Reviews: Assassins Creed I

See where it all started

I played this game when it first came out. I enjoyed it. Then I played the other games, Assassin's Creed II, then Brotherhood and am close to beating Revelations. But before all that, I played the first one again.

It's still good, but I did miss having some of those upgrades the newer games gave me, like hiding in large crowds or two hidden blades. But see, that's where I think the old charm kicks in. Altair is the one who started it all. Despite it's obvious annoyances, like friggin' beggars trying to man-handle you for gold, priests screaming the same scripted nonsense over and over in every city in the game, drowning in water despite being a parkour-god still see the man himself in action. Altair pretty much made the assassins what they were in the future games. It's just that element of watching an arrogant young man become the Grandmaster Assassin is what makes it cool to me. Besides, the story/boss fights are still awesome.

But yeah, the gameplay is still there. Old, but still there. You'll have fun. careful doing all the sidequests. Hearing the civilian npc's thanking you in the EXACT same way for doing the EXACT same thing you did for about 20+ other civilians in the last city could drive you mad.

The purest game...

I first played Assassins Creed II before this. I was told that the second game improved on the first in every way. When I played the game, twice, I cannot agree. As wonderful as the second game was, the first game in many ways is more beautiful in terms of gameplay, with a richer sense of atmosphere and genuine suspense. Ezio was an adventure hero, he's Errol Flynn but Altair as tough as he is, is not as large a figure. He's a ghost, a dealer of death, he's not attractive and not charismatic. In fact in this game, he's fairly hard to like, the kind of boldness I like to see in characterization.

I like the quietness of the game. It's fun to walk among the crowd and see activity as an observer. It's fun to sit and eavesdrop. The side missions you do as part of the investigations add to that immersion to your surroundings. There's real suspense in this game, and that suspense if you play it goes far in keeping the repetitive gameplay going. And its right for it to be repetitive. Altair is a career Assassin, not a guy with a civilian life like Ezio, for him commitment and duty means doing more or less the same things daily and his competence requires that there be few surprises and things he's not ready for.

The design in this game of the Holy Land is incredible. Damascus' rich district even outshines Florence, Abul Nu'quod's palace is perhaps the most beautifully designed structure in the franchise's history and Masyaf itself is a joy to be in. Especially when you jump down all those hills and get to your horse after every mission.

The game's characterization is focused. It's Altair, Al Mualim and Malik and the Targets. The great achievement of the Assassin's Creed Afterlife chamber is that it allows your opponents some time to take stage and paradoxically you are free of any hatred for these guys, you think of them not as villains or boss fights but mostly just people. It's the main offset to this otherwise violent game.

Some of the levels in this game are still the best in the series. The Assassination of Sibrand on the Acre docks, hopping across that deadly water, the sense of vast space, its unforgettable.

Gets boring really fast

I've only played the first game as it didn't get me interested enough to bother with the second one and here's why ...

The game is definitely well made, especially the architecture of the cities and the parcour mechanic that uses said architecture to great effect. The combat was relatively engaging, for a while. The story was creative, kinda.

The problem? It was repetative as hell. All the mechanics got completely old in the first missions and were used the same way in every mission afterwards(except the ending that did away with the parcour). The formula for literally every mission was: go to the bureau, get some info, kill the target, run away, back to the bureau, back to the base, rinse and repeat. Nine times.

The parcour was fun and well designed but that too got boring once I had visited every city and seen the sights and every move Altair could do. Which was less than a third through the game.

Same goes for the combat. Interesting for a bit but, then again, most new things are. Once you get used to it and the novelty wears off it becomes quite repetative and boring. The developers tried to keep it fresh by giving upgrades from time to time but they were so minor that, atleast for me, it didn't really help

The story may have felt more engaging if it wasn't delivered in too many identical parts. A dead guy tells you some cryptic stuff and your character seems too dense to understand any of it. In the end there's the great twist that I personally found to be somewhat silly.

What I think the game was lacking was more elaborate setups for the assassinations. Every time it was just: "Go get into the guy's place, walk up, chase him if he runs and kill him. Then run like hell." It would have been far more interesting if the developers had taken hints from other assasination games (by that I mostly mean the Hitman series) and made the assasinations (at least potentially) more elaborate where you could set it all up so that no one sees you coming or going and you're long gone when the target drops dead or the corpse is found. Here it was just, mostly, stabbing the target with a knife at point blank range and getting chased by guards (all of whom can, apparently, perform le parcour to some degree) afterwards.

Overall, I'd rate the game 6/10