Assassin's Creed

Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.

Content sum up: While blood can be disabled, language (devoid one use of the f-word) is scant, the killing of innocents is clearly discouraged and the enemies are undeniably corrupt, evil men; with the fact that assassinating is gameplay's main draw, thus a normalcy; the portrayal of assassination marks' acts on (the most often innocent) victims are disturbing and/or gruesome; combat is brutal; players must complete many non-optional, morally questionable objectives and can still kill civilians with relative ease; along with the fact that the narrative's ideological ambiguity and sometimes irreverent nature forces players to decide for themselves what's to be taken as right or wrong, it's simply suited to older, more discerning minds. So, I recommend this game for ages 17+.

Blood: The blood flies in light puffs when Altaïr punches enemies and/or civilians, his throwing knives make contact or he is attacked by the enemy himself (stealth attacks are bloodless). And the blood spurts in moderate clouds as a number of large droplets visibly fly in trails when Altaïr hacks, slashes, impales (*shff*, *squish* and *crunch* sounds audible) and pulls his bladed weapons (that are then stained and dripping with blood) from the enemies' bodies during sword fights. Blood does not linger or splatter on floors, walls or bodies, but there is light, pre-existing blood smeared about certain city areas. However, blood can be disabled by entering "Options," "General," "Animus Blood" on to off, which will remove all blood effects for gameplay and cutscenes; pre- existing blood on floors, walls, combat's bloody sound effects, and bodies will remain. Bodies do linger, with bloodied bodies scattered and lined up around the cities (bloody blankets cover some, weapons still stick from others); and soldier bodies litter a later area's battlefield—crows gathered, blood pooled beneath.

Specific scenes of blood:

(Some of Altaïr's assassination marks can be completed in a different order, meaning the numbering for them below will differ for each player. And if blood is disabled, the below would instead be considered "Specific scenes of violence.")

