I recently picked up Assassin’s Creed 1 & 2 for about $17 at a Gamestop. I of course bought it used. Suck it Ubisoft. I played the original Assassin’s Creed once, got through the first hit and the quit in a fit of boredom. This is one of those worlds where everyone speaks in long monologues and never quite get to the point. There is a lot of dialogue but very little said.
I will say this about the Assassin’s Creed though. It may not be the stupidest game I have ever played but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t try its hardest to be. My favorite game series of all time is the Hitman series of games. Silent Assassin, Contracts and Blood Money all delivered a wonderful experience of what it was like to be the world’s deadliest assassin. Thanks to Assassin’s Creed, now I know what it’s like to play the world’s worst assassin.
I wouldn’t say that the game was bad, but it’s defiantly interesting. The game’s plot concerns a bland, white male in his mid-twenties being kidnapped by an evil scientist and forced to live the lives of his ancestor via genetic memory. His ancestor happens to be an assassin for the legendary Old Man of the Mountain. His order is in conflict with the Knights Templar over the excavation of Solomon’s Temple during the first Crusade.
The Old Man of the Mountain was a real guy and his assassin’s were a real cult, operating in the Middle East during the First Crusade. The Knights Templar and the Assassins both have a rich and vibrant history filled with all sorts of high drama and intrigue. You could not find better plot fodder than these two secret societies and their clashes against each other. Unfortunately, it seems like all the developers know about the two societies is what they saw on the History channel.
The premise and the plot are both clever even if the game is not. It’s a fantastic concept drowning in a sea of blandness. How the developers could take two of the most fascinating secret societies in human history and turn in such a dull product is a mystery only Dan Brown can solve.
The game’s idiocy really comes into focus during the gameplay. As the assassin, you have to ride from the fortress to the Damascus or Jerusalem to take out your targets. As an assassin you obviously want to keep a low profile. Altair’s(the assassin) version of low profile is wearing a perfectly clean white hooded tunic while armed to the teeth as if he was a medieval John Matrix. In a city full of dirty, poor people dressed in brown and grey robes he sticks out. The guards are always suspicious of him and they should be.
The “stealth” part of the game is blending in with the crowd. This is doing by sitting on a bench between two people who are wearing dark colored robes, or pretending to walk in a group of scholars. At least the scholars are wearing white. The fact that you can pass the guards while “blending” in with the scholars make them look like fucking morons. While the scholars do wear white, they don’t carry weapons. A reasonable guard might take notice of the scholar in the middle carrying a sword, short sword, throwing swords, grenades and a bazooka while holding a sign over his head with the word “assassin” written on it.
As I road my horse to Jerusalem, the guards on the road quickly determined that I was an assassin and kept attacking me. Not that I could blame them, good God do I look suspicious. Christ, Altair looks like a fucking assassin. Which is the whole problem with the game. If you want to keep a low profile, how about disguising yourself as a fucking peasant! Or a merchant.
I do have a theory about this particular stupidity though. The main character Desmond(the dude in the machine) is an idiot. As you progress in the game two things become pretty clear about him. One: he is a massive pussy. Two: he’s a moron. Everyone in the past speaks English. This is explained in the game, one of the smarter parts of the concept. These genetic memories are being filtered through Desmond’s mind and since he speaks English, everyone does. What he is seeing and what we are playing are not perfect memories or the historic past. It has to be filtered through his brain. What the evil scientist is looking for, are specific details in the genetic memory. The rest is just Desmond sorting all the bullshit out. So, the reason why everyone in the past acts like a moron is because Desmond himself is a moron. And thus, Desmond’s stupidity retconned Altair into being the world’s worst assassin.
If getting the silent assassin rating in Hitman: Blood Money was about the perfect, surgical strike against an unsuspecting target, than Assassin’s Creed is about bumbling around Damascus flailing your sword around like an idiot hoping you hit your target. Assassin’s Creed is a game filled with good ideas and cool concepts, but the developers didn’t bother thinking any of them through. It’s as if the developers got halfway through each gameplay mechanic and then stopped and said: “fuck it, good enough.”
The stupidity of the game could have been avoided if they had just thought things through a bit more. Like most Ubisoft games, there is a cynicism oozing just beneath the surface. One gets the impression that Ubisoft doesn’t care about making games but only about making money. You could say the same about EA and Activision.
In my next post on Assassin’s Creed, I’ll talk about plot vs story. I’ll make more, completely unfair comparisons to the awesome Hitman games. Then see if Assassin’s Creed 2 is an overall better experience. I expect it to be.