It ain’t easy being a silent assassin. Becky catches up with the first instalment in this “stealthy” franchise.
Who made it?: Ubisoft Montreal (Developer), Ubisoft (Publisher).
Platform: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Microsoft Windows.
Format: DVD, Blu-ray Disc, Digital Download.
Released: November 13, 2007.
Having recently spent an entire three-plus years studying at college and university, you can imagine my joyous reprieve at being able to finally settle down and catch up on some long-deserved gaming. I chose to pick-up the first Assassin’s Creed after witnessing the love out there for the franchise, and in watching playthroughs of Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag, I couldn’t help but appreciate the detail, the music, the artwork, the thought, the mechanics… Basically, I fell in love with the game. So, I thought it best to start at the very beginning, and it did little to disappoint!
From the word go, this game impressed me. With a storyline regarding Assassins versus Templars, it was easy to appreciate the research which had gone into making it more or less historically accurate; creating personalities to characters who have only been read about in books or heard of in TV documentaries. Assassin’s Creed was described to me as being an action-adventure, open-world stealth game, so I naturally anticipated sandbox gameplay similar to that of Skyrim or Batman: Arkham City, where I could roam to my heart’s content and appreciate the detail. However, it is not until you have completed a set amount of tasks that the openness reveals itself; a strange blue and hazy wall then disappears allowing free roam of the city. That aside, I was still impressed with what the first Creed had to offer.
The tutorial provided at the introduction gave me an insight into the awkwardness of remaining stealthy and undetected, holding circle to avoid causing folk with huge urns on their heads to smash their wares being just one of the many obstacles. After a while of roaming around the various cities and being spotted on a constant basis by people for accidentally bumping into one or two of these urn holders, I decided to take to the rooftops and travel around that way. Another thing which, due to being fairly new to the franchise, caused issues for me was while I was travelling the kingdom on horseback. The journeys took nigh on forever to complete due to the constant threat of being targeted by soldiers, therefore I was rarely cantering. At the most, I was trotting and a large majority of my journey was spent blending, which caused short hops to take forever. All to avoid raising suspicion (I have been assured by long-time fans of the franchise that this is something which has been fixed).
Yes, I am aware that, as an Assassin, I cannot risk drawing attention to myself, but the fact that it only takes something like the horse neighing at the wrong time to cause what feels like an entire army chasing after you, I began to wonder if Ubisoft Montreal had decided to create further distress for players by delaying reaching game goals by adding this sensitivity. I mean, I know things were pretty tense at this time in history, but wow!
One thing I started doing while racing along the rooftops was handing out “Guard of the Year” awards. On one particular rooftop in Damascus, I handed out three of these after conducting one assassination in front of three stationary guards, all looking straight at me, with the indicator showing that they were only aware something funny was afoot but chose not to act on it. I proceeded in assassinating each one of them in plain sight with little to no resistance; true deservers of the award. Naturally, this luck did not last and I came into several situations where my sneaky approach completely failed, resulting in parrying guards off rooftops. However, these situations all provided humour for me.
With regards to the gameplay, there is a lot of freestyle running involved, and I am certain everyone who has played it has screamed out at Altaïr “What are you doing?” after the sensitivity in the game has caused the player to quickly change direction, causing our beloved assassin to lose balance and come crashing down in front of a group of surprised individuals. In one case, I quickly sat down on a bench while giggling maniacally at the blasé reaction the townspeople showed towards this strangely-clad individual having almost killed himself on the cobbled floor.
Some of the comments made by passers-by also provide humour, as it just proves to show how tense the world must be if a simple run or sprint causes people to become suspicious. This tenseness is something which the developers have applied to the game almost a little too well. However, that aside, I can appreciate why this style of gameplay has created such a huge fanbase. I can also appreciate how it would be able to adapt to further historical events as we can see with Unity, which is set during the French Revolution, so I look forward to playing all the instalments of the Assassin’s Creed franchise and seeing all these factual characters brought to life.
- The player is in reality playing as a modern-day man named Desmond Miles (voiced by Uncharted‘s Nolan North), who through the use of a machine named the “Animus”, is allowed the viewing and controlling of the protagonist’s genetic memories of his ancestors, in this case, Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad, a member of the Assassins.
- After completing Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Patrice Désilets was instructed to begin work on the next Prince of Persia game. The game began work under the title “Prince of Persia: Assassin“, inspired by the life of Hassan-i Sabbah. Désilets felt a prince was not an interesting protagonist, so the game’s titular prince was AI-controlled, and needed to be rescued by a player-controlled Assassin. Ubisoft did not want a Prince of Persia game that was not centered on the prince; the game was spun-off into a new IP, and the prince character was dropped.