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Assassin's Creed Director's Cut Edition

By Bobfish16-08-2012
Leigh Cobb (editor)
Blankdoor (editor)

The Defence

Ubisoft Montreal
Action, Adventure, Platformer
Release Date:
US 08-04-2008
EU 11-04-2008

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+
Nvidia GeForce 6800
AMD Radeon x1600
9.0c, 10, 10.1

The Case

Assassin’s Creed, as is quite common these days, was released an entire six months after it’s console counterpart and showed all the signs of being a console port. Both of these factors, as well as the purely cosmetic “extra missions” that actually replaced some that were there already, didn’t do much to enamour the PC crowd. But, does that really make it a bad one? Join me, dear reader, as we uncover the truth of this millennium old conspiracy.

The Trial

The year is 1191 and war has engulfed the Holy Land. The city of Jerusalem, once the jewel of three faiths living in perfect harmony, is now torn beyond all hope of repair. Christian fights Moor fights Jew in a bitter triangle of senseless hate. The peoples of the book perpetuating upon each other, and even their own kin, atrocities beyond imagination. Richard the Lionheart cuts a bloody swathe through the Middle East, whilst Salah ad-Din rallys his own forces for an inevitable confrontation. This is war on a scale surpassing even the darkest fever dreams. And this is the world you have been thrust into.

Strike a pose.

Strike a pose.

The story follows the actions of one young, by our standards, assassin by the name of Altïr ibn-La’Ahad. The favoured of his order, recognised as the brightest, most capable. A man without peer. A man who has allowed his own skill to go to his head. His own arrogance, in the opening scenes of the game, see him stripped of his rank. Cast back down to the rank of initiate, but given the opportunity to put things right. One more chance to redeem himself. You, as Altaïr, have a simple task. Find and kill nine men. They are plague bringers, war makers, and the key members of a conspiracy that spans dozens of lifetimes. With echoes running all the way to our own time and beyond. All the way to the middle of 2012. And it is here, in our own future, that we meet Desmond. A direct descendant of Altaïr and our true protagonist.

Gameplay takes place in a series of acts, with most of them being split into memory blocks. Using a device called The Animus, Desmond actually steps back through his own genetic code, directly into the memories of his distant kin. Tracking down the list of targets, assessing their weaknesses, dealing with informants and spying on guards. Before each assassination attempt, you must complete a number of fact finding quests. These range from accosting town criers, to listening to conversations, to running errands for other members of the order. This is where the game falls down for a lot of people.

The nature of the tasks themselves offers little opportunity for variety. And, as the game progresses, the number required to begin the assassination itself increases. Starting with two for the earliest, then four, and then on to all six. And, whilst I agree, it can become a little repetitive, none of them ever take more than a few minutes to finish. And there’s actually a fair bit more diversity than people really give it credit for. Also, the fact that they can be completed in any order you choose, as well as the little tid-bits of information, such as letters and floor plans, you pick up along the way. It all adds up, and really helps to impress the gravity of your actions upon the player.

Seems legit.

Seems legit.

Frankly, I find the allegations of repetition to rather ironic. Considering the continued success of the military shooter, calling a game that has you running across rooftops, climbing any building you wish. Leaping into bales of hay from a hundred feet up, merging with wandering groups of scholars (‘cause they’ll never notice the guy with the red sash and half a dozen swords on his belt) and riding a horse through a battalion of soldiers. Calling that repetitive, when considering this barely scratches the surface of what you can do. Frankly, it’s absurd.

Consider, also, the visual fidelity of the game. This is a console port, as already noted, but it’s a damned good one. It’s more than three years old now, and was one of the earliest games to incorporate, and really make use of, Dx10. And it shows. There is still a small degree of texture pop-in, but when I say small, I mean very small. The environments are massive, truly massive, though you have to be above street level to really appreciate that. But when you are up there, and take the time to look out across the cityscape, the full scale of even the smallest location comes into sharp focus.

This quality extends to the animations too, which are incredibly slick both during cut scenes and in game. Seeing our boy the Eagle scaling a church tower with effortless grace, it really impresses upon you the amount of work that went into the game. He moves with nary an ounce of wasted energy. Each footstep is sure, each lunge is precise, each swing of his sword perfectly aimed. But what else would you expect from a master assassin?

This won't hurt a bit...

This won't hurt a bit...

Combat is a lot of fun, especially with the action camera enabled. Sadly, it does become extremely easy fairly early in the game. After only a few completed missions (full missions, not just the small quests) you have the ability to counter attack. Which leads most battles to being a waiting game. Just hold your guard, wait for an enemy to attack, then dispatch him. With a great deal of flare and panache. Though some later enemies can break your guard, and will try to grab you, and even counter your killing stroke. All that serves to do is make you wait for a second opportunity. But, well, you’re a master assassin, what did you really expect? He’s just that good.

And it makes a nice change for that to be reflected in a game. Rather than being a, supposedly, super killing machine, who has his arse handed to him by a lowly mook. Altaïr is at the top of his game. And, yeah, it does make the game a little on the easy side, and I usually prefer a challenge to be honest. But it’s fun to play. And the progression of the plot, both in 1191 and 2012, is pretty fascinating. Especially when you consider the painstaking efforts Ubisoft put into making the game as historically accurate, as they possibly could. These people were real, at least partly, and these events really happened. And when was the time you really learned something when playing a game?

