Assassin's Creed 3: So Close, So Far

Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

Last year around this time I wrote a blog about how Ubisoft could course correct Assassin’s Creed after Assassin’s Creed: Revelations; a fun, yet mediocre follow-up to the excellent 2010 game Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

Assassin’s Creed 3 came out a few weeks ago and with it came a new time period and a new protagonist. Did the change in setting fix what ailed the series? No. While some of the issues I pointed out last year were addressed, some weren’t, and a host of new ones were introduced.

Just like AC:R, I still had a great deal of fun playing AC3, but it could have been much better. It reminded me a lot of the original Assassin’s Creed in that it had a ton of potential and some really cool and impressive technology. It just doesn’t all come together in a way that fulfills that obvious potential.

I’m going to make some suggestions on how they could fix the series. Ubisoft didn’t listen to me last year--shocking, I know. I obviously knew what I was talking about. So, hey, Ubisoft, do these things:

Assassin’s Creed 3 has a painfully slow start. It’s not all bad, it’s just slow and deliberate, and maybe a little unexpected. You don’t play as the guy on the box for a good five hours, and even then, you don’t wear the cool costume the guy on the box is wearing for another two. While the long setup does drag a bit, it does a great job of building the world, characters and setting. Too bad there’s very little follow through or pay off. Just as things finally shift into drive, the game wraps up. Right after sequence 10, things start to fall apart and feel disjointed. It’s as if they ran out of historical events to throw Connor in, so they said, “Well, I guess that was all that was keeping people playing, so let’s wrap this up.” You know how there weren’t any real Revelations in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations? And how you felt kinda bummed about that? Guess how you’ll feel at the end of AC3?

Hundreds of people spread across multiple countries and continents work on the Assassin’s Creed games, and it shows in this one. There are so many random elements that don’t click together in any meaningful way. The game presents you with an absurd number of activities to do--from chasing lost pages of Ben Franklin’s almanac, to hunting an assortment of animals in the wild--and very few, if any, have an impact on your character or the story. There’s no reason to do them, at all. It’s like they saw Skyrim, thought “People like when there are lots of things to do” but missed the part about what drives people to do them.

In Skyrim, you explored caves, chased down bandits and hunted wildlife in the pursuit of loot or materials that could directly affect your character. You can get some upgrades for Connor’s weapons in AC3 if you craft a bunch of stuff, but you don’t need them. What’s the point in taking the time to craft an item that let’s you carry more bullets when you’ve already got arrows, poison darts, a rope dart and mines? It’s so frustrating, because there’s so much cool stuff in AC3, but it feels like they didn’t put any thought into connecting it.

For example, everyone knows how cool the naval warfare stuff is, but no one online seems to be talking about the Peg Leg Trinkets. If you collect trinkets scattered around the world, you can turn them in to Peg Leg back at the homestead and he’ll give you a mission. These missions involve the mysterious Captain Kidd and an artifact he went to great lengths to hide. Think of these like the one-off Da Vinci missions in AC:B. They contain some of the most visually diverse and technically impressive moments in the entire game, and some people will never see them because they’re hidden behind collectibles. If you collect one thing in AC3, go for the trinkets--the missions they unlock are a lot of fun.

I know the sci-fi part of Desmond in the real world was Ubisoft’s way of pitching a game set in a time and place few marketing people and investors would get behind (the middle east during the crusades). But I’ve seen the commercials for AC3, they’re all about the revolutionary war. There’s nothing sci-fi about them. The Desmond stuff has been consistently underwhelming for a while now and this game is no different. The real draw of the AC games is the historical stuff. The present day parts have always felt tacked on. Maybe they should just not tack them on at all next time.

I mentioned this one last year, and Ubisoft totally ignored it. Revelations had a feature bloat problem. There were too many tools in Ezio’s arsenal and little incentive to use them. AC3’s toy chest is even bigger and it spills over into other parts of the game--the (useless) crafting and convoy system, the admittedly cool, but not particularly important naval sections, and all of the hunting stuff. Here’s my suggestion from last year, it would still work for the next go around:

I would love to see my play style rewarded and the inventory simplified through a Deus Ex-like leveling system. Instead of giving me everything, let me choose what I want. Then let me level up the things I like. Instead of just buying a bigger pouch for knives, make it a perk on a knife skill tree. Revelations gives you a zillion different options, but when the stuff introduced in AC 2 still works so well, there’s little incentive to branch out. I think a RPG-like leveling system, complete with perks and cool unlocks, would do just that.

