Why I like and dislike Assassin's Creed

I didn’t want to hijack the AC3 thread, so I decided to make my own to deal with this. I like Assassin’s Creed. And yet I really, really hate it. I’m not sure if I can sanely explain this, but I’ll try. I’m going to basically pair up things I like and things I don’t, and hope that gets this across. If you have a view or something to say about any of it, please do. I will also say that While AC2 was the only game I played seriously (as in, through the entire game barring the very, very end, and completing all sidequests) that doesn’t mean I didn’t play the others at all. And I went and filled myself in via Lets Plays and gameplay videos and such.

Part 1. The world

I like: Rarely has any game done as much to creat the kind of depth and character in the gameworld. At times, I don’t even give a damn about the gameplay. I just want to walk around the fascinating and well-characterized scenery. it’s incredibly fun to just explore and explore.

I hate: Plot barriers. Gah, do I find these obnoxious! Yet they are everywhere here. The gamse are also sometimes a little passive-aggressive about where they allow you to grab onto or move.
Part 2. Gameplay.

I like: Wait, did I say I didn’t care about gameplay? I mean I bloody well love the gameplay. There’s something viscerally satisfying about pulling off a cunning kill. Movement is flowing and usually quite smooth if you understand the timing (and your tired fingers don’t give out). There’s often a lot of room to move int he ways you want instead of following a pre-set path, and this is where the game shines like a star: choosing your own access point, choosing your own method, and hitting the target with your favorite tools. I personally preferred aggressive and daring kills which were still quite surgical. I often relied on a combination of stealth and speed, chosoing the right moment to dash in and execute the target, and then vanishing right back the way I came. But some poeple went for 100% stealth, and other for bloody combat, and others preferred to let their tools do the talking. (Killing. Whatever.)

I dislike: The controls have a tendency to misread my intentions at the worst possible time, and also to descend into tedium and repetition. While the controls are very good, there’s definitely room for improvement and I’ve always found a few annoying timing issues, or jumping puzzles which required tedious trial-and-error to see which pathway the would allow. The games were definitely at their best when you were roaming the open world and choosing your own path.
Part 3. The Factions

I like: Well, I can’t say they’re not characterized enough. There’s character dripping from every pore. The games have hundreds of well-conceived and well-detailed people who are remarkably lifelike in manner. I’m not talking about animation (though the games ain’t bad there). I mean that they feel real while playing the game.

I hate: … These are our heroes? Sociopaths who preach about tolerance and free thought while butchering anyone they dislike? Even by the official backstory, their entire history has been one long-running excercise in anarchy, bloodshed, and hypocrisy. They are nihilists (or maybe phiosophical solipsists - I can’t really be bothered to care) who kill people for some half-assed ideal they don’t even care about at the end of the day. I’ve found every Assassin to be generally unpleasant at best, and again, even by their official backstory they’ve done immense harm to the world.

And their excuse is basically that the Templars are worse.

Now, this point bothers me a lot. I feel like there’s a huge disconnect in the design team, with one group writing lots of material which portrays the Templars and Assassins as essentially two sides of the same coin - identical in nature even if opposed in purpose. At the end, their methods are not radically dissimilar - both sides forge alliances withn various political powers and figures, want to control the same magic goodies, and aim to eliminate the other by any means neccessary. It’s just that one is totalitarian (nominally) and the other is anarchist (nominally). Neither really seems to believe in the supposed ideals they preach.

However, the other writing team is a pack of drooling morons who dunk their meaty paws into ink and somehow manage to smear “ASS GOOD! TEMPLAR BAD!” in giant day-glo letters all over the nearest wall. For a game that goes out of its way to try tand include so many historical details, they do a lot of absolute bullshit. Actually, I wouldn’t mind if the plot was that simple if the game didn’t shove it into our faces so much. And I suppose that may be the real problem. The games keep trying to grab me and shout “LOOK! LOOK HERE! SEE HOW COOL WE ARE ARGLFARBLGLRUBLRE!!!”

This is what I was talking about when I implied the series had its head up its own ass.

