When I think of Assassin's Creed, two things come to mind: free roam and gigantic maps.
The excellent hardware on the next-gen consoles made free roaming the open ended maps of Assassin's Creed possible.
However, the iPhone does not have the same hardware capabilities that the next-gen consoles posses, not even close. Sure, the iPhone packs a mighty punch in a small package. But as a developer, you will run into many troubles translating a game that was highlighted by large maps and free roaming on the consoles into an enjoyable experience on the iPhone.
Sure enough, Gameloft failed to translate the console experience onto the iPhone and I did not expect them to. However, there are many other flaws to Altair's Chronicles besides the fact that it lacks free roam and that the maps are small and linear. The game itself just feels like a decorated side scroller with iffy controls and somewhat exciting gameplay.
One of the first things you will notice about the Altair's Chronicles is its wonderful presentation. Gameloft has always been known to incorporate console-like menus and introduction videos into their games, making them very attractive at first glance.
There is only one mode of gameplay and that is the story mode. You will then be taken through a tutorial as to how to move and attack, all of which are incorporated into the opening level. You use an on-screen analog stick to move and you press certain action buttons to perform certain actions.
The visuals of the game are similar to those in Hero of Sparta, which can be deemed as very good for an iPhone game. The environment textures were vibrant and the character models looked impressive as well. My initial impressions of the game were very good. The game ran fine, the controls did not seem frustrating yet, and the visuals were decent.
However, the deeper you get into this game, the more you start to see its flaws. First off, the controls can get really frustrating during certain parts of the games. When you're just running along a passage at full speed, the controls seem fine. It's during the platforming sectors of the game that makes the controls extremely difficult to use.
For example, when walking on a wooden plank, Altair might start to lose his balance. In order to straighten that out, you have to push his weight to the other side by tilting the analog the way opposite to which he is falling. Well, this mechanism does not work well at all. Most of the time, Altair will end up grabbing onto the plank for dear life because he will end up falling off the plank due to the incredibly sensitive of the controls.
The camera also becomes a huge problem as well. I spent about three lives trying to get by this one area with three separate platforms. Long story short, I fell off the middle platform about two times because I over ran it and Altair had to grab the ledge to hold on. However, I could not see where he was because he was behind the ledge so that he was out of sight from the camera. The camera is stationary, which genuinely makes this game a 2D platformer with 3D visuals.
There are also many glitches in this initial version. You will sometimes get stuck in walls. There s also a glitch where if you jump into a wall, you will hang onto it for a couple of seconds. Then you will start sliding down afterwards. It really would have been cool had they incorporated wall climbing in this game. Due to these flaws, many aspects of gameplay can become frustrating.
What also makes this game kind of boring is the fact that you can t choose what path you want to take. There s only one way you can go and that totally takes away from the Assassin s Creed experience. The only enjoyable part for me is running down roads and killing everybody you see in a matter of seconds.
You can upgrade your weapons throughout the game, which makes the button mashing even more fun. If you press the attack button a certain amount of times, Altair will make a combo attack. You can piece together both heavy and light attacks into big combos that can do major damage. The fighting element of the game is very similar to Hero of Sparta and is one of the more enjoyable parts of the game.
Although the game s sensitive controls, glitches, and stationary camera take a lot of entertainment value away from the game, Assassin s Creed: Altair s Chronicles does have its fair share of positive attributes. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the combat is quite entertaining. It does not really require much skill, but who doesn t like to button mash? The upgrading of weapons can also keep players interested in the game for a while.
On top of that, the mini-games are quite creative. Although there are only two mini-games, they are both quite entertaining. Pick-pocket is just a drag and drop type of game. You first swipe your finger across the bag to reveal its contents. Once you find the item you are looking for, drag it and drop it towards the exit, which is recognized by some glittering gold spots. The mini-game is quite easy, but it will get more challenging as you progress in the game.
The other mini-game is interrogation. The general gist of it is that you have to pinch the person at the right pressure points in order to get him to squeal. Thus, you get a small circle at a spot and then a big circle. The outer big circle moves in towards the inside. Your goal is to touch the spot when the outer circle and the inner circle are the exact same size. Sounds confusing right? You ll get it once you play the game.
Both of these mini-games are simple, yet fun at the same time. They are a small break from the platforming and button mashing. Outside of these two positives, the game is actually of good length. Like many of the other Gameloft games, Assassin s Creed will entertain you for many hours. The game has many check points, making it easy to play on the go. This is definitely a positive for most iPhone owners, since most people don t play their iPhone religiously at home like it was a PS3 or something.
One last positive attribute about Altair s Chronicles is the voice acting. This is the first Gameloft game where I have experienced voice acting. Not only is it easier on the eyes, but it also gives characterization to the characters in the game, making players embrace the protagonists and hate the antagonists.
Assassin s Creed: Altair s Chronicles is a good iPhone game. Even with its control and camera flaws, the game can still entertain the average gamer. This game holds a lot of promise with its colorful visuals, button-mashing gameplay, and its big named license. However, at US 9.99, it does not really convince anybody to see it as a must-have. It has flaws that are fundamental, such as linear levels and really frustrating platforming sections of gameplay. If you were a fan of Assassin s Creed on the consoles, don t buy this game expecting to get anywhere close to console experience. However, if you re just a casual gamer looking for a decent title to waste some money on, this is your game.
- Attractive Presentation
- Good Visuals
- Fun Button-Mashing
- Good Mini-Games
- Linear Levels
- Sensitive Controls
- Stationary Camera
Assassin s Creed is a good game, but it s not worth the $9.99 price tag. Wait for a price drop and update so that you can get a much more polished game at a lower price.
For more discussion on this game, visit our iPhone forums.