4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A sensational title that's unplayable on keyboard & mouse,
This review is from: Assassin's Creed - Directors Cut Edition (PC DVD)
For over a year, this sat in a cabinet. I'd gotten to the second proper mission in my first major city. Controlling Altair - the game's main character - was a nightmare come true. I was using keyboard and mouse, and controlling the game's swift, agile freerunner of an assassin was like dragging an elephant through setting toffee. It felt like I was constantly fighting an imposed speed barrier and then having to fight to get him past obstacles. Worse, the myriad combinations of keys that you needed to remember to press all at once made it like trying to prep a plane for takeoff. It was, in short, utterly unenjoyable.
So it languished until I decided to get a gamepad to play racing games and remembered this was in my drawer.
It's a stellar difference.
At heart, Assassin's Creed is a console game, so naturally it only plays the way it should with a pad.
The limited number of buttons make performing the wide selection of moves far easier, and with the pressure-sensitive sticks controlling Altair becomes far more natural. Even better, since he's far easier to steer the freerunning comes into its own, and soon you're racing across the tops of buildings, skimming across beams over 50 foot drops, and plummetting safely down into stacks of hay from the many high vantage points you have to climb in order to get an eagle's view of where the missions are based.
The graphics on PC are also gorgeous. Desert canyons gleam golden yellow in the sun, the clothing looks almost real, and the enjoyably ancient looking cities bathe in the desert sun with the occasional ripple of cloud across the streets.
The game allows you a degree of freedom in which 'investigation' missions you complete to find the info you need to go after each main target. These vary from enjoyable stealth assassinations of guards or informers through to breathless parkour races across the rooftops and over buildings to meet up with a source in time.
As disgraced assassin Altair, you also feel a strong sense of character. It really does feel like you're playing a secretive and dangerous man trying to blend in as everybody around you goes on with their daily lives.
When the game was released a big deal was made of the 'end of game twist'. This was a bit misleading as it's actually given away the second you play, and recurs in brief interactive sessions throughout play. I won't give it away here in case somehow you've remained oblivious. It's a little silly, and could have been executed better, but it adds to the title's rich mythology and gives it background, context, and the chance of a sequel.
There are very few flaws once you're playing the game with a pad.
Perhaps most obvious is the over-use of limited dialogue - you'll hear the same bullying guards and beggars spout exactly the same lines in every alley of every city - probably nearing 100 times by the end of the game.
The game also has a habit towards the end of pelting you with multiple attackers at once (up to 10 or 12) and expecting you to somehow guess a strategy in the three seconds before they start battering you to a pulp. It can be intimidating and frustrating. However the game guides out there on the web are very useful.
The bad guys are pretty good, and vary in their attitude and crimes, and Altair's Assassin's brotherhood master and colleagues are all interestingly distinctive. The voiceover of Altair himself makes him come across a bit bratty and arrogant, but that's easy to ignore and eases towards the climax.
The combat is also exhilerating and there are many fluid evades and flashy combat moves you can pull off that really do make you feel like a super-assassin, whether it's pouncing on the back of a fleeing target like a cougar, or slickly side-stepping an enemy's attack only to impale them on a sword. It's also possible to create almost your own 'minigame' out of hurling troublesome guards off a rooftop to clear a route or distract the enemies.
With multiple weapons, multiple routes and tactics, and a variety of gorgeous locations, this is a genuinely exciting little gem that will give action junkies just the fix they've been looking for.