Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tech: Assassin's Creed

"Assassin's Creed" is one of those games that you really want to like. You play as Altair, an assassin during the Third Crusade, tasked with killing some high-profile evildoers, and from the outset, it's apparent that Ubisoft Montreal spent a lot of time on the game. There's a well-crafted in-game tutorial that actually makes sense in the context of the gameworld, for instance. And if the gameplay doesn't attract you, the high-quality graphics and sound will.

So for the first few hours of "Assassin's Creed," you're having the time of your life. Altair is wonderfully powerful in almost everything he does, whether it's jumping from rooftop to rooftop or scuffling with the game's many foes. The game does a good job of making you feel like a deadly assassin, since even groups of soldiers are no match for you once you learn how to combo and counter with your sword.

But after the fourth assassination or so, you realize that you've seen all there is to see. "Assassin's Creed" is a sandbox-type experience, but without the fun little plastic pail and shovel. Before each of the assassinations, you're forced to do investigation missions that are, to put it mildly, boring. The game just never throws anything different at you. I kept expecting guards on horseback, or ninja-like soldiers specially trained to counter assassins, or something. Instead, you battle the same braindead guards for most of the game.

Towards the end, the combat difficulty ramps up dramatically, with some tough fights near the end that are almost guaranteed to try your patience. Throw in an ending that lands with more of a thud than a blinding revelation, and you have a game that is at once fun to play and enormously disappointing.

Rating: 79/100


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