You hear about them, you see commercials and advertisements about them for months, their release dates are marked on calendars across the globe, and the keywords are getting thousands of hits daily on search engines everywhere….
Maybe you’re first in line on release day, maybe you wait it out and hear good things so you head to the store buy the game, open the fresh plastic case, remove the shiny new disc, slide it into the system with the same feeling you get when you slide into… OK, I wont go there, but you get the point. The game starts and you’re all shock and awe at the beautiful opening cinematic. You start a new game, get yourself settled into your seat, and press the proper series of buttons and then…
You sit through 20 minutes of tutorial play..? Wait, what? You follow boring or open ended storyline for 20 more minutes…? What… wait a minute, wtf?!
Yeah. Nothing like hearing great things about a game, seeing the awesome prerelease previews, watching the gameplay and cinematic videos as they come out, only to get the game and be terribly disappointed.
Some of you may disagree with me on this one, but Assassins Creed is one such case. Now I won’t deny that game play is smooth, controls are a little strange at times but once acclimated to them it flows easily, and the graphics are beautiful. But the incredibly long load times, the jumpy and unexpected storyline, and repetitive missions make the negatives slightly outweighs the positives.
As I play through the game I notice how the developers could have done wondrous and fun things with the game. Once you unlock the majority of the cities and have more room to explore, acquire more moves and equipment it becomes a load more fun, but you feel restricted and almost forced to go through the motions. You save citizens from harassing city guards in every city, but each time it’s the same action with the same results. You pickpocket a messenger and finish a quest in a matter of a minute or so. There is no great challenge to any of the missions, I had more trouble losing guards who have the ability to climb buildings and ladders at twice the speed I can for some reason.
So what was done right? The fight sequences can be awesome. Once gaining the Counter-Attack skill you get treated to all sorts of gruesome and bloody death sequences. The AI’s control over guards and interaction to environment can also be interesting. Slash a guards throat, guard standing in the way of blood spray? He’s blinded for a minute as he wipes the blood from his face… neat. Kill a number of guards and some of the lower ranks guards will begin to panic and may run away in fear. Grab and throw guards off roofs, docks, and into shop stands for quick kills.
What could have been done better? My biggest complaint is the very fixed and at times annoying storyline. Without spoiling anything you’re jumped from place to place beyond your control, and forced to participate in annoying storyline play. The storyline is interesting but with a lot of holes that leave you wondering what the point of having that storyline is. Withholding information or giving clues to true motives is a fantastic plot device (Worked wonders for the Legacy of Kain series) but done poorly, like this case, just makes it frustrating.
My second gripe is the lack of open play. With large, beautifully crafted, and open cities to explore you’re left only the option of rushing through the minimum number of quests to get to your assassination target or saving citizens in the same repetitive fashion. By the end of the game I found myself doing the minimum just to get through the storyline. Once the game is beat you’re left in a position of feeling like you can open play to finish any quests you didn’t do, or find any of the hidden flags/viewpoints in the cities. but to do so you have to go BACK through storyline sequences.
The game IS worth playing though. The graphics and downright awesome. Kill sequences make it worth sitting through the storyline. If the developers had taken a key from GTA and Hitman they could have made one of the best games ever made. However, lack of player choice in how to kill your targets and lack of player quest options make this game a huge disappointment.
Let’s hope they do better with the sequel…..