  • The first Animus memory block opens in a dark, cave-like structure, as it shows protagonist, Altaïr, approach a man from behind, and then shiv him in the back of the neck with his retractable wrist blade, causing a moderate spurt of blood, with an adjoining *shff* (as a side note, the assassins remove their ring fingers to allow clearance for the above "Hidden Blade." This doubles as a function and a symbol of their commitment to their order). An accompanying assassin congr- atulates Altaïr on the kill, but the other scolds him, reminding him that what he did was needless and against their creed; they do not kill the innocent.
  • After failing his mission, Altaïr relays this fact to his master. As they speak, the only other surviving assassin of this botched mission enters, angry, and visibly bloodied, with blood soaked on his sleeve and speckled all over his cloak.
  • As the antagonist Robert de Sablé, a Knight Templar, and dozens of his soldiers stand ready outside of the assassins' headquarters, they bring forth an assassin hostage for leverage. The assassins' leader refuses to negotiate, as Robert then orders the man holding the hostage to kill him. It zooms onto the hostages front with the soldier behind him, as he takes a sword, stabs it through the hostage's back and out the other side of his heart area, causing a moderate spurt of blood and *shff/squish* sounds, as his blood visibly stains the soldier's blade.
  • After Altaïr retrieves a traitor and brings him to his master, his master asks the traitor a few questions, gives the traitor a chance to repent, and upon his clear refusal, the master runs him through the chest with his sword (viewed from the victim's back)—this causes a moderate spurt of blood with adjoining *shff.*
  • For future notice, after killing each mark, it enters a scene where Altaïr cradles the assassination mark as he listens to their dying, dogmatic rants. All of these scenes focus closely on the marks' faces, with their pierced, bloody jugulars (or necks) in full view (except for the sixth mark, who converses with Altair on the floor, and then shivved in the neck from a close shot, causing a moderate spurt of blood) for the entirety of each of these scenes. After his conversations, Altair uses a feather to swipe some blood from their neck for the proof of his kill.
  • Tamir, an illegal arms dealer and Altaïr's first mark, is shown having a heated discussion with his blacksmith in a crowded town square. After Tamir complains of the blacksmith's inability to complete his orders on time, the blacksmith tells Tamir that he's simply asking too much. This prompts Tamir to spit in the man's face, as he spouts a few more insults, abruptly pulls out a knife and slashes the blacksmith across his chest with a *shff* and a moderate spurt of blood, all the while a crowd of civilians and guards gather to watch...and do nothing. The man staggers back, pleading for Tamir to stop, as he proceeds to do the opposite; a partially crowd-concealed shot is then seen, as Tamir repeatedly slashes at the victim's body, accompanied by moderate spurts of blood, sickening *shffs* and the man's screams. After this, Tamir pushes the man down onto the edge of the city square's fountain (the camera can be switched here for a closer viewpoint) and begins to stab his back repeatedly, each blow punctuated with a moderate spurt of blood, sickening crunching/squishing sounds and the man's screams, all as Tamir uses a single angry word to accompany every blow. When he is finally finished, Tamir pushes the body into the fountain—which slowly stains the water red—and tells the crowd to let this be a lesson to all who deal with him.
  • As he searches for his second mark, a doctor of sorts, Altaïr eavesdrops on two men who briefly speak of a fellow of theirs that "caught an arrow in his throat," and once Altaïr locates the mark, the "doctor" himself is seen exiting his "clinic" donning a heavily bloodied apron—how the blood got there is unknown.
  • The sixth mark, a corrupt city leader, is seen holding a multi-man hanging in a city square with a large crowd of eager witnesses, as this mark tries to sell his (what Altaïr knows to be) needless execution (most—or all—of these men being hanged are innocent), saying the execution will bring about general. Two men approach, try to point out this injustice, and then attempt to rush the platform but fail; a guard fires an arrow at the first's chest, causing the second to flee in fear—though he doesn't get far; another guard swipes him in the chest with his sword as he passes (both attacks cause moderate spurts of blood).
  • A portion of an email on an Animus lab employee's computer, from a man who unintendedly witnessed the effects of the "Piece of Eden" (a device which forces any it's used on to hallucinate whatever a current wielder wishes) reads, "THEY WENT CRAZY. SHOOTING, STABBING. TORE EACH OTHER TO PIECES."
  • The eighth mark, a Templar soldier, is seen pestering a panicked priest within a crowd of curious onlookers. Severely paranoid (as Altaïr has been killing off the man's Templar fellows), he accuses this priest of being the assassin sent to kill him, his reasoning; the priest wears white clothing like Altaïr's brotherhood—it, of course, makes no sense, as there are countless priests in the crowd with the exact same garb. The Templar pushes the priest to the ground, stating since the priest is panicked, he must be guilty. He continues to ramble, ending it with the self-proclaimed fact that the stone silent crowd fully agrees the priest should be killed. The Templar then pulls out his sword and absurdly kills the kneeling man with a swipe to the priest's chest, causing a moderate spurt of blood that visibly stains the victim's clothes—his men toss the bloodied body into the water.
  • Cryptic, luminous scrawlings that Desmond—modern protagonist—sees flashes of on the Animus lab's walls and floors throughout, are mentioned to be drawn with the blood of mysterious company Abstergo's previous captive.

Strong language: There's under a dozen uses of d*mn, hell, bastard and Christ, three or under uses of a**, God d*mn and God, and one use of d*ck, sh*t, Jesus, and the f- word. Other than the main script, enemies and civilians will state "D*mn fool must be out of his mind!", "What the hell is he doing?" and "What in God's name is he doing!?" as they watch you scale structures; phrases like "What the hell do you want?", "D*mn fool!" and "Out with your d*mn eyes!" are heard when you approach or bump into the enemy guards and Templars, along with the civilians that spout, "For the love of God, what is it that you want!?" or "Leave me alone for Christ's sake!"; and the enemy will infrequently spout "D*mn!" as you fight, tell civilians blocking their way to "Get out of my d*mn way!" while in pursuit (French Templars spout phrases that contain hell and d*mn, but solely in French), and, "Bastard!" when they lose you. Last of all, optional, readable emails in the Animus lab contain two uses of bastard, sh*t and hell, and one use of "jacka**" in text. There is no option to turn language off.

Suggestive themes: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating)

