Assassin’s Creed: Ranking All 11 Games!

If you’ve ever found yourself on my blog before then you’ve probably stumbled across at least one of my Assassin’s Creed posts. I’ve written about Rogue and how it marked the complete and utter downfall for the series but I’ve also written about Origins (and how I thought it was signalling a much needed reboot) and Odyssey (which quite quickly crushed that hope). In this post I’m going to take a slightly different approach and rate the Assassin’s Creed series. I’ll count down the 11 games, including Odyssey, and I’ll include details such as whether the game is essential for the overall storyline of the series and a 1-10 rating of each game. I’ll covers some pros, some cons and give you an overall idea of what I liked or disliked about the game.

11. Assassin’s Creed: Unity

Ubisoft

image via Digital Spy

Assassin’s Creed: Unity is the worst game of the series…by far! It’s a shame really because exploring Paris is actually awesome and there were so many things that were almost great about the game. They brought in certain RPG features allowing you to level up abilities and change more aspects of the character. However, everything in this game was awful. I played this game years (like literally years) after it was released and the game was still buggy!

The story of this game is the weakest in the series: both the past and present day storylines were clearly written by a child. This game added absolutely nothing to the series and in all honesty, I can barely remember anything about it. For those familiar with the games, the only memorable moment was the appearance of the same symbols Desmond sees at the end of the first game…the only problem being that they never really explain why they are there. The gameplay was pretty sloppy, the characters were all unlikable, the piece of Eden may as well have never existed and ultimately it was just a standalone game that should have been scrapped during the brainstorming session.

Rating: 1/10
Pros: Paris was fun to explore…kind of.
Cons: Everything else in the game sucked ass! The entire game was a con…at least it conned over 10 million fans out of their money!
Necessary for understanding series: Absolutely not!

10. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate

Ubisoft

image via HDQ Walls

Syndicate was the next game to follow Unity and while it is a slight improvement, it falls into the exact same traps. Ubisoft are money-crazed: that was true back then and it is still true now. So pushing out shitty games that they know people will buy essentially became their company motto. What did Syndicate offer players? Well, the characters were slightly more likeable…slightly. Their storyline however was boring and irrelevant to the overall storyline of the series.

However, improving the ability trees of the characters was a step that I definitely approved of but the weird Batman-style grapple hook and all the other bizarre and out of place gadgets ruined any progress Ubisoft were making. Syndicate did deal with the gun problem in the series by limiting all combat to melee in the forms of gang fights. However, the storyline (which is the biggest factor for me) was slow and boring. Even though the characters were more interesting than Unity, they still sucked! Another problem was the repetitive missions. To conquer an area, you had to just repeat the exact same missions over and over again and I stopped playing this game several times because I saw no point in finishing it.

Rating: 3/10
Pros: Fun gameplay (sort of), interesting development of ability tree.
Cons: Very repetitive missions, pointless POE (piece of Eden) storyline, and pointless and stupid storyline overall.
Necessary for understanding the series: Absolutely not!

9. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

Ubisoft

image via Dual Shockers

I originally had this in 7th place but after careful consideration, I’ve bumped it down to number 9. I know what you’re thinking: how can I rank the game before I’ve played it. Trust me, I can tell. I’m not denying that Odyssey might be incredibly fun to play and explore but it’s not going to be an Assassin’s Creed game…at all. I let this go slightly in Black Flag but at this stage, especially after Origins, Ubisoft should have got their shit together!

If you want a more in-depth view of why Odyssey will be a major disappointment, you can read about it here but to sum it up: it takes place hundreds of years before Origins, won’t explore any of the lore, will likely have little to no modern day storyline (or at least not one that is going to be compelling). It’s also ruined many of the principles set out in previous games such as letting you choose your character’s sex and alter history.

Rating: 4/10
Pros: The gameplay will probably be great, Spartans will be fun to play as, Ancient Greece is an interesting time period to explore.
Cons: There’s no reason that this is an Assassin’s Creed game. This may as well not exist and the attempts to connect this to Origins are going to fail. If not, I will donate £100 to charity. You have my word!
Necessary for understanding the series: I highly doubt it. I think this game could exist without any knowledge of previous games at all. I also don’t think it will add anything to the series.

8. Assassin’s Creed: Rogue

Ubisoft

image via Comunidad Xbox

The more I think about Rogue, the more I realise it’s deserving of number 8 on this list. Annoyingly, Rogue could have been number 1 on this list without much change. Ultimately, the storyline of Rogue is illogical, the character’s change of allegiance makes no sense and when you include the ridiculous number of collectables, side missions, ETC…it’s just unbearable. Rogue SHOULD have been about an assassin who goes Rogue: not to join the Templars but rather to carry out a similar goal: keeping the POE away from the Assassin’s AND the Templars. That would have made sense and have been more fun to play.

Instead, we got this ridiculous storyline about someone who is against killing innocents…but then proceeds to be the only character who can kill innocents. I’ve made this point before but it’s really such an annoying detail. Rather than letting players use Templar tech, they should have just followed Shay on his stand-alone mission whereby he highlights the violent war between the two groups and attempts to limit their impact on the world.

Rating: 5/10
Pros: It was fun to play, Shay was a semi-interesting character.
Cons: Way too many collectibles and side missions, the storyline was poorly written, the POE were completely ridiculous and illogical, the present day storyline was just silly…I could go on.
Necessary for understanding the series: Hell no!

