Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Video game review: Assassin's Creed

Can you say "late to the game"? I knew you could.

Yeah, I just recently started playing "Assassin's Creed". It came out in November of 2007. There's a sequel or two out. But I got it for $25 instead of the $60 or so when it was released. That tends to be how I do games. The monthly fees of "World of Warcraft" and "Everquest" are right out.

The first plot involves a guy who has been kidnapped. His ancestor was an assassin during the time of the Crusades who stole something. I haven't finished the game yet so I don't know for sure, but I'm betting it's the Ark of the Covenant. Some company has a machine that reads your genetic memories. So while you can't remember your past lives the machine can. They're trying to find whatever you stole so they can use it to take over and establish their ideal civilization around it.

The second plot involves the assassin ancestor. He has little regard for the values of his order of assassins. You screw things up for him early on and he's stripped of rank and weapons. You get them back as the game moves on. You go from city to city picking pockets, interrogating people, and gathering information about some local ne'er-do-well that you're to kill. As the game progresses you begin to wonder if maybe it's the head of your order that's the real problem.

The game play makes it look like they were going for a meeting of "Grand Theft Auto" and "Thief". The graphics are gorgeous. Really. And they work to show off those graphics. You get grand, sweeping vista and views that look a lot like what soldiers coming back from Iraq have to show us, only, you know, without the helicopters. You have whole cities to navigate instead of being locked on a certain path.

Watch me nail the landing

Here's the problem. In "Grand Theft Auto" there's a lesser game where you keep an eye out for walls with graffiti on them. You then run over and paint your own tag over it. There's 100 of these over the whole environment and you're trying to get them all. But you do this among all the other missions you're doing. In "Assassin's Creed" there are flags all over the different cities you're going to. There are people being attacked by police that you need to save. There are towers to climb. Collecting all the flags, climbing all the towers, and saving the people are optional objectives, but they make up the bulk of the game. If I just stuck to the required objectives the game would be over pretty damn fast. Climbing the towers and hunting for flags seems like it's there just to force you to look at the whole city that they spent so much time drawing. That and padding the game so it takes weeks instead of hours.

If something changes between now and the end of the game I'll let you know. But, for the moment I'm glad I didn't pay the whole $60.

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