Late to the Party #3 – Assassin’s Creed

There are some games out there that probably everyone has already played or that people would deem “Classics”. It’s games that get spoiled constantly since everyone already played them… Games that are the milestones that started entire franchises and genres. Games that are so great that it’s a miracle that I haven’t played them yet!

And that’s what this format is about. Welcome to Late to the Party #3 where I talk about my first impressions of Assassin’s Creed 1.

In the past, we already took a look at The Witcher 1 and Asheron’s Call, so check those games and posts out. Some people abbreviate Animal Crossing “AC”… some do the same for Assassin’s Creed… but Asheron’s Call… that’s the true AC, with Animal Crossing being AnCr/Anchor and with Assassin’s Creed obviously being AssCreed/AssCreek. Anyone who says something else is obviously wrong. So shut up. (That’s a joke.)

AssCreed is a game where this barkeeper called Desmond Miles gets kidnapped by Abstergo Industries. These guys want to use the so-called “Animus” to deep dive into Desmond’s ancestor’s memories that are saved in his DNA in order to find out where the “Pieces of Eden” are.

Aaaand that brings us to the Third Crusade where we play as Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad, an assassin that gets demoted to a “Novice of the Assassin Brotherhood” by their leader Al Mualim, after essentially messing up a lot of things in the first few cut scenes. There’s this creed, the Assassin’s Creed, and he broke it so now he’s got to restore his former rank by getting rid of the nine Knight Templars.

So, uh, yeah, we’re climbing houses, throwing knives, stabbing people, eavesdropping strangers and try to attain intel before eventually killing someone and colouring a feather with their blood as proof of their death. There are a lot of side quests, though you’ve got to do only a few of them before every main assassination, and on top of that you can run around and explore a few different areas like Masyaf, Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus. There are a lot of historical figures in the story which is rather interesting… and the parkour and climbing and free running, as well as the assassinations, the stealth and the combat in general, are super cool!

So we played this on a few different Fridays over here on my Twitch channel and I really enjoyed the game… but then it somehow came to an end when I just didn’t feel like playing the game all that much. (Spoilers from here on, so skip to the end if you’re interested in the story.)

I stopped playing the game for a lot of reasons. After eighteen hours of total playtime, I ended up quitting Assassin’s Creed due to its gameplay-formula. The story outside of the Animus was super interesting but we got way too less of that… meanwhile, the actual game is rather repetitive!

You get a target to kill. Do three side missions. Go there. Kill the guy. Come back to HQ. Get some ability. Get another target. Do three side missions. Go there. Kill the guy. Come back to HQ. Get another ability. Rinse and Repeat.

It’s just boring at some point. It never changes. There are barely any new mission types in the game and the collectables and the watchtowers are rather boring. There is no “unlock” for the collectables. You find all 100 flags in an area but you don’t learn anything new from it. Meanwhile, the towers unlock more parts of the map, so you get to see the different missions and stuff… but none of the towers is particularly hard to get on top of.

And then there are parts of the story that just feel generic and boring. “There is a traitor in the Brotherhood. Find him to restore your former rank.”
I mentioned on stream that it’s probably going to be the leader himself. He’s a templar of sorts and we will have to turn on him to become the leader ourselves.

But since I don’t want to play more of it, I just read up on it and… I was right. Nothing too drastic. Nothing too new. Oh wow, the teacher is your end boss? The student beats the teacher? So innovative! Wowsers! I can’t contain my excitement about this glorious twist that I haven’t seen anywhere else before yet, at all! I’m so mad at myself for spoiling the “good” part of the story!

Alas, Assassin’s Creed feels like more of a disappointment than anything else. The free walking and parkour and everything else I mentioned is a lot of fun and seem to stay in the whole franchise, so I’m looking forward to actually playing the second game and the rest of them… but I’m not going to play more of the first. We’ve killed like three or four of the templars already and there are way too many hints that Al Mualim is the traitor… so, in the end, it was just a disappointment.

I didn’t get to see the Pieces of Eden yet but according to Wikipedia, the game ends with us having access to a map showing the remaining pieces on a world globe of sorts. Those pieces will allow Abstergo to control the thoughts of all living creatures. So, uh… the franchise consists of Abstergo finding the location of the pieces by using the memories of the different assassin all over the world… I guess?

Assassin’s Creed is a franchise that can be fun, probably, but I don’t like the first game. The first game seems to be like a setup for the rest of the franchise. A test of sorts. In the end, it worked out. I own all the games. I don’t know why I own them all. I’ll play through a bunch of them and I hope that it gets better with the gameplay-variety. I think I still enjoyed AssCreed more than the first Witcher game but whatever.

Starting next week we’ll fill in the Friday-Slot with a different game. Possibly with Portal 1 since I haven’t played that game in ages… We’ll see.

Either way, I hope that you liked this quick little trip into the world of the famous AssCreek. Have a wonderful day!

Cheers!

