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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Assassin's Creed In Stores

With Assassin's Creed hitting store shelves today, I thought I'd check out some reviews to see how the game's faring in the wild. As anticipated, reviews are a little mixed but all positive. It all seems to boil down to style versus substance, gameplay versus graphics, sandbox versus scripted...

Below is a the GameTrailers.com review of Assassin's Creed. Watch it first and I'll give my two cents worth afterwards.




Looking at the review, it's obvious that Ubisoft put a lot of work into making Assassin's Creed look great! The environments are large, beautiful, and full of life. Altair moves gracefully whether fighting multiple guards, scaling walls, running across the rooftops, or simply perching atop the peak of a large building. I really like the fact that the review mentions that Altair's movements as he scales the walls are completely fluid, making his character seem very life-like and totally bad-ass.

What I'm most disappointed with is the fighting system. Upon reviewing early gameplay sessions and trailers, it was quite apparent that the fighting system was flawed. When surrounded by ten or twelve guards, Altair would fight only one guard at a time as the other guards looked on and waited for their turns to die. This is total crap!

Imagine how exciting it would be to watch Altair gracefully move from victim to victim, killing everyone in his path as the guards desperately tried to tackle him to the ground! Altair stabs a guard in the stomach and suddenly drops to his knees as another guard's sword cuts the air where Altair's head had been only seconds before. Another guard leaps through the air to pin Altair to the ground but the keen assassin responds by redirecting the leaping guard into two other attackers preparing to strike! Now that's a fight worthy of Altair; instead, we're forced to push one button each time a single guard attacks.

The only other downside to Assassin's Creed is the repetitive and linear gameplay. Ubisoft promoted Assassin's Creed as a sandbox-type game: travel a vast country side; visit three ancient cities teaming with life; track your targets, research their habits and schedules, determine a plan of action, then take them out in any number of ways. Instead, we have a country side that is too large and not very interesting, three cities that all play the same way, and assassinations that all play out in similar ways.

Don't get me wrong: Assassin's Creed looks awesome and I'm sure I'd absolutely love it if I were to sit down and play it right now. However, this Christmas season is filled with all sorts of great games and the mediocre gameplay might be all the excuse I need to wait until next year to pick up my own copy of the game.

If any of my readers have had a chance to play Assassin's Creed, I'd love to hear from you. Reviewers can be pretty tough on games whereas the average user can be far more realistic in their assessment of a game.

In any case, Assassin's Creed is still getting pretty great reviews and should sell quite well. I think Ubisoft deserves a big pat on the back for taking a chance with this game and I hope that their innovation is rewarded. If all goes well, maybe we'll see a sequel with an upgraded combat system and more mission variety.

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