7.  Assassin’s Creed III

Ubisoft

image via Game Pressure

I was struggling to choose the number 9 game for this list. I struggled to choose between 3, Rogue and Odyssey. I initially placed this game at number 9 but after starting to write about Rogue, I switched this one to number 8…and then 7.

Why? Well, for me this game just wasn’t that great but it also wasn’t the worst. This may be due to the fact that the American Revolution just isn’t that interesting to me. I hated that Assassin’s Creed became this very obvious good vs bad concept whereby you had the evil British against the good Americans. They simplified the colonies simply to support the Templar idea and ultimately it didn’t really work.

Assassin’s Creed III wasn’t the worst game in the series and it offered a very interesting insight into the precursor civilisation through holograms found within the precursor temple. However, Connor was not interesting as a character (although his father’s storyline was interesting). His family and essentially the “revenge” storyline actually worked quite well and I did feel like I was involved in the drama. I also enjoyed building the Assassin’s back up from an “unknown fall” which we learn about in Rogue.

Rating: 5/10
Pros: Offered a lot more insight into the precursor civilisation, cool twists.
Cons: Unlikable character, guns made gameplay frustrating and boring, many story elements were left open and never concluded.
Necessary for understanding the series: Yes, unfortunately.

6. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Ubisoft

image via Nintendo

Appearing at number 6 on our countdown is none other than Black Flag. I gave up at this point in the series and only bought it years after its release because I was bored and it was cheap. Was it good as an Assassin’s Creed game? Not hugely, but it did offer some new, compelling ideas (which have never been explored further) and without a doubt the gameplay was a lot of fun. This was essentially the Pirates of the Caribbean game that everyone wanted as a child.

This game, similar to Rogue and others, suffered from having way too many side quests and collectibles. You could say that Black Flag marked the start of this trend actually. Yet the “boss” ship fights, a likeable and fun main character, awesome side characters (Adéwalé was a beast!) and the new take on the modern storyline were all refreshing and exciting. It just wasn’t an Assassin’s Creed game though and I feel like they tried too hard to form weird and convoluted connections to previous story archs (another theme that would continue after this game).

Rating: 5/10
Pros: Fun characters, fun gameplay, being a pirate is awesome.
Cons: Very little development of overarching storylines, started storylines that were never continued, just wasn’t an Assassin’s Creed game.
Necessary for understanding the series: Barely!

5. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

Ubisoft

image via Pivi Games

As far as I’m concerned all the games from this point onwards are incredible. If I could give them all first place I would. Sadly, that would defeat the purpose of doing a countdown and so Revelations falls into 5th place. It’s important to state that this game blew my mind. I loved replaying Altair memories: it provided players with closure from the previous games. The same can be said with Ezio as we felt like his story had reached its conclusion.

However, the game itself was flawed. The tower defence shit was OK to begin with but became dull quickly, the guns were already becoming a problem by this stage, the weird Animus island shit (particularly exploring Desmond’s memories) wasn’t as interesting as Ubisoft probably believed it to be, and while I loved the concept of returning to Masyaf, the reasoning felt a bit…dry.

Rating: 7/10
Pros: Playing as both Ezio and Altair was incredible, especially the missions involving the development of Altair’s skills and knowledge. I felt like players got closure on their favourite characters.
Cons: I feel like returning to Masyaf could have felt more deliberate and purposeful, a lot that happened within the storyline of the game felt forced and unnecessary, the Desmond story was just idiotic (although the Clay parts were more interesting).
Necessary for understanding the series: Yes but only in terms of understanding the conclusion of the first few games.

4. Assassin’s Creed II

Ubisoft

image via Game Pressure

Assassin’s Creed II marked our introduction to Ezio and it was an incredible game, one that I have played through at least 4 or 5 times. I mean there are very few flaws: the character was likeable, the story was compelling, we felt empathetic towards Ezio’s situation and the story actually added something to the series.

This was also the first game to properly introduce the idea of “those who came before” through a vault scene in Rome between Ezio and the precursor message for Desmond. That shit blew my mind and I can remember the moment where I completed it and realised I’d have to wait years to find out more. Of course I can’t forget the glyphs and all the crazy hidden messages WITHIN the hidden messages! *cue explosion* ‘The Truth’ video was chilling!

Rating: 8/10
Pros: Great character, excellent storyline, the game itself felt purposeful.
Cons: I died MANY times because the game would make me jump away from the building instead of up. Other than that, I have no real complaints.
Necessary for understanding the series: Definitely!

3. Assassin’s Creed

Ubisoft

image via Game Pressure

So we’ve reached the final 3 and in 3rd place we have the very first game. Many fans of the franchise look down on the original game but for me, it was one of the greats. Was the gameplay a little sketchy? Yes. Were the missions incredibly repetitive? Yes. Were you extremely limited both in terms of how you assassinated and with the weapon you used? 100%…but the storyline was original and drew me in instantly.

We also have to remember that this game set things in motion that would shape the entire series. The Templars and Abstergo were still largely mysterious by the end, the POE were only set up within the last sequence or two, and this came out in 2007! The MCU hadn’t even started yet! Yes, the game mechanics may feel a little basic when re-playing this game and the annoying beggars or repetitive dialogue may get incredibly irritating but this game will never stop being entertaining to me.

