Assassin's Creed

Assassin's Creed
Assassin's Creed Cover
Platforms Xbox 360, PS3, Windows
Genre Stunning Stealth Adventure
MtAMinutes to Action 12
Score 7  Clock score of 7Gameplay: 8
Fun Factor: 6
Gfx/Sound: 9
Story: 7
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Assassin's Creed is a new action-adventure game for the Xbox 360 and PS3 from Ubisoft. The game tells the story of Altair, an assassin in the Holy Land in the 12th century. Altair controls somewhat like the Prince from the Prince of Persia series, but focuses more on stealth and silent killing similar to the Metal Gear Solid games. But instead of hiding in boxes and camouflaging yourself in the trees, Altair hides himself among the people of Jerusalem, attempting to blend in with the public and not stand out to the guards. This makes for some interesting gameplay as Ubisoft spent a lot of time working on crowd reactions for their new kind of camouflage. Without much further ado though, let's dive into the first hour of Assassin's Creed.

For my review on the whole game, please see my Assassin's Creed review at Beyond the First Hour.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I select the New option and the first hour of Assassin's Creed begins. Loading screen, there's a triangle like object on the screen. And the opening cutscene starts. There's a white clothed person standing among a bunch of women, but the women's faces are all blurred out and they have flat features... creepy! A deep voice begins talking, not really sure what it is talking about. Now a woman's voice comes in, calls the man Desmond.

01 - I'm able to walk around a bustling city square with the white clothed man, but the game is flickering and blurring and it's hard to keep track of the images flashing in front of me. The woman and another man speak of losing me and pulling me out. More images come by quickly.

02 - We're inside a modern day laboratory now. A disgruntled man is sitting on a bed, two scientists surround him. They know who he is and they say he's an assassin. The man doesn't try hard to deny it. Sweet. The scientists want something from Desmond.

03 - The scientists speak of an Animus. The camera hasn't moved the whole time, actually it appears to be the view of a flickering security camera. The scientists instruct Mr. Miles to lie down, I hit a button to do so. I am now looking out of Desmond's eyes. The two scientists look over him.

Assassins Creed Desmond Animus

04 - We're lying in the Animus, they flash a computer overlay in front of my eyes, visually showing what they're describing. They tell me that our genes hold our ancestor's memory, similar to animal instinct.

05 - I'm able to look back and forth as they talk more about memories and genetics. Sounds like the Animus bed allows them to access my ancestor's memories. They're looking in particular for a certain memory, one far along Desmond's chain of memories (each memory is probably a level of some sort).

06 - They're able to synchronize Desmond with an early memory and they start the tutorial program.

07 - I get control of the man in white for a moment, I think it's a loading screen in disguise. A computerized voice welcomes me to the tutorial. They show me a Synchronization Bar, sort of my life bar but it also connects me with my ancestor. If we lose sync I will tossed out of the memory.

Assassins Creed Kristen Bell Lucy Stillman

08 - The game tells me to hit the Y button to look around, the Y button is on top of the Xbox's diamond button scheme and it represents the "head". Next the game shows me a parade of people holding pots in front of me. I'm supposed to walk between them without knocking any of their pots down! I can hold the B button and gently push the people out of the way. The B button represents my right arm I guess.

09 - Next up is the R button, which controls low profile and high profile actions. Holding R shows me high profile actions such as jump and grab. I hold R and press B to throw a man. Man, this guy walks slow... but the next lesson is sprint. I can run by holding R and A while moving.

10 - I can also trip while running if I run into something... sounds dangerous. Next to my sync bar is a colorized warning of other people's awareness of me. Yellow means a guard sees me, red means he's after me!

Assassins Creed Altair Loading

11 - I lock onto a guard and select my hidden blade, a short knife tucked into my arm sleeve. I assassinate the guard by pressing X and doing a quick kill. Another guard walks up and checks out the dead man, Metal Gear Solid style. The guard's awareness of me has turned my blinking light to red!

12 - Now I gotta get away from this guy! A building has appeared in front of me and I climb a ladder on its side. On the roof is a bale of hay which I hide in. The guard looks for me but can't find me... didn't look very hard.

13 - My status is now anonymous - a white light. The game shows me different places to hide, like a bench with people on it and even within groups of scholars who look just like me!

Assassins Creed Altair Cave Ladder

14 - A team of guards appears in front of me, I have to "blend" and walk by them by holding the A button. My character puts his hands together like he's praying and walks slowly. Very, very slowly.

15 - I am now fully synced and can use Eagle Vision. By pressing Y I can see people's intentions, represented by their color (red = bad, blue = good, etc.).

16 - The game starts loading the most stable memory block, obviously the first level! I appear inside a cave, it's our main character and two other assassins. One of the men speaks and says the innocent doesn't need to die. Our hero suddenly runs behind the man and quickly kills him!

