Assassin’s Creed has been one of the more consistent franchises in gaming over the past decade, and after last years incredibly sucessful “Black Flag” Ubisoft was incredibly eager to follow up.
And that, right there, is the central sin of this game, it quite frankly isn’t finished yet.
Every player of Assasin’s Creed knows the frustration of jumping to the ground when you intended to grab a ledge, but this game takes these miscalculations to a whole new level, especially when it comes to the new feature of running through windows, which can be incredibly frustrating.
More than once my character was running down the street and then randomly got stuck on a chair.
This glitchyness is especially apparent when you are trying to run thorough windows, another new feature.
You are constantly seeing people’s arms and legs go through walls, the cherry bomb lures simply don’t work at all, ever, throughout the entire game they actually lured the guard into assasination range all of two times.
Also if you try to fight in a corner things will get weird.
Gameplay mechanics asside, the game is just glitchy, and crashes frequently.
Sometimes it will take upwards of five minutes for a co-op game to load.
Maybe the most annoying aspect of this “unifinishedness” is that occasionally map locations for missions don’t load, and you are stuck in the middle of a mission wandering around clueless.
At one point this happened during the middle of a co-op mission and took 20 minutes to get the mission to reglitch back on track.
Quite frankly this game needed two more months of polishing in develpment, but they wanted to get it out for Christmas so here we are.
Then there is structure and flow of the game, and the problem boils down to Paris.
Assassin’s Creed has always featured fetch quests, assasination missions, one off types of busy work missions, a lot of them.
In fact most of the time you spend in the game will not be on the main story.
What made this tolerable, and interesting in previous versions of the game was that you were constantly exploring new locations on these missions, finding new ways to traverse the space.
Once the game is confined to a single city, a single map location, no matter how large, well designed, and complete, the fetch quests begin to feel repetitive.
You find yourself going back and forth down the same streets over and over again, killing this guy, or saving that woman, it all begins to bleed into each other.
Then there are the sync points.
You get sync points for finishing missions so your character can learn new skills.
The problem is that you pretty much have to play socially to get these points.
Generally customizing your character is a good thing, but this new forced socialization (Destiny was another prime example), where if you want the best stuff you have to play online with other people, is quite frankly obnoxious.
You have the option to play co-op missions by yourself, but if you do that they are a bit unwieldly for a single player.
Not only that the co-op missions added nothing to the larger story or world, and generally takes you out of the world, not to mention the aformentioned insanely long loading time.
Most people don’t equip the sound, so you have four people, unable to communicate, trying to stelth assassinate in tandem, and it very quickly turns into a vaudeville routine.
It always ends up waiting on someone or tripping over someone, or two people go to take out the same guard.
The absolutely most obnoxious part of this or any game in recent memory, were the sync points within the co-op missions.
See if you play the co-op missions, you only get half the points, the other half are hidden sync points that you have to find.
The problem is that hey are always out of the way and hard to get to, so while the other three players are done with the mission you are making all of them wait trying to get a stupid squirly sync point.
Quite frankly Assassin’s Creed never needed or wanted a co-op, it was and always has been a single player game, and this, quite frankly, was a complete step in the wrong direction.
I believe Ubisoft meant this to be the new dynamic aspect of their game, but it mostly just felt like disonnected story missions I was had to play with strangers.
Finally there were the chests.
First of they mechanic/ graphic they used was stupid and had nothing to with lockpicking (using a sliding bar to hit a specific spot based on timing) There are a ton of hidden chest in this game, most of them require a level three lock pick, which can only be accessed in the last parts of the main story.
The problem is most of the chests require this higher level lockpick, so you end up wasting tons of time killing guards to get to a chest to find you can’t open it.
Over, and over, and over again.
The story was compelling enough, revenge and forbidden love and all that, even though the characters’ hair looked super strange. Another thing that was offputting was that all the characters had English accents, but are French, but one guy was actually English…it gets confusing.
One thing that was really silly were the whole return to reality/ transfer server missions, which were just stupid.Normally the events in the “real” world somehow tie into the game and enrich the story, which is the entire premise behind the series.
However in this one there is no real sense of the larger Assasin / Templar struggle in the present.
Arguably this has increasingly been the weakest point of the games, and it wasn’t a bad idea to get rid of it.
But instead of getting rid of it they just downsized it to weird missions in different point in Parisian history, so that after compelting one mission during the French Revolution, its suddenly WW2 and your on the Eiffel Tower getting shot at by planes for absolutely no reason at all.
This is not to say this game was absolutely terrible, but compared to last years “Black Flag” it just doesn’t stand up.
There were some nice things I enjoyed, one of which is the spear, which, is almost never featured in games.
The swordfighting mechanics were okay, but occasionlly glitchy, especially in corners.
The mystery missions were fun, but not nearly as fun as raiding and taking ships.
One aspect I did really enjoy was a return to verticality.
The last two games were set in the early Americas which quite frankly didn’t have very many tall buildings.
You could get a sense that the designers were desperatley trying to create a sense of up and down in places where there were rarely buildings over two stories.
Paris does not have that problem, and the city itself is quite beautiful.
But beauty is only skin deep, and, though I desperately don’t want it to be true, so is this game.
With more time, more locations, and less co-op it could have been pretty okay.
Even then it still didn’t really introduce anything new to the series.
If you are a fan of Assassin’s Creed it can a fun “more of the same” type of excercie, but don’t buy it expecting it to be as good as “Black Flag”