Rating: 8/10
Pros: Things were simple, storyline was intriguing, the ending was Earth-shattering!
Cons: The voices used for the NPC’s were the worst and most annoying voices to ever exist (excluding the female love interest in Unity), the missions were somewhat limiting and the combat was about as basic as you can get.
Necessary for understanding the series: Without a doubt!

2. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

Ubisoft

image via G2A

What can I say? Brotherhood marks one of the highlights of the series. I mean Rome is one of my favourite cities in the world (historically speaking). The game really vamped up the precursor interaction, I actually felt like we were experiencing Ezio grow and learn, and the Glyphs returned and were fun to solve. I mean there were certainly downsides, sure, but both the modern day storyline and the Ezio storyline were still great to play.

I think my highlight from this game was the ability to explore all the incredible Roman structures. The first game didn’t really offer anything like that and while the 2nd game touched on it slightly it is only really in Brotherhood that you can find places like the Colosseum or the Roman Forum and look at these buildings in the game and then go and see the remains in real life (something that I actually did). The ability to call assassin’s seemed crazy to me at the time and I didn’t approve at first (out of stubbornness I refused to use the Brotherhood through almost all of my first play through) but ultimately it became one of the great aspects of the game…along with Leonardo da Vinci!

Rating: 9/10
Pros: Great ending, great character (and character development), amazing city to explore, new weapons and abilities that weren’t quite as ridiculous as some of the later additions.
Cons: Was still a bit glitchy, even years after its release.
Necessary for understanding the series: Definitely!

1. Assassin’s Creed: Origins

Ubisoft

image via Screen Rant

As I said before, the top 5 or so games were all incredible and it’s taken some serious thought to rank them but I have to give first place to Origins, I just have to. If there is a period in time that interests me more than any other (including renaissance Italy) it is Ancient Egypt. So Origins starts out with an advantage. Throw in some refreshing gameplay, new abilities, a return to the old style for the modern day storyline and a bunch of other shit and you get this…and I was very pleased with the final product.

I’ve already played this game through twice and while there were aspects that annoyed the life out of me (you can read more here) it was a very fun and interesting game to play. I really felt like I was in this world and I connected with the characters and their drives. Being able to explore the pyramids or interact with the INSANE precursor temples was truly an awesome experience.

Rating: 10/10
Pros: Fucking EGYPT! Great characters, fun gameplay, side missions rarely got boring.
Cons: Set up false expectations for future games!!
Necessary for understanding the series: Apparently not!


Thanks for reading! Do you agree with my list? Do you have hopes for the future of the series? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

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Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey…The Final Nail in the Coffin?

Summary: Gameplay will be amazing and as far as RPG’s go it will probably be awesome. In terms of the storyline and the franchise as a whole, it will be a failure, alienating any remaining fans who will ultimately feel that Ubisoft has finally given up on them!

With the release of Assassin’s Creed: Origins still fresh in our minds (along with the many failed yearly-releases prior to it), 2018 marks the release year for the next game in the franchise: Odyssey. It’s worth noting that when I started writing this post, I was incredibly excited by the prospects of this game. I’d seen only bits of the trailer and heard rumours but perhaps still feeling the after-glow from Origins, I was in a positive mind-set. Unfortunately, after only a miniscule amount of research, my opinion has shifted rather drastically! So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the next game and why all my contempt for Ubisoft has come flooding back!

Origins After-Glow

Odyssey
I’ll keep this short as I’ve already delved deep into my views on Origins but let’s briefly cover some of the points that will be relevant to the rest of this post. For starters, let’s explore the gameplay. Origins changed and improved the combat system of AC quite drastically. After all, Assassin’s Creed used to be more heavily focussed on…well…assassinating. But I’m happy to say that the gameplay in general is without a doubt number 1 as far as the franchise goes. However, there were some issues with the story.

For starters, there’s now this switch from Desmond being “the chosen one” to Layla which from a logical standpoint alone just doesn’t make a great deal of sense. I understand why they need a new main character but I actually quite enjoyed the idea that you were the person joining Abstergo or helping the assassins. We’ve had previous-civilisation being communicate with Desmond using their technology and now they’ve simply scrapped that and now have different being (from after the cataclysm) doing the same thing with Layla. Why couldn’t the previous beings see Layla as being of value? We’ll stop there because if we start picking apart the story elements then there will be nothing left!

Why Origins and Odyssey Aren’t Compatible!

Odyssey
Before I explore Odyssey in depth, I’m going to touch upon why Ubisoft has fucked up (for lack of a better phrase). You see, Origins touched upon what I, and I’m sure others, wanted from the franchise: The Origins of the Assassins. The game ended in such a way that the path was set for future games to explore the early days of the Brotherhood. The story of Bayek and Aya may be over (although I’m still unsure how they both ended up in the same tomb given that they parted ways) but the ground was set for advancing the Brotherhood.

This idea was undermined in two ways: 1) Upon completing the main storyline, the brotherhood just magically seems to form. There are suddenly Assassin Bureaus within Egypt which are marked with the same symbol we see in Assassins Creed 1 and have the familiar dude standing behind a desk. These come out of nowhere! And 2) There is a DLC which appears to allow the player to explore the training of recruits and the formation of the new Brotherhood. I think this was a horrible idea. This isn’t something that should have just been glossed over but rather the focus of the next game!