17 - The other two are mad at me for killing the innocent man. During the cutscene the game lets me hit a button to see the scene from different angles. Kind of cool. Our assassins are on a very special but unknown mission in a dank cave. I now have control.

Assassins Creed Altair Cave First Level

18 - I can "free step" by running and holding A, basically allowing me to jump and skip all over the place. My character dashes over some pits and then I climb a ladder. A guard is in front but turned around.

19 - My first real stealth kill! I lock on, draw my short blade, and slit his throat. Sweet. We're now on a ledge, overlooking the Ark of the Covenant! Our hero denies its existence, but it's right there in front of him. A group of men approach with some bad guy's name I don't understand (Robert de Sable). I seem to be pretty pissed off at this guy, he wants to go after him.

20 - I drop down a ladder and approach the guards.

21 - A cutscene begins, but I can walk around in a limited area during it. Not time for much talk though as our man decides to kill their leader. I go in for the kill but the man punches me and grabs my arms. Whoops. He throws me out of the building and the doorway collapses behind me. Sounds like my assassin friends just got slain.

Assassins Creed Altair Robert De Sable

22 - The game shows me the exit to the room, Prince of Persia style. I hold R and A and just cruise through it ninja like. I climb a wall and then a computerized voice tells me we're moving to a more recent memory. Loading.

23 - Looks like the game has fast forwarded through the boring parts. I'm in a town square now, a man approaches me and tells me to go see The Master. Full control now in a busy area, sweet. The game points out my GPS... that's kind of an odd thing to have in the 12th century. In the distance I can see a huge castle, that's my destination.

25 - Running through town is fun, I can knock people over or be stealthy. The game also lets me assassinate anyone but my eagle vision displays no bad guys. I climb a wall and someone says, "What is that fool doing?" Having fun my friend.

26 - I climb a tower and get a great outlook on the city. Huge draw distance, no fog, all in high definition. Yay for next generation gaming.

Assassins Creed Altair Masyaf Castle

27 - As I get near the castle, the game pans up and shows me its high towers. Impressive. Can't wait to climb up there. I start running up there and bust through some people, but then I fall and people mock me. I'll gently push for a bit.

29 - Not sure why my warning light is yellow when I don't see any hostiles around. A man confronts me, he asks where the others are, our hero is silent. I don't think these guys like each other.

30 - Something interesting, the voice acting in this game is great, except for our main character. There's all these accents flying around and this guy sounds like he's from middle America. Bad casting. The game informs me weapons are restricted in the fort. No killing the Master I guess.

31 - I enter the main building, looks like a library. I approach the Master, a grizzled, bearded man. He asks if I recovered the treasure, our hero makes excuses and says no. The Master is not happy.

Assassins Creed Altair Master Merrick

32 - Next the Master asks where the other men are, Merrick (one of the other assassins) shows up extremely bloodied. His brother is dead, and he's very upset. Oh oh, we're under attack! The bad guy from before is here with his calvary.

34 - I think I finally heard the main character's name, Altair. Took long enough. I'm outside the building now, battle music begins. Villagers are lying all over squirming and dying. The Templars are attacking. My rival from before tells me to distract the Templars. I pull out my sword.

35 - I just won my first sword fight! Pretty simple stuff, but it was fun. R puts you in a defensive stance and X swings the sword.

37 - People are fighting all over as I continue to do one-on-one battles with the Templars. They all go down against my sword. Two take me on this time and surround me, they get a few hits in but I seem to parry one and take him out quickly.

Assassins Creed Altair Guard Sword Fight

38 - I brutally take out an innocent as he runs between another bad guy and me... It doesn't seem like I was punished for that one.

40 - Wow! I just walloped a Templar with my sword! I continue to head down the hill into the town. I rush to a man's help but he's killed before I get there, I kill the enemy a moment later with four quick strokes.

41 - A man yells to break off the attack, the computer fast forwards my memory. We're back up near home base. My rival yells to me from the towers to climb up by him, he has a surprise in store for our guests.

42 - He tells Altair to stand on a wooden platform... it's a long drop down. As I reach the end a cutscene starts. The man I tried to kill before is arguing with the Master about something we stole. The bad guys have about 40 men outside our gates, I hope this plan is good.

Assassins Creed Altair High Jump Hay

44 - The Master says his men have no fear, and my rival says to jump! Wow, three of us jump down into bales of hay a hundred feet down. The other man (not me or my rival) seems to have broken his leg. I have to traverse some beams to reach "the surprise."

45 - These beams are long and over a very deep canyon, good thing this is just a game, I'm freaked about heights.

46 - For Altair they are easy, my next objective is to climb a tower wall. I have to take advantage of the divots in the wall to ascend. Shouldn't be too bad. Oh dang, I just fell. Altair jumped off the wall instead of climbing up. Lame.

