I completed Assassin's Creed not even 2 hours ago. I won't start 2 until I get back from Germany at the earliest, since I don't exactly have much time the rest of this week and I don't see much point in starting my way into a new plot and then waiting 1.5 weeks until I can continue. At least now I can give my complete impression of Assassin's Creed (1) and even include points that I forgot to mention last time.
First of all, it's surprising how many observations I made from just 2 days of playing it stuck just about all the way through.
Now one thing I definitely forgot to mention was the music. The composer was Jesper Kyd, the same brilliant musician behind the soundtrack of every Hitman game. Let me tell you this guy is truly adept at taking genuine cultural sounds and embedding them into an atmospheric piece that perfectly reflects the game's mood, setting and even its plot. While a lot of the tracks are genuine mixtures of middle-eastern Arabic and Gregorian chanting (not necessarily at the same time) there are also tracks with overpowering 21st Century sounds (breaking the belief that the illusion is real).
Another thing I didn't mention was the voice acting. This is one of those unfortunate cases of a game containing voice acting quality ranging from perfect to cringing. You can tell that little thought went behind the casting and recording because the less important the character, the worse and less believable the voice. That daft cockney accent is mortifying. Altaïr's voice isn't exactly great. He has a calm and measured tone, which although having an American accent (because his descendant has one) is able to speak in such a way that you truly believe he's a man of his time. In terms of expression, his performance is believable whenever he's thoughtful and questioning. For some reason, the more extreme emotional expressions (like anger and utter disappointment) are harder to attain. Was this the voice-recording director's decision or did the voice actor have genuine difficulties? I don't know. Also, what the hell's up with the German spoken by some of the Templars and Teutonic Knights? Bad enough that they hired some Canadian to provide an unconvincing accent but the grammar also had an error. Why were they shouting at me in the informal 'you' (du) instead of its polite counterpart, as is more German to do?
Well I can't wait 'til I play Assassin's Creed 2 for the simple reason that I'll get to play through the entire thing in Italian!^^
Now in my last entry I also talked about the memory loss that enemies had when looking for you and keeping an eye out for you. Well it turned out that the further in the game you got, the more careful you had to be. Since bodies don't just vaporise corpses will be found by soldiers, who will instantly be on the lookout for anyone suspicious. What tips them off that the killer is you is pretty damn stupid. I mean, ok, if I was to sprint past them or climb up a fortified wall at the point they discovered one of my victims, it's logical for them to deduce I did it. But why would my knocking into a man carrying wood or a woman holding a jar of water tip them off? Or why should they think I did it whenever a mad man shoves me? Grrr, those mad men! And them beggars! The thing about mad men is that when you're walking on your own and you end up close enough to them (which can be a fair distance) and they see you, they'll instantly shove you. The amount of times I had to kill soldiers just because a mad man shoved me into one of them. And those beggars! The way they block my way when I'm trying to stalk a target! Even though you're not meant to do it and it takes away a little bit of health when you do, it's so satisfying when you grab either a beggar or a mad man and shove them away. They're instantly afraid of you.
Another annoying thing, which you at least don't have to go through too much, is the travelling between cities. I'd prefer it if I could gallop at full speed the entire way (yeah I'm riding a horse at this bit) but if I reach a settlement I'll naturally slow to a trot. For some reason, if you want outpost soldiers to ignore you you have to hold X, which means you're parading at a stately pace, which is agonising!!! I get it that if you gallop in people will feel threatened but would guards of a watch tower really care what speed you're going at as long as you're clearly going somewhere and ignoring them? Also, since they're not interchangeable patrols that move around (like in a city) they have long term memories, so if they didn't like you before, they'll never like you, even if you do obey the rules. Such attitudes forced me to massacre an entire outpost...
Also, in a stupendously awesome yet idiotic moment I managed to crash my horse into another one. At top speed. How they both managed to survive without injuries is beyond me. And why my horse let me back on is even more of a mystery.
Another odd habit I got into with this game was flag hunting. I could spot a flag from a mile away. I knew I would never get all of them but I was always so happy whenever I spotted a flag. You literally have to hunt high and low for them (they are simply plonked on a rooftop or in an alley). I managed to get all 20 in Masyaf, and it got me...nothing. It was just another strand of completed data.
Now the end of the game...whew! That was brilliant. The passion was there, the story was gripping (it even made me question the possible moral standpoints) the gameplay for the final showdown was varied and challenging. I'm even surprised I never died once. Interestingly once Altaïr's quest is ended and Zidic found what he (and his employers) were looking for, we're back to Desmond and his prison to end the story. Once the story ends, the credits roll, but then we're back to the Animus chamber. Basically, that became the control room and you have the option of accessing the Animus (or anything else possible, like Lucy's computer) and you can replay levels if you like. I also accessed the final memory block to find an "attachment" to it. Its style suggests it's Altaïr's entry in a diary, providing an insight into what happened to Masyaf and the Brotherhood of Assassins in the story's aftermath, making a quiet epilogue, since we'll no doubt never see Altaïr again. (Awww...)