The voice acting is top notch, really bringing the characters to life. Even Desmond, who doesn’t receive a great deal of face time, sucks us in to his plight. And he’s a likable chap indeed, possessing that everyman quality. Whilst Altaïr is just as cool and mysterious as you would expect. Even the random chatter from people on the streets feels authentic, whilst being ever so slightly off at the same time. Why is English suddenly the official language of the Holy land? Well, even that is addressed in game. With the animus translating everything for you.

And sound quality doesn’t stop with the voice work. Background noises, the clash of blade against blade, the grunt of a dispatched guard, even the jangle of the tools on Altaïr’s belt are all superb. As is the music, though that really is rather repetitive. But it’s background noise, setting a tone, rather than overpowering you, and it changes from city to city.

I'm Batman.

I'm Batman.

When you consider that this was a new IP, touching on one of the most volatile subjects in the world today, religion. This was a ballsy game. Especially when it shows the Islamic side as being the true heroes. Is it any surprise that there were fewer risks taken with gameplay? This was primarily establishing the premise, and testing the waters. And at that, it succeeds magnificently. And, as Ubisoft showed, later games expanded on the concept more than we could have imagined.

The Verdict

This is one of the best games I have played in a very long time. It’s screamingly obvious that I am horrendously biased in favour of the series, and I will not apologise for that. All I’ll say is this. Dude, if I’m this passionate, and this positive about it, there must be a reason for it. So do yourself a favour. If you haven’t checked it out already, go do it.

Case Review

  • Deep Story: I won’t give too much away, but it goes even further than just one religion against another.
  • Incredible Visuals: Dx10. Really pushes hardware, even now.
  • Spectacular Animations: Some of the smoothest I’ve ever seen.
  • NPCs: A fair number, but repeating dialogue makes them tedious to deal with.
  • Somewhat Short: Around the six to eight hour mark.
  • Repetitive Missions: No more than ten types that repeat throughout the entire game.
Score: 5/5
A great game, a history lesson and a social commentary all rolled in to one.


When Assassins Creed was released it was a rather unique game, from the setting, all the way to game mechanics. As a background story, you play a character named Desmond Miles, that is put into a machine called “the animus” to access his ancestors memory and help the modern day Templars find something of interest to them. During the main game you play Master assassin Altair, during the times of the Crusades, who has now been demoted because of his arrogance. Through the game you are climbing up ranks to regain your previous position and learning to abide the assassin order’s rules and humility.

As I said before, the game was very unique for the time, with an open world that was truly living and breathing. The game world was made of three main cities, interconnected with huge areas in-between. The cities themselves were massive and you could still climb EVERY building within the city walls. There were just a hand full of different type of objectives, but open world gave the ability to approach them from more than one path. Still, that doesn’t give a big incentive for replayability as every sequence (chapter of the game if you will) was made out of the same objectives. There are some collectible flags, but it was more fun just to run through the rooftops and climb towers. Where the game still shines today is the visuals! With DirectX 10.1 support it’s arguable the game looks even better than the later iteration of the series.

Score: 4.5/5
Comments (3)
You must be to post a comment.
Posts: 3290

I love Desmond <3

@Mandalore : Like Stunt said, I didn't have any real camera issues, nothing that really leaped out at me anyway. You're right about the assassination parts though, I'm actually surprised with myself that I didn't comment on that. I think I was just too busy gushing. As for swimming, that was incredibly uncommon in the 1100's, especially in areas with strong Christian influence. Even people who could swim would avoid it, because of that ridiculous notion that only witches would float. So that part I actually like

Posts: 1548

I actually didn't encounter almost any camera issues. Also I'm probably one of 3 people who liked the Desmond part. Maybe not the gameplay but the idea and it didn't bother me nor distract me from the Altair part.

Posts: 10

You pretty much hit on everything, but I feel that there are a few small issues you didn't really touch.

At times, especially when you are in combat near a wall, the camera zooms in waaaaaay too close to Altair, effectively blinding you.

It is not possible (as far as I am aware) to exit blend from a group of scholars while still blended. In one mission, if you exit the blend you are jumped by guards but if you stay with the scholars, you are lead away from your target.

Third, in a few of your missions you are forced into confrontations against multiple enemies. While I understand they want to challenge the player, I feel this takes away from being an assassin. This also ties into the fact that the "setup" before you actually try to assassinate your target (where it "synchs" with your ancestral memory), you are basically forced to sit back and watch even if your target has his back to you and is only a meter away. Assassins Creed is about freedom and these parts of the game really detracts from this.

Also, you can't swim? Really? There isn't that much water in the game, but still, it is so bloody irritating.

Finally, the parts where you are Desmond are just so boring. I understand what the developers are going for with Desmond obtaining the skills of his ancestors to become a super assassin and showing the continuance of the story in the modern age, but I feel this is just takes away from him as a character and weakens the story of Altair.

Still, its an amazing game and I was happy to have played it.