This is where Odyssey also fucks up! Origins takes place around 50BCE and essentially introduces us to all the main game ideas: the hidden blade, the leap of faith, the formation of the Brotherhood, ETC. Yet Odyssey takes place nearly 400 years earlier in 431BCE! I’m going to touch on this in more detail momentarily but I’m sure you can understand where the problems are going to arise.

Exploring the Potential Issues of Odyssey!

Odyssey
Odyssey does have a number of potential problems, many of which are likely going to rip the heart and soul out of the series (or at least what little heart and soul is left from all the games post AC: Revelations). That’s not to say that I can’t see the benefits of these changes but it seems that Ubisoft needs to make decision on whether they want to keep current fans happy or reel in new ones.

The Power of Choice

Assassin's Creed
Choice isn’t a major aspect of the previous AC games as the entire premise is that you’re reliving memories. You can’t change the past, only experience it. This idea becomes a little fuzzy from AC: Black Flag onwards as the games are sort of games within games i.e. Abstergo has turned memories accessed through the Animus into games accessed through the Helix system. Only the later versions (designed for gameplay by Abstergo industries) allow for this. Even then, your choices are limited to whether or not you wish to explore an area or hunt animals, etc. These choice don’t impact the storyline in any way and nor should they.

Odyssey hopes to change this entirely! Not only can you choose your sex but also who you enter into dialogue (or even romantic relationships) with. This goes a step further as you can change history through fighting for different factions/sides and ultimately the outcome of the game is set to vary depending on your decisions. How? How is this possible?

As far as I’ve read, Ubisoft have explained that Layla’s Animus allows for access to corrupted files and therefore more information…or some bullshit like that. So the choices only appear as choices to the player but are in fact just the deciphering of previously unknown data. It seems that if this turns out to be the case then Ubisoft missed a trick. All the precursor temples seemed to hint at the idea that Layla could potentially travel through time via the Animus and actually alter events. Many speculated that this would allow for the return of Desmond while others figured it was just a way to introduce choice to the games in a similar manner as Bioshock or Mass Effect.

While the whole time travel idea would have been completely ridiculous, I wouldn’t object to it entirely…IF it was used properly. So the game would have to explain how it becomes possible, why the precursor civilisations never used it, the limitations of such technology, etc. They can’t just snap their fingers and wave the “Layla’s Animus is special” wand across the storyline.

Assassin’s Creed or Soldier’s Creed?

Assassin's Creed
This next aspect has me more worried than any other aspect of the game. Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag was a great game. It was refreshing, it had interesting characters, it introduced entirely new gameplay…but it wasn’t an Assassin’s Creed game, it was a pirate game. Odyssey looks to essentially do the same. Since Origins set up everything and marks the start of the Brotherhood, the only logical step was forwards (or so far back that we explore precursor memories).

So far there hasn’t been a hidden blade mentioned or shown within the trailers or walkthroughs, something that the game would be lost without. Sure, Origins sprung a hidden blade out of nowhere but we don’t need a game solely to explore the origins of the hidden blade. Similarly, all other tricks that Bayek learned through being a Medjay don’t need explained. There’s a worrying shot where an inventory items reads the phrase “Everything is permitted” which I imagine will serve absolutely no story element whatsoever and is simply there as a reminder to players that they are in fact playing as Assassin’s Creed game. Pointless additions such as this are what infuriate me! Who thought that was a good idea? I’d imagine someone who has NEVER played an Assassin’s Creed game!

Odyssey looks set up to become a war game and nothing more. Sure, Ubisoft will throw in some nonsensical and ultimately undermining objects or characters but I get the feeling that this is the end of the franchise for me. Ubisoft are simply trying to create a game that appeals to more people while not starting a fresh franchise. Essentially they want to keep the Assassin’s Creed fans while bringing in more by removing many of the base Assassin’s Creed elements.

Piece of Eden

Piece of Eden
One of my biggest issues with Unity and Syndicate (and Rogue and Black Flag to a lesser extent) was that the pieces of Eden weren’t used to serve any real function. They were added simply to give the game something to revolve around. In Assassin’s Creed 1, the POE idea was a twist which introduced itself gradually into both the present and past storylines. In AC II, they were further explored and in Brotherhood and Revelations they acted as vital story components. The same could be said for 3, Black Flag and Rogue but by Unity and Syndicate they were nothing more than objectives.

Odyssey seems to be throwing the same tactics into play by giving us the Spear of Leonidis, which was mentioned briefly in Origins. What function will this serve? I’m willing to wager absolutely none whatsoever. It will be a fancy toy for the character to play with and by the looks of things, it will simply introduce the familiar game elements that shouldn’t exist in that time such as the leap of faith or perhaps it replaces the hidden blade for assassinations. It’s not going to play a role in the modern day storyline, it’s not going to create a larger, overarching storyline, and it’s not going to be of any historical significance beyond this game.

