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Assassin's Creed series

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by Fleur, Oct 27, 2013.

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  1. Fleur

    Fleur Red Wings Commander

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    It's that time of the year again. Yes, Halloween is more or less here, judging by promoted merchandises in stores. Yes, the leaves are falling, unless you're in the wrong hemisphere (I kid, I kid!). Yes, Apple will launch new iPads. Yes, Christmas is somewhere on the horizon.

    But it's also time for yet another annual entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise. This time it's a dude who's dressed up as the least convincing pirate ever in a video game series full of protagonists who dress up as the least convincing and most conspicuous assassins ever. This year has a game that's about sailing the Caribbean sea, looting, ship battling and pillaging empires, despite the franchise name being "Assassin's Creed" rather than "Pirate's Creed".

    Anyone excited for it? Or has franchise fatigue set in for you? Or has a previous game made you swear off the franchise for a while? How about all the games as a whole and individually? What have your experiences with them been like? Which assassin has left the biggest impression on you? How do you find the modern day Desmond story?

    You basically get the point. It's Assassin's Creed. Here, climb up this bell tower, watch out for the eagle and start synchronising your thoughts to the forum.

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    I started with the second game. I was expecting a stealth game. What raised my eyebrows was, it was less of a stealth game per se and more of a...general action game set against huge, expansive backdrops that have some stealth elements, most of the time a player can simply ignore if they so wish. Oh well, I thought, I'm not accustomed to stealth games anyway, so what Assassin's Creed 2 turned out to be was probably for the best.
    And what would that be? The architectural intrigue. I ended up adoring Assassin's Creed 2 for the architectural fascination it has in store, particularly so when I reached Venice. History runs through my blood, so I just found myself occasionally forgetting it was a game, and stopping to read virtually every Animus database entry on the individual structures, icons, and real-life figures.

    I moved on to Brotherhood, utterly surprised that I came out of the previous game singing its praises despite in retrospect, its glaring problems inherent to the franchise. Despite the game feeling like an expansion of the previous game, it gave me Renaissance Rome as a setting. And it's magnificent. I went berserk on the Animus database again, and exploring every nook and cranny of the city, taking out Borgia tower after another. All the while, I became particularly attached to the Ezio story as it unfolded. Very competently written and a gripping story, that easily supplants the rather...bafflingly unnecessary and stupid modern day story that's just seemingly innocently there in the background.

    Passed over Revelations because I pretty much watched a friend do a playthrough of it.

    The first trailers for Ass Creed 3 came in, and I saw a single assassin take down almost a whole army of redcoats. Immediate turn-off. No, not because I'm British (though let's face it. The game is made by French people who generally dislike the English, and the setting is to do with America kicking Britain's arse. The perfect Franco-USA seller =P ), but because colonial North America was...absolutely not an ideal assassin setting. Why not revolutionary France? I asked. Why not Imperial China? India? Why a nascent nation that was at the time still overwhelmingly rural and bereft of any interesting cities and architecture?

    But recently, I decided to pick it up anyway, even if it was against my better judgement. Oh dear.

    I've been able to overlook the series's little mechanical gameplay problems and points where they have been lacking in previous games because they've never truly felt anyway intrusive or super-detrimental to my enjoyment. Assassin's Creed 3 went out of its way to do just that, and half of these I take to simply be glitches. The other half being awful design.

    To have R1 as the omni-button where so many different actions are mapped onto it, and its context changes depending on the situation, from free-run to climbing, has been a poor idea. Yes, it makes Frontier traversal along the trees fluid and easy, but in the urban areas, particularly during missions where you must pursue someone, or hide from someone, the R1 button just cannot detect that I want to keep running, NOT suddenly climb up a structure, and hence letting my target escape.

    I vividly recall one particular moment when I'm supposed to pursue a Templar, but he's left his mates behind and I'm locked on to them. I couldn't chase the man, and I would nearly always fail. I only managed to get past it because the game suddenly decided to let me on one random attempt to actually run, only to fail an optional objective seconds later because I couldn't run past a whole crowd in an alleyway without making contact with one of them.

    Then there's the infamous chase sequence towards the end. Utter, utter evil, Ubisoft. Either the designer of that section decided to be genuinely evil with the game design, or they just did not play-test it.

    And just as I feared, Assassin's Creed 3 does not have that architectural intrigue I have wanted from the series. Sure, the Frontier's sheer size and scope was a novel delight at first, but it became empty and soulless after a short while, despite its bestial denizens. It's odd how the optional bits setting-wise I enjoyed the most were the underground passages underneath the two main cities. And second to that, was the Homestead. Granted, the Homestead missions seemed just as derivatively uninspired as the last, but I grew to care and befriend the various Homestead NPCs. I actually wanted to help them, and it was nice to see the settlement grow. I certainly cared more about them than practically any other storyline NPC in the game.

