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Nothing is true. Everything is permitted.
— Assassin motto.

Assassin's Creed, developed by Ubisoft Montreal, is an action-adventure game with heavy stealth and platforming elements. The player controls an ancient assassin named Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad on his mission to murder a group of corrupt politicians in order to shape the direction of the Holy War for the control of Jerusalem. The game follows a rather strict patern, while the player has free run of the wide open cities presented to them, they must complete a set number of missions before each assassination- racing to collect flags, beating up informants and pickpocketing notes and maps are the most common.

The game recieved a large amount of hype, though the reception was mild. Many praised the unique story, fun weapons, platforming style and world- but they were frustrated with the massive monotony of the game, and the unlikable protaginist. Despite the lukewarm reception, the game sold extremley well, and the Assassins and their Hidden Blades became an iconic symbol of modern gaming. It was followed soon with a portable spin-off, Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles, and another, Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines. A true sequel was released in 2009, Assassin's Creed 2, which was in turn followed by a spin-off- Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and it's own spin-off, the Facebook game Assassin's Creed: Legacy.

GameplayEdit

Assassin's Creed is an action-adventure video game in which the player primarily assumes the role of Altaïr, as experienced by protagonist Desmond Miles. The primary goal of the game is to carry out a series of assassinations ordered by Al Mualim, the leader of the Assassins. To achieve this goal, the player must travel from the Brotherhood's headquarters in Masyaf, across the terrain of the Holy Land known as the Kingdom to one of three cities—Jerusalem, Acre, or Damascus—to find the Brotherhood agent in that city. There, the agent, in addition to providing a safe house, gives the player minimal knowledge about the target, and requires them to perform additional "recon" missions before attempting the assassination. These missions include: eavesdropping, interrogation, pickpocketing and completing tasks for informers and fellow assassins. Additionally, the player may take part in any number of side objectives in these open world environments, including climbing tall towers to map out the city, and saving citizens who are being threatened or harassed by the city guards. There are also various side quests that do not advance the plot such as hunting down and killing Templars and flag collecting. After completing each set of assassinations, the player is returned back to the Brotherhood and rewarded with a better weapon and then given another set of targets, with the player free to select the order of certain targets.

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Altaïr lunging at Talal.

The player is made aware of how noticeable Altaïr is to enemy guards as well as the current state of alert in the local area via the "Social Status Icon". To perform many of the assassinations and other tasks, the player must consider the use of commands distinguished by its type of profile. Low-profile commands allow Altaïr to: blend into nearby crowds, pass by other citizens, or other non-threatening tasks that can be used to hide and reduce the alertness level; the player can also use Altaïr's retractable blade to attempt low-profile assassinations. High-profile commands are more noticeable, and include: running, scaling the sides of buildings to climb to higher vantage points, and attacking foes; performing these actions at certain times may raise the local area's awareness level. Once the area is at high alert, the crowds run and scatter while guards attempt to chase and bring down Altaïr; to reduce the alert level, the player must control Altaïr as to break the guards' line of sight and then find a hiding space, such as a haystack or rooftop garden; or blend in with the citizens sitting on benches or wandering scholars. Should the player be unable to escape the guards, they can fight back using swordplay maneuvers.

The player's health is described as the level of "Synchronization" between Desmond and Altaïr's memories; should Altaïr suffer injury, it is represented as deviation from the actual events of the memory, rather than physical damage. If all synchronization is lost, the current memory that Desmond is experiencing will be restarted at the last checkpoint. When the synchronization bar is full, the player has the additional option to use "Eagle Vision", which allows the computer-rendered memory to highlight all visible characters in colors corresponding to whether they are ally (blue), foe (red) or even the target of their assassination (gold). Due to Altaïr's memories being rendered by the computer of the Animus project, the player may experience "glitches" in the rendering of the historical world, which may help the player to identify targets, or can be used to alter the viewpoint during in-game scripted scenes should the player react fast enough when they appear.

PlotEdit

In the year of 2012 AD, a young bartender by the name of Desmond Miles suddenly finds himself captured by a the massive Abstergo Industries, who subject him to the experimental Animus machine by the scientist, Warren Vidic. The Animus is a machine designed to tap into the subject's DNA, in order to discover the memories of their ancestors. Aided by his assisstant, Lucy Stillman, Vidic locks Desmond in the Animus, transporting him to 1191 BC, the era of the crusades, where he discovers his past self, Altair Ibn-La'Ahad, a member of an ancient society of secret Assassins. Altair is on a mission, along with Malik Al-Sayf and his brother, Kadar Al-Sayf, to track down a treasure and take it from the Templar army. Discovering it's location, Altair's brash and arrogant nature cause the item to be lost to the Templar Robert de Sable, who murders Kadar and cuts off Malik's arm.

Altair Impaling Templar

Altair uses the Hidden Blade against a Templar.

When he returns to Masyaf, the leader of the Assassins, Al Mualim, strips him of his rank and weapons, leaving him the lowest student possible. He then tasks Altair with tracking down a traitor in their midst. Altair does this quickly, and is sent on a quest to assassinate nine targets throughout the crusades, of both Muslim and Chirstain origins. He travels the land, killing the black market merchant Tamir, the Hospitalier commander Garnier de Naplouse, the slave trader Talal, and Abu'l Nuqoud the merchant king of Damascus.