As the AC series marches on, it has less in common with the linear stealth action games that inspired it and more in common with sprawling action RPGs like Skyrim, Fable or even Darksiders 2. And yet it hasn’t adopted any of the carrot-on-a-stick leveling stuff from those games. Instead it fills the world with collectibles, like a late 90s platformer. Look what adding RPG elements did for Saints Row 3. Purchasing upgrades to build a nearly unstoppable character was fun. It gave you an incentive to participate in activities you might not have cared to do otherwise. Adding a character leveling system would both streamline and deepen the AC experience. Get on it Ubisoft!

Despite these issues, I had a good time with AC3--it's still just plain fun to play. I plowed through the story and now I’m picking over the systems to see what I missed--the Peg Leg Trinket missions, infiltrating and liberating forts, and more. Like I said at the top of the blog, this game is technically impressive and absolutely gorgeous. There’s just something about tearing through the forest, running up trees, bounding across chasms and diving off cliffs that feels so cool. AC3 takes the varied (in terms of geometry and elevation) environments of Skyrim and layers them with a level of interactivity unlike any other game. Trees, rocks, streams and hills are all there to be used, run on. It makes for a tangible, alive world. So it’s a bummer some of the stuff wrapped around it isn’t as good as it could be.

I tweeted my gut reaction after finishing the game the other night, and I think it still stands:

I'm so conflicted about Assassin's Creed 3. I loved a little, liked a lot, didn't care for a bit, hated a small portion. So...3 stars?

— Austin Light (@austindlight) November 11, 2012

Maybe next year Ubisoft.

#1 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

Last year around this time I wrote a blog about how Ubisoft could course correct Assassin’s Creed after Assassin’s Creed: Revelations; a fun, yet mediocre follow-up to the excellent 2010 game Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

Assassin’s Creed 3 came out a few weeks ago and with it came a new time period and a new protagonist. Did the change in setting fix what ailed the series? No. While some of the issues I pointed out last year were addressed, some weren’t, and a host of new ones were introduced.

Just like AC:R, I still had a great deal of fun playing AC3, but it could have been much better. It reminded me a lot of the original Assassin’s Creed in that it had a ton of potential and some really cool and impressive technology. It just doesn’t all come together in a way that fulfills that obvious potential.

I’m going to make some suggestions on how they could fix the series. Ubisoft didn’t listen to me last year--shocking, I know. I obviously knew what I was talking about. So, hey, Ubisoft, do these things:

Assassin’s Creed 3 has a painfully slow start. It’s not all bad, it’s just slow and deliberate, and maybe a little unexpected. You don’t play as the guy on the box for a good five hours, and even then, you don’t wear the cool costume the guy on the box is wearing for another two. While the long setup does drag a bit, it does a great job of building the world, characters and setting. Too bad there’s very little follow through or pay off. Just as things finally shift into drive, the game wraps up. Right after sequence 10, things start to fall apart and feel disjointed. It’s as if they ran out of historical events to throw Connor in, so they said, “Well, I guess that was all that was keeping people playing, so let’s wrap this up.” You know how there weren’t any real Revelations in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations? And how you felt kinda bummed about that? Guess how you’ll feel at the end of AC3?

Hundreds of people spread across multiple countries and continents work on the Assassin’s Creed games, and it shows in this one. There are so many random elements that don’t click together in any meaningful way. The game presents you with an absurd number of activities to do--from chasing lost pages of Ben Franklin’s almanac, to hunting an assortment of animals in the wild--and very few, if any, have an impact on your character or the story. There’s no reason to do them, at all. It’s like they saw Skyrim, thought “People like when there are lots of things to do” but missed the part about what drives people to do them.

In Skyrim, you explored caves, chased down bandits and hunted wildlife in the pursuit of loot or materials that could directly affect your character. You can get some upgrades for Connor’s weapons in AC3 if you craft a bunch of stuff, but you don’t need them. What’s the point in taking the time to craft an item that let’s you carry more bullets when you’ve already got arrows, poison darts, a rope dart and mines? It’s so frustrating, because there’s so much cool stuff in AC3, but it feels like they didn’t put any thought into connecting it.

For example, everyone knows how cool the naval warfare stuff is, but no one online seems to be talking about the Peg Leg Trinkets. If you collect trinkets scattered around the world, you can turn them in to Peg Leg back at the homestead and he’ll give you a mission. These missions involve the mysterious Captain Kidd and an artifact he went to great lengths to hide. Think of these like the one-off Da Vinci missions in AC:B. They contain some of the most visually diverse and technically impressive moments in the entire game, and some people will never see them because they’re hidden behind collectibles. If you collect one thing in AC3, go for the trinkets--the missions they unlock are a lot of fun.

