Where did the 2012 story go wrong?

#1 Edited by Encephalon (1176 posts) -

As I hurtle toward the end of AC3, I find I am really enjoying the American Revolution part of the game, but I also found myself slightly bummed at how the present day story came together.

For me personally, the 2012 story fell off a cliff fairly early on: at the end of AC2, when they supplanted the Abstergo threat with the solar apocalypse threat. Now, I know we all love the end of AC2 apparently, and admittedly I enjoyed it too, but it does also represent a huge shift in the narrative that I think served AC very poorly in the long run. This is the point where AC started leaning much more heavily on the parts of their lore that are common video game and genre fiction tropes, almost cliches--forerunner civilizations, ancient magitech, hidden magic temples, an apocalypse countdown, etc.

It's easy to say stuff like this in retrospect, but I'd much rather have had AC remain extremely vague on all things First Civilization and continue to focus on Abstergo as the main threat. I mean, the Abstergo satellite launch is horrifying enough (even if it is basically an assimilation plot) already without stacking the end of the world on top of it. The fact that Desmond spends most of AC3 sitting in a glowing blue temple, hunting down keys for a big door like it's a Zelda game--instead of dismantling Abstergo's executive board, one by one--will probably go down as one of my biggest story based letdown this gen.

So what about you guys? Where do you think AC lost its way, if you ever had any hope for it at all? Or do you think the present day stuff is just fine?

#2 Posted by JasonR86 (9375 posts) -

I haven't gotten very far in the game yet but what I'm finding is that I dislike all of the characters in the 2012 setting. That and the writing and cutscene direction in that time is really, really poor.

#3 Posted by xxizzypop (576 posts) -

You pretty much nailed where it went wrong. There was nothing wrong about the First Civ. so long as it remained abstract, distant, something just to help explain what the pieces of Eden were and just how far back this battle went between the Templars and Assassins. The games following 2 just put their conflict on the backburner, made it irrelevant and became this weird, cheesy sci-fi story with serious condemnation of religious dogma.

#4 Posted by StarvingGamer (7560 posts) -

Honestly, I think the real problem is the dissonance between Connor's story and Desmond's. What has made ACIII so engaging to me, putting it heads and shoulders above the rest of the AC games, is the way they've added a world of depth to the Templar. In the previous games they've always been portrayed as evil dudes, plain and simple. They were just villaining it up all over the place.

This time, however, the revolutionary Templar have become sympathetic characters, so much so that the actions of Connor are bathed in shades of moral gray. I actually felt bad after enacting a number of key assassinations. But when you get back to Desmond it's still the same stuff where the Templars are just a bunch of bad dudes being bad dudes. The game goes from being a symphony of tonal color to a complete monotone.

It's a real shame.

#5 Posted by BisonHero (5662 posts) -

For what's it worth, I share the opinion that Patrick gave on the Bombcast, in that the present day stuff with Desmond has always been stupid bullshit, and I'm only interested in playing the games to experience these cool historical settings and spend as little time thinking about Desmond and his problems as possible.

#6 Posted by Klei (1768 posts) -

The whole 2012 solar flare bullshit made me officialy not care about anything Desmond-related. I'm serious, I never spend a single second more than I need out of the animus with that scooby-doo crap and lame gameplay/characters.

Inside the Animus though; its superb.

#7 Posted by awesomeusername (4057 posts) -

The more I read about what people disliked about the game, the more I think about it and start getting more disappointed. :/

#8 Posted by Nightriff (4344 posts) -

Same as Patrick, I come to the games to play in an ancient setting that you don't get in any other game. They could get rid of Desmond and the future stuff altogether and I would be perfectly fine, it has always felt thrown away to me and if anything, made me enjoy the games less. Desmond just isn't likable at all. Note that I've only played through Brotherhood and expect me to feel the same way for the other 2.

#9 Posted by Encephalon (1176 posts) -

@Nightriff: @BisonHero: I've definitely grown into that position as the series wore on, but for me, that is more a function of how poorly the present day has been handled, rather than an inherent flaw in the premise. I still maintain that it at least had potential in AC1.

I think the better way to leverage the 2012 stuff would be to (1) stick to a single ancestor, probably Altair and (2) have the past/present ratio swing more toward Desmond with each successive game, to the point that the last game is mostly him running around futuretown. Of course, this would require making both Altair and Desmond not lame, so it's more an idle fantasy of mine than anything.

#10 Posted by ImmortalSaiyan (4655 posts) -

The series has absolutely lost it's way. I used to find the present day story interesting but it was dragged out over 2 unnecessarily games. Barely anything happens and I don't know what to think of that ending.

Far more importantly then that is how badly they messed up the core of the series. Assassin's Creed 3 does not feel like AC 1 or 2 to me. There is not much to climb and the game seems to actively want me to even go on the rooftops. The story missions focus too much on the plot and are very linear and relay more on combat then the open stealth missions from AC1.

It's a shame really. There was such potential.

#11 Posted by CheapPoison (708 posts) -

I think if they would get rid of the prresent/future... It would be a stronger game for it. I feel there is no need to justify the reason why you go back in time.

Why not just go. "Here, have this story about this assassin set in xxxx, have fun!"

Mainly cause the Desmond character is not great i feel and i am alwasy kind of bummed when it pulls me out of ancient times. I alwasy rush to get back as soon as i can.

