I hate to say it, but I'm so disappointed with the media right now. What's with all the negative banter towards Assassin's Creed? Everyone who isn't sitting in the "yay" corner would have you believe that this was one of the most disappointing releases to pick up this holiday season. I've seen too many quips about the combat, or the seemingly endless amount of quests (which do have a significant tie-in to the game mind you), or something which just seems totally unjustified or irrelevant. If it hasn't become obvious to those of you who curled up in the corner with your glass of haterade, Assassin's Creed deserves better. Somewhere, Jade Raymond is sitting down wondering where all of your collective hangups with this action-adventure gem are coming from.
The story focuses on Altair, an assassin from the Middle Ages, though it quickly shifts gears within the first ten minutes to reveal this is nothing more than a sci-fi construct. A clever twist, but the duality seems to do more harm than good. The pacing between the past and present is awkward and leaves players often scratching their heads about how everything ties together. Altair's modern-day counterpart is apparently nothing more than a bartender, but we're lead to believe that there's more than meets the eye. Along the way, you'll be teased with a few bits and pieces of information, which will eventually make sense before the adventure is conveniently wrapped up (to take shape in the next installment, already in the works as we speak).
The story isn't too complex to understand and sadly not too compelling, but it's important to pay attention to all the finer details of dialogue to make sense of the message Assassin's Creed endeavors to tell. The cutscenes serve to offer a unique perspective (referred to as "glitches"). Others who consider these scenes too "long" obviously never sat through Xenosaga or any of the latest Final Fantasy titles.
Assassin's Creed is a solid action adventure release that shows a lot of promise for what I predict will be a very successful franchise.
As you go deeper into the game, Altair's missions lead him beyond his home in Maysaf to three neighboring cities (Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem). Thankfully, the game allows the player to approach these areas in whichever order they choose. To locate each assassination target, you have to scale towers that reveal preliminary missions you'll spend much of your time exploring. Though Assassin's Creed features a few stealth elements, you shouldn't go out of your way to play it as such. In fact, if you do – the game will begin to feel very tedious, slow and unfulfilling. Altair can choose to move around in a low profile (which I should stress is recommended until you regain some of your weapons and combat abilities). High profile is more direct, faster, and naturally will not go unnoticed by the townspeople and patrolling soldiers.
Now I don't understand why some find the combat to be difficult, especially since Assassin's Creed provides an in-game training mode to hone your skills. I don't have much of an opinion on that other than to say, practice, practice, practice. If that doesn't work, might I suggest being a bit stealthier and carefully picking your battles? Here's some other helpful tips: saving citizens will cause vigilantes to come to your aid when you're being chased by a small army looking to cut you down to size. Depending on the detection grid, you can also hide in stack of hay, park a seat in between villagers, or blend with a group of scholars. All of these options helps to mix things up a bit so the action doesn't get too mundane and redundant.
It goes without saying that Assassin's Creed is a remarkable spectacle for the eyes. Every city is meticulous in detail, every character model behaves incredibly lifelike, and Altair's combat animations are truly a sight to behold. It's refreshing to finally see this type of quality in an action adventure game; usually that's reserved for 3D fighters! Depending on the weapon equipped, Altair can throw knives, face off with a short blade, sword or just settle for the old-fashioned fisticuffs. I wouldn't suggest the latter in a heated battle other than interrogation situations or a failed pickpocket... otherwise you'll go down fast and hard!
Overall, Assassin's Creed is a solid action adventure release that shows a lot of promise for what I predict will be a very successful franchise. This is one title you need to pick up and play this holiday season; it's definitely worth your time. Just don't draw any conclusions until you've played the game from beginning to end.