  • As Altaïr's first mark speaks his last, he, at one point, resentfully says to Altaïr, "You think me some petty death dealer, suckling at the breast of war!?"
  • While speaking with an Animus lab employee, Desmond jokingly asks about the Animus project leader, "So, feel like telling me who put a stick up his a**?
  • A number of concubines, their low cut tops revealing moderate cleavage, can be seen walking and talking amongst themselves in the rear courtyard of assassin headquarters; it is vaguely suggested the women attend to all of the assassins' sexual whims—although this can't be explored by playable character, Altaïr.
  • After killing his second mark, Altaïr reports his success and begins to converse with his master. At one point, the master says of their enemy, "The promise of Paradise. They think there is a garden, overflowing with women and pleasure."
  • A brief scene shows four scantily clad belly dancers, with bra-like tops, perform in a provocative manner around the fifth mark's courtyard fountain; it is shaped in a fully topless female form, but is also somewhat vague in its detail.
  • In an introduction to one of the Informer missions, the informant in question, a fellow assassin, explains that he spent all night in a brothel, and in the process, insulted an enemy Templar knight's wife staying there; he is now after him.
  • An optional, readable (supposed) spam email in an Animus researcher's deleted email box reads; "From: faster, cheap meds. Subject: Problems DOWN THERE? WondEr Why It is everyone Laughs at you? i'll Let you guess. let's just say she's proBably gEtTing it bigger and better from someone else tHat isn't you. how can you hope to compEte? REst asSured there are sOme gOod ways. click the liNK to see!" However, while the above seems to be an add for penile enlargement, it's actually a message in disguise; if you take all of its capital letters, and then put them together, it reads: WE WILL BE THERE SOON K.

Alcohol reference: (The ESRB did not mention this in their rating) During Altaïr's hunt for his fifth mark, he sees as this mark holds a cup of wine (an oddity, since any type of alcohol consumption is against his religion) and offers his guests wine, which flows from a fountain into a large pool—a couple of them readily accept, scoop the wine out and begin to drink it. And drunks are scattered throughout the game's cities laughing, staggering and mumbling, bottles of alcohol held loosely at their sides.

Mild drug reference: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating, although it is very mild) During Altaïr's search for his second mark, it's mentioned this mark, a doctor of sorts, uses drug-like herbs and extracts to "cure" patients. After Altaïr kills this mark, he asks his master about this. His master replies with, "There are plants, Altaïr, herbs from distant lands that can cause a man to take leave of his senses. So great are the pleasures it brings, men may even become enslaved by it."

Violence: Desmond Miles (an ex-member of an ancient, familial assassins barkeep) awakes in the custody of two Abstergo Industries scientists, and is informed that the strange device he is interfaced with, the "Animus," reads the memories of an individual's ancestor through the genes, allowing said memories to be experienced by their holder via virtual reconstruction. Desmond learns that Abstergo needs a certain memory from his ancestor, Altaïr, but to get it, he must relive a portion of this man's life during the Third Crusade; Templar occupied Holy Land, 1191. Here, Altaïr is found on a quest to recover artifact, the "Piece of Eden," from Templars; he fails not only in retrieving the relic, but in keeping all three of the assassin creed's tenets; "Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent", "Hide in plain sight" and "Don't compromise the Brotherhood." As a result, Al Mualim (the assassin head) strips Altaïr of his rank, and tells him that to regain it, Altaïr must kill nine key men set throughout the Holy Land. Meanwhile Desmond—on breaks from Animus sessions—tries to gather what Abstergo truly wants from Altaïr's memories and most of all, him...

After Desmond becomes acclimated to the Animus, and in turn, his ancestor Altaïr, he relives Altaïr's failed mission and his ensuing protection of the assassins headquarters from enemy Templar (brought on by said failure, thus his preceding demotion), as he then sets out to regain his rank by eliminating nine key targets across the Holy Land's cities of Jerusalem, Acre and Damascus. And the base gameplay consists of traveling to a city via the overworld on Altaïr's horse, entering its guarded gates by blending in with groups of similarly dressed scholars, navigating the city rooftops to its assassins bureau and acquiring leads to the current mark. You'll then proceed to gather intel by climbing a nearby city high-point (with Altaïr's acrobatics, which can be used to jump, grab and cling onto virtually anything in sight) and using "Eagle Vision" to synchronize his map and scope out points-of-interest, which include eavesdropping, pickpocketing, interrogation and informant missions; a minimum three of the six intel missions must be performed—the more intel gathered, the more approach options and approval you have from the assassin bureau's head for your current mark...

Upon completion of intel gathering, you will return to the bureau, relay your findings, receive approval (including an eagle feather to wipe a sample of blood from the mark for proof of your kill), and then set out to locate your mark. Upon reaching the mark, you will fight those guarding him, assassinate him and escape the alerted pursuers by breaking their line-of-sight with a little help from rooftops and Altaïr's aforementioned acrobatics to seek refuge in a nearby hiding spot (piles of hay, rooftop gardens, etc). After evasion, you'll report your success to the city bureau, and finally, the assassins' leader, Al Mualim, as you then move onto the next. All the while, in between Animus sessions, Desmond will be used to hack into Animus lab emails for backstory and talk with (or overhear) the two Abstergo scientists holding him. Your sole enemies are the occupying Templar soldiers and—region specific—city guards, which you'll be fighting with Altaïr's fists; Long Blade; his retractable, wrist-mounted Hidden Blade—used for stealth assassinations; Short Blade; and Throwing Knives.

