Assassin's Creed 6-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - October 29, 2013
» Discuss this article (2)
Stealth, combat, and speed are the three main aspects of Assassin's Creed's gameplay. It uses a well-executed, though not perfect, free-running system for quickly traversing the game world, either on the ground or on rooftops. Sometimes it will glitch somewhat, causing you to jump when you do not want to, or not jumping when you do. Also there are times that you appear to jump or climb onto things that you are not intended to. This can cause your character to jump back and forth, until you move somewhere else, or, in one case, I actually got stuck hanging between two hand grips. Dropping to the ground below took care of that. Not helping matters is a camera that does not always behave, but it could be worse.
The stealth aspect of the game is good but can be difficult to work with. At least if you are impatient. Sometimes just running by the wrong person will cause you to be spotted, forcing you to flee or fight when you do not necessarily want to. Also you may find situations where you cannot sneak through, but have to kill the guards, which then leads to a larger fight and having to become anonymous again. Of course there are also places where you can unlock moving hiding spots to get you past the guards, unnoticed. Perhaps the most frustrating part of trying to be stealthy is dealing with the beggars and mentally ill. The beggars will run up to you, demanding money and stand in your way, making it hard to keep moving. The mentally ill are even worse, though, as they will shove you around, stopping any momentum you have, and potentially revealing you to the guards. As Altaïr did not kill civilians, if you kill these NPCs, you will lose synchronization with him, which is how your health is measured. Fortunately it does regenerate over time, but it is still not a good idea to go around killing civilians.
The combat is quite satisfying, when you are good at it at least. Much of the combat centers around sword fighting and eventually you learn how to parry-riposte, better known as a counter attack. Honestly I cannot think of any game with more satisfying counters than this, with the great speed, ferocity, and sound effects. My tactic in combat was to simply let the enemies come to me, so I could counter and kill them with the press of a button.
Of course a sword is not a very discrete weapon for an assassin, so you are also armed with the Hidden Blade. This is a contraption bound to your left arm that can extend and retract a blade at will, making it perfect for silently killing an unaware enemy. In a fight, though, it is useless. You also have throwing knives, but honestly I did not use them much in this playthrough. Not all situations require them (though they do help a lot at the end) so I primarily stayed with the sword and hidden blade, when I could use them.
You can also fight someone with your fists, but this mechanic seems to only exist for Interrogation missions, where you have to beat the truth out of someone. Guards will not intervene in fistfights, though some civilians will, so they can be useful in the correct scenario.
Eagle Vision is an interesting, and not continually used mechanic in Assassin's Creed. When entering Eagle Vision, the camera shifts from its third-person view to first-person, and is only accessible when you have full synchronization/health. The purpose of Eagle Vision is to reveal civilians, threats, allies, and targets, and the colored highlights remain after leaving the view mode. For some situations, you do need to use it, but often everything is easy enough to identify that you do not need to enter it. However, you do use it to reveal the map.
By climbing tall structures and entering Eagle Vision, you reveal swaths of the map. Of course you do not actually see the map in Eagle Vision as the camera pans around Altaïr, but it is how he is viewing the world. This is how you reveal the map, missions, and hiding spots, so it is not an unusual strategy to immediately climb to every view point, just to know where everything is. To get down from the view points, you use a 'Leap of Faith' by jumping into a pile of hay on the ground. I have found it useful to use a Leap of Faith to evade enemies, as they often lose sight of you as you climb the view points, and by hiding in the hay, you regain your anonymity. Of course there are other places to hide, but none are quite so dramatic to enter.
One thing some of you may not like, though, is that you do not have a minimap. Instead that thing in the lower-right is more of a compass, pointing you in the right direction, while also giving you a distance. To actually plan out a path, you need to bring up the full map.
Among the missions revealed by the view points are side missions that involve saving citizens. I recommend you take the time to complete them, as doing so will grant you more health. Also they unlock vigilantes that will help you escape guards.
An interesting aspect of the assassinations in the game is that before you can go after your target, you have to collect information on them to plan your attack. This information can be collected by doing missions for other Assassins, as well as eavesdropping, interrogating, and pickpocketing civilians. Once you have the information you need, you can return to the Assassin's Bureau, report your findings and plan, and get permission to attack. I do recommend you pay attention to the information, as some targets have multiple routes to them and can be most easily dispatched at specific moments. Of course you can also just barge in and kill everyone, but that takes more time than a more patient approach.
After each assassination, you are to return to the Assassin Leader, who promotes your rank and returns a piece of 'equipment' as a reward. Technically you are not always given equipment but new skills, such as the counter attack or increased damage. Eventually, though, you receive everything you had during the game's prologue, before Altaïr lost his status in the Assassin's community.
Another interesting aspect, though this time to the map, is how you are limited to certain areas of the game world. As you are playing Altaïr's memories, you are not allowed to go places he did not go at the time. This means there are barriers you cannot cross until a later time, though you will see civilians and even enemies pass through them without issue. It is a simple explanation for the mechanic found in so many games, to keep players from going where they should not.
It took me about 14 hours and 34 minutes to complete the game, and every mission. Finding all of the collectible flags in the game, though, will doubtlessly add many more hours. To put it simply, I have no intention of going after them.
Overall the gameplay is a solid, fun, and enjoyable experience, thanks to good design and thoughtful implementation. This helps it feel like you are indeed playing a person's memories, instead of just a game, while still making you feel like a great warrior. After all, none of your enemies stand against a dozen or more threats and walk away with nothing more than a bloodied sword.