13 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Historically Bad (Contains Minor Spoilers)
, November 13, 2012
I've been a loyal fan and consumer of the series since the first installment. However, when the setting and character were first announced I was hesitant to buy into the new direction. Nonetheless I gave such an enjoyable series the benefit of the doubt and picked it up at a midnight release. Three hours in and I felt more confused and frustrated then when AC: Brotherhood deleted my save game at 98% completion. At least after that I still wanted to play it.
It's understandable that the values of the game have changed so drastically since Patrice Désilet and Jade Raymond bowed out of development on the series. It really does feel like a game that has lost the initial vision and execution of its predecessors.
I think several bold moves were taken, but were they a necessary step in expanding the series and providing gamers with a new yet familiar experience worthy of their time and adoration? In short I'm sad to say it doesn't garner my vote of approval nor confidence.
I can't think of any American ( major audience for the game ) which fantasizes about visiting our colonial history. There are plenty of stops that provide that experience along back country highways these days that most sane people would avoid. That era in US history was a pioneering woodsman paradise riddled with simple architecture. It was a time where the country borrowed all of its meager culture from the grandeur of Europe; where several of our founders sought regular escape. A far cry from the richness of the renaissance architecture of the east, AC3's environments felt dull and uninspiring not just in visual appearance but also in traversals. Not once did I feel curious to climb the tallest structure and take a look-see at the drab town surrounding me. I could already see how drab it was. ( Venice, Rome, Damascus, Constantinople vs Colonial Boston? )
Because the landscape was lacking in cities large enough to really let players run free with the parkour mechanics, the designers thought it would be a good idea to include forest environments. This wasn't a good idea in Metal Gear Solid 3 and it's not a good idea now. If I wanted to play with trees or animals I'd go to a park or the zoo. The joy of being in the wilderness in most games is the remote locations you run across and the unique challenges they present you. In and of themselves nature environments are quite boring.
2.) Historical Events
In the past the Assassins and Templars were portrayed as being puppet masters with lone heroes fighting deep seated corruption. Never was the hand of any particular organization so openly visible in the course of history until now. I feel like the spirit of the series is missing here. Previous titles sought to let players carve out history during a known time period as opposed to being the catalyst of a well known series of historical events. There's a definite trade off here where in previous games the player is allowed to imagine their own revision of history as opposed to being confined to one; especially this particular one that most fans of the series are already familiar with.
3.) Back to School
The culmination of a series should cater to those familiar with it. Designers shouldn't spend 35% of the game re-educating the audience that has been following them for several years. This is the issue I hear voiced the most from others that have played the game. Most have spoken about how the game gets good after 6-7 hours of play. 6-7 HOURS!! I can finish any other AAA single player game during that time. I should be able to find enjoyable elements right from the start if I want to. Take 30 seconds here and there to introduce old/new mechanics or characters but don't make me trudge through entire missions littered with cut scenes. I didn't even play this portion of the game as the main hero. There again is a novice mistake made by the designers. Have your mobile game or side quests frame the world and story instead of "ram-rodding" it down our throats at the beginning. There was no need to play as Haytham for as long as we were forced.
This is a general list of things I found frustrating about the game that lead to me giving this a 1 star.
- The intro mission was dull and schizophrenic. Climbing along box seats in an opera house isn't very stealthy of an assassin. If that had happened in real life everyone including the actors would have taken pause to stare at a nobleman making a fool of himself. The guards wouldn't have had any doubt about who the murder was either. The following missions aren't much better in terms of how they capture the essence of the series.
- Six second musket reloads were more about historical accuracy and less about fun. In previous games you had a makeshift firearm and crossbow. Both of these fired quickly and accurately while still managing to stay believable for the time period. Not so in this game. You'll either have to drop the rifle and root for another or stand and pack powder while the enemy does the same thing.
- The only time I realize the game has color is when a red coat walks by me.
- The little details of the free running make it feel more wonky than fluid. I miss the crisp purposeful stride and sprint of previous titles.
- What happened to the stealth shader when blending into crowds? Why remove such a clear indicator of proper action?
Many reviewers have been forgiving of this game, giving it ~8/10, but only on the graces that it was "ambitious" and "unique". I wouldn't be so kind considering that outside of art/story direction everything done in the game had been done before and done much better. It is definitely a title that will ride into mediocrity on the coat tails of its predecessors' greatness.
I expect better next time.