Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Assassin’s Creed HD: Altaïr’s Chronicles

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            Assassin’s Creed’s 2007 debut had just as many detractors as it did fans, and indeed Electronic Theatre wasn’t perhaps as impressed as we felt we should have been given the promises made. As hindsight would show, Assassin’s Creed would essential be merely the suggestion: a tech demo of what would be possible given more time and greater confidence. Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood were to push the envelope of freeform Adventure games, but in the meantime the franchised was set to explore other avenues.

            Assassin’s Creed HD: Altaïr’s Chronicles on Windows Phone 7 is a slightly updated conversion of the original Nintendo DS release, Assassin’s Creed: Altaïr’s Chronicles. Set as a prequel to the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC title, Assassin’s CreedElectronic Theatre Image HD: Altaïr’s Chronicles sees the player once again enter the shoes of Altaïr, and after defending his home town from a Templar invasion he is charged with finding an ancient Chalice. The Chalice said to have the power to unite all under one flag, and end the Third Crusade in victory for the side who possess it. But the Chalice is too powerful an object to be left in the hands of men alone: it must be found and destroyed.

            Playing through Assassin’s Creed HD: Altaïr’s Chronicles will take the player through a number of levels spread across five cities, increasing in the difficulty of the challenges they provide. Playing as a 2.5D Platform game the player is always on an a-to-b route through levels, they are given a fair deal of freedom to explore and often multiple options for progress. Most of the Platform challenges are well placed, though given the inaccurate nature of imitating an analog stick via a touchscreen, many obstacles can dissolve into a frustrating and unnecessary series of retries.

            Combat is more successful, playing almost as well as its home console counterpart. Light and heavy attacks are available via a virtual button on the touchscreen, as is block, and mixing-up the two attacks commands can reveal a number of combo options. Holding block and pressing an attack button as an enemy begins to attack will launch a counterattack manoeuvre, stunning the enemy and leaving them vulnerable for a finishing move. Quick to learn and allowing the player to become truly skilled, the combat system is surprisingly deep.

            Though Assassin’s Creed HD: Altaïr’s Chronicles may not be delivered with the same visual quality as the Windows Phone 7 exclusive The Harvest, it is competent in its 3D depiction. Each of the Electronic Theatre Imagefive cities has a distinct visual theme and the 3D character models are surprisingly well drawn. Assassin’s Creed HD: Altaïr’s Chronicles often uses in-game footage from the original Assassin’s Creed as its cut-scene videos, or still images for story progression. The voice acting is also surprisingly good, considering the game’s diminutive packaging.

            Assassin’s Creed HD: Altaïr’s Chronicles doesn’t rewrite the handheld Platform game rulebook, and not least as it’s essentially over two years old. What it does do however, is provide a competent and enjoyable 3D adventure to accompany the bloodline series, and with later instalments proving that Assassin’s Creed is a franchise worth investing in, any fan yet to play a version of Assassin’s Creed: Altaïr’s Chronicles are certainly recommended to jump in here with Assassin’s Creed HD: Altaïr’s Chronicles on Windows Phone 7.

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