The Assassins Creed Series. Xbox 360 / PC
I was excited to have a good look at next installment in the series -Assassins Creed 3 and was curious to see the new adventures of Desmond Miles as he stabs his way through history.
Before I even played this game I was a little disheartened by the sight of giant bald American eagles and stars and stripes, it seemed like a little too obvious place to have someone descend back in time to discover.
For those of you who have never played the Assassins Creed games, the story line is like this: Desmond Miles our protagonist he is an attractive, cool young bartender who finds out he is related to a long line of Assassins. His enemy is Abstergo Industries which are the modern incarnation of ancient order of the knights Templar. The adventures with the Knights Templar first started in AC1, where he peels back the leaflets of time in the infamous Animus. The science fiction heart of the series is the Animus, this device is the portal to which you pass through into your own DNA exploring hidden memories of your ancestors. You essentially ‘become’ your ancestor and at first you are incarnated in the form of Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad‘ in the middle east in the 13th century. Then lovable Ezio in renaissance Italy, and then finally Ratonhnhake during the American revolution.
I will talk a little more about the idea of the Animus later, but it is probably worthwhile to concentrate for a little on the actual game play.
I think it is interesting here to track this game as technology and momentum this game has built. The gameplay at first was glitchy and repetitive but it was forgivable because this is a world that was new to gamers. The gameplay in AC1 was also revolutionary and the movements of the assassin where seamless, actions where carried out like fighting in a way that you felt like it flowed. I don’t think at first any other game was even close to the level of Assassins creed. However there where (and are) somethings that become annoying in the actual levels and way the game is structured. Most of the towns are grayed out as you ‘rediscover’ your memories. To unlock each area you climb up a high place and then look around to some majestic music as the world unlocks to you. This is fun at first but then it starts to drive you crazy, the developers have carried it through on all three games and the only real change is in Assassins creed 3 you climb up (some) trees, instead of a building. (wow!)
They also put little challenges in the game, some are really cool while others drive can you really nuts especially the feathers (and in Assassins creed 3 almanacs pages as well as feathers). In general this helps you explore the map and works well but as you really get to know these games it feels less and less original as you keep playing. The tombs in AC2 where by far the best innovation in the series and was sad to see them not available in AC3, the same goes for weapons in AC2 the weapons are pretty cool and keep coming. the weapons in AC3 they are easy to obtain and not very interesting.
This is where I come back to the Animus the device and the central story that eventually I am sure a movie will be made with Brad Pitt as Desmond. The Animus itself you have to keep reminding yourself is just a device of the game. In a way its interesting to think that DNA keeps your memories in- built. The idea is a great one, and it comes with all that talk about DNA having a real memory. The only thing is in reality the DNA just keeps genetic memories not ‘actual’ feelings and movie set like happenings the story line is more akin to the idea of reincarnation and you get the feeling there is a bit of regression therapy here. Unfortunately this is where the whole series and storyline falls down for me, it is basically science fiction and for that to believable you need to get your science right, even if its a bit wacky.
It also gets a little tiresome all this killing you have to do, I know its a computer game and he is an Assassin but it seems you have to wipe out half of humanity for these stupid balls and to get all these little opening things and square blocks and god knows what else. They also wiped out Desmond’s sexy love interest Lucy,which was starting to heat up in AC2. In AC3 you see a real attempt to move away from the formula with you starting off as a Templar and then growing up as a young Indian boy. There are some real changes in game play as well with you captaining a sailing ship with waves and sea that really look amazing and the game needs to be commended for that.
The game storyline in general has some great possibilities unfortunately however it looks like Desmond himself gets the cut at the end of Assassins creed 3 . (spoiler-Black flag hasn’t been released and I doubt very much if Desmond will stay dead).
Generally and finally there are some really cool things in the Assassins creed series that gets me in, but sometimes you just feel like it just takes so bloody long to get to the storyline. AC1 was great a new adventure, AC2 is just mindbogglingly good, so good that when I went on a recent holiday to Italy I started to recognize buildings just from playing the game. AC3 is disappointing a little, the main character was very angry in a way that was not very nice, there are so few levels like only New York, Boston and the frontier, and there where no tombs.
I can feel that the series is starting to slip away from the developers, they need to have a good look at the story line and what gamers enjoy. I hope that black flag shows us what AC is all about.