The combat system takes an up-close and personal approach, as you use Altaïr's Long Blade or Short Blade to perform a number of swift slashes to enemy necks, chest and legs, repeated stabs and/or full impalements to their throats and torsos, along with a number of stunning punches, kicks (including to the groin) and throws (into breakable objects) to knock enemies down, as you then use his brutal finishing moves to sweep the back of the knees with his blade then impale them in the stomach where they lay; cleave his blade under their armpit, and then slash them through the waist; slice their necks, spin and slash down their back; stick them through the chest and use his body weight to heave the blade in; kick enemies to their knees, cleave the blade into their shoulder near the side of their neck, and then "saw" out, etc. During all of the above, enemies react with screams of pain, grunts and gurgles (some might even hit fellows on accident during fights and stragglers may retreat at their end; you can finish them off if you wish), but while it is quite brutal, with no dismemberment (and an option to disable blood), combat never reaches a gratuitous or gory level.

You'll also use Altaïr's Hidden Blade "stealth-assassination" to finish Altaïr's nine main marks (a dramatic *RING* and pronounced *shff* can be heard on impact each time, as the victim gurgles and gags), or at any time during gameplay to quietly kill guards walking the street (with a shiv to the stomach or back) or rooftop archers (with shiv, a toss of the limited Throwing Knives or a plain shove, all of which, at the right angle, will result in them to falling off the roof), which causes a distraction as guards rush to find the culprit and the panicked (childless) crowds run screaming through the street. These options introduce a moral choice of sorts, since all this can be done to civilians, meaning you can kill anywhere, at any time with any attack in your arsenal, including punches, sword swipes, thrown knives and a less stealthy Hidden Blade attack, which has him tackle targets from the front/back and shiv the jugular. However, mixed with the Creed's first tenet and the fact that after killing several, you'll begin to lose "sync" with the memory (or "health"; full depletion sends you to the last checkpoint), civilian killing is not only discouraged, but has no real in-game benefits.

The lack of benefits in doing wrong is furthered by the fact that if you're caught in the act of killing, nearby guards will soon be alerted; you'll want to stay as low profile as possible, which brings about, to a lesser "moral" degree, navigation choice; Altaïr has two stances that can be switched to at any time during gameplay, the first, a socially acceptable "Low Profile" allows you to blend into a crowd by gently nudging your way through (which prevents, for example, pots from falling off the heads of the carriers). Or the second "High Profile" can be used to aggressively run civilians down (this goes with your horse in the overworld as well), and grab then throw them, which (although some may find it amusing, or tempting: beggars often annoyingly block your way and the grating lunatics repeatedly bowl you to the ground with flailing limbs when you're near—civilians can be punched without guard intervention), along with flinging guards off rooftops or assassinating them in the street (both of which rarely, if ever, needed; it only results in the guards finding the body and stepping up patrol), is far less useful than staying concealed—regardless, the option is still there.

However, deciding on your navigation style and whether to kill innocents is where the "choices" end, with non-optional tasks including pickpocketing for intel, and two other missions that stand out in particular; (rarely optional) "interrogation" and "informant" types. In "informant" missions, Altaïr must roam the streets and stealth assassinate a specific number of guards in a certain timespan for a fellow assassin in exchange for intel, and in "interrogation" missions Altaïr must tail mark sympathizers (despots that speak in the streets) to a secluded area, and then beat them—in gameplay—until they talk; Altaïr will promise these men their lives in exchange for info, only to recant it at the end of the conversation and (non-optionally) shiv them in the stomach. To counter these questionable acts, Altaïr does some good, and while the motivation is equally as selfish, many areas require that you save elderly scholars (to blend in with their then freed group and bypass guarded areas unnoticed), or optionally rescue women being tormented (pushed about and threatened) by corrupt guards and Templars, which will reward you with Vigilantes that temporarily hold back pursuers.

