By Video_Game_King 16 Comments
Feeling thoroughly confused yet? Then my job is done. I'd say this mirrors my own confusion about the disdain that this game garners, but I feel like I have a good understanding of the reasons behind that: it's put out a lot of games in a short period of time (five games in six years) and people are getting sick of it. How anybody could get sick of climbing huge buildings and running around Boston is outside my understanding.
Let it be said, though, that I still have some pretty big issues with Assassin's Creed III. Namely, it thinks it's a movie instead of a video game. You know, because that worked out so well for another A-named action game about the end of the world. OK, so it's completely unfair to compare this game to Alone in the Dark, but the game does hit on many of the same problems that I experienced there. For one, it's probably why the game's pacing is best described as glacial. Worse than that, though, is that any tension or emotional impact the game could ever hope to deliver feels completely and utterly manufactured. Listen to the music swell up as it's telling you that this is an exciting moment, goddamn it. Watch Connor react to huge events like he's been there before, simply because you pressed the X button once. Feeling pretty badass, right? And therein lies the problem: I don't feel badass at all. The game simply strapped me to the rails, force fed me every last little detail, and made it really hard for me to fail. When I do fail, it's more because I didn't do things like you wanted me to rather than through any significant failure on my behalf. True, there are moments when this works to the game's advantage (example), but they're the exception rather than the rule. Hell, the cinematic nature even robs you the satisfaction of taking part in some of the larger moments in the narrative because you, the player, can't be trusted with the responsibility. Instead, you're told exactly how to feel at each junction, and your only role is to press a button to remind the game you exist. But the story it's presenting has to be good to compensate, right?
Wellllllll, no. Not really. It has all the depth of a subatomic particle, and that's ignoring the idiocy of the Hollywood style production. It all begins with the 2012 Apocalypse looming around the corner, which, standing at the tail end of the very year after it, should tell you all you need to know about the quality of the writing. From there, we go to British assassins generally failing at stealth and Native Americans leaping from tree to tree before settling into Hope Leslie if everybody was trying to stab each other. The ideas backing up the story are rather solid and I could imagine them working well if, again, there was some actual depth to the story. Alas, that is not the case. Instead, it’s the villains mostly shouting some variant of "order order order order hedonism", the Assassins retorting with "freedom freedom freedom freedom", and for whatever reason, I'm expected to agree with the Assassins. (I won't even get into how the story subtly sets this all against a racial backdrop for some reason.)
Even more worrying is the corollary that if somebody disagrees with you politically, then it's perfectly fine to stab them in the face for it. Now I know that initially ,Connor's fighting for the more noble goal of protecting his people, but boy, does that lose its focus quickly. And yes, later in the game, this dialogue is fleshed out considerably more, but the core message remains the same: the Assassins are good because freedom. Yet somehow I still sympathize with the Templars over the Assassins. Look at how many people you brutally murder over the course of the game. Think of all the chaos you create in the name of "freedom". Hell, there's a gameplay feature specifically dedicated to starting riots. Who wouldn't want the Templars to take over and put an end to this dickery?
Speaking of the Templars, guess who mercilessly rewrites history to their benefit at every opportunity? That's right! The Assassins! At least that's what I got from how the game treats history. Apparently, every bad thing that ever happened in Massachusetts was all part of a Templar conspiracy. Boston Massacre? Templars. Britain's iron grip on the colonies? Templars. The Curse of the Bambino? The Templars are huge Yankees fans, obviously. But don't worry, because Connor Kenway's here to make it all right by attending every single event of historical importance, from the Tea Party to Yorktown to the signing of the goddamn Declaration of Independence. What's that? It's incredibly implausible that somebody could have a major influence on such large events in a nation's history, yet still remain shrouded in secrecy about it all? You're right!
