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Assassin's Creed (Xbox 360) artwork

Assassin's Creed (Xbox 360) review

"Gamers everywhere have been anxiously awaiting the release of Assassinís Creed ever since itís original announcement. I have to admit, after watching trailers and videos of Creedís gameplay, I was more than impressed and I had a feeling that the experience would be totally mind-blowing. Sadly, Assassinís Creed isnít that pinnacle of gaming that most people thought it would be, but itís still better than most games, which means you should definitely give it a look. "

Gamers everywhere have been anxiously awaiting the release of Assassinís Creed ever since itís original announcement. I have to admit, after watching trailers and videos of Creedís gameplay, I was more than impressed and I had a feeling that the experience would be totally mind-blowing. Sadly, Assassinís Creed isnít that pinnacle of gaming that most people thought it would be, but itís still better than most games, which means you should definitely give it a look.

A quote that has stuck with me most of my life is one from J.R. (Jim Ross) of WWE fame. That quote was, ďHow do you learn to fall off a fifteen foot ladder?Ē Iím sure if J.R. played Assassinís Creed, a newer and much more stressing question would arise. It would probably go along the lines of, ďHow do you learn to jump fearlessly off a hundred foot tall tower into a pile of hay?!Ē Thatís exactly what you are pressed to do on more than one occasion in Creed. Most of the time, this little trick is used right after climbing a tower with guards surrounding it (these towers are structured area-specifically, which means with every new area youíll have to find a new way to scale them, but that isnít a very difficult task). Once you reach the highest point of these towers you can press the Y button to synchronize Altair (the gameís main protagonist) with the environment, which basically means parts of your maps that are fuzzy will now be clear, and you will be able to see important areas in the immediate area. However, this synchronization process can get pretty tiring since there are one of these towers every couple hundred feet or so, prompting you to constantly climb towers (which are marked on your radar by a bird) and watch a short (but still annoying) scene where the camera pans around the tower a couple of times.

That being said, there are other little symbols that appear on your radar that represent various tasks that you partake in to progress through the game. However, much like the towers, these tasks grow dreadfully repetitive, but are pretty cool at first. The most repetitive of these tasks is when you have to eavesdrop on conversations that arenít particularly interesting to start with. The art of eavesdropping requires you to sit on a bench (which is almost always occupied with two similar-looking NPCs sitting on your left and right, just to add to the repetitiveness) and focus your attention on a couple of citizens in order to obtain information revolving around your particular target.

Saving citizens who are being roughed around by guards is fun at first since it really shows off the gameís unique fighting system (which I will get into later on), but that spark of entertainment is soon dwindled down and stamped out. The main reason for this is that there seems to be a citizen needing to be saved around every block. For the first couple hours of the game, this can be extremely annoying since the guards are easily dispatched, but as the game progresses, these encounters regain their former glory since you have to take on up to (and onwards) ten guards at a time. Awesome battles arenít the only reward you reap from saving citizens, however. You also earn the respect of some of the townspeople, and they will help you later if you are being pursued by guards that you canít take down.

Pick-pocketing is a somewhat revamped version of eavesdropping. Basically, you just stand a certain feet away from a couple of guys chatting it up. After exchanging a letter, the two men separate and you are prompted to lock-on to the guy carrying the letter and walk slowly behind him, holding down the B button. Altair will hold his hand out toward the manís backside, and you have to move close enough for Altair to get his mitts on the manís pack wrapped around his waist. Immediately after your hand touches the pack, you grab the letter and a few seconds later, the man realizes (somehow) that the letter is gone and freaks out, but fails to pin the crime on the creepy guy standing behind him in the white robe (I felt like that needed to be pointed out).

Finally, the last mundane task that the great assassin Altair must sludge through is another task that at first, you must sit around and listen to a guy babble. This task is an interrogation one, where you listen to some crazy guy preach about holy wars and such, until he decides to walk to a secluded area. By following the man you are given the opportunity to give him a few punches and then you get to sit there and listen to him talk about stuff you could care less about some more. Imagine doing this more than once, and you have the just of what you have to go through in Assassinís Creed to get to the real meat and entertainment of the title that helps it excel by leaps and bounds above most of the competitionís heads--the combat system.