Once one of the nine assassination marks is finally reached, a cutscene will be shown in which each of the villains acts as villainous as possible before you perform the kill. Blatant attempt at giving you justification for killing them aside, said marks are (most often) undeniably in the moral black, meaning your aim is, ultimately, to assassinate twisted, dogmatic leaders, not innocents. Which brings about enemy reactions to your actions, Altaïr is not the only one watching others; during city traversal, Altaïr's every move is scrutinized and remarked on by onlookers, and aside from using the "socially acceptable" method of reaching rooftop by ladder (even here archers will attack after giving you very short leave to flee) or your "Low Profile" movements, nearly anything will set patrolling enemies off. No more is this evident than after killing a main mark, as enemies flock to your position, forcing you to ram through crowds (this risks your balance, causing you to tumble—and pursuers to catch up), jump through stalls, scale walls and leap across rooftops with a strong sense of urgency...

All the while nearby enemies join the original pursuers in their chase (and can use all of the same acrobatic moves as Altaïr), alerted archers fire arrows from the rooftops and enemies pelt you with rocks as you scale, which causes you to lose your hold and fall from any height. If you are caught, the enemy will surround you in large numbers (you're always outnumbered, including a later sequence where you must fight through waves of Templar soldiers on a bloody battlefield), as they counter your attacks, grab and push you (while in the overworld, they can topple your horse with you on it), with each of their hits causing the screen to flash and blur as Altaïr slowly loses health and struggles to his gain balance. With this, the on-edge civilians (nearby thugs will come to a despot's aid and beggars often stone you in response to your lack of generosity), and the fact that, on account of Altaïr's recent actions, even his fellow assassins have some level of disdain for him, it is made clear Altaïr is friendless (or Desmond, who's kept hostage in a big brother-style lab; cameras capture his every move), thus on his own—giving the game's atmosphere an uneasy and hostile edge.

As for the story's moral outlook (devoid its obviously fictitious nature, or a disclaimer at the opening; "Inspired by historical events and characters. This work of fiction was designed, developed and produced by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs") many could find some of its messages offensive and/or off-putting, from the assassins leader's mantra, "Nothing is true, everything is permitted," to the Piece of Eden, a hypnotic device that is said to have parted the red sea, cast Adam and Eve from Eden, and allowed Jesus to turn water into wine—all said to be just an illusion to witnesses brought on by a mindless, drug-like induced high by its wielders. And after Altaïr kills his main marks, he'll hold them in his arms as they use their last words to try justifying their dogmatic actions, twisting the bad into a weak semblance of good; this not only makes it tough for the player to discern the game's intended moral point (though admittedly, the assassin mantra is "Nothing is true, everything is permitted") but gives Altaïr doubt also, as he begins to question why he kills...

(Continue past the specific scenes below for the "Violence" section's closing paragraph)

Specific scenes of violence:

  • The CG intro movie, before the main menu, opens with an in session execution; two bodies are seen from the back, neck down, dangling by rope on the gallows as it switches to another brief, far shot from their front. The camera turns focus to Altaïr as he watches from the top of a bell tower, and then vanishes when the bell tolls. He proceeds to slowly push his way through the riotous crowd toward the gallows platform (its many hung bodies lifelessly dangling from a distance), quickens his pace, kills a rushing guard with a crossbow bolt (no details/blood), dodges the second's sword, stabs him in the abdomen with the crossbow tip (no details/blood), makes a flying leap at the guard in the platform's middle and, as he tackles him, plunges his Hidden Blade into his neck with a *shff* (seen from the guard's back—still no blood/details present) and makes his escape.
  • After antagonist Robert de Sablé and his Templar soldier gather inside the ass- assin headquarter's main courtyard, the assassin leader, to show their resolve, orders three assassins (including Altaïr) to jump from the fortress's ramparts to their supposed deaths hundreds of feet below, in order to psyche out the enemy Templars and prove that the assassins do not fear death. The three do this, and with the angle at which it occurs, it appears to the Templars that the men truly do die in their leap. However, concealed behind the fortress wall are three piles of hay that act as safe landing points. At least, safe enough; as Altaïr exits his unharmed, he watches while the third yells out in pain with a very broken leg, evident in its awkward angle, as he rocks back and forth. The second man then hushes his cries (as to not give away their ruse) and, while the injured assassin suppressed his screams, sets his leg with an audible, sickening *snap.*
  • After he makes his leap of faith, Altaïr circles around the Templars in the court- yard, and from a tower, cuts a trap door holding a large stack of logs; they then proceed to roll over many of the (surprised, retreating) enemy Templars, visibly crushing the soldiers (in a non-gratuitous manner) with their sheer weight.
  • In the aftermath of the Templars' defeat, Altaïr's assassin brothers gather round as their leader congratulates his success. But the assassin leader then begins to scold Altaïr on his recent failing, which brought the Templars to their fortress in the first place, as he has two men restrain Altaïr by the arms. Reminding him of the very creed he carelessly dismissed, the leader warns him to, "Make humble your heart child, or I swear I'll tear it from you with my own hands," pulls out a knife and stabs Altaïr in the stomach with a *shff*, as the screen flashes red; it fades—however, Altaïr soon finds it was an illusion made to humble him.
  • When he reaches the second mark's "hospital" (this doctor kidnaps the mad and disturbed from other cities, and then smuggles them in to be experimented on), Altaïr watches as a patient runs frantically from its entrance. He doesn't get far, however, as two Templars restrain him by the arms, and then begin to beat the man in the head repeatedly, as he groans in pain. The doctor (donning a heavily bloodied apron) appears, tells his guards to stop (he only wanted the man stop- ped, not killed) and tries to coax the disturbed man back in with (what the man knows to be) empty words of comfort. When the man refuses to come back and begins to babble, the doctor slaps him across the face, and after he plainly says he will just try to escape again, the doctor, telling the patient it pains him to do this (in a questionably unconvincing tone), tells his men to break both the man's legs then and there. They then proceed to do this, as each guard stomps on the front of his knees, causing them to break fully inward with a sickening *crunch* while his lower legs fly unnaturally upward, and the man screams out in agony; they drag him back into the hospital—the gathered crowd does nothing.
  • Optional, readable emails on computers in the Animus lab portions show a chain of emails in which an Animus lab employee, and main character, Lucy Stillman, inquires about a friend and fellow employee. She is bluntly told that the woman committed suicide, but it is implied that this woman was actually killed in order to cover up her involvement with the company's previous assassin captive.
  • As Desmond, modern-time protagonist and Altaïr's predecessor, talks with Lucy, she relays to him how she ended up in the company, "They came in while I was sleeping, three guys. Guns. They dragged me out of bed. God! The worst part is that I knew them. One guy, Richard, we ate lunch together sometimes. And now he was gonna....They where cracking jokes, I tried to pull away, he hit me, and then when he told me I was going to die..." She soon changes the subject.
  • Altaïr watches as his fifth mark—a rich individual holding an event in his palace courtyard—as he stands at his balcony overlooking his guests. After some brief speech making, he encourages them to drink from his fountain in the middle of the courtyard, which is flowing with wine. The guests close to the fountain begin to scoop up and drink the wine, and things then turn sour; the host proceeds to rant on how his rich guests disgust him in funding a war—and cause—they know nothing about. The surrounding courtyard gates are heard slamming shut, as he informs his guests that the wine is poison and anyone who doesn't die from the wine will be slaughtered by his guards. All the while, guests are seen holding at their throats and choking on the wine they drank—the unaffected guests start to scream as they scatter (in futility) toward the courtyard's sealed exits.
  • Altaïr's seventh target, a rogue scholar, wishes to purge people of knowledge by forcibly taking, and then burning all of the written word in the city, whether the people want it or not—his reason: to reshape their minds in his image. A fellow scholar begs him not to, arguing that they must keep their information in order to learn from past mistakes. But the mark insists that all that the books contain are revisionist lies. The first continues his pleas, causing the mark to back him into a burning pile of books and, telling him to join his beloved books, push him in; the victim briefly screams as he (non-graphically) burns alive and lifelessly collapses in it. The murderous mark then asks the other scholars if they wish to challenge him; none do—the book burning continues.

However, these twisted men's dying speeches are ultimately used for good in Altaïr's case, as this once arrogant, brash, unfeeling and murderous character becomes more selfless, humble and willing as he begins to question his, what he finds to be mindless and purposeless, motives through his "death bed" talks with said marks; the anti-hero does act the hero in the end. As for age group, while blood can be disabled, language (devoid one use of the f-word) is scant, the killing of innocents is clearly discouraged and Altaïr's enemies are undeniably corrupt, evil men; with the fact that assassinating targets is gameplay's main draw, thus a normalcy; the portrayal of the assassination marks' acts on—their often innocent—victims are disturbing and gruesome; combat is still brutal; players must complete many non-optional, morally questionable tasks and can still kill civilians with relative ease; along with the fact that the story's ideological ambiguity and irreverent nature forces players to decide for themselves what is to be taken as right or wrong, it's just suited to older, more discerning minds.

Content re-review posted: 02/11/10
Original review date: 10/12/08

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