Thursday, April 10, 2008

Assassin's Creed PC and Bill Gets Two Bits Right

So Bill got two things right in his last post:

1. I am reviewing Assassin's Creed
2. I am an exceptionally poor blogger.

On the other hand, I am also ridiculously good looking and that keeps me pretty happy. (Hey, who reading this can prove me wrong? Shut up, Mike.)

I've put about five hours into the PC edition of Assassin's Creed. My chief complaint? It's ridiculously hard to exit the game. It is, quite literally, the first game I have ever played that you have to exit three times before you get back to Windows (or a DOS prompt for that matter).

In Assassin's Creed you're some near-future nobody whose been hauled into a some form of militaristic pharmaceuticals company because a distant Middle Eastern ancestor of yours was an assassin and your genes carry his memories. For some reason they need those memories very badly. You really can't make this sh#@ up.

So, the game as most of us know it consists of delving into and reliving your ancestor's history in the Middle East in the Crusades era. (If I paid any attention to detail whatsoever, I could tell you the year. No such luck, though.) If you can stretch your suspension of disbelief this far, there's an interesting game here. The cityscapes alone make it worth trying. They are, at times, breathtaking. It's just bizarre to me that to actually leave the game you have to leave the current "memory" you're in, then quit the near-future part of the game -which dumps you back to the profile log in screen- and then log back in to your profile again so that you can actually leave the game entirely. The whole process takes a couple of minutes. Whomever thought that was a good idea should be stripped to their skivvies and made to run around downtown Anchorage... in February.

As for the gameplay, it's a lot of fun. But the main thing I've digested from reading about the original console version of Assassin's Creed is that the gameplay in the first couple hours doesn't differ much from the gameplay throughout the rest of the game. And that's gonna get old. There's only so many strangers you can rescue on the streets of Demascus or Jerusalem before it's gonna get old. Only so many towering spires you can climb before you've had enough. I'm just five hours in and I've already had my fill of both of these highly repetitive tasks. True, you can skip some of this stuff, but I'm an obsessive compulsive hero/assassin, so not rescuing every damsel in distress is not even an option.

All that said, it's a gorgeous game. It may also be the first PC game I've played where you're better off using a 360 USB controller than the mouse and keyboard. The contortions you need to twist your fingers into for some of the keyboard combinations would make someone with arthritis cry. It's a damn good thing I've got a wired 360 controller, as the whole experience just works better with a couple analog sticks and a few well-placed buttons.