Overrated, though it's not too bad of a game
First, I'll admit I am completely biased when it comes to UbiSoft's games. I love almost all of their games;but, I like to think I will call them out when they don't live up to what they have proven they can do (Splinter Cell:Rogue Agent,etc).
This game really stuck out when I first saw previews for it. I am a History major/nerd; I imagine one can see why I would be interested in the concept this game presented. Exploring a relatively accurate re-created world we may only see remains of, not as it once was=awesome (to me). Combine it with a Splinter Cell meets Prince of Persia,whoa, sounded/looked incredible.
I really shouldn't have to say anything. They're incredible. Amazing, wow/whoa! The thing most important in a game when considering the level of Visual quality (to me) is the level of detail in "little things." Things most people overlook, aren't exactly pertinent to the game itself.
UbiSoft's visual team for Assassin's Creed paid a dang lot of attention to little things. The textures of the buildings, the PLATES (the vendor's stands)!!! Damn! I was in Istanbul this past June, the plates look just like that to this day (they sell them to we foolish tourists), point being, the game's plates look incredibly accurate. They could have toned them down quite a bit, and it wouldn't have really mattered; but they went overboard, good indication of superior quality. Of course the big things matter; they look great as well. These graphics pretty much eat Gears of War alive (for the most part).
The sound is great. Whispers of wind at the top of the tower, the crowd, the war-mongers calling for violence, the despair of people ruined by war. The sound is superb. I don't think much needs to be said.
You travel via Genetic Memory in the footsteps of one of your forefathers. The Third Crusade. You're a part of the Hashshashin sect, the "original" Assassin's. They don't exactly accurately portray the sect as it was. They were Muslims, supposedly smoked the Hashish, met their end when the Mongols came.
The fog of war surrounds you and your sect. You're a part of something too big for one man to accurately comprehend. The game does give a good feel to this notion (for me, at least).
Each city is amazing. Each has it's own personality (I just agree with Gamespot's review). The architecture and people are different depending on where you are. The buildings are awesome, especially the skyscrapers you may climb. UbiSoft did take time to re-create them much as they were, and I say cheers to that.
The Genetic Memory thing is quite silly. If you're exploring his memory, how are you in position to control it? That would be a time machine. I know we're supposed to ignore it, just pretend "ohh well that's how it went and they're just recording it!"; but, come on! Far fetched, but I suppose we humans have shown time after time we can convince ourselves the silliest of silly things are somehow true/feasible.
This is what kills the game. The game lacks depth. They (developers) were able to present this place in a long lost time; but, they were not able to expand upon it.
The missions are incredibly repetitive. It is a real pain having to travel rather far for very little. I wanted the opportunity for unique action in different places (with different forms/varieties). You can travel through the cities, start a fight with a guard, save a citizen, what then? It isn't very hard to kill all opposing guards, there aren't any rival assassins to fight. It'd be cool if they had gangs to take on (I promise there was organized crime in those places in that time), it would have been cool to see that.
The combat system is very very lame. There's a problem if you can keep tapping "X" and win a fight. That's all it boils down to. They try to make it more interesting with more options; but these cheap add-ons did not satisfy me. The missions lack depth. Alright, I'll go sit on a bench and listen as I gain "intelligence," then some moron at the local Assassin's bureau will explain what it means, then I go tap "X" all I can for "the kill."
The AI SUCKS! It is overly simple. It doesn't deserve elaboration. I think the problem was their trying to put a whole living city together and allow it to function on it's own. It is incredibly difficult to write software like this. I understand why it falls short, but that doesn't stop my wishing for it to be much more, like they said it was going to be. They over-extended themselves, in my opinion. It will take a lot of work to expand much upon the open environment layout.
I can't exactly say what is missing; I had the feeling the whole time there could have been so much more. I found myself wishing it were an RPG, they created all of these "worlds," teased you with RPG like functions (horse riding or fast travel,etc.). It would be cool to talk to the vendors, buy new swords, perhaps have some way of designing your own weapon for forging. It would be cool to shoot a bow and arrow, things of that nature.
I see a change in the way games are made. This game blurs line between action games and RPGs. When you create these huge open ended environments, people are going to want more than simple action sword fights. In the past only portions of these cities (or perhaps only certain streets) would be the place you could explore, that was that, we accepted it; this is no longer the case. People are naturally going to wish there is more to do, when there is so much to explore.
THE TEMPLARS DO NOT BELONG IN MUSLIM CITIES! WTF is up with that!? The Knights of Templar did not chill in cities that were controlled by the Muslims in the Third Crusade, sorry, just did not happen; they would be slaughtered if they were discovered. I saw Muslim guards come help a Templar fight me! AI issues again, stab at common sense.
***I have to touch on how everyone is saying this is where the Next Gen really begins, I agree, and I strongly disagree at the same time. ***
Assassin's Creed is a half next generation game. The presentation is Next Gen without a doubt in my mind. There needs to be more to it though. I see in this generation of gaming, with the advent of HDTV's for consoles, people are eager to say screw gameplay/substance for glamor. I do not care how great a game looks, if there is not a real game underneath the pretty picture, it is overrated.
True Next Gen gaming will combine graphics like this (times 5) with a Wii-like control scheme. It is the future. We will be more integrated in the game. Combine a 360's graphical power (multiply it by 5), a higher definition (than HDTV,which really is now just "standard," and yes they exist,but are not affordable yet) television, RPG interface, you've got the real deal Assassin's Creed, and welcome to the real Next Gen. This is the Half Next Gen we're in now, powered by graphics, not so much gameplay.
I wouldn't buy this game again if I had the choice. I love it and hate it. It's not as big a disappointment to me as Mass Effect and Halo 3; but, it falls very short of where most people wind up after riding the furious winds of the HYPE. Rent it, wait for the sequal, then rent that. Sorry this was so long to whomever made it down here. Take it easy fellas.