"The idiot guards conspire to make one point very clear: Assassinís Creed is a game set amongst a flock of intolerable dumbness."
Rashid wasnít a bad man, but life had not been kind. Job opportunities around the holy city of Jerusalem were few and far between, so he had enlisted as a guard. With the English crusaders constantly nibbling away at his nationís security, guards were in great demand and he had a family to feed. His eldest son had been slain by the foreign infidels and his daughter plagued by illnesses that living in abject poverty could only worsen. His wife had been against the idea, but heíd argued his case. Needs must.
He had worked hard during training, forgetting common sense and embracing the ideal of what his employees felt made the most vigilant guard. He learnt that thereís nothing suspicious about a man armed to the teeth with daggers, throwing knives and broadswords, but anyone who jumps should be sliced to ribbons. He was taught a strict ďdo not judge a book by its coverĒ philosophy on guarding; guilty men are not given away by their appearance but by their demeanour. A man on a horse is guilty if he moves any faster than the slowest speed possible -- even if heís sheathing a bloody blade, so long as he does it slowly, heís an innocent man. Guilt is in the speed, not on the man. Rashid didnít understand this, but he trusted the word of his taskmasters.
It was to be his demise. Rashid was a fair man, and someone not interested in strong-arming civilians in clear and open shows of power abuse, or accosting women and dragging them off to have his way with like some of the other guardsman. He just wanted to do his duty, draw his coffers and return home to his worried family. Upon seeing a group of praying philosophers, he immediately spotted that one was not like the others; his white robe was ragged, stained with dried gore and the weapons slung across his back were plain for all to see. These wise men were not known for their prowess with blades or crossbows, but this man carried them with an air of unmistakable malevolence. But he carried himself without pace; his head was bowed, his hands grasped in prayer and he shuffled without any trace of speed within a crowd boasting better-maintained robes and a distinct lack of weaponry.
He shuffled right behind Rashid, produced a blade from the loose confines of his sleeve, and stuffed it right into his spine, killing him instantly. Then he gloated about it in an American accent.
Sahid met a similar fate, but perhaps his was more deserved. Patrolling the market with a group of thuggish guards, he spotted the chance to make a bit of money. Surrounding a trader, he accused him of committing theft then had his comrades surround and beat him down while he kept watch. He thought nothing about the dangerous-looking guy who took a keen interest in his assault, but, why would he? Sure, the guy was armed to the teeth, but he wasnít jumping or running. It was a bit of a surprise when he effortlessly killed one of his friends then pulled a sword on the remaining corrupt guardsmen.
Unique training took hold of the troop upon the first signs of actual danger. Weapons were drawn, the enemy was circled and then they, very carefully, ensured they attacked the man one at a time, giving him ample time to counter-attack or start slicing into their ranks. The man was easily able to overcome their advanced numbers, even going so far as to kill one man with repeated shoves to the chest. As he lay dying at the manís feet, Sahid listened to his intended victim thank his murderer in the exact same voice belonging to every citizen of Jerusalem. His last thoughts were that his assailant could only be more American in nature and accent if he had a bald eagle perched on his shoulder and was eating a cheeseburger. Before he had time to wonder what the hell America was, Sahid died, leaving the mysterious stranger alone to scale a nearby building just because.
The idiot guards conspire to make one point very clear: Assassinís Creed is a game set amongst a flock of intolerable dumbness.
Ubisoftís ambitious game tries to hide its myriad of shortcomings with a confident swagger thatís easily devoured by the complete ineptitude of almost everything prat-falling constantly around it. AltaÔr is an arrogant assassin with a jarring American accent set within a crowd of humble assassins sporting poorly-disguised Muslim ones. He also mingles with Templar Knights, who speak with a French twinge and help the native guards in a move that makes as much sense as having the German army show the Russians an under-defended short-cut to the heart of Berlin in a Word War II game. And by Ďmingleí, I mean Ďopenly slaughters in a way thatís certainly not suggested by his career as an assassiní.
AltaÔr is, in fact, a complete prick who thinks nothing about his factionís lethally-enforced moral code and often engages in wholesale slaughter for kicks and giggles, but why wouldnít he when the combatís little more than a joke? He has a host of assassinations he needs to make in order to right his fall from grace in the eyes of his brotherhood, but, rather than rely on stealth and guile, these kills more often than not come through leaving nought but a trail of bloody corpses in his wake and completing a looping cycle of inane tasks. Tasks like eavesdropping on people talking far too loudly about topics that will see them captured and killed in seconds by people in the know, or pick-pocketing people who will initially yell out ďI HAVE A VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENT IN MY BACK POCKET! JUST IN CASE YOU HAVE SOME REASON TO STEAL IT!Ē
If thereís any saving grace to Creed it can be found in AltaÔrís ability to run the hell away, where he can scale building fronts and climb vertical edifices to either flee from pursuing guards or get vantage points on the area. Though AltaÔrís climbing pace can be best described as Ďcasualí, bombing across rooftops and scaling huge towers is easily the gameís highlight, so this, like everything in the game, is repeated until the once-cool prospect of playing Parkour across slightly-changing towns comes with sighs of resignation. Especially after those guards -- once nothing but incompetent at all they do -- shed their uselessness and show that they share the exact same freerunning skills as our angsty assassin-trained lead does. Any shop front you scale or gap between buildings you leap can also be performed by the 12th Centuryís equivalent of your local mallís rent-a-cop.
It doesnít help either when so much of the game is played out in inescapable cut-scenes that either detail AltaÔr making sure youíre fully away that heís a dick or the unwelcome and poorly-implemented link with other dicks hailing from modern times. Here, equally-obnoxious characters whittle on about ludicrous soft-sci-fi theories and over-branching conspiracies that stretch back centuries just so the game can finish on a conclusion so insulting and obsolete that it devalues anything and everything youíve accomplished during your many hours of gameplay. Itís a laundry list of errors, flaws and downright bad storytelling and execution that Assassinís Creed simply canít saunter past, no matter how much faux confidence it injects into its swagger.
Even basic game flaws vie to produce banana skins. Itís bad enough that, when AltaÔr falls into water, he drowns because the eraís greatest assassin has no idea how to swim, but other danger greater than a few inches of liquid await! While exploring the small village kept within the Assassinís territory, a slight slope showed signs of clipping, which soon gave way to the entire side vanishing, leaving, instead of a grassy knoll, a strange section of skyline. A section that AltaÔr promptly fell into, causing him to plummet down and perish within an infinite hole that shouldnít exist and was never meant to be.
Itís hard to strut with confidence when infinite chasms keep appearing randomly at your feet. Assassinís CreedĎs appeal is short-lived, buried in a landslide of infallible dumbness, and far too based in humdrum repetitiveness to ever right itself on its own merits.
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