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The knife cuts through his throat easily, he utters his few last words, the words of a dying man trying to redeem himself, but finally breathes his final breath. Another name to cross of the list. Now I just need to get away.
In Assassin's Creed, or AC as it is sometimes abbreviated, you take the role of Altair, an assassin in a group of assassin's in The Holy Land during the crusades, more specifically the year 1191. After a failed assassination, which cost one of your fellow assassin's his life, you are stripped of your rank, and assigned with assassinating nine men. Between the missions you play as Desmond Miles, a descendant of Altair who has been taken captive by a company called Abstergo, who are trying to access his ancestors memories through a machine called the "Animus". The story is very interesting and is your main motivation to keep playing the game, but unfortunately everything in between just seems like filler.
Assassin's Creed has you, as the title may give away, assassinate people. You have a very small, although useful, selection of weapons. A sword, a hidden blade, which is extremely useful for fast kills and finally your throwing knives, which are used for, well...throwing. AC suffers from this, and it gets very repetitive to stab dozens of guards down before doing the actual assassination.
You begin every mission in Masyaf, the headquarters of your order, and for the first three missions you have to ride either Damascus, Acre or Jerusalem, depending on where your mission takes you. After the first three missions you will be offered the option of fast-travel. When you arrive you should quickly visit as many of the so-called "view-points", which makes it much easier to navigate through the city. Once you've done that you'll have the locations of the "investigation" missions and the "save citizen" missions. The investigation missions are remarkably boring and repetitive, and I never did more of them than absolutely necessary. The "save citizens" are slightly more fun, mainly because of the combat system, which is quite fun once you get the hang of it. The game's strength, however, is in the story assassination's and I can't help but feel that Assassin's Creed has a bit of an identity crisis. It doesn't really know whether it wants to be a hyper-realistic killing simulator (someone has got to make that game! :p) or an arcadish run-around-stab-things game. And the cut scenes too. The cut scenes are where most of the story-telling, if not all of it, takes place, and it feels like Ubisoft Montreal wanted to make a movie instead of a game.
You'll spend a lot of time running away from the city guards and unfortunately Altair feels out of control much of the time, and you'll swear and curse every time he falls to his death because of the slightly iressponsive controls (it should be noted that this was reviewed on the PC version). This also makes the chases more frustrating than challenging. The AI of the guards is terrible at times, and they'll often jump to their deaths after stopping their chase of Altair, after you've hidden in a pile a hay or one of the many roof gardens across a roof-top. At other times it's alright though. Another annoyance is the crazies and the beggars. They are constantly in your way and it is quite annoying that the crazies only attack you instead of everyone else.
The game's graphics are absolutely gorgeous, although, like the rest of the game, they do, aside from a few landmarks, get quite repetitive. Nonetheless, Assassin's Creed is probably one of the prettiest games in a long time. There are some problems with the animations though. Sometimes it doesn't really look like Altair's Hidden Blade actually slits through the throat of his unlucky victim, but merely the air of front of him. In one particular case where the developers were lazy, was at a cut scene featuring a book-burning. When the books were thrown on the fire, there was no noticeable lack of those books on the pile it was taken from. It's a very forgivable mistake, but still it looks very strange.
The voice-acting is alright, but you'll hear the same lines repeated over and over again. And Altair does have a strange American accent, but you'll forget these things. The game's soundtrack is great, but there's just not enough of it. But the cities feel alive, and that's the most important part.
Assassin's Creed has many great bits, but there's too few and far too long between for me to give a recommendation of it. I liked it however, and it will depend a lot on which flaws you can overlook and which you can't. The combat system is a delight at times, but the game suffers from an identity crisis. The plot is great, but it is remarkably repetitive. I could continue like this, but I won't. In the end it takes a lot getting used to, but some parts of the game are so rewarding that it's worth it. Still, I'm looking very much forward to Assassin's Creed 2.
Good music and sound
Fun combat system
Chases are often more frustrating than challenging
AI is stupid at times.