Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Assassin's Creed (Playstation 3)

Assassin's Creed is an innovative title that largely succeeds in transporting players into another time. Ubisoft has chosen to bring the 12th century crusades to life, where the player is cast as a mysterious assassin whose mission is to rid society of those who would profit from the war. You'll traverse massive, living recreation of three mid-east cities as you investigate your target, locate them and finally kill them. It's not quite that simple since you have to worry about getting spotted by the numerous guards. The storyline is evocative and far more intelligent than you see in most games, immersing players in an engaging world of dangerous hidden agendas and unexpected twists. Things can become a bit monotonous at points as the plot and investigations tend to drag, but that doesn't detract from the sense of freedom and exploration that Assassin's Creed provides that makes it one of the most satisfying games released this year.

While there are a few twists that occur later on in the game that redefine what's actually happening, the main thrust of Assassin's Creed revolves around a white-clad character named Altair in the 12th century. Altair has been trained since his youth to be a methodical, effective killer. He's grown to become one of the best in his order, with a high ranking within his clan. During the game's first mission, something goes horribly wrong, causing the death of many of his key allies. Finding himself stripped of his status and many of his abilities, he makes a deal to assassinate nine lives in exchange for his own. With each of his missions successfully completed, he regains some of his status and abilities. As a member of a mysterious order of Assassins, Altair is given instructions from his mentor between each mission at their mountain-based retreat, where other aspects of the game's larger storyline begin to unfold. Once Altair has been given his instructions for the assassination, he must travel to that city. There are large swaths of countryside between these main areas, each of which has a number of locations that you can scout. There are some hostile forces here, and you can choose to either sneak past them slowly to avoid battles or go full gallop on your horse. This approach alerts them to your presence and means you have to battle them. The sequences aren't that numerous and you can usually travel to your destination fairly quickly, though like several other elements in the game, this can become a bit tedious after awhile.

As you travel throughout the world of Assassin's Creed, you'll encounter numerous watch towers and other locations that serve as viewpoints. When you climb up these towers, you'll see a small ledge at the top of them, and once there, you can synchronize yourself with the environment, which helps you in two ways - it gives you a perspective on your nearby surroundings and also allows you to explore those sections which were previously blocked off to you. In addition, after you scale one of these areas, previously unseen objectives and locations will also appear on your map, helping to move things forward. Additionally, Altair will also be able to see the location of hiding spots as well. You have to scale most of these Towers in each city in order to fulfill your mission objectives and the assassinations can't be completed in many cases without scaling at least a few of these towers. Early on, these tower climbing sequences let you practice your climbing skills, which can come in handy later on when you need to escape quickly from some fairly dangerous sections. However, this system does tend to become a bit monotonous after you've climbed about a dozen or so of these, slowing down the gameplay at crucial points.

Once you have arrived in the city, your first objective is to locate the Assassin's Bureau and gain further information about the target. However, in order to get inside, you need to be invisible which means you have to avoid alerting the citizens by, for example, not knocking them over while running or taking on an innocent bystander. Once you have arrived at the bureau, your contact will fill you in on who you're targeting and the misdeeds you are about to punish them for. After you have received your final instructions, its up to you to explore the city and find out further details. This can be done in a number of ways - the first is to find someone with information on your target which helps you find their location. To gain this information, you can choose to either sneak in close to them and listen to their conversations. Another technique is to pickpocket information on them by moving close to them and taking a piece of paper from them. Finally, you can use an interrogation technique where you lure the informant to an isolated place, attack them until they break down and give you the information you need. Its not quite that simple, since each city is crawling with guards, who will very quickly spot and attack you if they sense anything unusual is going on. Fortunately, you have several techniques to blend in with the crowd, such as walking slowly with your hands clasped, sitting on a bench or simply running out of their sight lines. One of the game's more impressive sequences sees Altair blending in with a group of white-clad monks to evade your pursuers, though you are basically locked into their formation until you decide to leave, walking with them through the city streets is fairly dull. During the game, you can also choose to take some side-quests, usually involving a citizen being attacked unfairly. While they don't seem to make your job easier, if you save these innocents from a group of corrupt guards, they'll repay you later on. For example, they might have friends who'll suddenly appear when you are being pursued to block your opponent's progress, making it much easier for you to avoid getting caught.

When you are spotted, you have several different ways to respond. You can either choose to flee the scene, and find a safe location until the guards' alert level drops or you can fight them. Assassin's Creed's combat system is relatively straightforward. Attacking them with your sword is fairly simple to perform. You can choose to use either a series of short blows by pressing down on the action button or can perform a stronger attack by holding down the attack button. You can also perform dodging motions to avoid their blows or perform a quick, devastating finishing move. When you're confronted by multiple enemies simultaneously, using your quick attacks and eagle vision to lock onto an opponent is usually the best strategy, allowing you to dispatch foes quickly without subjecting yourself to excessive danger from the other attackers. If you flee to the roofs, you'll usually find a few guards stationed there as well, but they're usually alone and can be taken out quickly or pushed off the side of the building if they don't see you. Altair can also perform stealth attacks using his hidden blade to take out enemies at close range. You basically sneak behind them without raising suspicion then plunge the knife in them and walk away slowly as they collapse to the ground. This is usually quite effective when you want to take someone down in a public place without alerting the guards - just don't forget to walk away slowly after your attack is complete. This is emblematic of the game's unique approach to stealth attacks, which feels a lot more natural and less contrived than in a lot of other titles. It definitely requires a great deal of skill and timing to take someone out without drawing attention to yourself, but once you get the hang of it, Assassin's Creed's brilliant design begins to show itself.

Continued on Page 2 ....