I do have to admit, when Ubisoft Montreal said their next project wasn’t going to be a Prince of Persia game, I was a little dishearted. However, the efforts of their most recent labor, Assassin’s Creed, shines with an equal amount of luster.
I don’t want to spoil the story for those yet to pick up the game, but let me say it is more than meets the eye. The story itself is divided into two separate parts, with one part being very shallow and one being way too complex. The complexity and confusion actually work against the game, regardless if it sets you up for a sequel.
As the Assassin Altaïr, you are tasked with recovering the Ark of the Covenant during the Third Crusade. Upon botching a mission, along with disobeying the tenants of the Creed, you are then stripped of your rank and must slowly regain your various weapons and abilities. All of your moves and abilities are divided into two important groups, high-profile actions, and low-profile actions. The best way to describe this is the difference between a push and a shove.
Because each action grants a reaction, the high profile actions are used to draw the attention of others. Sneaking away after a low-profile assassination is much easier than running for your life after jumping on a target. While on the run, the chase cam pulls back for a more dramatic view of the chase, focusing on the guards as they stumble about your elegant form of escape.
That being said, the way in which Altaïr moves is that of a bird. He wields his body perfectly, making it all seem a little too easy. The animation in the game is down right gorgeous, most notably the climbing. You can climb the same building multiple times, and rarely get the same animations. The combat is just as fluid, being an elegant dance of counters, grabs and attacks.
Be warned though, the combat does get rather repetitive. You can win most battle by simply standing there and countering at the right time. Not only is the combat shallow, but the repetition of the quests you have to do in order to complete your main assassination. While at first the pick pocketing, interrogating and eavesdropping are fun, the luster quickly fades. By the time you reach your last hit, the minimum of doing 3 out of 6 of the information gathering starts to have a glorious shine.
While each of the 3 cities you visit do have their own little flavor, the game teases you early on in a cave setting that is never revisited again. It is extremely hard to say which city is the best, as they all boil down to the same simple tone of saving citizens, scaling high points and causing trouble. The ending falls really flat, even if you do stay after the credits. A three quarter’s finished game is not worth a full games price.