enemy will routinely writhe around on the ground screaming in pain.  My favorite part is the one that knows he is dying and screams “NO!” louder and louder until he dies in one last bloody exclamation.  I’m a bit sick, I know, but I didn’t make that feature, now did I?  Counters with each weapon are different, the best of which involve the needle.  While watching my friends play the game before I got a chance to, I remember fondly saying “Why, man?  What did his brain ever do to you?” after Altair’s needle penetrated through an ear.  That’s just one death move.  Again, there are dozens, and you will have to go through to find out which are your favorite.

There are also non-weapon related ways to kill enemies.  Everyone, including enemies have a grab and push feature, which they will use.  Sometimes this will turn into a bug where a Templar (who you get bonuses for killing) will grab you, throw you, and the second you get back up, repeat the process.  This is a rare glitch, but it happens.  As for you pushing people, hey, that’s what happens when your enemy is standing right next to a ledge.  Or if you’re like me and my friends, you kill someone, Spiderman up to a high point, and just grab and toss every enemy that comes after you until they are all clear.  By the time you scale back down, there will be a pile of bodies, and no one realizing what happened.   Another push note: water kills everything, even yo.  If you are by a puddle, and an enemy pushes you in, guess what?  You drown.  Huh, I guess with them training you to climb towers and jump into carts full of hay, they forgot to teach you to swim.  But this also provides an easy way to rid yourself of Templars.

Another feature prevalent of sandbox games are the hidden items/Flags you “gotta catch em all” for XBox awards and what not.  This, added with the random Save Citizens, or killing guards creates a nice “I have 30 minutes to kill” (pun intended) type game, where you can run around, goof off and try to get more of whatever you need.

My friends and I all enjoyed Assassin’s Creed, if nothing but for the needless violence and slaughter.  I give the game a 9: its fun, innovative, deep, and deliciously violent.  Now there are issues, like the 20 minute horse ride from town to town, the bums and drunks, and my personal complaint: I want one assassination where you pull a Wayne Brady- snap their neck, and as you drop them to the ground you shush them.  I’m Altair Bitch!

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