Part 4. The Plot

I Like: Despite what I said above, I don’t dislike the overall plot of the games. There’s twists, turns, and betrayals: it’s basically what I would want from a game about assassins and conspiracies. it might be overdone, but it’s pretty fun and I enjoyed moving through each adventure and cutscene setpiece.

I hate: Well, not much. I would say that the plot tends to get tedious as each game winds on. While integrating plot and setpeices into some of the missions was fun (Venice. Carnival. 'Nuff said) it also started to drag immensely. Towards the end, you’d think the game would go into overdrive, pushing you to move quickly and raising the excitement. Yet each game did the opposite for me, driving me instead to take more time, do some sidequests, and killing the momentum. IN short, each game felt much more exciting towards the beginning, only to lose dramatic tension at the end.

Also, Desmond’s entire story just plain sucks. I don’t care. He’s a noncharacter. He has vague goals. The entire modern-day framing device really goes nowhere, and the metaplot is largely driven by characters with unclear motives, vague goals, or uninteresting personalities. I’ve also never imagined GREATER MYSTIC BEINGS ™ so utterly uninteresting.

So, that basically covers it. The problem with each AC game I’ve played is that while I really loved the experience, they tended to leave me feeling dissatisfied and with a bad taste in my mouth, and why I both want to play AC3 and yet am kinda worried about wasting my money. I hope this sparks a discussion at least, or even an argument. It’s an interesting game series, and certainly it has a flavor that’s remarkably different from anything else out there.

I liked the plot and setting, but never finished the AC2 mainly because the gameplay is just way too forgiving to be interesting. Sneaking past guards and the like is trivial, and if they do see you, killing them is easy and having them kill you is close to impossible.

I’ve played them all on my PC and from the very first game I quickly grew quite bored with Desmond’s story. After awhile it became so twisted that I knew I was being setup for a sequel. But even after recently finishing AC: Revelations I don’t feel I’m any closer to revealing his REAL story. Hell, I think I played ONE mission on Desmond’s Island and never tried another. Who in the Hell wants to play a boring platformer when I can throw axes at enemies, and counter-kill groups with abandon?!

I also didn’t like the whole Send-Assassins-On-Missions minigame. Just piling up enough of them to ensure a 90% chance of completion would guarantee mission success. But you basically just sent them out, and welcomed them back to spend their experience points, and dress them up. :rolleyes: Why can’t I take control of one of them to actually play through those missions?

And don’t get me started on the RTS Super-Lite game they included. The less said about “Place that assassin, there!” the better!

But like you I did love the gameplay, and I liked the way missions just seemed to sometimes come together when I thought for sure I’d fail it.

I agree that Desmond is boring, jumping in a random direction is all too common, and the morality of the Assassins doesn’t make much sense. But Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood were fun games, mostly.

I’ll add one personal pet peeve: I don’t like timed missions and/or races, especially ones where you have to start back at the very beginning when you fail. Luckily there weren’t too many mandatory ones.

This eleventy Billion.

I hate hate hate timed races. Why can’t I continue the game because I finished a race in .03 seconds as opposed to .02? Plus, I think it was in Revelations, that there was a guy who’d challenge me to a race (so I ignored him) but every time I got near I’d hear “ASSASSIN!” and then he’d follow me around. Dude, I’m assassin, don’t friggin scream that at the top of your lungs unless you want me killed.
I didn’t mind the “send assassins on a mission” aspect, if only because then I’d get to have my group of all female assassins.

One thing people need to realize about the Brotherhood of the Assassins: they are terrorists. Pretty much by definition. They use murder and sabotage to rebel against the status quo. Sure, they don’t kill civilians, but as soon as one of them puts on a guard or solider’s uniform, they’re fair game. It doesn’t matter that most of them have never even heard of the Templars and are just trying to earn an honest day’s pay for their families.

As soon as the player can reconcile with that fact, the whole series becomes a lot more clear.

I must be the only person in the world who thinks the games don’t have enough of Desmond in them. Revelations annoyed me primarily because it promised to expand more on his story, and instead of giving us more of him climbing around the Collisseum or taking down soldiers with a Ezio’s hidden blade, all it gave us instead was some clumsy platformer levels where he narrates about how hard his childhood is.

