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View Full Version : Assassin's Creed, My thoughts and Opinions. (Spoilers)



ebassist
12-15-2007, 11:12 PM
I'm mostly a PC gamer, but my brother recently purchased an Xbox360 and I had the pleasure of playing Assasins Creed through.

I had noticed, before playing it, that it was stirring up a lot of mixed opinions within the gaming community so I was thoroughly prepared to be underwhelmed.

Cynical nutter that I am when a game has mixed opinions about it I usually fall into the "Dissapointed" camp (I even thought HL2 was way overated), however I can say that for me Assasins Creed is a great game and certainly IMHO one of the best titles currently out on the next gen consoles. Thats not to say thats its perfect however, which I will come to later, so lets start on the good bits.

The Animation - Someone at Ubisoft needs a pat on the back for this. The animation routines are simply superb, bumping into people when you're running and stumbling with them recoiling from the force. I mean most FPS/Third Person Shooter games can't even get it so the players character grips the actual rungs on a ladder rather than simply doing a climbing animation while on it and ascending.

How you managed to make Altair grip each individual handhold with such dexterity is beyond me. This excellence extends right across the board, horse riding, combat, free running every animation is spot on perfect, perhaps the best I've ever seen.

The AI - Now I know a lot of people when hearing this will go "WHAT THE AI IS TERRIBLE!" and point out a number of examples where the AI has done clearly stupid things. Ok it isn't perfect by any means but let me say this. "Social Stealth" AI is very hard to do.

Only really the Hitman series has attempt it before, they knew that someone walking past in someones clothes wasen't always going to fool someone, so whenever you walked past a guard he pretty much had a random chance to suddenly "twig" you.

But AI routines lack (and will probably for at least decades) the complex reasoning and decision making proccesses that human beings would go through in order to deduce that someone is an imposter (Or in Assasins Creed's case the assasin in a group of civilians) Gaming also lacks the basic inputs to deduce said things that would be taken for granted in real life. (players for example have no control over how nervous the avatar looks).

It took four games (Blood Money) to realise that simply being randomly "guessed" to be an imposter by chance and luck was no fun and they made it so if you were in the right costume you were basically in the clear as long as you did nothing explicit to arouse suspicion.

Assasins creed did a very good job of knowing when the guards had found you. When I got busted I never really felt that the guards had "cheated" and simply determined my identity unfairly. Of course the gameplay mechanics used to achive this state are clearly ridiculous in real terms, a person walking with his head bowed and arms together would be no less suspicious in at the scence of an assasination that someone walking calmly (indeed the reaction of an innocent bystander would probably be to run as fast as you can away, the very thing that is SURE to get you noticed)

AI is still going to be very basic compared to human intelligense for a good while and we need to allow developers of games liscence to set some "game rules" within which their AI can work.

Regarding the AI I must also mention pathfinding here as a triuph. How many games have we played where NPCs get stuck on scenery far less complex than the ones encoutered in Assasins creed? But in AC the AI will leap happily all over the terrain in persuit of you.

I'd like to also put in the reactions of NPCs to your actions (especially in the sound department) was pretty good. Leap from a roof and right in the middle of a crowded street and people recoil back, clearly shocked by your actions muttering "what the hell is he doing?" Very nice touches.

The Story - When I found out that the story in Assasins creed was told through memory diving into the past, and you're actually some nonce in the present/near present, I was concerned. But I felt it worked very well to drive the plot and the "Sync" bar is probably the best excuse for a traditional health system I've seen in a while. Overall I thought the plot was excellently written and executed though I could see the twist coming before I'd even gone through half the game.

The Cities - Each one was individual and beautiful. Its probably the best example I've seen of a "living city". Of course the people within it are the same dumb drones of GTA and its clones but the chat among its citizens, the random events (preachers infront of cathedrals with a crowd infront of them) and people carrying stuff around made it FEEL more alive.

If I could criticise anything I'd say a bit more random events and lawlessness among the populace would be nice. Some battles between thugs in the market, guards chasing a thief etc.

The Free Running - Glorius, simply brilliant enough said. Again if I had to criticise I'd say that making sprint and free run the same button caused a few problems. I'd be sprinting from the guards and suddenly Altair would jump up a small post or try to shimmy up a wall. Still, minor complait.

The combat - While I admit to not playing many Third person action/platformers I thought the sword fighting and assasinations were bang on. However, how they were implemented wasen't more on this....................... right now.

Ok here come the bad bits. The point of being an assasin is taking one life and getting out. Ok you might be elitely trained in case you get into trouble but NO ONE can take on four people wielding a sword and win.

I'm guessing they made the combat so piss easy because they wanted you to feel like a badass, but they went far too far. A lot of the time I didn't feel like a badass, I felt like I was cheating. It should have been that taking three people on in a sword duel would have been a very difficult test of your sklls. Four? Time to run.