    Speaking of storyline, Christ, what can I say about it? Desmond section continues to be a testament to why some writers should just stop writing.

    Shaun: "Desmond, bad news. Your father has been captured by Abstergo. He's held in Rome."

    Desmond: "Oh, bollocks. Abstergo is like, the most powerful corporation in the world, right? Their Rome HQ being one of the most heavily secured buildings in the world? And you know, I'm the most wanted man in the world. What hope do I have of breaking in there in a timely speed to rescue my father and take back the power source from Vidic without alerting - I dunno - the entire damn world?"

    < one short cutscene later, Desmond pretty much walks into one of the most secure buildings in the world, owned by the most powerful corporation in the world, as the most wanted man alive, holding a deus ex machina Apple of Eden that can bend people's minds to the holder's will, through the front door. He casually proceeds to murder his way through to where his father is held before pretty much killing everyone else with the Apple's power, utterly underwhelmingly. It begs the question then, of why they couldn't whip out the Apple from the very start anyway...>

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    Juno: "Touch this deus ex machina pedestal and the world will be saved!"

    Minerva: "No! You will release Juno into the world and all will be enslaved! Make the right choice! If you follow my advice, the world will probably burn, yes, but from ruin, the world will be reborn anew, and you can be the new Jesus of the new world, giving the people knowledge and wisdom!"

    Desmond: "La la la la, Minerva. Not listening to you. I'm going to immediately shut you off without even giving the player any chance of making their own decision, and go with what Juno said."

    Minerva: >={

    < Desmond touches deus ex machina pedestal and dies in three seconds, making a comical thud on the floor. Juno has a lol and walks over him to her freedom >

    Connor part not as bad. Has good ideas. Just woefully executed.

    Haytham: "well, son. It turns out that just as I said, I never gave the order to burn down your village. That honour goes to George Washington, the very chap who you've been eagerly aiding for the last few missions!"

    Connor: "...bollocks. Damn you, Washington! I'm going to go and kill every Patriot soldier on their way to torch my village this instant. And when I get back, I will still help you like a lapdog for no adequately logical reason, if only because for some reason I hate Charles Lee's guts more than I will ever hate yours."

    ------------------

    < at pretty much the end of the game, Connor finds the natives' village utterly abandoned >

    Connor: "Nooo, why?!! I became the Patriots' lapdog because I THOUGHT they would be slightly kinder than the British, and protect our land and home! But it turns out that the Patriots are, I dunno, colonists, or something. I mean, who'd have thought?! I thought George Washington was a kind man who would never have wanted any harm to come to the natives! If only I knew sooner that the Patriots also like expansion..."

    The Connor storyline WANTS to have it both ways. It WANTS to be this majestic tale of a naive half-Mohawk Native American chap who rises from his burnt village to revive the Brotherhood in the colonies and stop the Templars from exacting their plan for a secure new world order. It also wants to be the tale of how the heroic Patriots drove out the evil British from the colonies, and how Connor is all the more willing to jump in to this nationally-charged, politically-driven conflict when previously, his predecessor assassins were never outrightly fighting for any national cause.

    It does neither of these threads well at all.

    The Templar plot thing is only halfheartedly mixed in with the War of Independence. You can tell that Ubisoft was more interested in the latter than they were in weaving an amiably cohesive tale of one beleaguered order seeking liberty facing off against a more powerful order seeking order and peace. Connor is suddenly thrown into random dates and locations that just so happen to be major events that you can find in a kid's sociology textbook on the War of Independence without any coherent rhyme or reason. There are too many characters - mostly real historical figures - that we just don't care about, because we barely ever see them. Ubisoft only wanted Connor to be in all the cool historical events because... why not? It's a game set during the War of Independence! How often do we get that? We can't help but cram everything in!

    By no means do I hate Assassin's Creed 3. I still enjoyed bits of it, until the Paul Revere's ride mission intrudes into my memory again. But it's just washed away whatever enthusiasm I had left for the franchise. The flaws just seem particularly pronounced, and I don't know if I can sustain myself through another Assassin's Creed title in the near future, while being fully aware that it's just a mechanically-derived product now. It's a Ubisoft factory conveyer belt. Still solid entertainment packages in their own right, but the annualisation I fear, has drained the franchise of its emotional creativity.

    I think what's best for the franchise is that it takes a rest.