Also, the fact that the entire series is basically just Illuminatus! with the words “Illuminati” and “Discordians” scratched out and replaced with “Templars” and “Assassins” is a little grating.

I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t picked up AC3 do so. Most visually stunning game with the exception of Halo 4 for the Xbox IMO. The controls are so much tighter. The movement is more free-flowing than ever. I haven’t had a mistaked move yet. The naval battles are a fun and pleasant release from the regular gameplay. I find myself going back to check for more sea battles fairly often! The new tools have also added a particular satisfaction such as the dart rope(allows for strangulation or hanging of a target when positioned above). Also Desmond seems to have grown a spine finally.

I fully intend to buy a copy…in a year or so when the price drops to $29.99 or $19.99 (Canadian).

(The next games in my buying queue are Portal 2, Skyrim and Mass Effect 3.)

Understandable. Never played the Portal series. Skyrim is a must(Bethesda has offered the greatest gaming experiences IMO). Mass Effect 3 may leave you wanting more depending on how you feel about the endgame.

You need to play the Portal series. Probably some of the best games made.

The opinions seem pretty split on AC3 so far.

There’s much talk of incoherent, pointless, boring systems being thrown in as the series continues to over-react to the criticism over the lack of things to do in the original title.

Other mentions of scenarios that are too linear, issues with the abstract stealth mechanics (too abstract), and really bad chase sequences probably means I’ll be waiting for a sale :frowning:

Gonna try and finish… let’s see - Borderlands 2, Deadlight, Castle Crashers, AC: Bloodlines, AC: revelations - first.

As much as I want to take my time with AC3 because I’m honestly enjoying it… I feel so rushed to finish so I can commit to Halo 4. :fearful: I hate having multiple games to play. I can’t quit one to begin another. DAMN YOU OCD!!!

That was my only problem with with 2. Sneak around patiently until you have perfect perch. Wait until the Guard’s back is turned in just the right way… and… flop down in the middle of the street among the guards basically introducing myself as an assassin and giving them time to prepare, ending up in a massive brawl finally chasing a red blob across the city in more pitched battles.

Like the GTA series, I buy them all and play them about halfway through before I get bored to a point where I only play the game to run around and get into random trouble. I’ve yet to actually see the end of any game in either series.

Maybe that’s just me. :slight_smile:

I won’t spioilanything in particular, but here’s kinda an example of what I mean. In AC 3, there’s a certain quasi-escort mission. (It’s not terribly and not easy to fail, so it works as an escort mission.)

Spoiler, but very minor ones.

[spoiler]But here’s the problem. Dude got robbed. First, he simply assumes it was the British. Now, maybe - MAYBE - it was the tax collectors going about. But frankly, I doubt they’re going to grab random things out of his stores. They’d go for his money, and they probably wouldn’t break in while he was out, either.

So he goes on a rampage, which requires the deaths of about fifteen random British soldiers, whom you just massacre in the streets. Then he picks somebody out of the crowd who works for your supposed enemy and literally butchers him while the poor bastard begs for mercy. Not that your “evil enemies” are so far guilty of trying to buy the land your character’s tribe calls home - with the firm approval of the tribe, no less - and smuggling tea. In the process of breaking up their tea smuggling* ring, you cause several large explosions and are likely to kill several random militiamen and two civilians.

*BTW, the game has Sam Adams complain about a man smuggling. The irony’s so thick you’d need a an axe to cut that. In case you wren’t aware, Adams was not only a smuggler, he was quite proud of it. 'Twas one reason he was so well known as a patriot leader. Not to mention that evading taxes on tea (and other goods) was a huge issue in revolution.[/spoiler]

This, frankly, grotesque. And at no point does anybody question the morality of this. Anyone who might be a potential target is labelled a templar and killed - down to soldiers on both sides of the war patrolling the streets. :smack:

I felt a little bit bad about killing all kinds of guards in Assassin’s Creed 2, but eventually I rationalised it by telling myself “In a world where standing on the roof of a building carries the death sentence, that’s no worse than average”.

I’m about 40% done with the game. One thing I like so far about AC3 (minor spoiler to follow).

A lot of the templars actually seem to care about the whole “greater good” thing in this one. They’re not dripping evil and leaving it in a slimy wake behind them like in previous games.