Published Nov 21, 2007With a real war going on (and on) in the Middle East, the various war videogames set there have seemed, well, unseemly. But Ubisoft Montreals decision to revisit one of the tumultuous regions earlier "war of civilizations the 12th centurys Third Crusade, to be exact turns out to be quite a clever gambit. Of course, the times we live in require they assure at the start that their new epic Assassins Creed was created by a multiethnic staff with various religious beliefs (none of which seem to preclude digital assassination).
The protagonist of this game is Altair, a member of Muslim sect the Hashshashin from whence we get the word assassin and also hashish, though your characters potential narcotic proclivities are not addressed here a real-life secret society that committed politically motivated murders between the 11th and 13th centuries. Here, with the war between King Richard the Lion-Hearted and Saladin in full swing, you must assassinate nine Christian and Muslim leaders in an effort to bring peace to the Middle East (a very Israeli policy, that).
Created by the makers of the recent Prince of Persia games, theyve really captured the setting it is rather perfect to place a free roaming "sandbox game in the Middle East. Riding horses through the bone-dry hills or wandering the labyrinthine alleys (or, better yet, scaling the buildings and traversing the rooftops) of the historically accurate cities of Damascus, Acre and Jerusalem is a previously un-played pleasure.
What feels less innovative is the semi-spoiler alert sci-fi twist introduced in the games first few moments, some rigmarole involving genetic memories that serves to a) explain away gaming conventions like tutorials, invisible barriers and countless new lives; b) make futuristic pharmaceutical companies appear even worse than ancient Crusaders; and c) allow producers to win geek favour by including a pixilated Kristen Bell as a game character. The other problem is that the actual missions are not as fully-realised as the game world itself going through the motions of carrying out your nine assassinations will eventually become tiresome but the game remains an experience worth playing through, even if just to wander the city, interact with the crowds, parkour about the magnificent structures and leap off towers in a breathtaking swan dive into conveniently-located hay bales below. (Ubisoft)