    EDIT: I'll end on a positive note though. I ADORE Haytham. Nothing like a man who brings some intelligent snark to the table. Nothing like a man whom I wish to have been the main man, who in my opinion, eclipsed the game's marketed main character in every possible way. Hmm, when have I seen this happen before? Oh yeah, FFXII.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
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  2. Sapientia

    Sapientia ShinRa SOLDIER

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    The franchise is beginning to wear on me. I really like ACI, II, and Brotherhood...but something about Revelations, ACIII, Liberations, and now IV all releasing only within a few years of each other...and Ubisoft's recent comments about the series makes me think they're in it for the money, and if that means cranking out a new one every year like Activision's COD series, well...they can count me out. I thought ACIII was pretty meh. I didn't expect to play nearly five hours as some boring old man and even once I shifted into Connor as soon as I hit the fifteen hour mark or so I gave my copy to someone else.
    I tried Liberations, too. IMO, not very good.

    So, yeah...I'm kind of fed up with Ubisoft right now. :/
     
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  3. Sapientia

    Sapientia ShinRa SOLDIER

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    And Jesus Christ, don't get me started on ACIII's George Washington DLC. Honestly, what a steaming pile of crap. And it's not because I'm American and don't like the idea of Washington as the bad guy...the writing just sucked. I actually paid for that thinking it would be an improvement over the somewhat iffy controls, but oh, no. I get worse than that. Some invisible bear power thingy, a plot that is written so horribly, and it's overpriced, too. Just...great.
    The more I dwell on it the more I want to have a shouting contest with anyone, ANYONE, at Ubisoft's HQ in Montreal or wherever their AC team is centrally located.
    God. xD
     
  4. Casval

    Casval Yevonite

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    I couldn't finish 1. It's a mildly interesting game with terrible controls. 2 is amazing and a significant improvement from the first entry, and currently it's still my favorite entry in the series. I had lots of fun with Brotherhood, didn't play Revelations, and then dove into 3. 3's ending . . . I don't even know what to say about it. The only fun I really ever had in 3 was invading the forts and shutting them down. I don't plan to buy 4 because naval warfare isn't my cup of tea (i.e. I suck at it).

    Quite frankly, the AC franchise could have done without Desmond and the entire "doomsday" theme.
     
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  5. Sapientia

    Sapientia ShinRa SOLDIER

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    I think the entire Desmond/Animus side plot is just unnecessarily confusing and pointless. I'd rather just play as a lineage of assassins without needlessly complicating it with some Animus crap. And I really dislike Desmond's character. So boring.
    And yeaaaah, I'll skip ACIV and just watch a little bit of a playthrough. The environment does look gorgeous and expansive. Not enough to get me to play it, though.
     
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  6. Fleur

    Fleur Red Wings Commander

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    Ah, that reminds me.

    There were two forts that I started conquering. Then the fort's AI completely failed as enemies started to ignore me and - get this - started running around this building non-stop, including the fort captain. They wouldn't respond to me, and even when I kill them, they respawn and continue running like headless chickens. I couldn't complete the two forts as the command prompt for lowering the flags never appeared. I had to restart the game before it could finally let me complete the forts. Honestly.

    It should not be whatsoever that a team of God-knows-how-many-hundreds can pump out a game as messy, incoherent and glitch-ridden as this. It's incredible.

    As for the Desmond material, they really painted themselves into a corner when they introduced it in the first Assassin's Creed game, and it astonishes me as to why they did that. Why couldn't an Assassin's Creed game(s) be its own standalone story set entirely in its historical setting? Why does it need an overarching modern storyline that is not only ridiculous when you think about it, but also so poorly handled? Did Ubisoft simply assume that the mass market wouldn't bother with the first game unless there was some modern day connection involved?

    I dunno, it just seems stupid to me as a history student to imagine Ass Creed history as a long-reigning war between only TWO factions. That somehow the whole world managed to define identities in terms of simply Assassins or Templar in totality. The idea that all history in the game's universe is, is two neatly-defined sides with the same, unchanging neat abstract ideas regardless of cultural relativism and changes through time. Having the modern day stuff, bearing this in mind, simply hurts the fictional historicity of the individual games. It's hard for a me to take the whole universe seriously.
     
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  7. Sapientia

    Sapientia ShinRa SOLDIER

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    Altair and Ezio are groaning and face-palming in their graves.
     
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  8. Casval

    Casval Yevonite

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    @Fleur: Oh right! How could I ever forget about the awesome glitches in AC? So awesome that I've had to restart my games multiple times in the past as well . . .

    Compared to films and writing, storytelling in video games is still in its infancy. Yes, the "assassin v. templar" war is rather simplistic, but it gets the job done. I can't say for sure whether or not Ubisoft's goal was realism.
     
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