Shanks for the Memories

Assassin’s CreedI’ve spent the last two days of my Christmas vacation playing Assassin’s Creed for the 360. Set in 1191 AD, you play an assassin named Altair, trying to earn back the respect of your guild by carrying out various deeds in several historically-accurate ancient cities. So far I’ve explored the poor sections of Damascus, Acre, and Jerusalem via their rooftops, alleys and sidestreets while avoiding annoying beggars, saving beleaguered citizens and shanking the shit out of guards with my wrist-mounted, spring-loaded dagger.

Assassin’s Creed features a fairly ground-breaking new gameplay mechanic, derived from Parkour and or free-running whereby Altair can grab most any surface and pull himself over it, or jump onto/over it. It makes for a very dynamic-looking game, especially when being chased by a pack of guards as you bound from rooftop to rooftop.

I’m enjoying the game so far – it’s absolutely fantastic looking, and Altair looks like a total bad-ass. The only complaints I have are minor, although they are pretty pervasive.

First off, the camera has frequent trouble spots. Especially when you save a citizen, you get locked in a camera while they thank you, which prevents you from looking for the best way out. And once they finish talking to you, the camera will often be stuck with you off-screen. Very frustrating.

Secondly, the game suffers from the worst examples of misused Xbox Live Achievements/Rare-itis I’ve seen in a while. Scattered through every land are a set of 30+ flags. They can be perched on roof-tops in plain sight, or they can be squirreled away behind a bush, behind a building in a remote corner of a wide-open map. Once you collect all of the flags in an area, you get……. some Achievement points. That’s it. It took me about an hour to collect the 30 flags in the starting area, which has very clearly defined boundaries, as well as being easily divided up into logical, searchable sections. Some of the cities have 100 flags, spread over a contiguous area. I would guess it could take 3 hours to find all of the flags for one city, which seems to me a clear case of someone making a deal with a strategy guide publisher. I would have expected at the very least that the flags would buy me some extra health or a stronger attack or more knives. But no, they’re just pointless busy-work for Achievement-whores. Very, very disappointing.

I’m trying to finish the game up in the next couple of days so I can start on Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune for the PS3, which I’m really excited to play. I’m about 30% through AC and I can already see why people have been calling it a tech demo, although that’s a bit harsh. While it’s a very good game so far, it does seem to be lacking something, but it’s hard to say what. I think it might be that too much control has been taken away from the player, which is a real shame.

Leave a Comment

NOTE - You can use these HTML tags and attributes:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>