This week on Zero Punctuation, Yahtzee gets stabby with Assassin's Creed.
In the time between the release of Assassin's Creed in America and its release in Australia (plus however much time it took for me to start giving a shit,) I was inundated with literally two emails declaring its poor quality and asking if I was going to give it a sound thrashing for the rollicking amusement of all. So I braced myself for Assassin's Creed winning the gold medal at the Poo-Poo Olympics, but put away your bile umbrellas, listeners. It's not bad. Not great, but only taking home the bronze at most. I'm not sure what it's done to earn so much ire from the community. It might be because Ubisoft is French and therefore full of unwashed, cheesy pricks.
Whoops, my mistake. Assassin's Creed was actually developed by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs, as a rather perplexing opening screen is quick to remind us in what I presume is a weak attempt to placate the various religious groups who are depicted in this game as dirty and horrible. Admittedly no more so than everyone else in the world, but then atheists aren't as likely to burn your house down.(This video review was created by a not particularly multicultural person but who really loves religious extremists a big huggy bunch.)
Assassin's Creed takes place in some weird parallel universe version of the 12th-century Holy Land where all the major cities are within five minutes drive of each other and follows the adventures of Altair, a member of a secret order of assassins who possesses a rather anomalous American accent. Only, that's a lie; the game is actually about some dickhead in the future kidnapped by a rival in the Biggest Dickhead Competition who forces him to relive the genetic memories of a 12th-century ancestor. All of which sounds like a soft science nightmare, but as a device to drive the storyline it does the job all right. Also, it means that you never die; you just get desynchronised in the sci-fi equivalent of the Prince of Persia's constant deaths in Sands of Time being attributed to him having an atrocious memory.
Speaking of which, you could consider Assassin's Creed a spiritual sequel to The Prince of Persia since it's by the same company and it continues the tradition of dicking around on the rooftops of an ancient civilization. Now, I really liked the Prince of Persia trilogy, even the second one where he starts listen to Linkin Park and letting his mum cut his hair, because all the free running and jumping everywhere gave a great sense of freedom when you weren't being instantly killed by ten-foot drops. But the linearity of the progression diminished that somewhat. Assassin's Creed doesn't have that problem; you're free to go wherever you like in each city, climbing, running, jumping, misjudging distance and faceplanting six stories down. It's actually fun, and especially exhilarating when your cover is blown and every Crusader from here to Azerbaijan is hacking at your shins.
Said crusaders are rather bewilderingly quick to mark you for death, though. Part of that might be your fault for having an arsenal of knives and a huge neon sign saying "I'm an assassin" strapped to your back, but explain to me how this makes any goddamn sense: if you make your horse walk past soldiers in the countryside they'll all somehow twig that you're up to no good and become hostile, but if you hold down a button that makes the horse go a little bit slower then suddenly nobody cares. Maybe the Holy Land has some kind of rigidly enforced speed limit, but watching a dashing warrior and his magnificent steed dawdling along the road like a Blackpool donkey ride is not my idea of pulse-pounding action.
Another good way to blow your cover is to randomly stab innocent civilians, and trust me when I say that forcing yourself not to do so is a lot harder than it sounds; those wacky, fun-loving lepers have this hilarious tendency to shove you with all their retard strength and send you flying ye olde mosh pit style, which I feel makes me well within my rights to lamp them one. But then everyone turns against you, because apparently it's not as funny when you do it. And then there are the beggar women who will latch onto you like a lamprey eel and constantly run in front of you whining for coins in a manner scientifically designed to get on my tits. Then I give them a gentle, discouraging knuckle sandwich and they run off yelling like I'm the asshole. It hits particularly close to home for me, because this is pretty much how all my relationships turn out.
Assassinations are a tiny percentage of the game experience, but I guess "Faffing About" Creed doesn't have the same ring to it. The developers can't seem to grasp what it is that makes their game fun. The actual assassinations - planning the route to the target, stealthing over Hitman style, and sticking blades up their arse - they're great fun, it's just that it takes way too long to get to those moments. First you have to walk all the way down from your home base at the top of a fucking mountain at the start of every fucking mission. Then you have to make your way through the target city, pausing occasionally to nut the lepers Glaswegian style. Then you're forced to do a few errands around the place, which are basically the same three side-quests over and over again. And when you do finally get to stab someone up, it's all bookended by long, wordy, unskippable cutscenes. Even after the stabbing, you have to sit through a prolonged conversation with the victim - you'd think having a spike shoved into the throat would impede one's ability to soliloquize, but you just can't shut these twatmouths up.
Also, while the running and stealthing is awesome, the swordfighting sucks a big fat cocksickle, and, after the speed kill system from The Two Thrones, I though Ubisoft understood that. But for the entire last hour or so, you do nothing but fight off waves of baddies that makes Space Invaders look conservative. It's like you're enjoying a nice, if rather bland, grilled cheese sandwich, livened up by intermittent lumps of Branston pickle, when someone snatches it from your mouth and replaces it with a spoonful of watery ejaculate between two pieces of wood.
Overall, though, I like Assassin's Creed. At least it's trying something new and different to the legions of clones stanking up the market. And it kept me interested enough to see it through to the end, even when it did endeavour to shit all over itself. It certainly taught me to ignore people who email me (not that I needed another reason.) Give it a chance, but I can't blame you if you end up trying to fire it into the sun.
People around him tend to disappear: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
"I Fought the Law" by The Clash
"Yakety Sax" by Boots Randolph
Also Yahtzee would just like to mention that he is not anti-religion and respects everyone's right to believe in whatever claptrap they want
Stop telling me what to review for fuck's sake it hasn't gotten any less futile
- 2 religious people are seen driving in the same MG A.
- it's the 2nd time an MG A made is appearance since the 1st review.