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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Assassin's Creed Is Coming!

Well, it looks like Assassin's Creed has gone gold. And strangely enough, I'm a little undecided on how to take the news.

For the last year of so, I've been anxiously awaiting Assassin's Creed. Waiting for that day when I could take on the role of Altair: hiding in the crowd, scaling walls, running from rooftop to rooftop, perching myself atop insanely tall buildings, scoping the throng of people below for my prey, then swooping down for the kill.

And then, I saw this demo at the Microsoft Press Conference at E3:

For all the dynamically generated crowds adding to the replayability of the game, I couldn't help but notice the twenty or thirty "woman with jug on head" character models clumped together at the beginning of the demo. And of course, how can I forget the guard who lays suspended in mid-air after being stabbed in the back by Altair.

Ok, so my first impressions of Assassin's Creed were not great. Sure, the game looked good - but we were promised much more by Ubisoft. I later saw another demo of Assassin's Creed that looked a little less broken, though I noticed that the player controlling Altair simply avoided killing the the magical floating guard so as to avoid further scandal.

Over time, I forgot about the broken E3 demo and started to focus on the game's artwork and other teasers released by Ubisoft. Again, I was stoked to buy the game.

And then, I was treated to the Montferrat walkthrough...

This walkthrough showed a more recent build of Assassin's Creed and things looked good. However, there were a few things that really bugged me about this demo:
  1. What's with the stupid throwing knife thing? I don't care how good an assassin Altair is supposed to be: when he's standing a couple rooftops away from a fully-armoured guard, one knife thrown into the guard's left leg would not be enough to kill the guard. In fact, I'd generally assume that this would only make the guard mad and set off any number of alarms.
  2. For all the talk of open-endedness, I can clearly see a pattern in gameplay evolving. Climb to the rooftops, kill the guards up there (which seems to be extremely easy with no repercussions on the success or failure of your mission), find your target, jump down onto your target and kill him.
  3. The melee combat in Assassin's Creed seems fake and broken. If I was one of ten guards surrounding Altair, I'd probably want to attack at the same time as some of my other guard buddies. And yet, in the walkthrough above, were treated a bizarre guard ballet where each guard takes a turn to attack the ruthless assassin in a one-on-one situation. After a minute of slow-paced and ridiculous combat, Altair finally gets bored and decides to run away. What follows is a chase that sees a large number of guards streaming behind Altair through the streets in a modern day re-enactment of the classic Pac-Man vs. Ghosts showdown that I grew up with as a child.

So the question remains: will I buy Assassin's Creed when it first comes out? If GameSpot gives it a good score (9.0 or higher), then yes. I have confidence that the GameSpot's reviewers will uncover any unresolved gameplay issues, such as floating bodies or boring sword fights, and mark down their review score accordingly.

If Assassin's creed receives a good (but not great score), I'll wait for Santa to drop off a copy at my house: I hear that Santa has a soft-spot for ruthless, Middle Ages assassins.

And if Assassin's creed ends up being a busted, half-finished piece of coded crap, I'll gladly wait until the title hits the bargain bin.

I really, really, really hope that Assassin's Creed is a great game. After GTA IV's delayed release date, I doubt I could stomach another piece of crushing bad news...