Potential Positive Aspects of Odyssey

Piece of Eden
It wouldn’t be fair of me to say that Odyssey is without flare. I think there are some incredibly interesting aspects to the game and if it wasn’t part of a franchise that I love and wish to see explored further then it would be getting two thumbs up from me. Let’s take a look at what stands out:

The RPG Element

RPG
Since about Assassin’s Creed III or Black Flag I’ve been saying that the series needs to do two things: 1) It needs to explore the Origins of the Assassin’s and 2)  it needs to introduce a skill system. Now that Origins has successfully implemented both of these, only the latter needs to continue. Odyssey certainly seems to take the RPG element further with much deeper customization options which allow players to make the character appear however they like. They can develop relationships with NPCs and even turn these into romantic relationships. These sorts of aspects will allow for different story elements and for different directions to be taken.

It does look like they’ve somewhat simplified the skill tree though and this does have me a little worried. When they tested the idea out in Unity and Syndicate, they added stupid abilities and often there were only a few to choose from. They should exist simply for the sake of it, they should give player a tactical advantage based on their style of play.

The War

War
Odyssey also appears to be introducing drastically larger warfare to that of previous games. Once again, I highlight that this is exactly how Ubisoft does things: they introduce an idea briefly in one game (in Origins we had the war part which was mostly glossed over but allowed for momentary participation) and then use that as a focus for the next game. I’d be lying if I said that the game doesn’t just look like a human version of Shadow of Mordor.

That being said, it still looks highly entertaining. I mean even in Skyrim and the like, we only get very minimal wars and even invasions of settlements ultimately only involve like 20 soldiers. If Odyssey manages to keep the warfare interesting then they could have a great fighting game on their hands.

The ISU and Juno

Piece of Eden
One issue that the franchise keeps running into over and over again is consistency. In Assassin’s Creed we are introduced to the Pieces of Eden and the notion that these objects were from an intelligence civilisation. It isn’t until AC 2 that we are introduced to “those who came before”. This idea is developed further in Brotherhood, Revelations, 3 and even to Black Flag, which seems to mark the end of this chapter. Juno, a being that has just escaped into the world is literally never heard from again in the games.

All the precursor stuff is essentially ignored and rebooted with Origins where we now have new messages directly to Layla. I’m going to discuss this idea in a moment but I think we can agree that the story needs to develop one way or another. Ubisoft can’t just start using the ISU in the same manner they use the Pieces of Eden: Only bringing them into the story as a way of adding excitement or creating mystery. It appears that Juno’s storyline has been moved to comics and so it seems like Layla and her interactions with new ISU members will be the focus. There needs to be some genuine traction. They can’t just keep sending messages! Ubisoft have been teasing us with Precursor DNA use since Black Flag (although Shaun mentions a similar premise in AC III) and yet we’ve still had nothing.

I think that if Odyssey doesn’t involve almost entirely around the ISU then that aspect of the games needs to just be forgotten about. Was it fun finding the temples in Origins? Hell yeah! I thought it was fucking amazing! But ONLY if it actually serves some sort of purpose. Finding these cool but otherwise insignificant items isn’t fun if they are only there to give us something cool to look at. Adding aspect like that to a game simply for the sake of it is moroic!

Ubisoft Hates Fans!

Assassin's Creed
A bold statement, I know. Why would a company hate its fans? Well, it’s because once they have fans they still crave more. By the time Assassin’s Creed 3 came out, many fans had lost interest and new fans couldn’t be bothered playing through all the games to catch up. So we get Black Flag, Rogue, Unity, Syndicate and even Origins which are all entirely self-contained storylines. You don’t need to have played a single game for most of the storylines to make sense and as such, each game doesn’t feel connected to the next beyond its name. I mean sure, they throw in a reference or two: a piece of armour, a sword, random trinkets or actual messages, but in terms of content with substance? No!

Ubisoft needs to decide what they want to do: do they want to create a fan base or do they want each game to be playable by anyone, despite them never having played an AC game before? I get the feeling that it’s the latter. I had such high hopes with Origins and I hoped so badly that it would continue and would allow for the development of genuinely interesting storylines. I mean they had everything from 50BCE onwards to explore! We could have had an Aya based game that starts off with the assassination of Cleopatra! The possibilities were endless! Sadly it seems that Ubisoft cares very little about the lore and even less about the dedicated fans.

All Ubisoft does is take the base points of a game and copy it to the next. What did people like in Origins? They liked using Senu to spot targets, they liked the RPG element, they like the more basic navy battles…OK, let’s throw all that into our next game. I said it in my Origins review and I’ll say it again: using a bird doesn’t make sense in every context and sure as shit doesn’t in Odyssey.


Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on Odyssey? Do you think it will destroy what’s left of the franchise? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

Harry Potter and the Soulless Cash-grab

For me, the Harry Potter universe started with the books. The Goblet of Fire was already released by the time I picked up the series but I made quick work of them. I became one of those fans who would pre-order the new books so that it would arrive on the day of release. I would more often than not read it from start to finish in one go, stopping only to eat and sleep. Similarly, when the movies came out it became a family tradition to go and see them at the cinema together. So as J.K Rowling has continued to milk the franchise for every penny it has left, what with “The Cursed Child” and the planned 7 movies of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them” (which has quickly turned into a Grindlewald series), I felt my inner fanboy diminish. Enter Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery.

For those of you unaware, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a recently released mobile game. The playstore boasts this description: “Your Hogwarts letter has arrived! Explore, learn spells & more in a magical RPG!” So how would I describe the game having played it for the last few days?

