Assassin’s Creed – Altiar’s Chronicles HD

A review I wrote for the iPad game Assassin’s Creed – Altiar’s Chronicles HD for www.square-go.com

Aproblem inherent to new platforms with new controls and such is that you tend to get the platform being made to fit to games rather than the games being made to fit the platform. With this in mind, say hello to the unholy combination of the iPad and Assassin’s Creed: Altaïr’s Chronicles HD.

This is a remake of a Nintendo DS game and, story wise, it is a prequel to the original Assassin’s Creed. You take the role of Crusader-Era hitman Altaïr as he runs around the place, jumping across roof tops and assassinating people. The story brings in the usual Assassin’s Creed plot threads of the Templars versus the Assassins, secret conspiracies and mysterious plots and other sinister stuff that gets chewed up and spat out by some really properly awful voice acting.

The story isn’t the main issue, the problem here is that the game misses the whole point of Assassin’s Creed, which was the freedom you were given. You had a city to roam around, to find your own paths through, to sit back and spend some time in. The cities genuinely felt alive and real in a way that the iPad (or rather the Nintendo DS) game really struggles to capture. So rather than a huge city to explore, you have to run along a set linear path through the levels. You climb up walls and jump between roof tops but it’s always following an arrow leading you down the right path. Because of this linearity the game feels the need to throw in random obstacles, like giant spikes built in the roofs of houses. It’s frustrating to constantly be forced along by invisible walls and, thanks to the on-screen touchpad controls, is a chore to play through. At least on the DS there is a physical control pad which would have made some of the jumping sections a bit more tolerable. The combat is decent but quickly degenerates into hitting the same attack button over and over.

The whole game is wrapped up in decent visuals which don’t look too far removed from the original DS game. It isn’t all good news as the animation is as stiff as a bag of concrete and is full of glitches including one memorable moment when the character speaking in a story scene vanished whilst the voice continued. Mini games are thrown in along the way to mix things up a little, like touching the ‘nerve clusters’ of a person (in a bad way, it should be noted) when interrogating them to make them tell you their secrets. It’s nice but really it’s just a cursory bone thrown to the users rather than something that really uses the capabilities of the platform to it’s fullest.

If you want to buy a game that successfully takes a full console experience, boils it down to the essentials and works well on the iPad then buy Mirror’s Edge. Assassin’s Creed: Altaïr’s Chronicles does none of those things, not by a long shot.

Two stars out of five

Reviewed on iPad

Originally published on 10th January 2010

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