Assassins Creed is a bit of an odd game when you look at it. From the few videos and screenshots that have appeared not a huge amount is known about the title. The hype behind Assassins is truly massive but all based upon what we hope it will do. Ubisoft have kept much of the deeper details surrounding Assassins buried deep within the PR department. Heading to Ubidays event in Paris I was hoping to finally uncover some juicy details, but unfortunately my hopes were dashed. Although Jade Raymond, the game’s producer, did do a nice little Q&A session, it would have been nice to chat to her in person and get some more information.
Based in the summer of 1191 A.D. you find yourself with the small task of trying to stop the third crusade. Playing Altair the master assassin, you head off to start your epic journey only to fall at the first step. You fail your first mission and have to redeem yourself and gain back your Assassin Master title. There are nine key members that you must kill to regain your honour and discover that the characters are related, leading to some interesting revelations as to your actions and possible repercussions of said actions. Intrigued a little?
To be brutally honest, many have seen Jade Raymond as nothing more than a pretty face who leads an interesting PR chat. This can lead to a fair amount of scepticism as to the game’s ability to perform. Make no mistake, the game is looking amazing and Jade knows what she is talking about. You can really tell what someone is like when they are talking about their favourite subject. People profess to love computer games but if they cannot get excited about new games or they don’t posses that childish joy when a new game is announced, they may have lost their touch a little. The more you hear Jade talk about Assassins Creed, the more you realize she loves what she is doing. It is the little things about the game that make me increasingly confident that it will perform as expected.
Why the Crusades? There have been many historical eras that have been used as gaming material, World War II for example. The Crusades have appeared in a few games but none have really delivered an experience that really delves into the history. Of course, having am entirely historical game could end up a little too boring. The trick is to find the balance between historical accuracy and great gameplay.
Altair’s ability to jump around the city, hang on tiny ledges and swoop into strike his target may sound a little implausible, but there is an odd sense of realism when you see it all in action. Your missions are not just an assassination exercise, but turn into explorations of the sandbox environments. Jade seemed to prefer the term flower box because it combines the feel of a sandbox with direction towards where the action is. Not to say that the game is linear, it just means that you never feel lost as to what you should be doing.
The game is not based on sequential missions. You simply head to the main cities and hunt out the Bureau that provides your targets. Don’t expect a big arrow showing you the direction of your first hit. You need to investigate the target first, maybe a bit of eavesdropping or maybe some stealthy pick-pocketing. You get given a feather by the Bureau and you hand it back in when you have done your mission. Assassins Creed will not give you a mission completed just for killing the target, expect to make the hit and then get out of town with all of your limbs intact.
Games change so much in the next-gen age and Assassins Creed is no exception. Most stealth games have you running around, killing a few soldiers and dispatching your target, so for Assassins to stand out from the crowd it introduces a new concept: social modelling. Social Stealth is days new buzz word and it pretty much means having crowds all around instead of a few soldiers. Only a next-gen console could deliver social spaces like this effectively and fully integrate it into the gameplay. The people you see on the street all have things to do, jobs to go to and errands to run. As you bounce around town they will wonder what you are doing. The artificial intelligence (AI) has a few stages. The first is being unaware of an Assassin. The military AI has no clue you are in the city and have even less of a clue why you are there. Do suspicious things and the AI becomes more guarded. It models the fact that they will have heard a rumour of something going on, so they are on alert. This is aided by the crowd, so if you do see a drunken beggar, be mindful in that he could be a help or a hindrance when you come to escape. Next comes the informed AI. They know what you look like and know what you have done. This is five star GTA stuff here and don’t expect them to go softly. The updated AI will chase you around and even come onto rooftops to hunt you down. Death is swift for your target and your enemies but it can be equally swift for you.
The little things all add up to make Assassins Creed a more believable and fun place to be. Just one detail that Jade mentioned, added a new spin on the game; Altair means “The Flyer” in Arabic and this is not only reflected in his acrobatics. Look at his Assassins uniform. The hooded part is shaped like a bird of prey. When he jumps, the suit is shaped and designed to look like a bird in flight. The way you act like a bird, circling your prey, picking your target, swooping down with lethal efficiency and then flying away, is the whole essence of Assassins Creed. You have all seen the free-running part of the game and this adds to the feel of the game. You are an assassin, you are the best of the best, you are a machine of precision death, and you hunt down and execute those that deserve it.
“Nothing is true, everything is permitted.” This is the assassins Creed which Altair lives by and you play by. This even suits video-games as a whole. Nothing we do is real, everything is permitted. You can get away with pretty much anything in a game and Assassins Creed will give you options to believe that. The end of 2007 is what you should be waiting for. 360 and PS3 owners really have something special being handed to them and in July the first real details of the game will be pouring out. Even more tit-bits to entice and tease you, but will it be worth the wait? Watch the new trailer and get drawn into the game, the history and the attention to detail that the developers and the producer has put into this game. Just look how cool the combat is, the free-running and the chance to kick ass, Assassin style. Check out the crowds and the soldiers as they try and hunt you down as you scramble over rooftops. This is Assassins Creed. You will be part of this Creed; you just have to wait a little while longer.
Originally Written By: Barrie Rogers