Basic Premise

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

So essentially, as you may imagine, it all starts off with the arrival of your Hogwarts letter. It was at this very stage where I learned that this game was going to suck! After you’ve created and named your character (I’d just been watching Agents of Shield so I went with Cammy Destroyer of Worlds) you “explore” Diagon Alley. However, you quickly discover the nature of this game. If you ever played Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone for PC then you may be aware of the spell casting mechanism. Essentially, you had to draw a pattern with your mouse and the more accurately your matched the symbol, the better the spell. Screenshots of this game led me to believe that this was the case…it isn’t.

Anyway, you meet some dude who is also going to Hogwarts who called Ronan or Rowan or Ronald or something. He instantly tells you about his ambition to become head-boy, how he’s read every book on magic and how people pick on him because he is “weird”. You can therefore imagine my shock when I choose Slytherin as my house and notice little, nerdy Ronan wearing matching robes.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

The game continues and you go to classes, duel people and play mini-games. You have rivalries in your house with this girl and others who believe your brother (who appears to have been trying to help Voldermort or something by leaving to find “The Cursed Vaults”) disgraced his house (Slytherin…I mean it’s like these people never read a Harry Potter book…). So in my mind, the game was already off to a rocky start…but it gets worse.

A game which has “explore” as one of its many selling points including “explore never before seen rooms in Hogwarts castle” yet you are limited to about 4 or 5 rooms for the entire first year. Most places and characters aren’t unlocked until your 6th or even 7th year which you’ll never reach paying your way through Hogwarts. Something we’ll cover in a moment.

Farmville x Tell-tale Stories

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

The claim that you can explore this magical world is a DRASTIC exaggeration. In fact, there is very little exploring to do. If I could describe the game to you in one sentence, I would say this: It’s like combining Farmville with a Harry Potter Tell-Tale Story game except none of your decisions matter and everything is rigged to head in one direction. If I was giving the app an honest description, that’s exactly what it would say.

As I already mentioned, the game doesn’t take into account the fact that you’ve joined the house known from being evil. I do appreciate the fact that you’re able to select any house and aren’t automatically thrown into Gryffindor but the means very little if the story simply changes the name of your house and the colour you wear.

The thing is; all you’re really doing is tapping stuff. It’s incredibly dull. When you duel, it’s a rock, paper, scissors style game whereby you have three options to choose from and whatever you pick will either beat one option or be beaten by the other. Even when you play the marbles game, you don’t play marbles (or whatever the game is called), you simply try and distract your opponent. Taking classes is all about clicking random objects or people in the room. And this, of course, is where the micro-transactions come into play.

Fucking Micro Transactions

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is nothing if not a soulless cash-grab. To explain why, let me just say this. I had barely made it to Hogwarts before I was given two options: wait several hours to allow my “energy” to recharge or pay disgusting amounts of money to buy “gems” which I could then exchange for “energy”. Considering the fact that this game is UNDOUBTEDLY aimed at kids, how can they have the nerve to charge so much money to play what is actually an awful game?

Some of the missions or quests you receive very early on give you a similar choice to the one I initially faced. Either you pay 50 gems or you wait three hours. At least energy recharges over time but you have to actually earn gems which means that unless you’re willing to pay real world money into Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery then you (or your child) will be stuck waiting for 3 hours.

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

They reel you in with magic, Hogwarts, familiar teachers and the promise of mystery and adventure. In truth, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is a poorly made game with no heart, no soul and only one agenda: making money from children. For some bizarre and fucked up reason, this game is being rated exceptionally well on the Play Store and personally, I have no idea why. I gave it 1 star and explained in plenty of detail why it’s one of the worst games I’ve ever played.

In Conclusion

Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery

To me, what is truly awful about Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is that they’ve taken a premise which I adored growing up: A Harry Potter game where you can roam around, explore, study magic, collect items and earn point for your house and they’ve poisoned it with a story that a 7 year old could have come up with and micro transactions left, right and centre. I understand that these games exist to make money and I have no problem with that…but when you’re stopped from playing a game less than 5 minutes in due to running out of “energy” then what’s the point?

When I heard this game was coming out, I couldn’t wait. I had such high expectations which sadly, were not remotely met. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery is simply an example of how lazy and money-hungry mobile game creators truly are. Some of the earlier Gameboy games for the series were drastically more entertaining than this monstrosity and they were pixelated and had 8-bit soundtracks!


Thanks for reading! Have you played Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery? What did you think? Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

In-Depth Review of Assassin’s Creed: Origins

“Be the chaos that comes to be. Gods are just like you and me”

So the long-awaited “last straw” of the Assassin’s Creed franchise has arrived. If you didn’t read my previous post looking at why my hatred grew and grew for the franchise, you can find it here. Alternatively, here is a summary: boring gameplay, bad writing and lack of imagination…and a clear strive to make as much money possible with the smallest amount of effort. Despite that being the case, I was eager to play Origins and after 40 hours in 5 days, I have finished the game. In this post I’m going to summarise the game for you and also look at what they did well, what they did poorly and where the game could and should go in the future.

This will probably turn into a fairly lengthy article but you can look at it as being divided up into the following sections: The first section will look at the downsides of the game followed by the pluses. The second section will look at how certain aspects of the game set it up for future installments as well as looking at the directions that Ubisoft may choose to take.