I know the sci-fi part of Desmond in the real world was Ubisoft’s way of pitching a game set in a time and place few marketing people and investors would get behind (the middle east during the crusades). But I’ve seen the commercials for AC3, they’re all about the revolutionary war. There’s nothing sci-fi about them. The Desmond stuff has been consistently underwhelming for a while now and this game is no different. The real draw of the AC games is the historical stuff. The present day parts have always felt tacked on. Maybe they should just not tack them on at all next time.

I mentioned this one last year, and Ubisoft totally ignored it. Revelations had a feature bloat problem. There were too many tools in Ezio’s arsenal and little incentive to use them. AC3’s toy chest is even bigger and it spills over into other parts of the game--the (useless) crafting and convoy system, the admittedly cool, but not particularly important naval sections, and all of the hunting stuff. Here’s my suggestion from last year, it would still work for the next go around:

I would love to see my play style rewarded and the inventory simplified through a Deus Ex-like leveling system. Instead of giving me everything, let me choose what I want. Then let me level up the things I like. Instead of just buying a bigger pouch for knives, make it a perk on a knife skill tree. Revelations gives you a zillion different options, but when the stuff introduced in AC 2 still works so well, there’s little incentive to branch out. I think a RPG-like leveling system, complete with perks and cool unlocks, would do just that.

As the AC series marches on, it has less in common with the linear stealth action games that inspired it and more in common with sprawling action RPGs like Skyrim, Fable or even Darksiders 2. And yet it hasn’t adopted any of the carrot-on-a-stick leveling stuff from those games. Instead it fills the world with collectibles, like a late 90s platformer. Look what adding RPG elements did for Saints Row 3. Purchasing upgrades to build a nearly unstoppable character was fun. It gave you an incentive to participate in activities you might not have cared to do otherwise. Adding a character leveling system would both streamline and deepen the AC experience. Get on it Ubisoft!

Despite these issues, I had a good time with AC3--it's still just plain fun to play. I plowed through the story and now I’m picking over the systems to see what I missed--the Peg Leg Trinket missions, infiltrating and liberating forts, and more. Like I said at the top of the blog, this game is technically impressive and absolutely gorgeous. There’s just something about tearing through the forest, running up trees, bounding across chasms and diving off cliffs that feels so cool. AC3 takes the varied (in terms of geometry and elevation) environments of Skyrim and layers them with a level of interactivity unlike any other game. Trees, rocks, streams and hills are all there to be used, run on. It makes for a tangible, alive world. So it’s a bummer some of the stuff wrapped around it isn’t as good as it could be.

I tweeted my gut reaction after finishing the game the other night, and I think it still stands:

I'm so conflicted about Assassin's Creed 3. I loved a little, liked a lot, didn't care for a bit, hated a small portion. So...3 stars?

— Austin Light (@austindlight) November 11, 2012

Maybe next year Ubisoft.

#2 Posted by Morrow (1829 posts) -

@yeah_write: Good read :) I agree with your points. Another reason not to pick up AC3, or at least wait until it's cheaper. Much cheaper.

#3 Edited by adam1808 (1496 posts) -

I'm still going to pick up AC3 on PC. I'm completely blind to criticism regarding the series because I'm such a history nut. Historical tourism has allowed me to thoroughly enjoy all of the AC games regardless of relative quality. I'm just glad Ubisoft found an excuse to make this kind of game possible.

EDIT: Nice post, I remember you giving Revelations a fair go last year and hoping things would be improved. Turns out they weren't.

#4 Posted by Karkarov (3102 posts) -

Nice post, I hope Ubisoft actually makes the game better next time instead of going the cash in route again. Another AC with basically the same gameplay with more useless junk upgrades you don't need may start getting stale even for the die hard fans.

#5 Posted by mordukai (7150 posts) -

I'm glad you enjoyed Assassin's Creed 3 but I must ask you. Don't you think that with every irritation it seems like the dev team are getting further away from what the core of AC games. crafting bombs, shop quests, tower defense, ship battles, hunting animals, defending convoys, finding lost treasures are fun and all but what does it have to do with being an Assassin? I don't see Agent 47 doing all those things?!

The game just seems to become more like a pseudo Elder Scrollish RPG and less about being a lone assassin fighting against a group of people hell bend on world domination. That's why to me the first AC will be the the purest in the series. It was very repetitive but the experience was the in it's pure form. Reach your point, gather information on your target, and now go find the best way to assassinate that target. I think that's why it resonated so much with people.

It just feels like every game game in the series is trying to one up the one that came before it. I would not be surprised if the next AC you will be commanding a huge army. I have a feeling the next game in the series will be set in the US civil war time and Abraham Lincoln will be featured.

