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Assassin's Creed
  opened by paleface at 03:47:02 03/22/09  
  last modified by paleface at 04:02:48 03/22/09  
  paleface [sys=PS3; cat=Adventure; loc=NA]
I would like to think--now--that this isn't a game I would have made the mistake of buying under normal circumstances. But it was early in the PS3's life, there wasn't a whole lot on the system that looked even remotely up my alley, and Creed was beat-em-uppish and greatly hyped. Alas.
You play as a dude in old Middle Eastern times who runs around on dry dusty rooftops and through crowded (and dry and dusty) marketplaces, ultimately on your way to kill some guy who of course employs a bunch of thugs who get in your way. Or--so you think.
In fact, as the story goes, it's all ancestral memories or something, and you're actually some jeans-wearing punk in some sort of modern-day laboratory. You have to sit/click through annoying sequences of conversations with or between the irksome older scientist dude and the younger female scientist, who of course is kind of on your side. At the point I got to in the game, which I think is about the third of the way through (the game is not long), I still didn't really understand or care what that was all supposed to be about; there was nothing interesting going on in the present, and absolutely no action of any kind. Why they added it, I simply can't imagine; it certainly detracts from any sense of being an ancient Middle Eastern badass that the game might have otherwise conveyed.
Back to the actual action parts. So you get some kind of mission (the story is stupid and insultingly transparent; it's obvious you're being manipulated by your annoying guild or some other guild or something to kill a bunch of guys for some reason--probably nefarious--and for some reason your character is just going right along with it, so you feel like you're a schmuck, but then you realize you aren't even that schmuck, you're the schmuck's descendant, rummaging through his memories, which is represented by distracting floaty white blue codey cloud bits that appear here and there, mostly when the game doesn't want you going somewhere) to kill some person, only you don't really know where they are in whatever city they're in.
First you have to get to that city, which involves riding or running through an unbelievably canyonous (that is not a word) landscape that supposedly represents what the landscape of the Middle East looked like back then. Right. There are guards along the way who seem to object to you moving through there--I have no idea why--but it doesn't really matter since you can just keep running/riding along and they can't catch you. The game keeps trying to convince you to stop and use stealth, or to climb up on these watch tower things and "sync" up your vision of the area so that it will appear on your map, but these are, again, massive wastes of time, at least as far as I could tell.
So you reach the target city, which is dry and bleached and dusty and noisy, just like the last one. The views outside the city and over the rooftops are impressive, but the framerate is not good, and doesn't really get significantly better anywhere in the game, which is bad, because most of the actual gameplay involves trying to trapeze over rooftops and parapets while getting to your assassination target.
Still, that's actually the best part of the game; sort of a medieval (was I saying "ancient" earlier? that was probably a bit off, since this is around the ever-popular-for-Westerners Crusade period) parcour, with the game doing a reasonably decent job of letting you vault your character around town without requiring too much in the way of button gymnastics. It's pointless but a little exhilarating.
Eventually, though, that gets dull, and what's left to do is your mission. This will inevitably take you near guards. You could try sneaking by them somehow, or oh-so-cleverly hiding among a wandering group of priests who always look the same everywhere--generally you have to do a side encounter to get the priests to show up, like save some yelping bystander from the persecution of meanie guards; those people are annoying and I ignored them as much as possible--but why would you do that when you can, like, assassinate them?
So usually I would try that (also sneaking never seemed to work for me--at all--but I have no patience for that anyway), but I can't say I ever really felt like I had the hang of the combat or assassination controls; they feel semi-scripted rather than actually action-responsive, and mostly you have to wait for your target to do something before you can react and counter. I find this rather trying. You're also usually outnumbered, and you don't really have an effective way to target/fight multiple people at once; what really got me through was that the block button blocks everything from all directions, so combat was: hold block...hold block...hold block...counter...hold block...hold block... Fun? Not really.
Sometimes you're so outnumbered that it's pointless to fight them when you can just run (which is more fun anyway); other times you have to run because some sequence that has to occur won't occur until the alert dies down. In these cases, you have to get away from the guards, who parcour like native Frenchmen, and unfortunately you can't really turn around to watch them or even just tell where they are behind you, so you just keep going until you find something you can hide in, like the little hiding hut on every other rooftop, or a large basket, or a hay cart. You sit there, if you were greater than x distance from the guards the alert dies down, and off you go back to your target; otherwise, repeat the chase and try to hide again.
So you do this around town for a while, "synching" watch towers or getting near enough to people to trigger cutscenes where your stupid character finally figures out where to go next, and eventually you get to your target. I did three or so of these boss assassinations, and they tended to involve some sort of elaborately scripted guard sequence where you'd have to sneak or disguise around in a certain way in order to get close to the boss, and then have a little duel with him. I hate sneaking in games so I didn't really enjoy these, and it was made worse by the repeated failure of my brain to understand how the assassination controls were actually supposed to work; you're like sneaking but then you have to draw a weapon without attracting attention and stick it in 'em, but somehow exactly how to do this didn't seem at all obvious, and I'd usually end up fumbling around with my sword or dagger and having the boss go "oh, hello you" and then I'm mobbed by him and his mob of mobbers and I'm dead.
I had intended to brave the game out, since it's supposed to be short, but I'm finding no urge to go back to it--each time I remember that it was kind of neat to run around rooftops, I then also remember that it was pointless and chuggy--so instead I'll do this half-hearted rambling list of largely negative impressions and call it a day.
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