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15Dec/070

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I just finished Assassin's Creed. It was ok. I would say good, except the bad list is just too long.

First the good. Traversal was generally good. There were lots of times where I yelled at it for being stupid (e.g. not grabbing something an inch from his face and falling to his doom), but it was the best part of the game. The in game cutscene mechanic was ok. More gimmicky than HL2 with the arbitrary box restriction, but still overall good. The story was fun, if too predictable for the mood they were trying to set. The environment look great overall, especially with the density in the cities. Altair looked great. The setting was also somewhat cool. I could tell they previously did Price of Persia, but it felt pretty fresh overall.

Second the mediocre. The combat became pretty bland after a while. There was some variety in action and good cohesion with button assignment, but it all devolved to simple timing puzzles with little strategy. Shadows while very nice up close, had a painfully jarring detail drop at a constant distance to the camera. Secondary characters looked were passable. The camera cutting didn't piss me off as much as in Ninja Gaiden, but it was still somewhat aggravating. Irritant ambient characters are kinda stupid (especially when you'd love to give the pestering chick money, but the game doesn't let you). I understand that it gives some variety to the peasantry, but wow were they annoying. Semi-high latency controls are less than ideal. It wasn't the end of the world, but I still found it irking more often than not.

Now the ugly. Recording 4 lines for each of the mini-tasks you can do around 40 times is a VERY BAD idea. The AI is DUMB. It's painfully easy to game their perception system. Anyone who said this game was supposed to have smart AI was lying through their teeth or never played the game. The only exception is the chase sequences, but probably only because it involves running across the city. Most character models looked kinda crappy with a couple exceptions. Many mission types were very repetitive. Save the citizen always had the same formula (irrespective of dearth of dialog). Kill one guy, then fend off a few others. Everyone runs and screams even though you just helped this chick/old dude. Go and stealth kill n guys in m minutes, etc. I think all of these things would have been better if they made the core combat more fun and the AI less uniform and stupid.

So yeah, in the end, an ok game. I obviously liked it enough or I wouldn't have played all the way through it. I probably would have enjoyed it vastly more if I hadn't done everything like a completionist. That's really funny since many people online saying taking your time and doing more stuff makes the game more fun. Certainly I don't think it should be rushed, but I don't think anyone should bother playing ALL the pieces either. Now, I'll probably go back and collect all the flags because that implies more environment traversing and less of the irritating stuff.

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