#12 Edited by EXTomar (4125 posts) -

There is a problem with this style of story telling where the more "chapters" they do and the closer they put it to "reality" the easier it is to "paint themselves into a corner". At the beginning of AC3, I was fully expecting at the end that Desmond would climb out of the animus one last time and just kill the board of directors of Abstergo. Then I realized they couldn't do that because the they can't go wild and crazy with the story in the past or in the present because they now have too much story to do it.

#13 Edited by Ares42 (2443 posts) -

The 2012 story went off the cliff when they decided to just trudge water instead of delivering on the setup of AC2. In 1 and 2 it was a quint-essential part of the games and the games couldn't have existed without it, but by the time Brotherhood and Revelations came around they just stopped doing anything interesting with it. The end of AC2 teased so heavily that shit was going down in 2012 but then they did a complete 180 and did not deliver at all. At that point anyone that cared about the 2012 storyline abandoned the game, and so the game followed it's audience and just kept on diminishing it to the point where we're at now where people (developers included) just wants that part of the game gone.

It could've been great if they went straight to AC3 with Desmond as the main character, but instead they did what all great publishers do these days and regurgitated two more versions of the same exact game (and the audience ofc ate it all up as usual).

#14 Edited by MikkaQ (10224 posts) -

Probably right away when they relied on a hokey fucking plot device with no legs.

The present day stuff was cool when it was just modern assassins and templars going at it, without some stupid end of the world plot to drag things down. There were plenty of stakes in being the last few surviving assassins in a world controlled by templars and that would have been plenty to go off on. But no, they made the series really stupid, really quickly.

#15 Edited by MarkWahlberg (4494 posts) -

@Encephalon said:

For me personally, the 2012 story fell off a cliff fairly early on: at the end of AC2, when they supplanted the Abstergo threat with the solar apocalypse threat. Now, I know we all love the end of AC2 apparently, and admittedly I enjoyed it too, but it does also represent a huge shift in the narrative that I think served AC very poorly in the long run. This is the point where AC started leaning much more heavily on the parts of their lore that are common video game and genre fiction tropes, almost cliches--forerunner civilizations, ancient magitech, hidden magic temples, an apocalypse countdown, etc.

@xxizzypop said:

You pretty much nailed where it went wrong. There was nothing wrong about the First Civ. so long as it remained abstract, distant, something just to help explain what the pieces of Eden were and just how far back this battle went between the Templars and Assassins. The games following 2 just put their conflict on the backburner, made it irrelevant and became this weird, cheesy sci-fi story with serious condemnation of religious dogma.

Exactly. I am so glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. It went from being a weird twist on historical truth, to a boring retcon of every major event ever so that it fits this ridiculous 'fate of humanity' bullshit.

@Encephalon said:

@Nightriff: @BisonHero: I've definitely grown into that position as the series wore on, but for me, that is more a function of how poorly the present day has been handled, rather than an inherent flaw in the premise. I still maintain that it at least had potential in AC1.

It's not just that it had more potential in AC1, it actually operated as a framing device. It put both the historical focus and the overall arc of the story into a context that made sense and emphasized the continuity of what was happening. The sequels just used it to tell a separate story vaguely related to the historical one, which doesn't work nearly as well. They didn't just drop the ball, they didn't understand what the ball was for.

People like to shit on AC1 for being not as good a game, but taken holistically it just made much more sense than any of it successors.

#16 Posted by dropabombonit (1474 posts) -

I feel that Desmond's story has always had potential but they squander all of that in AC3

#17 Edited by MildMolasses (3194 posts) -

@dropabombonit said:

I feel that Desmond's story has always had potential but they squander all of that in AC3

I would say they squandered it in Revelations. They never explain the ending of Brotherhood well, all that island stuff is pointless, and those first-person platforming sequences where we learn Desmond's life story add nothing. These characters are supposed to engaging in a millenium long war between two factions, one of which is never really explained in a way that makes us care about them, good or bad. The personal life of one guy doesn't really factor into this.

Although I would say the biggest mistake in their story telling was

Killing that abstergo doctor without giving him a white background, dying soliloquy The fact that he never explained himself tells me that they never really knew what abstergo was supposed to be doing in the first place
#18 Posted by Barrock (3525 posts) -

Just beat the game. The 2012 stuff ends with a big wet fart in my opinion.

#19 Edited by _Chad (957 posts) -

Did anyone else find Juno to be a fucking grotesque monster of a design? Also the ending was terrible, the whole present day stuff was bad. I hated how they killed Vidic off, and they never really explain who Cross was (I'm guessing there was some text or email I never read, if anything)

#20 Posted by BigSteve1983 (68 posts) -

I've not got to the end of AC3 however in the past AC games I've always hated the present/future stuff. It actually feels beyond out of place. It's like they really flesh out each of the historical character's to the point when it comes to the modern day stuff with Desmond the writers and producers have to rush to put something in to justify having these segments in the game.

#21 Posted by lpolon (1 posts) -

@Encephalon: I agree completely with you. AC should be about "what humanity wants?", about freedom x confort, assassins x Templar. even though the apple as there in the very beginning, o hoped that "grand mystery" theme would serve the "assassin x Templar" struggle.

to me, revelations' sums up was a big nerf in the AC's. Like.. that ending was: "this story so far..." (and whatever the rest)

If you played everything until revelations and watched this video. You know that around 60% of what subject 16 is talking here is BULLSHIT

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgzzeyuejyg

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