47 - Crap, I just fell really far to a bone smashing death. Why did Altair jump way off... Loading.

Assassins Creed Altair Climbing Building

48 - The game has put me back before the balance beams. This may get annoying. I reach the wall again, the game feels like it needs to tell me again how to climb the wall.

49 - Altair jumps off again. I refuse to blame myself for that one.

51 - Yay, finally made it to the top. It seems that the less you press R and A the better. Altair and I use our sword to rain rolling log death onto the bad guys who were still just sitting there.

52 - Post battle, seems like it's an award ceremony for Altair from the Master! Okay, maybe not, Master is still pretty mad about the cave incident. He starts talking about the Assassin's Creed again. At one point he slaps Altair when he talks back.

Assassins Creed Altair Master Reprimand

54 - Having covered all the tenants of the Creed and blaming every death on Altair, the Master pulls out a knife and stabs Altair in the gut for being a traitor. Oh oh. After getting stabbed the loading screen appears and I get pulled back into modern day.

55 - The scientists argue about pulling me out of the memory. The woman puts her foot down to give Desmond a chance to stretch his legs. I now have control over Altair's descendant.

56 - I can hear the two argue but I can't do any cool moves with Desmond.

57 - I check out a bathroom, the view switches to a security camera when I enter the shower, focused right on me. Creepy. I try to interact with some object to no avail. Indigo Prophecy this is not.

Assassins Creed Desmond Lucy

58 - The scientists re-enter and tell me they're done for the day. I follow the chick, maybe I can get a date.

59 - She doesn't even respond to me bumping into her, so I head into the bathroom. They lock the door behind me. I lay down on the bed to sleep as there's nothing else to do.

60 - The following morning... Desmond wakes up with the Doctor looking over him. They start talking about assassinating and the justification behind it. The Doctor doesn't feel that the Assassins went far enough. Well, that's it for the first hour of Assassin's Creed. I wonder if Altair made it through the knife in his gut?

Now for some scores out of 10.

Assassins Creed Altair Horse Guard Sword

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 12

Gameplay: 8
So far, so good in Assassin's Creed. The game plays a bit like Prince of Persia which I enjoyed, but Altair has a few problems of facing the right direction sometimes, and the controls are taking a bit to get used to. To run fast you have to hold two buttons and every button does something different when holding R. Combat uses the lock-on system which is always a plus in a game like this, but other than that fighting is pretty simplistic. Jumping from building to building and taking leaps of faith though makes for some new and interesting styles of play. Altair really feels agile and the animations are so good it makes me think I could pull some of this stuff off!

Fun Factor: 6
This is what worries me a bit, jumping around rooftops is fun, but what happens when I need to be stealthy? Whenever I walked around the village my stealth meter said I was being watched by some guards, so I started "blending" which means you walk super slow. Going from point A to point B while blending to stay out of trouble will take forever! Even Altair's normal walking speed feels like molasses. I really hope this game is more lenient in the future when it comes to being stealthy as this is unbearable sometimes. Also the climbing didn't feel that great, but maybe I just wasn't doing it right. Maybe there's not much climbing in this game though. Once you're on the roof where else is there to go?

Graphics and Sound: 9
This game looks awesome. The characters look like real people and it's really fun to explore the village and castle as the environments look astounding. You can see incredibly far when looking out over the village and the textures are top notch. I'm not sure how I feel about the music so far though, as it really hasn't stood out. The voices are generally good though, except for Altair's, and I noticed that Kristen Bell plays one of the scientists, interesting choice. I like how people talk about you when doing odd stuff around the village. I'm looking forward to exploring the bigger cities though as this one almost seems constrained with the power of this graphics engine.

Story: 7
Okay, I'm pretty intrigued with Assassin's Creed's story after just the first hour. I like the duality of Desmond and his ancestor, Altair. The game makes me ask a lot of questions: who are these scientists with Desmond? What are they after? How does the Animus work? Does Altair survive his master's punishment? Not bad for just a short time of gaming. I heard that the modern day setting was supposed to be some sort of twist in the game but if it is, it wasn't executed very well. I think it would have been better if we played through the entire opening sequence until Altair gets gutted before we met Desmond, that would have been a better surprise then. If they were going to feature Desmond in the first hour, I wish we would have learned more about him at least, but maybe that was coming up right at the end.

Overall: 7
Assassin's Creed is kind of slow to any real gameplay, but what's there is pretty fun. The story is intriguing enough to get me to keep playing and the building hopping is brilliant. But I think the game suffers from trying to be too stealthy when unnecessary in the first hour. Either way, Assassin's Creed offers a pretty solid first hour with the right combination of original gameplay, great graphics, and two stories being weaved together into one. Try this game out if you're into stealth games or enjoyed the Prince of Persia series.

Assassins Creed Art