When I first learned of the one-button combat system, my stomach lurched as I was quickly reminded of past games I have played in my life that were structured well, but hindered by a one-button combat system that definitely gave it a feel that was much too hack-and-slash. Thankfully, Assassinís Creedís one-button combat system does not feel anything like a hack-and-slash title and actually ends up to be one of the best features about the title. The battle starts almost as soon as you lock onto a target, and usually some of his buddies want to help. Then there it is: one assassin surrounded by knights. You would think this would equal an automatic death, but Altair isnít only trained in the ways of sneaky murders. On the contrary, Altair is also packing a short sword and a long sword just in case situations like this arise. By pressing X, Altair swings one of the two swords at his enemy, but that obviously is not the greatest aspects of the battles. On the contrary, your enemies are rather smart and block most of your blows and dish out some of their own professional sword swings. By holding RT Altair switches to a defense mode, where you can block swipes and with a swift press of X even fight back with a gruesome counter maneuver. During my first battle, I assumed that I would have problems fighting that many enemies at one time with this combat system implemented since your back is left wide open to the other enemies, but by simply moving the control stick in their direction, Altair can easily block the attacks from these enemies and switch between them with an amazing ease. Itís just so fluid, and I canít do it the justice it deserves in this review.

Of course, Altair has other weapons at his disposal besides just the short sword, the long sword, and his ever-trusty fists. There are some throwing daggers (that are rarely useful, I might add) and the most advertised weapon Altair has: the hidden blade. This blade is used primarily for assassinations, which is somewhat of a shame, since it would have been awesome just to flip that thing out and go crazy in the city. Even though that aspect of the blade is disappointing, it is still guiltily satisfying when you pull off that perfect assassination.

One of the main reasons that Assassinís Creed received so much hype in the gaming community was due to Altairís extensive ability to scale nearly any structure he comes across. In a form similar to free-running, Altair is able to climb nearly anything that is sticking out of a wall, and he can even run up the walls. This system is very reminiscent of the Prince of Persia series, and quite frankly, itís practically perfect. Though it is hard to get used to the controls at first, about an hour into the game, youíll be pulling off some pretty amazing moves to evade the local guards.

Connecting all of the towns is a large area that is made to travel via horse. Yeah, you can ride horses in Assassinís Creed, but this feature just feels a like a last minute add-on and really shouldnít impress much gamers. As a clichť side quest, hidden throughout the world are flags that you can collect, which is obviously taken from the Grand Theft Auto seriesí Hidden Packages concept.

With a name like Assassinís Creed, it is more than obvious that there are some stealth elements in the game. To avoid attracting attention, Altair can walk quietly throughout the crowd, or even blend in as a monk. If you are being watched by someone, then a small indicator by your health bars with glow yellow, but if you are being pursued by guards, then the indicator flashes red. After obstructing the guardsí lines of sight, you need to hide for a little while until everyone cools off. To do this, you can either hide in haystacks spread around, or you can jump into roof gardens.

The lighting and shadow effects in Assassinís Creed are nothing short of amazing. Honestly, I was blown away right from the start, and the environments look just as equally amazing most of the time, though they sometimes get a little bland. Character models arenít as impressive as the other effects, but theyíre still above sixth-generation graphics. One major complaint that I have is that this is yet another game that is hindered with painfully tiny text for gamers that only have access to a standard television set. Seriously, developers need to start providing for gamers of all financial capabilities instead of constantly releasing next-generation titles that canít pull off something as simple as text size.

Audio-wise, Assassinís Creed doesnít do much to impress. I donít really have much to complain about either, except for the fact that the townspeople constantly repeat themselves, which is pretty pathetic for a next-generation title, especially since I have played games from the previous generation that performed better than that.

Honestly, Assassinís Creed did not have a very impressive story. Iím not saying that it was necessarily bad, it just wasnít that great. There are some confusing plot points, and most of it, though Iím not going to ruin it for you, is disappointing.

After playing once through Assassinís Creed, there just really isnít that much that draws you back into the game. Sure, you can go flag-collecting for a while, but I just donít see the point, even if there are achievements involved. A lack of multiplayer mode (though it wouldnít make much sense) hinders Creedís chances of have true replayability.

Even though I do admit that Assassinís Creedís replayability is in the gutter, the game is still extremely fun to play. There are some repetitive features that do hold the game back from its full potential, but if the game is played in short bursts then it is an almost unparalleled experience. Minor graphical problems also hold the game back from being a true pinnacle of gaming. If a sequel is ever made, these problems could easily be fixed, and a title of true perfection could be made.

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Community review by horror_spooky (November 21, 2007)

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