If I had beaten three people in a hard sword duel I'd have felt like a badass. When I've beaten 30 hardly taking a hit it feels cheap. It completely removed ANY sense of threat from the game, which is a real shame.

In other stealth games like Splinter Cell if you've cocked it up you run and hide because if you don't you'll die. In Assasins Creed when I was fleeing a crime scence I WANTED to have to run and hide from the superior force and numbers of the guardsmen.

I wanted to be chased across rooftops driven by the knowledge that if I stopped I died. Ok I COULD have run and jumped and done the hidey stuff but when I tried it it felt hollow. Knowing I could simply turn around and beat the **** out of any number of pursuers made the whole excercise pointless. By the end of the game, whenever I went to enter a new city I just killed the guardsmen on the door because it was quicker and easier than waiting for the scholars.

Combat brilliant, easyness of combat, BIG downer on the game.

The Gaining Intelligence missions - UBIsoft you can do better. Identikit Pickpocket, Assasinate, Eavesdrop, Flag Gathering or Intimidate is simply not good enough. An overiding feeling I have of Assassins Creed is that it does the hard stuff well and the easy stuff..... okish. You've made a brilliant engine, compelling combat, glorious cities.

How hard is it to code in a few extra mission types? They're just a bunch of scripts telling people where to go. Ok, I'm no expert at this but I've made some single player levels in my time and once you have the framework, hanging some basic AI routines and voices files on is easy.

They don't need to be works of art, but jesus. You've got great AI for free running in the guards, start someone on a roof and put him on a waypoint across town. Mission? Assasinate him before he gets to the end of his waypoint for some invented reason (before he passes on his message or something). Not good enough.

The Intelligense Gathered From These Missions - After going through all that hard work you expect a useful bit of intel. But no, almost all the pieces of intel you pick up are useless. Even the "useful" ones, (positions of the guards etc) are hard to decipher and mostly misleading.

Despite getting every piece of intel in the game and double checking each one before I went to any target, on every assasination (except the scholar one where all the intel can show you where he is straight away)I simply used common sense. This leads into my next point.......

The Assasinations themselves. I don't know how exactly to go about criticising these, cos they are the best bits in a game I like a lot, but they DO need criticising.

Firstly, too easy...... way way way too easy. Whenever an assasination went wrong and the **** hit the fan I let them kill me to restart the game from the last checkpoint. Even though I KNEW I could just fight my way to the target and kill him with my sword without breaking a sweat.

This links in with the sword fighting being too easy. The fastest and simplest way in most of the assasinations was simply to wade in and hit everyone with your sword till you got to the target. I won't go much further cos I've covered this particular point in detail already, but put simply in a game about ASSASINATIONS if I **** up with 20 guards around I should be dead. Period.

Every assasination was too similar in both approach, method and layout. Gain entry to sealed off area either by the roof or with scholars, get as close as you can without being busted then sprint and jump-knife him. Of course you can deviate from the forumla here and there but mostly thats what it boils down to.

Where was the variation? What about a target thats on a millitary parade through the city? You could see his route through the city and find a perfect rooftop to jump him from. Or perhaps someone attending a church service? Pretend to be a churchgoer and strike him when he enters, wait for him to leave and strike him then? Or wait till he's walking home and shiv him in an alleyway?

Linked with this point, was that the targets were far too static. They sat in their pre-determined point and stayed there. Meaning any meaningful "planning" of assasinations was out the window. "Ah I've learned that the English leader will be adressing his troopers and he'll be distracted I'll strike then." Except that I didn't need to learn thats when i "should" strike. During the entire assasination he's adressing his troops thus rendering my intelligense gathering moot.

You don't "feel" like you're stalking your prey in any real way cos they never move so you can stalk them. You can't wait for them in an alley or anything like that.

Also far too many assasinations were SCRIPTED to end in clusterf*cks, meaning I felt less like an assasin and more like a tactless thug with an admittably ridiculous skill at swordplay. Again, lessons should be learned from the Hitman series, who realised after the first two games that "Hitman" games which turn into "Mediocre third person shooter-man" games, doesen't work.

The ending - Nuff said. Setting up for a sequal is fair enough. If you want to carry the story on thats fine, but at least bring this segment to a satisfactory conclusion! "WOW WIERD WRITING WHAT DOES IT MEANZ l0l$!" CREDITS is insulting.

Replaying segments starting with unskippable cutscences and starting in a position which no one will ever want to be, neccesitating a 5 min journey? Come on UBISoft BASICS BASICS. BAD Idea. You're gamers like us, come on can't you see thats obvious? Free-Run mode with everything unlocked to find templars/flags etc once you've completed the game should have been an obvious inclusion.

