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Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles review

This platform-hopping prequel can't hold a candle to the original, but pint-sized murder is still kinda cool

Interrogation, meanwhile, is lifted directly from Elite Beat Agents. Little dots, surrounded by contracting circles, will appear on a diagram of a human back, and you'll need to tap them as their circles turn green. Once you've accomplished that, it's time to twist your victim's arm, which you'll do by tracking a rolling ball from the bottom of the screen to the middle.

Oh, and you'll also sometimes stumble across chests buried in sand, at which point you'll have to blow what feels like a dozen lungfuls of air at the DS microphone to uncover them. That's actually kind of irritating.

Also irritating is the game's story, which bounces between "acceptable" and "indecipherably stupid."Although it's officially a prequel, it comes off more like awkward fanfiction; don't expect anything like the console game's narrative, with its subtle historical vibe and multi-culti development team. No, this is lumbering low fantasy, and aside from a few memorable snippets of dialogue, none of it is very interesting. The plot offers zero insight into its console cousin, it's disjointed, Altair himself comes off as bland and generic and there's a needless cliffhanger ending that abruptly halts the game midway through its climax.

On the other hand, Altair's Chronicles won't distract you with any near-future interludes, so that might be a plus for those of you who hated those parts of Assassin's Creed.

In spite of a host of nagging flaws, Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles still manages to be a pretty entertaining action-platformer. It's short, clocking in at around four to six hours long, but this isn't a slapdash effort - the plot might be lame, but the action, level design and graphics are all pretty impressive for a DS title. If you're fond of trap-filled, Prince of Persia-style platforming and you've got an afternoon to kill, you could do a lot worse than this.

Feb 12, 2008

More Info

GenreAction
DescriptionA prequel to the 360/PS3 original, Altair's Chronicles trades the free-roaming assassinations for linear - but surprisingly fun - platform-hopping, trap-dodging action.
PlatformDS
US censor ratingTeen
UK censor ratingRating Pending
Alternative namesAssassin's Creed DS
Release date5 February 2008 (US), (UK)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.
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