Assassin’s Creed is an old game and a long franchise. Many numbers know that what greater numbers don’t know – I am a huge Assassin’s Creed fan, massive in fact. Given that 2020 is coming to an end I have set myself a goal: review all mainline games in the series. Recently I tackled the most recent game in the series: Assassin’s Creed Valhalla. Well, it’s been 13 years (give or take a few months) and I thought, let’s go back to the beginning. So here we are, a comprehensive review of the game that launched a franchise!
To say my system specifications are overkill, is to put it bluntly. This game is so old that it still has the Ubisoft branded system specifications chart when the game loads. We require this CPU and this GPU and here’s a big green tick as you have that or better. I find it hard to believe that when I tried to play Prince of Persia: Warrior Within it said my CPU wasn’t powerful enough but the same type of screen on a different game (by Ubisoft) tells me all is good in the world. Anyway, the comparisons.
The game asks for:
|2.6 GHz Intel Pentium® D |
AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+
|NVIDIA GeForce 6800+ |
ATI Radeon X1600+
Long gone are the days of 1GB system RAM and ATI. I think windows requires more RAM. Anyway, my system:
|Intel core i7-7700k||NVIDIA GTX 1080||32GB|
Now my friends, with this information in mind, let us talk about the games performance.
Assassin’s Creed ran perfectly well on my system. Some older games require patches and community bug fixes and deep dives into forums from back in the day in order to get them running smooth, not the case here. Given this is a game from 2007, I had no issue cranking the graphics sliders to the limit. I get the game isn’t Crysis but sometimes you need to be careful, today was not one of those days though.
Buttery smooth 150FPS. Even though I have an overkill system you might think “That’s kinda low”, remember though: highest settings. Atop this, the geography of the game plays a huge part. There are tonnes of domes and circles in Acre, Jerusalem and Damascus due to the practised religions and architecture of the cities. You cannot have a low polygon count on something so pivotal to the setting.
You know what I love about the Assassin’s Creed franchise? The movement, the freedom and speed of running from rooftop to rooftop and the speed at which you carry out the movements. Like a fluid action. That is in the later games in the series, Assassin’s Creed has this thing where it was the first game in the series coming off the back of Prince of Persia and thus was a bit janky.
Everything is slower. You cannot scale a building with the speed of Arno or zip to the top with the technology of Jacob & Evie. You have 9 and a half fingers and you need to just climb. It’s slow but it also drives home the skill and care needed to scale some of these buildings.
Now combat is fun: none of your big flashing colours oh no sir, you need to watch for the telegraph. You also need to be aware of the enemy type just by armour. You can easily counter kill some guy in brown but his buddy in grey, we’ll he could do this all day. It can also be down right suicide when you take on a group of guards. Just countering a blow from behind will do nothing, if you don’t make the effort to turn to them then you take a hit. Simple stuff.
The thing about the story in Assassin’s Creed, you have little to no personal stake. You are a soldier carrying out orders, as such, your kills clinical and powerful. I have had a hard time doing the classic ‘Ariel Assassination’ given that you need the person dead. Usually, it’s just a case of wedging my hidden blade into their gut or between two vertebrae and it’s curtains.
In carrying out these orders you can be charged with eavesdropping in a private conversation… in view of the entire city or pickpocketing information from someone… in front of the guards who do nothing or beating the information out of people like a mobster. That’s the only one where you need to be in a dark alley or out of the general view of people.
More often than not you will find yourself coming to the aid of random people for some help in the future. If you stop guards from harassing a woman then vigilantes will help you out in a chase and if you help out scholars they will walk the city freely for you to slip into their group and away from the scene of the crime. It does help but if you’re good at the combat, well one of these is faster.
You are Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad, master assassin. You are Desmond Miles, amateur bartender. Now when we talk about Assassin’s Creed we also need to talk about parallel storylines. There is always a primary and secondary story. Let’s start with Desmond.
Desmond Miles was a 30 something bartender going about his day when he was kidnapped by ‘Abstergo Industries’ – The Templars. He is held against his will and forced to use a machine called ‘The Animus’. The scientist explains the theory and real talk, it sure sounds plausible. Memories are imprinted in our DNA, these are called Genetic Memories. It’s why birds migrate and is used to explain human nature in specific circumstances. Basic instincts essentially.
In Desmonds’ genetic memory his ancestor Altaïr was part of the Assassin’s Brotherhood. They fought the templars during the crusades and in one of these fights come across a relic of a previous civilization. This civilization was said to be more advanced in every way than the current day. As such, Abstergo wants this relic and to find its previous resting place, and start deep diving memories.
Desmond goes along with it as he has no choice but starts to feel the ‘Bleeding Effect’. Skills learnt by his ancestor being passed on to him, minus all the training. Soon, Desmond starts to see things and it all comes together at the end of the story. Whilst going about his day-to-day though, Desmond does find items of interest to help further the lore, you just need to pay attention.
In a mission to retrieve an artifact from a tomb, Altaïr and 2 other assassins stumble upon some Templars. Within the scope of this mission, Altaïr managed to break all the tenants of the creed. After narrowly escaping and reporting back to the grand master, one of the men from the party shows up wounded to tell of how the mission failed, seconds later the Templars attack the town.
After a scuffle, Altaïr is stripped of his rank and told he needs to get it back by killing high-value templar targets throughout the Holy Land. With each kill, Altaïr learns of the Templars true motives and their creed and often questions his master on what they could mean. Whilst initially seeing his tasks as trivial, Altaïr soon learns of their true purpose.
This all comes to fruition when Altaïr has to fight his master who was actually a Templar to begin with. This story isn’t much to write home about but the thing is, it was excellent sequel bait. It did take 2 years but the changes within those 2 years, they helped create the legacy that is Assassin’s Creed.
The story of Assassin’s Creed holds more lore than I can recount but it is always good to get back to basics. Knowing how all this started and where it is now, it’s impressive. It can also show just how much has changed in game design over the years but that’s a different conversation for a different person. The fact of the matter is, a very basic game with a surprise plot twist in the final 5 minutes has spanned into this massive series that shows no signs of slowing down.
How many historical events can we fit into the Assassin’s Creed franchise? We have The 3rd Crusade, Italian Renaissance, Vikings invading England, The French Revolution, The American Revolution and even the Industrial Revolution to name but most. The only game we will never see is one set in Japan.
Now, given that this game is so old I Don’t feel right grading it. Even the lowest end PC in any hardware from the past 5 years could run this game fine. What I will say is that for a game, it is indicative of its time: a longer story is set up but I don’t think anyone expected it to be on the scale that it is. I can only hope that the current trajectory that the game is on is held.
This game is so old that performance was going to be top marks and you can’t say otherwise. The story is very basic but purpose filled (redemption arc with a plot twist) and the gameplay was a strong backbone for future instalments in the series.
That is really all I have to say on the matter at the moment though. Keep your eyes open for the Assassin’s Creed 2 Review coming very soon! Whilst you’re waiting for that why not read our latest review of BPM: Bullets Per Minute?