The Assassin’s Creed series has always been a good concept. Flashy cut-scenes, flowing movement and racy combat? Check. Good storyline and conspiracy theories set in present day? Check. Puzzle games hard enough to have you biting your lip but not hard enough to launch your controller at a wall? Check. Whether you donned the boots of Altair, Ezio, Connor or now, Edward Kenway, Assassin’s Creed has always offered a plethora of rich historical settings and tension you could cut with a hidden blade.
There is always a but. Now, I’m not going to launch into how your ship handles like a grandmother after one too many sherries whilst calling you by the wrong name repeatedly, but while some aspects have been perfected, others have been left to wriggle like a parasite, sucking some of the fun out of what is on the whole, a marvellous game.
There shouldn’t be an “I win” button. It just shouldn’t happen. But throughout the series, it seems to feel easier with every game. Feeling like a flashy bugger should happen after an incredible combo or a very hard shot, not every dart you throw. Now I’m sure there are creative minds who sat around the table at Ubisoft who thought of these new and innovative ways to murder people, but some are purely just too easy. I may sound like a jerk saying this, but here is my point. You throw a dart, without being seen, and the enemy dies something like 20-30 seconds later. I’m meant to be a miscreant, a loveable, very human pirate. Not Chuck Norris upon the discovery of cocaine and/or crystal meth.
When growing up with games like Super Mario and Crash Bandicoot, dying or failing meant taking a deep breath, picking up the controller and finding a tenacity you never knew was there. Starting 10 seconds from where you died takes that feeling away. I don’t want to sail through the combat (oh god, here come the pirate puns). I don’t want to have any achievement being akin to taking a whole candy shop from a baby whilst his mother is busy arguing with Ikea on the phone.
Every shot feels like someone is holding the proverbial gun for you, and when you’ve shot the target, you get a gold star and a jaffa cake whilst they playfully ruffle your hair and call you “sport”. I didn’t have to fake an ID to buy this game, so please stop treating me like it. And keep your damn lollipop.
The writers of the series have succeeded in making these games cinematic and gripping, from applause worthy jokes to a storyline that keeps on a strangely and frighteningly believable level. As I said, there is always a but.
I love diversity. I really do. But from the crusades to renaissance Italy to the Caribbean to colonial America? It’s almost as if they had to book a ship on the premise that a woman in that country needed to be impregnated RIGHT NOW. Not later, NOW. It’s almost as if one of the designers said “If they are directly related, shouldn’t we make them look similar?”
And the head said “Meh. Naaah, they’ll have the hood up most of the time, I’m sure they won’t even notice.”
Major Spoiler time. YOU KILLED THE EFFING PROTAGONIST! Yes, it is quite groovy for you not to reveal the Abstergo agents identity so I can pretend it’s really me hacking into my co-workers’ computers, but really? This IS going to catch up with Ubisoft. You gave us a character, flawed, with a history for the majority of the story so far, and you killed him off. Is this Assassin’s Creed or Game of Thrones? I was left feeling quite disgruntled knowing who I played died. And now, after making him mercilessly free-run and sprint for hours, I can’t even have first person hands? Please, I would just like some first person hands. Some kind of new identity wouldn’t go amiss, guys.
It’s been a bit more than 2 weeks, and probably about 3-6 hours a day of play time. I’ve recently picked up a new obsession with pirates and space out whenever anyone speaks, day-dreaming of shanties on the salty air and whispers in the dark, small, sharp blades glinting. None of the game’s flaws get in the way of what may be the most playable game this year.
Ooooh, and yes, you collectable and 100% completion maniacs! You beautiful people, you. No, I didn’t forget about you. There is plenty to keep you occupied, with some new additions to the previous games in the series. One thing you will definitely enjoy is that the collectables take a more active role in upgrades and lore than the predecessors.
Even when you reach 100%, blowing up and then boarding other ships does not get old. Ever. Catchy pirate phrases come up in your head even on the 76th time.
And if you don’t shout “Stop blowing holes in me ship!” Captain Jack Sparrow style whenever you are attacked on the sea, I am very, very disappointed in you.
Nicely done, gents.
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