I just feel like that with every game they are moving further away from the creed of the AC game. I hope they give the series a long deserved rest once Watch Dogs comes out.

#6 Posted by Claude (16254 posts) -

Very well read, I hear you and feel the same about AC3. There are parts I just wish to ignore and some parts that are rather annoying if you decide to tackle them. I'm having very mixed emotions about the game. I'm not feeling the Naval battles though, but I guess I should upgrade my ship or something. The ledgers seem confusing still to me. Maybe I'll figure them out. I know I can't afford to equip my ship, that's for sure. Fucking game. I want to love you, but I feel like you hate me for some reason.

#7 Posted by Morrow (1829 posts) -

@mordukai: I guess that's the GTA-ish influence on the mainstream appeal. The first AC was actually quite niché.

#8 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

@Morrow: If you're willing to go out on Black Friday, I know a few places will be selling it at $35. Definitely worth it at that price.

@adam1808: Yeah I love the historical stuff too. I also keep coming back because the simple joy of navigating the environment hasn't lost its charm with me. I love the way Connor moves, especially the subtle juke side step thing he does when you're running and you flick the stick left or right, it makes tearing through a crowd or a dense forest feel extra awesome.

@Karkarov: Exactly. I'm a die hard fan and it was starting to get stale in the last game. I hope they can turn it around.

@mordukai: That doesn't bother me too much, though I would love a refocus on stealth. That's what I think a Deus Ex type leveling system could do. Give us a dedicated stealth button (or at least a crouch!). Let us choose to level up in stealth or in combat. I wouldn't be upset at all if they leaned more toward Batman Arkham Asylum or Deus Ex: HR and away from Grand Theft Auto. At this point it's just getting weird that they keep opening up the world and adding more stuff without connecting any of those things. Even full-on open world games like Skyrim or Kingdoms of Amalur have stealth and leveling options. They need to either scale back and just do missions like Hitman or refocus and add in leveling and customization.

@Claude said:

Fucking game. I want to love you, but I feel like you hate me for some reason.

I felt the same way at times. Some of the systems--particularly the convoy and crafting--are so obtuse and weirdly designed it's as if the game is challenging you to actually like them. Also, the weird amount of collectible crap is like the developers saying, "Yeah, we have no respect for your time." Most of that crap doesn't even get you anything. The Trinkets are the only things worth going for--they get you some cool missions, and a nice little upgrade to your general hardiness if you complete them all.

@Morrow: Despite the mainstream appeal, I do think that Assassin's Creed might be one of the densest AAA mainstream games around. I mean look how many systems this thing is stuffed with. It's not Call of Duty, that's for sure. There's a lot to learn and a ton of tools at your disposal, which is why it's a shame there's no reason to use most of them.

#9 Posted by GunstarRed (5186 posts) -

I totally agree about the trinket missions, they are some of the best in the game. I found it weird how a couple of them are shown in the trailers as big actiony selling points only for them to be hidden behind a pretty huge time consuming fetch quest.

#10 Edited by Morrow (1829 posts) -

@yeah_write said:

@Morrow: If you're willing to go out on Black Friday, I know a few places will be selling it at $35. Definitely worth it at that price.

Black... Friday? Sorry, I guess that's some kind of special day that doesn't exist in Europe... oh, and there are also no stores here that sell ACIII at that price ^^ I'm all Amazon, btw. And I don't mind waiting, my list of games I've yet to finish is huge anyway...

#11 Edited by leebmx (2244 posts) -

Really good post. I am only half-wayish throught he game at the moment - just got to New York and done the first mission or so there. I really agree with a lot of what you say from the amount of the game I have seen so far. I am always amazed how beautiful it looks and once they take the leash of and really let you explore it can be really rewarding and exciting.

The problem for Ubisoft seems to be that they are on this punishing release schedule so instead of taking a bit of time to think about exactly how the game should be constructed they are just madly iterating and adding to features without thinking of their worth. This means there is tons of stuff to do, but none of it works together to really progress your character.

In this game we have hunting, crafting and trading, running a guild, collecting and building up your homestead and naval warfare(!) but it seems as if you could ignore all off these and would have no trouble finishing the game by just following the main questline. For the next game (which is probably too late as it will be out this time next year so will already be well underway) they need to scrap all this stuff and add some systems and tasks into the game which, when you complete them, make the game more fun to play, either by adding powers or weapons etc. Upgrading Connor's (or whoever's) abilities or tools through side quests would make the world feel much more compelling. At the moment it just feels like pointless collection to fill out this big beautiful space they have created.