Thanks for reading.

ebassist
12-15-2007, 11:12 PM
I'm mostly a PC gamer, but my brother recently purchased an Xbox360 and I had the pleasure of playing Assasins Creed through.

I had noticed, before playing it, that it was stirring up a lot of mixed opinions within the gaming community so I was thoroughly prepared to be underwhelmed.

Cynical nutter that I am when a game has mixed opinions about it I usually fall into the "Dissapointed" camp (I even thought HL2 was way overated), however I can say that for me Assasins Creed is a great game and certainly IMHO one of the best titles currently out on the next gen consoles. Thats not to say thats its perfect however, which I will come to later, so lets start on the good bits.

The Animation - Someone at Ubisoft needs a pat on the back for this. The animation routines are simply superb, bumping into people when you're running and stumbling with them recoiling from the force. I mean most FPS/Third Person Shooter games can't even get it so the players character grips the actual rungs on a ladder rather than simply doing a climbing animation while on it and ascending.

How you managed to make Altair grip each individual handhold with such dexterity is beyond me. This excellence extends right across the board, horse riding, combat, free running every animation is spot on perfect, perhaps the best I've ever seen.

The AI - Now I know a lot of people when hearing this will go "WHAT THE AI IS TERRIBLE!" and point out a number of examples where the AI has done clearly stupid things. Ok it isn't perfect by any means but let me say this. "Social Stealth" AI is very hard to do.

Only really the Hitman series has attempt it before, they knew that someone walking past in someones clothes wasen't always going to fool someone, so whenever you walked past a guard he pretty much had a random chance to suddenly "twig" you.

But AI routines lack (and will probably for at least decades) the complex reasoning and decision making proccesses that human beings would go through in order to deduce that someone is an imposter (Or in Assasins Creed's case the assasin in a group of civilians) Gaming also lacks the basic inputs to deduce said things that would be taken for granted in real life. (players for example have no control over how nervous the avatar looks).

It took four games (Blood Money) to realise that simply being randomly "guessed" to be an imposter by chance and luck was no fun and they made it so if you were in the right costume you were basically in the clear as long as you did nothing explicit to arouse suspicion.

Assasins creed did a very good job of knowing when the guards had found you. When I got busted I never really felt that the guards had "cheated" and simply determined my identity unfairly. Of course the gameplay mechanics used to achive this state are clearly ridiculous in real terms, a person walking with his head bowed and arms together would be no less suspicious in at the scence of an assasination that someone walking calmly (indeed the reaction of an innocent bystander would probably be to run as fast as you can away, the very thing that is SURE to get you noticed)

AI is still going to be very basic compared to human intelligense for a good while and we need to allow developers of games liscence to set some "game rules" within which their AI can work.

Regarding the AI I must also mention pathfinding here as a triuph. How many games have we played where NPCs get stuck on scenery far less complex than the ones encoutered in Assasins creed? But in AC the AI will leap happily all over the terrain in persuit of you.

I'd like to also put in the reactions of NPCs to your actions (especially in the sound department) was pretty good. Leap from a roof and right in the middle of a crowded street and people recoil back, clearly shocked by your actions muttering "what the hell is he doing?" Very nice touches.

The Story - When I found out that the story in Assasins creed was told through memory diving into the past, and you're actually some nonce in the present/near present, I was concerned. But I felt it worked very well to drive the plot and the "Sync" bar is probably the best excuse for a traditional health system I've seen in a while. Overall I thought the plot was excellently written and executed though I could see the twist coming before I'd even gone through half the game.

The Cities - Each one was individual and beautiful. Its probably the best example I've seen of a "living city". Of course the people within it are the same dumb drones of GTA and its clones but the chat among its citizens, the random events (preachers infront of cathedrals with a crowd infront of them) and people carrying stuff around made it FEEL more alive.

If I could criticise anything I'd say a bit more random events and lawlessness among the populace would be nice. Some battles between thugs in the market, guards chasing a thief etc.

The Free Running - Glorius, simply brilliant enough said. Again if I had to criticise I'd say that making sprint and free run the same button caused a few problems. I'd be sprinting from the guards and suddenly Altair would jump up a small post or try to shimmy up a wall. Still, minor complait.

The combat - While I admit to not playing many Third person action/platformers I thought the sword fighting and assasinations were bang on. However, how they were implemented wasen't more on this....................... right now.

Ok here come the bad bits. The point of being an assasin is taking one life and getting out. Ok you might be elitely trained in case you get into trouble but NO ONE can take on four people wielding a sword and win.

I'm guessing they made the combat so piss easy because they wanted you to feel like a badass, but they went far too far. A lot of the time I didn't feel like a badass, I felt like I was cheating. It should have been that taking three people on in a sword duel would have been a very difficult test of your sklls. Four? Time to run.