It's almost as though the writers didn't give two craps about history. That would explain why the Boston Massacre looked worse than it actually was, or how Paul Revere wasn't arrested on his famous ride (at least that I could tell), or how the Stars and Stripes is used despite that not being popular use at the time, or when they used the word "shiv" despite it not appearing until 1915. I know that a major aspect of the game is that the history we know is actually a Templar lie, but you can only stretch that premise so far before it cracks under pressure. What could they stand to gain from keeping the word "shiv" a secret for nearly 150 years? Were they in the patent market that might as well have existed at this point, given what's already been established? I'd also mention the wasted opportunities that lie within the story (why can't I play as Ziio? Or super cool Chinese assassin lady?), but I feel I've criticized the game enough for now.
Which is why I'm going to tell you how utterly goddamn amazing this game looks. I'm aware that this plays into the game's problems of not focusing on substance as much as it should, but it's hard to care when the game looks this good. See all the detail packed into those models? It's almost like real life (for as corny as that sounds)! Yea, it never really animates, but how can you even afford to animate something this good looking? Besides, that's not even the worst graphical problem. That honor falls upon actually playing the game. Not to say that it looks bad, but the scene I linked before is a hard act to follow, and the game simply isn't up to the task. It tries, though. Dear god, does it try. Everything looks high def and usually with a smooth frame rate, but the real beauty lies in the world of colonial America. I don't even really know how to put it. There's just this really refined European aesthetic that makes everything a pleasure to look at.
And explore, too. Did I mention that? Well, I should have, because it's my favorite part of the game. Not just because of the world it creates, either (although that's certainly a big factor). There's just so much to do in this world, and the game rewards exploration quite well. There's always the obvious Viewpoints to scale, but if you're not up for that, you're in the wrong type of game. Who plays Assassin's Creed without getting the viewpoints? Yea, the climbing me....anyway, assuming that's not your thing, you can always chase ludicrously out of date almanac pages around like a giddy schoolgirl who climbs buildings for unknown reasons. That not your cup of tea? Then why not help the townspeople with their random problems? Or collect bird feathers, which are apparently in very short supply in New England? Hell, you can even just run around New York and ruin people's lives, if that's your thing. The point is that no matter where you look, there's something going on, and given the sheer volume and variety of tasks the game throws in your face, it's impossible not to find something you'll like.
Of course, if you get tired of the cityscape, there's always the Frontier to explore and hunt in.
Moving right along, there's also the combat looming over the horizon, just waiting to contradict the game's premise. You know how Assassins are supposed to be sneaky and clean about their murders? Well, I'm not seeing it here, because every fight I've ever been in has devolved into a far clumsier re-imagining of the Boston Massacre. Just keep bashing X until you've killed more people than the war surrounding you. It's brutal, simplistic, celebrates violence...and yet has this strange charm about it. Not just in therapeutically hitting a single button over and over, but in the flow of events. It's always very easy to get trapped in a sort of groove in battle, bashing up against one guy and effortlessly brushing off another's attacks. That may be because the game announces enemy attacks with all the subtlety of a penis (can YOU name a time when a penis has been subtle? Exactly.), but that's not of any importance in the heat of the moment. Imagine a gay night club where everybody's punching each other silly, and you have a good idea of what to expect from Assassin's Creed III.
Again, there's more to the game than what I've already listed. There are a couple of rewarding but difficult to control naval battles over the course of the narrative. Desmond hops about the globe from time to time, adding some level of variety to the experience. There's even a mansion to fuck around with, if you're into that sort of thing. Just looking at all that it offers, it's hard to imagine why anybody would dislike this game. Then you realize that it's all glued together with a one dimensional and frankly proselytizing story, and suddenly, judgment of it becomes much harder. I'd still recommend it, though, just so long as your controller has a rapid-fire skip cutscene button.
- This sums up the Assassin's Creed III story quite well.
- Fortunately, that doesn't ruin the enjoyment of leaping from rooftop to rooftop. Still set to this, for reasons unknown.
- Oh, and the combat's decent, too, although I can't imagine a description of it would help.
Before watching this video, keep in mind that it's meant to promote somebody's YouTube channel. Let that horror sink in for a minute.
