I can’t believe that it was ten years ago that this game came out, in that time we’ve had a handful of sequels, a book series, and a live action film. But today I’ll be talking about Assassin’s Creed, the game that started it all.
Assassin’s Creed did something different, blending the open world environments more common the games like Grand Theft Auto with the heavy pseudo history of period dramas such as The Borgias and Spartacus: Blood and Sand and the platforming style of Prince of Persia.
For anyone reading who someone missed the impact Assassin’s Creed’s had over the past ten years the plot of the game follows Desmond as he is used by present day Templars to unlock genetic memories from his ancestors to find the location of a piece of Eden. To do so they use a machine known as the animus which allows us to play through the memories of his ancestors who were assassins (the mortal enemies of the Templars) in this case of this we follow in the footsteps of Altair who is an acceptable protagonist although he has none of the charm of future protagonist Ezio (I guess that’s why he got more game time)
The controls of this game are superb and still hold up well only looking bad in comparison to later games in the series and only because they develop on it. You can really build a sense of excitement as your being pursued and you climb and leap to escape. As with the later instalments Assassin’s Creed is guilty of being repetitive, the other games patched this by providing a variety of things to do to give you a break so to speak but because it was the first and most basic of the franchise it unfortunately didn’t have much to ward of this feeling. That’s not to say that there weren’t other tasks to do besides the main mission such as climbing to the top of all the towers to map out the surrounding area or saving citizens from guards or collecting flags but the issue with doing a review in hindsight is you’re not only critiquing the game but also comparing it to its sequels and so you can’t help but feel how lightweight this game is compared to future instalments, similar to Grand Theft Auto in the regard as well.
This game came on the heels of parkour and free-running really starting to break into the mainstream. I remember I joined in and climbed and ran and flipped until I realised I was no good at it. I think using it as a mechanic was a stroke of genius because the midair acrobatics, leaps of faith and general assassin stuff made the game fun even if the plot could get bogged down at times, and obviously it was good enough to get the game a sequel.
Because in-game everything is a virtual recreation you don’t take damage but the more “hurt” you get the more you become desynchronised from Altair’s memories. This added another new element to the game and linked it back to science fiction plot element which was making it all happen.
The more you play though the clearer it becomes that this started off as a Prince of Persia game. I am glad that this developed into its own franchise though, because it allowed them more room to develop.
While combat at times was limited to a single button and you wouldn’t be wrong in saying that the game coasted somewhat on the mechanics at times (i.e the whole parkour/free-running thing) it is an interesting story and it uses history as a basis, so you get the sense that some of it might even have happened, at least until you come to the whole alien/god thing. But overall I can see why this game outsold expectations and why it deserved its sequels.