Summary

This post will be riddled with spoilers. If you haven’t played the game then I’d advise not reading any further. So what are my thoughts? Well, it certainly exceeded all my expectations. I have to admit, that there is definitely a bias here. I have a huge fascination with Egypt: I’m currently reading my 2nd book this year on it, my computer wallpaper is the Pyramids of Giza, visiting there is on my bucket list…I could go on. Suffice to say, being able to explore pyramids and see what Egypt could have looked like around 50BCE was on its own a fun experience for me.

As for the game itself, while there were some negative elements. I LOVE what they have done with it. To me, this almost felt more like a reboot (and a much needed one at that). I made some initial notes when I first started playing but they began to sound petty the more I went on. Things like the “animus pulse” felt a bit out of place to me. I wish they had just called it “eagle intuition” or something like that because while it would have sounded ridiculous, it would have made more sense. I mean why would using the animus allow for memories to be changed? It just doesn’t fit in. Other things like changing the ‘assassinate’ buttons from X to Y also seemed a little unnecessary. Points like these were shadowed by the massive enjoyment I experienced from playing through Origins.

Grasping at Straws

As I said, I loved this game…and for that reason I’m going to start my summary with the negatives. These are the things that brought the game down just a little for me. Most will sound petty but I’ve got to be honest. We’ll start with the story elements.

Negative Points: Film Connections

One of my biggest issues (which was something I’d hoped wouldn’t happen) was their blatant desperation to connect this game to the Assassin’s Creed movie. We see SO MANY references to it that it just becomes impossible to ignore. Most of this takes place outside that animus through e-mails, files, etc. I wouldn’t have had an issue at all if it weren’t for the fact that the film didn’t relate to the games. It was never explained why the Apple was so small or why Abstergo seemed to know very little about the pieces of Eden. Instead, it feels like the film tried too hard to be generic without addressing any previous lore and then this game tried to connect them back together. It’s not a huge issue but it does make me wish the film had been a little more thought through. If only they had aimed the film at fans of the series then maybe we’d have something better to discuss. The fact that they are releasing another 2 films makes me wonder how much of this is just them laying the groundwork.

Negative Points: The Ending (in the Animus)

Another story element that did annoy me was the ending. I mean, not the very end (that was actually a great way to end the game). However, when we have just had a 2 day long battle on the Nile and finally face the two remaining members of The Order, we get a pretty disappointing outcome. I feel like they could have done more with the war aspect rather than setting up two arenas to fight in. Like why would these people just be hanging around in a war, waiting for a one-on-one? I was worried the game was going to end at this point but everything that happened after this was great. I just feel like they could have tied in a feeling of being more involved in the war that was going on rather than giving us simple boss battles.

Negative Points: The Ending (out-with the Animus)

Now this was ridiculous! I know that many, many of the Assassin’s Creed games have ended in a similar fashion: you discover your next destination or need to move base to escape Abstergo. I can even accept William Miles randomly showing up (with a different voice) but there was no real explanation as to why they are going to Alexandria. We’ve had maybe 4 games with stupid endings in terms of the modern day, most of which had very little connectivity to previous games, so I feel like they should have given us a bit more to go on. I’ll come back to this later one when I discuss the future of the games because it sort of annoys me that both bodies were in the tomb yet from what we can tell, Aya is now in Rome.

 

Negative Points: Glitches and Timeline Mix-Ups

I found how they handled the side missions in relation to the main story really well done…but…I found myself returning to some side missions after completing the main story only for Bayek to act like certain dead characters were still alive or that he was still searching for his son’s killer. I feel like it wouldn’t have been that much effort to record a few extra phrases for certain scenarios in order to cover this issue.

I also found it incredibly annoying when I’m freeing people from cages only for them to start attacking me. I first discovered this on a boat when searching for copper. I had killed all the guards already and thought I’d be a decent human being and free the captives, only for them to start attacking me. This happened a few times and became quite an inconvenience. From that point on I just let them rot in their wooden cells.

Negative Points: The Pre-Cursor Messages

I’m not going to linger too long on this point as actually, other than for this small point, I believe the pre-cursor stuff was done well. Finding these hidden chambers and activating these messages was cool but for the most part, I didn’t feel like I was gaining much from them. It bugged me that they were referring to Layla in the same manner that they’d shocked players by referring to Desmond at the end of Assassin’s Creed II.

I also feel like while talking about time and displaying pictures of wormholes is interesting, there wasn’t a great deal of substance to them. I plan to go back through and explore them deeper (you may have heard certain words were said backwards) as I’m sure there is more to offer. Maybe they are just setting up the next game but in comparison to some of the pre-cursor stuff we’ve had before, these messages just let me down which is a shame because the temples were awesome!

Negative Points: End the Mainstream

One thing I was hoping for in this game (perhaps it was just an example of wishful thinking and unrealistic expectations) was for the story to destroy the mainstream narrative of history. The franchise has always been great at combining real history with the fictional history in a manner that tends to work really well. I was hoping that the idea that the pyramids and the Sphinx are much, much older than mainstream history leads us to believe would be explored within the game. It could have been the perfect Segway into life after the catastrophe. It could also have made people want to research it more (Fingerprints of the Gods is an excellent book, just saying).