#12 Posted by mordukai (7150 posts) -

I think they need to refocus the series in general. Every major release the game becomes bigger and bigger so naturally they need to fill it with more features and more useless fluff.

A leveling system would be a cool addon if done right. Earning exp points through various action would make some of the more tedious actions, this series has, a little bit more bearable. As far as the collectibles in the game then I think they need to maybe give actual reward for them either by giving you in-game content or extras like developer's commentary or some more "behind the scene" stuff. It still amazes me developers will just add items for you to collect and have it only go towards meaningless trophy/achievement. Why am I collecting flags and feathers? What will spending all these hours collecting them end up giving me? They really have no meaning besides having a 100% sync which still has no meaning whatsoever.

@Morrow said:

@mordukai: I guess that's the GTA-ish influence on the mainstream appeal. The first AC was actually quite niché.

A niche game that sold over 8 million copies. People say most of it was the marketing for this game but I don't think they sold 8 million copies on the strength of marketing alone. The game obviously resonated with people. The changes they made going from 1 to 2 were welcomed but I think every game since then kinda lost focus.

#13 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

@Morrow: Oops, didn't know you were in Europe. Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving here in the US. It's a day for retail shopping filled with insane deals--you just usually have to brave crazy crowds and be willing to be at the store before the sun rises.

@leebmx: The production schedule is definitely a problem. They need to step back and re-evaluate what's important. I wonder, as they did on the last Bombcast, if Watch Dogs will do to AC what AC did to Prince of Persia--essentially put it on the back burner. And yes, I can confirm that you can get through the entire game without ever hunting, crafting, using the convoy, training assassin's or doing naval missions. You'll have to do each of those things once when they're introduced (the story contains at least two naval missions), but other than that, you don't need them. I didn't realize I could recruit more than the one assassin you get through the story until well after I had finished the game. That's crazy, and sort of really dumb.

#14 Posted by Morrow (1829 posts) -

@mordukai said:

@Morrow said:

@mordukai: I guess that's the GTA-ish influence on the mainstream appeal. The first AC was actually quite niché.

A niche game that sold over 8 million copies. People say most of it was the marketing for this game but I don't think they sold 8 million copies on the strength of marketing alone. The game obviously resonated with people. The changes they made going from 1 to 2 were welcomed but I think every game since then kinda lost focus.

Yup. Because the core idea of the game had a huge appeal, but the game itself was nichè. There's a great article about it: http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/MatthewLoPresti/20101217/6470/Assassins_Creed_The_Failed_Hashshashin_Simulator_and_its_Aftermath.php

I's a long read but worth it. That comes from someone who never reads any game articles :D

#15 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (1030 posts) -

good read

#16 Posted by Mcfart (1624 posts) -

I agree somewhat. While the extra stuff is completely optional, in a way I like that. I don't really like the hunting, but I enjoy the naval missions, so I'll do more of that and ignore the hunting. This is contrary to Revelations that kinda forced the Tower Defense on people, and nobody liked it. At least this way you can do what you want, based on the merit of fun.

Another problem is the fact that the game's too easy, so you never need a varied/specific approach (optional objectives notwithstanding). With the Rope Darts, guns, bows, AND Assassin minions, there's no need to use all that, and usually no accomplished feeling for using all the tools are your disposal since there's too many, and the game's too easy.

#17 Posted by briangodsoe (487 posts) -

It's a shame they didn't take more cues from RDR. They could have filled the Frontier with all kinds of random and interesting shit. Hell maybe that would have made some of the bugs more endearing instead of annoying. It's a cool world to just live in and explore but they could have done so much more. I think it's still a great game, just one that missed out on the potential to be more than that.

#18 Posted by Klei (1768 posts) -

I totally agree. Most of your points, I've been pointing them out since AC2. Especially the one about the tools at your disposition. Why have a sword AND a tomahawk? What's the difference between the two? There's none. Sure, we could argue that the stats vary, but in reality, there's none. You'll still end up killing your foe the exact same way but with different finishers. Why have trip mines? Who built them? And what's the deal with poison darts? It always sucked and nobody toyed with those even back in AC2, except if you wanted to do the throw money + darts combo.

I would much rather have, as you pointed out, a talent tree of things that I could improve and make choices. Do I want to excel with a bow or with guns? Do I want poison darts or explosive mines? And seriously, they should make these items useful, because they're not.

I also really don't like the weapon weel in AC3. It's like switching weapon in a menu screen, something we did back in the DMC1 and 2 days.

#19 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4676 posts) -

Remember when Assassin's Creed about was climbing around citys and actually assassinating people. I think the first AC is much better then AC3. AC3 just messes up the fundimentals of why I even liked this series in favor of being true to the time period and shoving up in historical events.