8 Comments

  1. I’m not saying you’re wrong, as fun is something subjective, but I do want to point out a few things.
    Yes, AssCreek is disappointing from today’s point of view, but you have to remember that it was a pretty big deal back then and it shaped Ubisoft’s design philosophy for the years to come. It might not have had the same influece as, say, Dark Souls, but nonetheless an important game.

    Also, I’ve read somewhere that the repetitive mission design was intentional, and the designers wanted to showcase that every job, even that of an elite assassin, is just a job to them. I don’t know if this is true, and if it is, I think it’s stupid, but hey, that’s something you now know!

    What you CAN do to make the main missions a ton more interesting is to emphasise Stealth. A big problem of AssCreek is that you basically cannot fail. If you’re detected, just kill 400 guards. There are no stakes and no sense of emergency. But if you try to stay undetected until the last moment and limit yourself to kill only the target and a fixed amount of guards, the whole “plan ahead, eliminate key targets, and observe the way to and from your victim” gets meaning. If you just say “lol, lez just kill everyone” it loses a lot of its charm. Again, I’m not saying you played the game wrong, but I’m rather pointing out a missed opportunity on the developers’ part.

    Sadly, this freedom of how to kill your target is pretty much gone from game 2 onward, as mission objectives become far more detailed and therefore restrictive. Personally, i would have wished for the sequels to stay true to the original formula and just polish and streamline it.

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    1. I’m looking forward to seeing how the games from 2 onwards play out as more restrictions on the missions sound actually like more fun.

      Yeah, I get that you could, in theory, kill everyone. I tried to be as stealthy as possible in most cases… but stuff like not being able to fail at all or just being able to hide although you had like, IDK, 5 GTA stars already… it’s weird.
      The “repetitive mission design was intentional” feels like an excuse that the devs made after realising that they mucked up. I mean, they didn’t even want to create a new franchise… they failed to create a new Prince of Persia as they made something completely new… and well, they ended up creating this franchise. I liked being sneaky. I liked stabbing people and painting feathers.
      The game was fun. And yeah, I get that it’s “bad” from today’s POV but that it’s probably good if you put yourself into the past’s POV… but there are old(er) games like SM64 that are timeless! Meanwhile, AssCreek didn’t deliver for me personally.

      This format is no review-style redemption-post anyways. It’s just me talking about my first time playing these games and my first experiences with them and what I didn’t like. 😀 I somehow knew that I’m going to trigger you but I liked the initial experience… until it got boring. Looking forward to the other games!

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      1. Hopefully you will enjoy the coming titles more. Personally, I didn’t like the more restrictive way that much, and you still can theoretically fight everyone. Hell, there are even a lot of missions completely focused on fighting. Stealth has been toned down by a lot. But I’m looking forward to see your opinion on the other games!

        I completely agree about the timeless classics and you’re right, AssCreek definitely isn’t one. It’s very much a product of its time, albeit an influential one. It was not “ahead of its time”.

        I’m not really “triggered” or even disagree with you all that much, but I simply wanted to throw in a few thoughts that might have been interesting for you. It probably sounded like I was defending AssCreek and fanboying a bit, but truth be told, I, too, am camp “AssCreek is *meh* at best”.

        What I did enjoy, though, was the underlying narrative. Not the actual story, mind you (as you mentioned) but the not-so-subtly indicated moral dilemma. SHameless self-plug: I did start a spin-off series about that underlying Assassins vs. Templars conflict on my site, parallel to my reviews.

        Anyway, I’m looking forward to your next opinions and maybe I’ll manage to drop by a few of your streams when you play them 🙂

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  2. I’m glad I’m not the only one who gave this game a chance, but never finished it. I don’t know, I just had a lot of issues with the controls, especially if I was trying to do something like run across roofs or pickpocket someone. Maybe this franchise is just not for me, even though I have several friends who love it and always tell me what it’s like.

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    1. I’m not entirely sure if it’s the franchise (just yet). I’ll get to the other games eventually but AC1 had some issues here and there. It was an unsuccessful PC port, in my opinion, as there have been a bunch of issues from my controller not getting recognized to remapping issues and other things here and there. I once jumped down a tower and died instead of actually falling into the haystack… super weird.

      And well, the game’s just super repetitive, so there’s that as well. Not much to do about it. I’ll just hope that my report on the second game (eventually) will be of use to you to decide on whether or not you wanna play that, haha. 🙂

      And well, I’m quite sure that it’s really just the game’s fault and not the franchise’s. I’ve seen bits and pieces from other games and the variety seemed to be there! Apart from that the other games were intended to be Assassin’s Creed games and not Prince of Persia – AC1 happened as they had to cancel a new PoP game because of it being too “assassin-like” and not feeling like a PoP-game anymore. 🙂

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      1. I gave the second game a go and I don’t know why but I had a hard time lasting. There was a roof race part at the beginning and I felt like there were too many controls and if you lose it resets the sync-thingy

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