Lately I thought I should give Assassin’s Creed a try, since it looks like an interesting variant of sneaky-stabby gameplay, and I like to at least have a vague idea of what’s going on in the world of modern triple-A gaming. Here are just a few thoughts, which I try to keep brief as I doubt anyone comes here for a long-winded review of a modern, famous title.

Interesting new take on stealth gameplay. Instead of lurking in shadows, this is more about hiding in plain sight. Don’t get too close to guards or make them twitchy by running and jumping around. Stroll around nonchalantly, or try blending in with groups of scholars (since you have the same white robes and, er, guards don’t notice all your swords and knives?). Or just go on the rooftops, leaping from one building to another with ease, although there are archers up there too that get a bit agitated by you being Mr Parkour Guy.

Maps are large and open. Freedom of movement is always a positive in my book. Cities feel quite authentic – dry, dusty and crowded. Houses and shops are packed together around narrow streets, full of beggars, merchants and thugs. Standing out amidst the humble dwellings are larger, grander structures like towers and mosques. I do kind of wish that there were a few more options for interaction with these people and places.

The structure of the game is starting to feel a bit repetitive: go to section of town. Climb towers, save people from guards (you do this a lot, this game is sort of Vigilante Creed on the side), do a bunch of little challenges to gain info. The assassination missions themselves, which form the climax of each section, offer a bit of variety and challenge at least.

I’ve gotten the hang of combat, at least against standard enemies. Block, counter, repeat. Or push them off rooftops just for hilarity. Those armoured templars are a lot tougher though, the bastards.

I like the historical setting – the holy land at the time of the crusades – but not sure I’m really feeling drawn into the story yet. Interesting though how the assassination targets, supposedly all villains, claim to be trying to do some good. I already suspect there’s going to be some twist about the motives of the Assassins guild.

Novel framing device in the plot, with your character reliving his ancestor’s memories through some piece of advanced technology. It does handily provide a justification for all those old gameplay tropes like health bars and save games – you are, in effect, playing a game within the game.

Anyway mostly positive thoughts so far and it’s good to catch up with, er, the gaming of 2008. A quick look at wiki tells me there have been five sequels already. Doubt I’ll play them all, recommendations on say the best two, would be appreciated!