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Assassin's Creed

Assassin’s Creed

Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: PlayStation 3 (also on Xbox 360)
UK Price (as reviewed): £39.45 (inc. Delivery)
US Price (as reviewed): $58.99 (excl. Tax)

Assassin's Creed is a game that has so much potential. Its combination of science fiction and history makes for a storyline that could have been so much more. But I jump ahead of myself (and more on the jumping later). First, an introduction is needed.

Assassin's Creed is Ubisoft's newest game franchise and introduces us to the twelfth century assassin, Altaïr (notice the two dots over the "i"; his name is pronounced Alt-eye-ear, preferably spoken with an Omar Sharif accent). His name means "the flying one", a moniker which you’ll understand with time.

Assassin's Creed
Click to enlarge

The game starts with an unstable image of Altaïr and the voice of a mysterious woman. The picture changes and we find ourselves in a futuristic lab lying on a strange, bed-like contraption. It's here that we find that we have, in fact, been kidnapped by a shadowy futuristic corporate called Abstergo Industries (why is it that, at some unspecified point in the future, all corporates suddenly become shadowy?).

Our character, Desmond, is the many-greats-grandson of Altaïr and he's important because Altaïr has some information that Abstergo needs for its own nefarious ends. Apparently, all the memories of all our ancestors are actually stored in our DNA and with the right technology these memories can be accessed and replayed.

Abstergo has this technology, a device called the Animus. Unfortunately, for Abstergo at least, Desmond appears to be resisting the memory they need, and the only way round this is to go back to a point earlier in Altaïr's life and live through the events leading up to the required memory.

Assassin's Creed
Click to enlarge

The tale then switches to Altaïr's story. We catch up with the hero as he is on a mission for the Assassin’s Order: to assassinate the Grand Master of the Knights Templar and recover the treasure that they have been searching for. This mission is a failure and results in Altaïr being demoted back to a novice. The leader of the Assassins, Al Mualim, offers Altaïr the option to redeem himself by assassinating nine men in three cities in the regions which are in the centre of the Crusades and in doing so create peace in the country.

The rest of the story revolves around Altaïr's exploits as he proceeds to assassinate these nine targets. The game also checks in occasionally with Desmond and the goings on at Abstergo, so in effect we have two storylines, separated by twelve hundred years, but intertwined.

Does this method of storytelling work, or are we left with a tangled mess? Read on, dear friends, read on.