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Assassin's Creed review

Stabbing Crusaders in the neck is more fun than we ever expected

For

  • Huge
  • immersive world
  • Absolutely stunning visuals
  • Addictively twisty storyline

Against

  • Repetitive side missions
  • Revisiting Masyaf over and over gets old
  • Guards are almost as agile as Altair

Nov 8, 2007

We're just going to come right out and say it: Assassin's Creed is fantastic. More to the point, it's beautifully realized, richly detailed and carried by a story with twists that rival the surprises of BioShock. It's also endlessly fun, giving players complete freedom to tear ass across the rooftops and streets of its medieval cities as they track down their targets and try to avoid attracting attention while doing so.

Cherry-picking elements from games like Prince of Persia, Gun, Crackdown and Hitman, Assassin's Creed offers up a huge, freely explorable game world consisting of three crowded, historically accurate cities - Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem - as well as the Assassin-controlled fortress village of Masyaf. All of these are connected by The Kingdom, a vast expanse of secret-filled wilderness that can be explored on horseback.

The meat of the game revolves around slipping undetected into each of the cities in turn, fully exploring one of its three districts while investigating a single assassination target, and then pulling off a risky, high-profile hit in public before cheesing it to safety and reporting back to Masyaf. Along the way, you'll pick pockets, save citizens from armed bullies, sprint recklessly up walls and across debris-strewn rooftops and play lots and lots of cat-and-mouse games with the cities’ guards.

Publisher Ubisoft has been extremely cagey about the game's long-rumored sci-fi trappings, but because they're revealed so quickly, it's not really a spoiler to say what we're about to say (although if you really don't want to spoil the game's first five minutes, go ahead and skip to the next page): Assassin's Creed actually follows two storylines. First, there's white-robed Altair, an arrogant young Assassin cultist who lives in the Kingdom of Jerusalem circa 1191, during the Third Crusade. Soon after the game begins, Altair botches a vital mission deep underneath Solomon's Temple; disgraced, he's given a chance to restore his honor by assassinating nine key Muslim and Crusader political figures, thereby restoring some peace to the region.

Then there's Desmond Miles, Altair's near-future descendant, who's kidnapped by a shadowy corporation and strapped into a machine that can unlock the ancestral memories stored in his DNA. His segments - which bookend each chapter of Altair's story - play a little like a point-and-click adventure and are confined to the lab where he's imprisoned. Why this layer of sci-fi weirdness even exists isn't clear at first, but it never feels tacked on, and the things you'll learn here will gradually cast an unsettling new light on Altair's story.

Nov 8, 2007

We're just going to come right out and say it: Assassin's Creed is fantastic. More to the point, it's beautifully realized, richly detailed and carried by a story with twists that rival the surprises of BioShock. It's also endlessly fun, giving players complete freedom to tear ass across the rooftops and streets of its medieval cities as they track down their targets and try to avoid attracting attention while doing so.

Cherry-picking elements from games like Prince of Persia, Gun, Crackdown and Hitman, Assassin's Creed offers up a huge, freely explorable game world consisting of three crowded, historically accurate cities - Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem - as well as the Assassin-controlled fortress village of Masyaf. All of these are connected by The Kingdom, a vast expanse of secret-filled wilderness that can be explored on horseback.

The meat of the game revolves around slipping undetected into each of the cities in turn, fully exploring one of its three districts while investigating a single assassination target, and then pulling off a risky, high-profile hit in public before cheesing it to safety and reporting back to Masyaf. Along the way, you'll pick pockets, save citizens from armed bullies, sprint recklessly up walls and across debris-strewn rooftops and play lots and lots of cat-and-mouse games with the cities’ guards.

Publisher Ubisoft has been extremely cagey about the game's long-rumored sci-fi trappings, but because they're revealed so quickly, it's not really a spoiler to say what we're about to say (although if you really don't want to spoil the game's first five minutes, go ahead and skip to the next page): Assassin's Creed actually follows two storylines. First, there's white-robed Altair, an arrogant young Assassin cultist who lives in the Kingdom of Jerusalem circa 1191, during the Third Crusade. Soon after the game begins, Altair botches a vital mission deep underneath Solomon's Temple; disgraced, he's given a chance to restore his honor by assassinating nine key Muslim and Crusader political figures, thereby restoring some peace to the region.

Then there's Desmond Miles, Altair's near-future descendant, who's kidnapped by a shadowy corporation and strapped into a machine that can unlock the ancestral memories stored in his DNA. His segments - which bookend each chapter of Altair's story - play a little like a point-and-click adventure and are confined to the lab where he's imprisoned. Why this layer of sci-fi weirdness even exists isn't clear at first, but it never feels tacked on, and the things you'll learn here will gradually cast an unsettling new light on Altair's story.

More Info

GenreAction
DescriptionUbisoft Montreal's formerly secret project seems to mix elements of Splinter Cell and Prince of Persia.
Franchise nameAssassin's Creed
PlatformPC, PS3, Xbox 360
US censor ratingMature, Mature, Mature
UK censor rating, ,
Release date:8 April 2008 (US), (UK)
Available platforms:Xbox 360
Genre:Action

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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