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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

First Impressions: Assassin's Creed


Assassin's Creed is a great game! Don't believe me? It scored an 82% on Metacritic and an 83% on GameRankings - so why is it that so many people seem to think that Assassin's Creed isn't that great? Perhaps timing is a factor. With The Orange Box, Mass Effect, Super Mario Galaxy, and Halo 3 all released during this Fall/Christmas season, Assassin's Creed may feel look like the odd-man out.

But you know what? Reviews are subjective. The only thing that counts is how you feel while playing the game yourself. Let me give you my first impressions of Assassins's Creed and then I'll let you decide whether or not you're willing to give Altaïr a chance.

Rather than look at Assassin's Creed in terms of graphics, sound, gameplay, or any other category we can think of, I'll simply list the pros and cons of the game as I see them at this early stage. Before I begin, I should mention that I prefer games that contain good story lines and interesting characters (eg. BioShock, Mass Effect, Blue Dragon) as opposed to solid action and FPS-type games (eg. Halo 3, Call of Duty 4). I value graphics and story-line above gameplay, if only slightly.

Anyway - let's get the cons out of the way first:

  • Although the graphics are incredible, there are a few clipping issues and other minor graphical glitches in Assassin's Creed. But given the game's scope and incredible amount of graphical detail, there are far fewer graphical issues than you would expect to find in a game of this size.
  • The combat can be a little too easy at times, though it is still one of the best parts of the game.
  • I'm finding the story a little hard to follow, even at the earliest stages of the game. This may be due to the fact that I'm always pretty exhausted and there is usually a screaming baby right next to me anytime I sit down to play.
I honestly don't see anything else that is out of place with the game thus far. I have, however, seen quite a few things that I really like about the game:
  • Altaïr's ability to free-run across rooftops and up walls is tons of fun! You really should experience this aspect of Assassin's Creed yourself to realize just how well Altaïr's interactions with the architecture and environment raise the bar for games everywhere.
  • The game itself looks absolutely gorgeous with its large sprawling cities and expansive country side.
  • Altaïr's animations are the most realistic I've seen by any CG character. When Altaïr goes to climb a wall, I dare you to not be impressed by the fluidity of his motions as he makes his way from one hand-hold to the next.
  • The combat system is incredibly fun and looks absolutely stunning! Easy or not, you'll find yourself picking fights with anyone just to give yourself the opportunity to watch Altaïr pull off one of his cool finishing moves!
  • The musical score that accompanies the game is terrific and matches up quite well with the on-screen action. Trying to fight off five guards is made all the more intense by the driving beat of the background music.
  • I'm not sure how Ubisoft got the ambient city noise so perfect but that's exactly what they did. I don't think I've played any other game that has so closely replicates the sounds of a living, breathing city. And while travelling the country side, it was hard not to notice the faint sounds of a breeze blowing through the grass, the cries of birds overhead, and the distant sounds of cries and talking as you approach the many small yet bustling settlements scattered across the map.
  • The game's voice-acting is top notch.
  • Assassin's Creed's sound effect are all solid and really help to bring the combat and the Middle Eastern world of 1191 AD to life.
Let me sum up my first impressions of Assassin's Creed thusly: it's awesome and it's a must-play game for fans of action-adventure games! It innovates on so many levels that even some of the minor glitches and annoyances (of which there are very few when compared to any other game on the market) cannot take away the fact that you'd be silly to not try Assassin's Creed for yourself!

As for me, I'm really looking forward to continuing my exploration of all that Assassin's Creed has to offer. Being a lover of the Xbox 360's achievement points, I'm happy to note that Assassin's Creed has a lot of achievements that will greatly extend its replay value for months to come.

Ok, that's it for me! Time to play...

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