#20 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

@briangodsoe: I think there's plenty to do in the frontier, as much as RDR if not more. Plus unlike RDR, where your options are run, jump and ride a horse, in AC3 you can climb all over the place. It really connects you to the environment. And yet people keep saying RDR did it better? Why? Because the stuff you could do in the frontier actually tied in to your progression as a character. There was a point to all that madness. AC3 needs a point.

@Klei: Definitely agree about all the melee weapons. Why are there still heavy weapons in the game? Combat is so counter heavy, the slow response time doesn't even matter. You're literally just choosing weapons based on the set of animations you like most. The skill tree thing would have been perfect for this game. You could level up your Native American skills and become the ultimate silent hunter, or level up your colonist skills and become a loud death-bringing badass. Either one would change the way you play the game and be rewarding in its own way. Instead you end up just using what works, which happens to be the same thing that worked in the last few games.

@Mcfart: The game is stupidly easy. Combat looks great, but is never challenging the way the combat in Batman is. I'm not saying they shouldn't have optional stuff, I'm saying they should make doing it worth your while. I never got into crafting in Skyrim, it wasn't essential so I didn't do it. Later on I discovered its usefulness and ended crafting some great unique armor that helped make my mage stronger. AC3 has all this stuff you could poke around with, but has no real tangible benefit. You could collect all those feathers, or do all those extra naval missions, but what for? Not a single side activity in this game has an impact on your performance in the story. Doing them or not doing them does not make the story missions any easier or harder. That should change.

#21 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

@ImmortalSaiyan: The worst part? In AC3, the eternal struggle of Templars vs Assassins has been boiled down to five guys vs one angry dude. In previous games they really felt like two deeply entrenched secret organizations going at it--especially in AC2 and Brotherhood thanks to the way the Templars embedded themselves in the Catholic church. Similarly, Ezio built up strongholds and guilds and controlled underlings. It just felt like a secret war. In AC3 it doesn't feel that way at all. Connor is pretty much the only assassin, and the Templars are just a group of sneaky British dudes. I thought it was going to be couched in the greater conflict of the colonies vs Britain, but it's not really. You're just one guy after a small group of other guys--and not really because they're Templars, but because you want revenge. Man...so much missed potential with this game.

#22 Posted by MildMolasses (3221 posts) -

@Karkarov said:

Nice post, I hope Ubisoft actually makes the game better next time instead of going the cash in route again. Another AC with basically the same gameplay with more useless junk upgrades you don't need may start getting stale even for the die hard fans.

I think there's a lot to like about the current game, but I think Ubisoft could really nail it if they looked at the things from each game that worked really well. The great new addition from this game is obviously the naval missions, but the homestead, hunting and assassin's guild are either useless, or poor implementations of systems that worked better in previous games.

Ideally the things they would use:

  • naval combat from ACIII
  • the assassin's guild from AC:brotherhood
  • Climbing puzzles and glyphs from ACII and Brotherhood
  • The estate buidling of AC II
  • More side areas like the assassin's tombs
  • More of a sense that I was killing people for a cause rather than for revenge, like in the first game
#23 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4676 posts) -

@yeah_write said:

@ImmortalSaiyan: The worst part? In AC3, the eternal struggle of Templars vs Assassins has been boiled down to five guys vs one angry dude. In previous games they really felt like two deeply entrenched secret organizations going at it--especially in AC2 and Brotherhood thanks to the way the Templars embedded themselves in the Catholic church. Similarly, Ezio built up strongholds and guilds and controlled underlings. It just felt like a secret war. In AC3 it doesn't feel that way at all. Connor is pretty much the only assassin, and the Templars are just a group of sneaky British dudes. I thought it was going to be couched in the greater conflict of the colonies vs Britain, but it's not really. You're just one guy after a small group of other guys--and not really because they're Templars, but because you want revenge. Man...so much missed potential with this game.

Good point. I never thought of that but it's absolutely true. They lost the broad conflict completely. The only other assassin is the old guy. Conners tale does not even intertwine with the amercian revolution plot well. Heck, they did a poor job with the American rev story too.

I find it hard to think of any good things about Assassin's Creed 3.

#24 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

@MildMolasses: YES! That list is perfect. There are side areas in AC3, but the only way to get them is by collecting stupid Trinkets. I would add the consequential platforming from Revelations. That was my favorite inclusion of that otherwise derivative game. The hook blade required an extra button press to use when swinging between platforms. It was a simple thing to add, but it made you more aware and present during platforming. Instead of just holding up and steering Ezio, you actually had to pay attention and press the right button to nail a jump. I want more of that. Maybe a button for roll or something.

