Set in the medieval age during the tumultuous time of the Crusader States, Assassin’s Creed is about a story of an elite assassin who must eliminate eight foes in order to redeem himself to his master. It mixes stealth, deception, and some high flying action to create an extremely satisfying action game that stands on its own right to its console brethren.
A cursory glance at Assassin’s Creed will suggest that Gameloft’s mobile version of the console game was simply transformed into a Splinter Cell clone except instead of Sam Fisher you get Altair and instead of guns and high tech gadgets you get shields and swords. Treating it like a medieval clone would be a mistake to say the least. First off, the visuals in Assassin’s Creed are amazing for a platform action game. The detail in the stone structures and the characters in the game are taken to another level. I particularly liked the lighting effects which give the game a 3D pop to it.
The graphics help make the death defying stunts that Altair does all the more convincing. The protagonist is able to literally walk up walls for a short period of time and some of the acrobatics he does makes Jackie Chan look like an amateur. It’s clever and fresh making even something as simple as a ladder can be spun around mid-air or tipped to reach a ledge on the opposite side of the screen. In set sequences, the jumps, leaps and bounds are taken to movie-like proportions like when you have to jump off a ledge to save yourself from the horde of assassins chasing you.
Assassin’s Creed is also able to mix in some Prince of Persia type environmental puzzles. There are pressure pads, locked doors, and crumbling bridges (platforms in Persia) that have to be navigated. These help give a break in the game as you have to slow down and explore the level a little to get around the obstacles. Another interesting addition is that of combat. In previous Gameloft platform games, combat wasn’t really all that tactical. For a game like Splinter Cell, you basically fired your gun and did your best not to catch too much return fire. Here you’ll have to block and parry in sword fights against enemies, which slows down the combat and gives it a tactical challenge.
Like the console game, you will have to hide amongst crowds and avoid engaging enemies to get to your mark. These sequences require stealth and a new element of deception. And to make the game more challenging, they’re non-negotiable so if guards are coming by, you’ll have to pretend you’re a priest in a crowd of clergy. Combined with the puzzle elements, this ensures you won’t be able to hack and slash your way to the assassination target.
There is a back story to Assassin’s Creed which I won’t spoil here but you’ll also collect memory blocks that will help you discover more purpose to why Altair is doing what he’s doing. The only thing holding this game back from becoming an instant classic is its lack of ambient audio or music. Otherwise, Gameloft has created a title here worth playing irrespective of what becomes of the console title.