Believe it or not, this game has some pedigree behind it. Turns out Game Arts was behind this. You know, the guys behind Lunar and Smash Bros.....and Alisia Dragoon. If you make games for long enough, chances are one of them's gonna suck. Fortunately, Yumimi Mix isn't one of those. Sadly, I couldn't understand a lot the language (which is a bit of a problem in what amounts to an FMV game), so I feel it slightly unfair to pass judgment on Yumimi Mix. But that being said, I'm still going to deem it average. Really, really average. The most distinctive thing I can say about this game is that if you have about 90 minutes to spare, it will occupy that amount of time somewhat well.
Now rather than begin with the story, I feel like I should open up with the gameplay, since, well, there's not a lot to describe. From time to time, you're presented with a choice and are expected to make one. Make your choice, see how it plays out, and then continue on with the story. If you're hoping that your choices have some sort of influence on the game, they really don't. Discounting the obvious differences between one choice and the next, none of them really have any lasting impact. Yea, there are three endings to pick, but only the choices at the absolute end of the game really have any impact on that. No, seriously, go check it out for yourself. Makes you wonder why they included that element of the game if it....wait, why is this a game, exactly? If my choices don't have much of an influence on what's going on, then why am I even making choices? It might as well be an OVA with a couple moments that only look like they'd make for an awesome game.
Hey, that reminds me: this game looks amazing....sort of. (Christ, this is just becoming Assassin's Creed Redux, isn't it?) On the one hand, the quality of the drawings is really fucking good. All the lines and colors are incredibly well defined, so everything's just really satisfying to look at. There are a few faces that amount to simple lines and dots, but given everything else the game has going for it, I choose to believe that this is more a stylistic choice than anything else. Just like the lack of animation. Time Gal this ain't. Movement is more implied than actually performed. For the most part, animation amounts to mouths simply opening/closing or maybe the absolute bare minimum animation needed for a scene to work. Not that there's anything wrong with this. After all, I imagine the reason behind the lack of animation is precisely because there's so much art in this game. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it lends the game this strange charm, like you're playing a manga while twelve year old girls yell shit in your ears. No, this isn't a flimsy justification for Yumimi's motionless nature; it's just something you have to be aware of before you jump into this.
Just like the magical elements in this game, because they're not readily apparent from the outset. At first, you're just helping this middle school girl called Yumimi get to middle school (and seeing her bathe, if that van came with your mustache), and suddenly, magical balls of light. They're just as abrupt and strange as I make them out to be, and it only gets weirder from there. Anne Heche will nuzzle Yumimi's sternum like crazy when given the opportunity, people bathe in Mountain Dew, and horse lesbians exist. Also, whatever the fuck this is. Eventually, though, every last fucked up element makes itself a legitimate element of the world ,decides to mellow out a bit, and reveal their true purpose: imprison monsters in another dimension for just existing. A tad worrying, but like I said, at least it adds purpose and direction to the plot, something that I don't think would be there otherwise. Without Sponge World, you'd just be left with a group of tweens bumming around their local neighborhood. At least this way, you get some cool action moments thrown into the mix, and that's gotta be worth something, right?
Yes, it does. I'm not contradicting my own premises. BUT I will say that they're not the main appeal behind Yumimi Mix. That honor would probably go to the graphics I mentioned before. Move further down the totem pole (which totally exists in this game), though, and I'd have to give it up to the characters. Quite the affable cast we have populating this. I've already mentioned our protagonist and Horse Lesbian Anne Heche, but there's so much more. Sort of Mean Blonde Girl. Keisuke Hiraga. Other Guy......My descriptions don't do them justice, do they? Believe me when I tell you that the characters are slightly more memorable than I make them out to be. Everybody generally puts a lot of genki energy into their performances, and the result is a generally fun experience. Yea, it's a very mild fun, but what more do you want out of a 90 minute experience?
- You know what The Walking Dead could use more of? Whatever the fuck this is.
- And a lot of barely animated anime.
- Still, for what it is, the story's alright, with some entertaining characters and soda baths.