Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles
Altair makes a killer debut on the iPhone.
Gameloft kicks off the pre-summer rush with Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles on the iPhone. Although the game is a port of the 2008 Nintendo DS release of the same name, it shows vast improvement to make you feel the need for Creed.
You portray Altair, a shady assassin that's part of a secret organization. He's loyal to his cause, trying to find a way to stop the evil Templar knights from winning the battle of the Crusades. He soon learns of a strange, mythical artifact known as the Chalice that supposedly holds enough power to stop a holy war in its tracks. Altair questions the power of this device, so he sets off to prevent members of the Templar army from snagging it.
Like the console games, Assassin's Creed blends combat with stealth. It's not always smart to run into a situation with sword drawn. Instead, you must rely on your sneakiness to stay in one piece. For instance, if you've got Templar guards prowling the grounds below, you'll carefully cross a beam to avoid detection. In some situations, you'll have to fight, and there are plenty of weapons available. An upgradeable sword lets you carve enemies like holiday turkey, and bombs make short work of them. Your best weapon, however, is your hand-blade, capable of taking out a foe in a matter of seconds.
What worked in the DS version still works here, but with minor differences. For instance, you now control Altair's movements using an on-screen analog stick. It works in the same way as Gameloft's previous release, Hero of Sparta, although the finicky controls put a damper on the fun. You'll end up in situations where you accidentally fall off a beam or mistime a jump, despite facing the right direction.
Along with stealth and combat segments, Altair's Chronicles also has mini-games, of which, Pick pocketing is our favorite. While they're easy to play, we can't help but feel these activities are a little mundane compared to the rest of the in-game action.
A few people complained about the DS version of Altair's Chronicles because it has shoddy graphics. Fortunately, Gameloft remedied the problem with the iPhone version by revamping the visuals. The character animation looks smooth, the level design is smartly divided between lower and higher ground and the camera perspective is almost perfect, with no objects getting in the way.
Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles has enough gameplay to hold your attention for several hours, which isn't bad for a ten-dollar investment. It's definitely one of the sharpest-looking iPhone games, and Gameloft did a solid job with the controls. Be sure to hook up with Altair if you've got a few hours to kill.
What's Hot: Superior visuals and sound compared to DS version, great mixture of stealth and hack-and-slash action, a bargain for ten bucks.
What's Not: The touchy on-screen analog controls sometimes lead to unintended mistakes, average mini-games.