Meanwhile in 2012, Veddic releases Desmond from the Animus every few memories, and he begins to talk with Lucy, who reveals that she is a member of the modern order of the Assassins, just like Desmond, though Desmond says he left that life long ago and he never became a real assassin. Lucy also reveals that Abstergo Industries is a continuation of the Templar, and they are looking for something in Desmond's memories- something that will allow them to take over the world.

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Desmond, in the Animus.

Back in 1191, Altair continues his assassination spree, killing William of Montferrat the Crusader regent of Acre, Baha ad-Din ibn Shaddad the Muslim regent of Jerusalem, the Tutonic Knights grand master Sibrand, and the scholar of Damascus Jabair al Hakim. As he continues, Altair regains his ranks, weapons, abillities and begins to forge a friendship with Malik Al-Sayf, who eventually forgives him. As Altair travels to kill Robert, he is confronted instead by an imposter, Maria Thorpe, who has disquised herself as de Sable to trick Altair into a trap. The assassin kills Thorpe's men, but he spares her life, setting after Sable, who is with King Richard. After fighting through waves of foes, Altair comes into the camp, and Richard agrees to allow Altair and Richard to fight to the death, deciding that God will choose the victor. Altair kills de Sable, and returns to Masyaf.

As Altair rides into the assassin hometown, everything seems strange, and the people there are mindless slaves. He is attacked by the mindless assassin guards, who nearly overwhelm him, untill Malik arrives at the last moment with his men to rescue Altair. He claims that Al Mualim has gone mad, and Altair chases after him. Confronting Mualim, Altair discovers that the treasure he has been sent to recover is a Piece of Eden, a powerful artifact that can warp even the reality of time and space. Altair fights through the tricks and illusions of the artifact- The Apple, and kills Al Mualim. As he goes to recover the Apple, it opens up revealing a holographic globe with various points marked on the map.

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Altair confronts his old master.

Returning to the present, Desmond is released from the Animus, and learns that the marks on the map represent other Pieces of Eden, and Abstergo plans to use the map recovered from his DNA to track them down. Vidic and his superior plan to murder Desmond, but he is rescued at the last moment intervention of Lucy, who convinces them to let him live. After they leave, Desmond begins to suffer the bleeding effect from the Animus, and gains Altair's "Eagle Vision" where he discovers the writings of a past captive all over the walls and floors, that foretell the ending of the world.

DevelopmentEdit

Originally conceived as a new installment in Ubisoft's long running Prince of Persia franchise, Prince of Persia: Assassin, creative director Patrice Désilets began to make radical changes to the series format. Finding The Prince to be too boring of a protagonist, Patrice created a scenario in which the players instead controlled an Assassin, inspired by the historical Hassan-i Sabbah, on a mission to rescue the captured Prince. Ubisoft, not wanting a Prince of Persia game without the central focus laying on the main character, demanded that title spin-off and become its own self-contained series. Taking inspiration from Vladimir Bartol's novel, Alamut, and numerous historical figures of the time, Patrice created a new world based on the conspiracy and conflict between two secret organizations- The Assassins and the The Templars.

ReceptionEdit

Assassin's Creed began life with little hype, but as the release of the game drew nearer and nearer, Ubisoft poured money into it's advertising campaign, and steadily built up hype and the game was quickly being referred to as "The First Truley Next-Gen Experience" by a number of revered magazines and websites. When the game finally released, fans and critics alike praised the blending of game genres, and gushed about the fun of the platforming, espicially in comparison to the Prince of Persia games, which many claimed now had a new competition for best action-platformer. One of the most common complaints felt by gamers, however, were the side-quests. There were six types of sidequest, and three of them had to be completed at each city- a problem many felt made the game much slower and more repetitive. On that note, many fans were also dissapointed that after first visiting all the cities, the game simply backtracked between them for the duration of the adventure, which only added to the repetitive feel. The collectible flags were constantly highlighted as the most pathetic attempt to shoehorn extra achievements into a game at the time, as were the hidden Templars. It was also common to hear people complain about Al-Mualim's many speeches to Altair after every mission, and the Hannibal Lecture given by each boss after stabbing them in the neck.

Players and critics praised the story for the most part, citing the deep mystery, intresting premise, and great character progression. Despite this, many fans disliked Altair, choosing to ignore his character development and characterize him only as the ignorant and arogant headstrong apprentice from the beginning of the first act, rather than the enlightened, calculating and caring changed man from the game's ending. Assassin's Creed's strong narrative has caused an upsweep in historical-mystery, and has been described as "...a better Da Vinci Code than The Da Vinci Code". Despite heavy praise for the narrative, most players felt like the ending was less like an ending and more like the developers just stopped working on it.

Scores

  • IGN- 7.5/10 "Good"
  • Gamespot- 9.0/10 "Editor's Choice"
  • Game Informer- 9.5/10
  • Gamespy- 3.5/5
  • Famitsu- 37/40
  • EuroGamer- 7/10
  • Destructoid- 5.5/10
  • Official Xbox Magazine- 8.8/10
  • Playstation Magazine- 5/5
  • X-Play- 5/5

Collector's EditionEdit

Released as a North America exclusive, the Assassin's Creed: Special Edition included collectible Altair figurine standing approximately 3 inches tall, a printed Penny Arcade comic, a miniature strategy guide and a bonus disc. The Bonus Disc included behind the scenes videos, developer diaries, trailers, production team interviews, and the winners of the Assassin's Creed short film contest. An equivalent to the Special Edition was released in Europe with a different set of items: a 12 inch Altair collectible figure, an artbook (which was also offered as a pre-order bonus item at participating North America retailers) and a bonus disc featuring similar documentaries.

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