If I had beaten three people in a hard sword duel I'd have felt like a badass. When I've beaten 30 hardly taking a hit it feels cheap. It completely removed ANY sense of threat from the game, which is a real shame.

In other stealth games like Splinter Cell if you've cocked it up you run and hide because if you don't you'll die. In Assasins Creed when I was fleeing a crime scence I WANTED to have to run and hide from the superior force and numbers of the guardsmen.

I wanted to be chased across rooftops driven by the knowledge that if I stopped I died. Ok I COULD have run and jumped and done the hidey stuff but when I tried it it felt hollow. Knowing I could simply turn around and beat the **** out of any number of pursuers made the whole excercise pointless. By the end of the game, whenever I went to enter a new city I just killed the guardsmen on the door because it was quicker and easier than waiting for the scholars.

Combat brilliant, easyness of combat, BIG downer on the game.

The Gaining Intelligence missions - UBIsoft you can do better. Identikit Pickpocket, Assasinate, Eavesdrop, Flag Gathering or Intimidate is simply not good enough. An overiding feeling I have of Assassins Creed is that it does the hard stuff well and the easy stuff..... okish. You've made a brilliant engine, compelling combat, glorious cities.

How hard is it to code in a few extra mission types? They're just a bunch of scripts telling people where to go. Ok, I'm no expert at this but I've made some single player levels in my time and once you have the framework, hanging some basic AI routines and voices files on is easy.

They don't need to be works of art, but jesus. You've got great AI for free running in the guards, start someone on a roof and put him on a waypoint across town. Mission? Assasinate him before he gets to the end of his waypoint for some invented reason (before he passes on his message or something). Not good enough.

The Intelligense Gathered From These Missions - After going through all that hard work you expect a useful bit of intel. But no, almost all the pieces of intel you pick up are useless. Even the "useful" ones, (positions of the guards etc) are hard to decipher and mostly misleading.

Despite getting every piece of intel in the game and double checking each one before I went to any target, on every assasination (except the scholar one where all the intel can show you where he is straight away)I simply used common sense. This leads into my next point.......

The Assasinations themselves. I don't know how exactly to go about criticising these, cos they are the best bits in a game I like a lot, but they DO need criticising.

Firstly, too easy...... way way way too easy. Whenever an assasination went wrong and the **** hit the fan I let them kill me to restart the game from the last checkpoint. Even though I KNEW I could just fight my way to the target and kill him with my sword without breaking a sweat.

This links in with the sword fighting being too easy. The fastest and simplest way in most of the assasinations was simply to wade in and hit everyone with your sword till you got to the target. I won't go much further cos I've covered this particular point in detail already, but put simply in a game about ASSASINATIONS if I **** up with 20 guards around I should be dead. Period.

Every assasination was too similar in both approach, method and layout. Gain entry to sealed off area either by the roof or with scholars, get as close as you can without being busted then sprint and jump-knife him. Of course you can deviate from the forumla here and there but mostly thats what it boils down to.

Where was the variation? What about a target thats on a millitary parade through the city? You could see his route through the city and find a perfect rooftop to jump him from. Or perhaps someone attending a church service? Pretend to be a churchgoer and strike him when he enters, wait for him to leave and strike him then? Or wait till he's walking home and shiv him in an alleyway?

Linked with this point, was that the targets were far too static. They sat in their pre-determined point and stayed there. Meaning any meaningful "planning" of assasinations was out the window. "Ah I've learned that the English leader will be adressing his troopers and he'll be distracted I'll strike then." Except that I didn't need to learn thats when i "should" strike. During the entire assasination he's adressing his troops thus rendering my intelligense gathering moot.

You don't "feel" like you're stalking your prey in any real way cos they never move so you can stalk them. You can't wait for them in an alley or anything like that.

Also far too many assasinations were SCRIPTED to end in clusterf*cks, meaning I felt less like an assasin and more like a tactless thug with an admittably ridiculous skill at swordplay. Again, lessons should be learned from the Hitman series, who realised after the first two games that "Hitman" games which turn into "Mediocre third person shooter-man" games, doesen't work.

The ending - Nuff said. Setting up for a sequal is fair enough. If you want to carry the story on thats fine, but at least bring this segment to a satisfactory conclusion! "WOW WIERD WRITING WHAT DOES IT MEANZ l0l$!" CREDITS is insulting.

Replaying segments starting with unskippable cutscences and starting in a position which no one will ever want to be, neccesitating a 5 min journey? Come on UBISoft BASICS BASICS. BAD Idea. You're gamers like us, come on can't you see thats obvious? Free-Run mode with everything unlocked to find templars/flags etc once you've completed the game should have been an obvious inclusion.

Thanks for reading.