Sunday, October 05, 2008

Assassin's Creed

Words words words, kill somebody, words words words, kill somebody else. That sums up the majority of Assassin's creed.

+ The platforming+climbing:
Continuing in the vein of more modern platformers, Assassin's Creed wisely gets rid of the 'jump' function for the most part, and lets the AI take over when you need to make a leap across an alley-way. This means you don't have to time jumps, and you just run off every edge and watch your character leap across.
+ The city life: When you enter a largely populated city, compare a game like Assassin's Creed to Oblivion. In Oblivion, you walk around densely populated areas, but the characters are all stiff action figures, walking up to each other like mannequins, and carrying out rudimentary and fictionalized conversations. In Assassin's Creed, the city life is much more alive, realistic, and impressive. There are many different types of characters in the city: pot-makers, chest-carriers, beggars, guards, soldiers, and a random array of many citizens. They all walk around independently of you and behave as if they had meaning and purpose to their daily actions. When you put it all together, it creates one of the most believable city experiences in a game to date.
+ The combat system: For a game centered on assassinations and stealth, the combat is surprisingly very well done and fun to operate. Each attack movement is lucid, and there are many ways of carrying out a single fight.

- Repetitiveness: Many games have you repeat certain elements over and over. You might call these gameplay mechanics or whatever else you want to call them. For example, in Zelda games there is a set progression of a series of dungeons, and each dungeon has its own progression of puzzles, traps, and fights which eventually lead up to a boss. You repeat this dungeon sequence over and over until you get to the end. Repetitive? Yes, but it is still enjoyable because each section builds upon the last, and the puzzles, enemies, dungeons, and bosses change every time. The way you complete each dungeon always changes.
Now take Assassin's Creed. You have 9 assassinations that you must complete in this game, and you perform each in the same series of steps: you go to the city, do some random side-quests that range from pick-pocketing to interrogating, find your assassination target, then kill him. What makes this so much worse than the repetitiveness in Zelda is that it NEVER changes. In each city you do everything EXACTLY the same way as before. You fight guards the same way; you pick-pocket people the same way; you interrogate people the same way; each section doesn't build upon the last or change in any way. There is no variety, and no further development of the gameplay.
That being said, the individual elements of the gameplay, such as pick-pocketing, citizen-saving, tower-climbing, are not bad at all. The only bad thing about them is that you already do them 3-6 times for each assassination, but then you multiply that by 9 for the other cities, and you are doing these same things over and over to an extent where it becomes extremely tiring.
Assassin's creed would probably benefit from a somewhat different approach to the gameplay. As it stands right now, a genre switch to RPG, or free-roaming may work better for the current gameplay features. That way you are not required to do anything you don't want to, so you can perform assassinations all day, or you can just pick-pocket people instead.
- Story: On the surface it may seem that Assassin's Creed is just about a guy in the middle-east who must kill people. While this is true, the game begins in the near future/present-day, where scientists have imprisoned a bartender whose ancient ancestor was an assassin in the Holy Land. Using a special machine called an "Anubis" the scientists must unlock the ancestor's memories hidden in the bartender's mind--don't ask me how they do this--and it is through these memories that you experience the majority of the game.
I can understand why they would want to use this story device for two reasons:
1)It creates an explanation for all the little gameplay 'gimmicks' that would seem otherwise... more gimmicky. I'm talking about not being able to access other sections of the city (UNABLE TO ACCESS MEMORY AT THIS TIME) or little equations floating around important objects and characters, that would otherwise blend into the background. It works here, but other games like Twilight Princess accomplished the same 'gimmick' explanations, without having to use a dual, external storyline.
2)It creates a sense of mystery, as you are trying to understand what is going on, and how the present is connected with the past.

However, after the entire storyline is over, the story doesn't wrap up anything at all or even connect this future world with the past. Because of this, I don't see how that 'future' story line benefits the game at all. All it does is create mundane sections of the game where you must walk around extremely slow and try to solve a generic mystery about a company of scientists who are doing evil stuff. Portal's mystery was similar but executed much, much better than it was in AC. In AC it fails to intrigue for a large number of reasons. In my opinion, AC would be better without the entire future subplot to it.

When you put all of the individual elements of the game together--storyline, combat, assassinations, cut-scenes--the result is a game that feels somewhat directionless and incoherent, for lack of a better word. In short, Assassin's Creed is a game that does some things extraordinarily well, and others mediocrely bad, and because of this the game suffers as a whole in the play experience.

Score: 8/10



Post a Comment

<< Home