Assassin’s Creed – Addendum
Now that I have finished the game, I want to amend my previous review with a couple thoughts.
While I found the overall experience a net positive, there was a definite point (around killing #7) where a lot of the fun went out the window. The reason for this was simple: too much combat.
The combat in the game can be described as “exceptionally fun in small doses” and “excruciatingly tedious in large doses”. So, if you get into a brawl with three dudes, it’s over quick, and it’ fun. But around the 7th assassination (there are nine targets, but really eleven assassination missions), two things happen:
1) The number of soldiers that walk the streets has increased a hundredfold, so any fights you get in are with like, 15 or 20 people at once, and
2) The guards suddenly have a near-superhuman ability to recognize you, so you end up getting in a lot of fights simply walking around.
In theory, you can walk around praying in “blend” mode and avoid a lot of this – but doing this cranks the travel time for moving across the city from 3 or 4 minutes to 15 or 20. And this isn’t foolproof, either, since if you bump into anyone, it alerts the guards.
But wait! There’s more!
The last assassination mission is a trap. You go there, and then find yourself surrounded by a bunch of guys and have to fight (this wouldn’t be so bad, except there are archers on the walls who kill you even if you defend against the sword guys).
So, okay. You get through that. And then you have to go find the real guy, who has gone somewhere else – but getting there is a series of big combats that you cannot avoid. The game won’t let you progress until you’ve fought them.
And then you have to do it AGAIN for the new, sekret “tenth target” that anyone with a brain will have figured out you have to ice from mission 1. This one is super irritating because the final “boss fight” is a three-stage boss fight – and it totally breaks the established “rules of reality”: the final guy can summon illusions of himself and the other bosses you’ve fought, and he can teleport, etc., etc. Magic. LOLWHUT?
(These powers and abilities are actually explained in game and make sense but they are only explained *after* the final fight – nay, even after the credits roll, but more on that in a second).
The combat focus is irritating because, honestly, combat is supposed to be a *penalty* for failing to be stealthy. You spend the entire game *avoiding* combat, and then suddenly the last 10% of the game is *purely* combat. It’s like the developers wanted to punish you for doing good. It’s a series of poor design choices.
Now, a lot of people hate the ending, and I totally understand why, because it’s non-obvious what you have to do to even trigger the credits (you have to go into your bedroom and use your special “eagle vision” on the walls to see some secret writing).
Further, to really “get” the ending, to figure out what’s going on, you have to get access to all the computers in the lab and in the previously inaccessible conference room. However, you will have had to get the pass-keys for the computers (they get left on a desk and the Animus) – but this only happens during two specific “breaks” and if you don’t get them then you will never get them (I missed one of them, which bites chode).
Having access to all the computers explains what the Evil Company and the Templars are really doing, and it explains how the “magic” works, sets up the sequel better, and leaves you with a better “feel” for what’s going on. But if you *don’t* have access to this stuff, the ending is a granite wall – one that you smash your head into until it bleeds.
If you miss the computer keys, all of the ending stuff is detailed and explained here. It’s a very complex set-up, well-researched, and well-written.
Here’s the thing: if they had just doled out this info to you in a more obvious way as you go along, the final boss fight wouldn’t have been as jarring and the ending wouldn’t have felt so wall-like. I like it when games tell a lot of their story through subtle or hidden clues (ala Half-Life 2), but at the same time, the more important elements should have been spelled out more explicitly (e.g., the Templars have developed a real time-travel technology).