I'd also keep the basic tech of AC3. The running feels better now that it's just on the trigger. Also, I said it earlier, but I love the subtle juke move Connor does when you pull to the left or right while running. Ezio didn't do that, he just sort of turned. That juke allows you to dodge obstacles while running forward without destroying your momentum. It makes running through a crowd or around trees feel more urgent and fluid.

@ImmortalSaiyan: There's plenty of good in there, and I wouldn't say anything is outright, offensively bad. It's just that you can so clearly see what COULD be better, that it's frustrating. Ubisoft obviously didn't read my blog last year. Next year, I won't be a sucker and give them my money until I've confirmed they've made some significant changes.

#25 Posted by Pabba (346 posts) -

I've played the original Assassin's Creed and then Brotherhood, and I will probably never get over how amazing Brotherhood turned out that I think I might just skip Revelations and III until Ubisoft completely throws everything out and starts anew. Truly anew. Oh well. Three stars is fine, but nothing to get excited over.

#26 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4676 posts) -

@yeah_write said:

@MildMolasses: YES! That list is perfect. There are side areas in AC3, but the only way to get them is by collecting stupid Trinkets. I would add the consequential platforming from Revelations. That was my favorite inclusion of that otherwise derivative game. The hook blade required an extra button press to use when swinging between platforms. It was a simple thing to add, but it made you more aware and present during platforming. Instead of just holding up and steering Ezio, you actually had to pay attention and press the right button to nail a jump. I want more of that. Maybe a button for roll or something.

I'd also keep the basic tech of AC3. The running feels better now that it's just on the trigger. Also, I said it earlier, but I love the subtle juke move Connor does when you pull to the left or right while running. Ezio didn't do that, he just sort of turned. That juke allows you to dodge obstacles while running forward without destroying your momentum. It makes running through a crowd or around trees feel more urgent and fluid.

@ImmortalSaiyan: There's plenty of good in there, and I wouldn't say anything is outright, offensively bad. It's just that you can so clearly see what COULD be better, that it's frustrating. Ubisoft obviously didn't read my blog last year. Next year, I won't be a sucker and give them my money until I've confirmed they've made some significant changes.

I never did any of the side content. I plowed through the main campaign and rarely enjoyed it at all. I found nearly every minute a hassle. The navel battles are not bad and the story had it's moments. But the over reliece of combat over stealth. Terrible old school stealth mechanics. Awful tutorial that for the six hours it takes barely tells you anything. How there is very little to actually climb and 95% of the climbing is perfectly linear. Speaking of linear all main quest missions feel really linear and with little interactivity in service of it's plot. Like riding a horse or running back and forth between troops pressing B. I feel punished for Ever wanting for climb around as there is now easy way to dispatch roof guard due to the lack of throwing knifes. Its is too easy to get caught on roofs as It seems since the buildinging are so small the guards below usually see me. When you are caught it's very hard to escape because there are no hiding spots on roofs, or as many places to hide on the ground and the towns are open so breaking line of site is difficult.

Sorry for the rant there but I had to get it off my chest.

#27 Posted by yeah_write (219 posts) -

@ImmortalSaiyan: Haha, those are all valid points. I plowed through the story too, and you're right, it's linear and not very interactive. Most missions boil down to "Hold up until cutscene starts." The missions in AC:B and AC:R were much more dynamic. I do recommend checking out those Trinket missions. The one in the arctic is one of the prettiest I've ever seen in an AC game. It's downright bewildering that they'd hide that away behind asinine collectibles. And yes, getting caught ALL THE TIME by guards is mega annoying. AC:2, AC:B and AC:R all had outfits you could unlock that would essentially make you undectable on rooftops. I really wish AC:3 had something like that.

#28 Posted by Bane (405 posts) -

At first I thought the density of the game was a positive. However, the more I play the more I come to realize it's not dense, it's fat. All the extra junk doesn't add anything to the experience. If anything it detracts from the overall quality of the game to have all these disparate mechanics and hold-over features all cobbled together.

I really hope they take a good, long look at how bloated with feature creep this series has become, cut out all the superfluous bullshit, and focus on making a superb assassin game.

#29 Posted by briangodsoe (487 posts) -

@yeah_write: There is a moment in RDR that I was thinking of when I made this point. Out of nowhere and without warning you stumble across a man crying over a corpse. You approach thinking there is something you must be able to do but there's nothing so you decided to walk away. As soon as you turn your back you hear a gunshot, you turn around and the person who was crying is now laying dead next to his friend by self inflicted gunshot.

I realize that there is a ton of stuff to do, that's what I'm doing now and I'm enjoying it way more than the story missions. Just living in and navigating the world. But aside from collectibles, missions, and some very cool traversal the world seems kind of hollow in the frontier. Almost like RDR multiplayer if you will. There are NPCs but they seem to be just there. RDR had random bandit encounters, cannibal attacks, and strange random encounters in the desert like the one I described. It also had cool bugs like the donkey woman that when people found them they would post them to youtube. Stuff like that would make what is arguably the best part of the game, and I would say just fucking about and living in the past is the best part about AC for me, even better.

#30 Posted by Oddy4000 (94 posts) -

Agree with this - If I was judging the product solely on Single Player, I would give it 3 stars. Multiplayer is currently bumping me up to 4/5 on the personal opinion meter.

I recommend people try multiplayer if they haven't. If it's seemed intimidating before, there are now 3 tutorial levels, a bot playground, and a PVE Co-op horde mode I don't see mentioned much. It's called Wolfpack, and it's a lot of fun, even played alone.

Regarding time spent with Desmond in the "Real World", it erases a lot of the cognitive buy-in AC has built in as a series. As a player, you buy that the people you interact with in the Animus are brain-dead because the whole conceit of the game is you are re-experiencing vague traces of genetic memories. When you go to a stadium full of "real people"in 2012 and they behave in the same way (including guards with 9mm weapons drawing a bead on you like they're holding a flintlock), the lack of an interesting AI systems is put in sharp relief. Desmond as a character disconnects his "real world" actions from consequences in a way that feels quintessentially "video gamey," while the developers take half-steps to try to avoid that by stripping out (most of) the Animus UI overlays. "Oh man, I'm surrounded by guards! Should I run a way and escape? Knock them out? Nah, quicker to stab 15 dudes and be on the FBI's most wanted list as a terrorist. Great, now that's done! Oh, let's not dwell on the fact that I just stabbed 15 dudes, I'm sure they deserved it and their clumsy punches were too tempting not to counter. Besides, I'm totally good at murdering people, so whatever."

The naval battles frustrated me a bit. It was the new feature I was most excited about, and it definitely works as advertised. It basically plays like Sid Meier's Pirates, which is all I thought I wanted. What seemed to be lacking, and is missing throughout the game for almost all of the features, is a narrative hook to actually care about. I got all the Naval missions done, but Conner doesn't really get anything for my investment. Dynamic ship boarding is a must if they do this again, and they need to do some camera tweaking, but I like the direction they're heading in with Naval Combat. How about some straight up Privateer missions that increase guard patrols in the colonies as a result? (Pirate hunters out to get you in the streets)

The convoy/homestead system was terrible. I finished all the Homestead missions, and I put enough time and effort into convoys to make a sizable amount of money over the course of several hours, but the menu system is ABYSMAL and actually taking the time to craft things seems less profitable than just pushing out the dozens of pelts you acquire throughout the course of the game. The concept is great. The execution is pathetic. The writing for the Homestead Missions was fine, but again, no payoff (except another costumer that's not as cool as Conner's default).

I'm interested to see where they go next year - They seemed to throw away a lot of what they were building in the overall plot in a pretty brazen way, and I hope it's because they have some better ideas on how to frame the series as a narrative going forward.

#31 Posted by Ujio (565 posts) -

It's crazy to say it, but I'm technically already half-way through ACIII and yet I don't feel like I've really done anything.
 
The beginning was too long (and this is coming from someone who usually relishes a good story) because I wanted to play as Connor more than I really cared about the backstory even though I understand why it's there.
 
The entire hunting aspect is just stupid; it really is. I don't want to hunt animals in ACIII--I want to hunt down and assassinate Templars in stylish ways; not shoot rabbits with a bow and arrow. This isn't RDR and I'm not John Marston. I already played that game, Ubisoft, what the hell were you thinking?
 
All in all I am enjoying it as much as it can be enjoyed, but I was probably expecting more. ACII was the true breakout title for the franchise and it appears Ubisoft will continue to chase that type of balance if they ever want to top it in the next AC game.

#32 Posted by OneManX (1693 posts) -

I feel like skipping Rev is gonna help me enjoy the game. I got tired of Ezio, point blank. I think he is a great character, in fact he is one of the best characters, he gave the series a face, but I got tired of him. I see all the complaints, but they don't bother me, b/c I'll play what want to play, and if I want to continue doing certain missions, I'll go down that route. I'm just glad that we're done with Ezio, done with Italy.. and we have a new playground to run around in.

That is what I wanted out of ACIII, and despite complaints, it's what I keep seeing.

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