Using the tunnels under the Sphinx in all honesty, made my dick hard. That is something I’ve recently been researching and while I doubt there is a set of Isu armour under there, the mystery itself is still hugely intriguing. I think the idea that the pyramids weren’t tombs could have been used in incredible ways within this game. Perhaps they could have been entrances to pre-cursor tombs or energy stores or something completely unexpected that just brought a bit more of the pre-cursor story into the world beyond coded messages. I mean the pyramids are one of the biggest mysteries on Earth and I just feel like Ubisoft didn’t play on that as well as they could have.

But that’s all the negativity out of the way (looking back through it I realise I’ve made a pretty big list out of tiny little points). These may all seem pretty minor but they genuinely impacted on my enjoyment in playing the games and are what stopped this from being my favourite game ever.

Bask in the Joys

Now we can explore what made this game great and improved it drastically from the last few years of dead cow milking we’ve had from Ubisoft.

Story

For me, Ubisoft nailed the storyline. I was a little confused at the start when being thrown into flachbacks then different flashbacks then random scenes here and there that it turns out were blackouts…but once we got down to it, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I was a little disappointed that Bayek shaved his beard because I thought it looked pretty bad ass but other than that, I don’t have many complaints. There was never a moment where I felt bored of the storyline. It seems that Ubisoft did a pretty good job of balancing the main storyline with the side quests and side activities which was a good change from the last few games.

My only complaint would be related to the vault that we opened at the end. I feel like they could have made what was inside it a little more exciting…but that’s neither here nor there. I also wouldn’t have minded fleshing out the final missions a little more. After all the build-up and then the chase across countries, I feel like there was a missed opportunity for a few more missions. Also, for those less up-to-date with the history, I feel like we could have explored how Marcus Junius Brutus discovers and explores the Colosseum Vault. Again, a completely minor thing that doesn’t remotely take away from how much fun I had playing through the storyline and exploring Egypt.

Overall, I felt thoroughly gripped by Origins and for the first time since maybe Revelations, I was actually incredibly interested as to where the storyline was headed. What I loved was that as a player, we knew early on what the vault was and how it could be opened but couldn’t do anything about it. I spent so long wondering what was behind those doors. Nearing the end of the game I started to worry that we may never find out but exploring Alexander’s tomb and seeing the staff in there was a joy.

Character

Again, I think Ubisoft did an excellent job of coming up with an interesting character. I can’t say it shocked me that they found a way to slip playing as a female character in there but Bayek was interesting and likeable (unlike maybe the last 3 or 4 main characters). I’m still torn as to whether he is actually an ancestor of Desmond’s (there was certainly a similarity and the scar on the lip used to be the tell-tale sign).

Aya was also a like-able character (other than when her story arc called for you not liking her). I feel like she may be the focus in the next game but we’ll discuss that in a moment. It was good to see a strong female character without it being forced down our throats. I mean she was strong because the situation called for it as opposed to the previous games where the female characters tended to be stronger than they should be or incredibly annoying.

New Features

As with most Assassins Creed games, the new features took a little getting used to. Unlike the last few games (I feel like I need a codeword for referring to all the games between 3/4 and Origins) the new features didn’t feel like someone came up with them during a 3 minute brain storm session

. Anyway, Senu the bird added a refreshing element to the gameplay. I found it changed how I played the game a lot and it actually took me the entire 40-odd hours before I used her in the most efficient manner. I worry that they’ll force that into every game which would be fun but also devalue the connection that Bayek had with his pet. I guess they could maybe find some way around that but anyway, this was an incredibly successful new element that truly enhanced the gameplay.

The combat system was another aspect I was a little worried about at first but now, I can’t imagine how it will feel playing the old games. It truly made combat not only more entertaining and just fun in general, but more fluid and challenging. There was a higher level of strategy required in certain situations which brings me nicely onto that very aspect.

The level system seems a little crazy at first. It took me a while to realise that I couldn’t just fight everyone which can be a little frustrating at time (such as getting hooked on the storyline but being unable to progress due to your level) but also made the game as a whole more fun. It meant that for some missions, you had to actually be incredibly strategic and stealthy. With most Assassin’s Creed games you might try to do it like that but upon failing you can just fight everyone. That’s not an option when you’re at a lower level than everyone inside a fortress. I said ages ago, way back at like AC 4 that we needed something like this and I’m so relieved they did it in a manner that worked. Even the whole skill upgrades idea was wonderfully refreshing. They trialed it with AC Unity and improved it a little with Syndicate but they nailed it (finally) with this one. They broke it up in a similar manner to that of Far Cry 3 which I think was a good decision.

Refreshed Boring Aspects

One of my main complaints in previous games was related to those stupid stone things that you match up. There was no challenge to it, finding them was a pain in the ass and ultimately the reward was never worth the effort you put in. Using the stars and making it more visually appealing certainly made things more interesting for me but finding out that they’d hidden a whole precursor temple under the sphinx related to these stones made it VERY exciting! I felt compelled to find them all (and luckily there were only 12). I was a little disappointed that all you got was some Tron style armour. I feel like it would have been another opportunity to explore some more First Civilization stuff rather than just presenting us with some unexplained armour. Even if they’d given us some sort of backstory or reason for it being there, I’d have been a lot more relieved to find it. Still, they toned it all back from the previous games and I give them two thumbs up for that.

Mission Fluidity

Another thing that this game did really well was the structure of the missions. You can have multiple on-going at the same time which was a refreshing change. Also, the idea of being able to play some of a mission, realise you’re not a high enough level, go do other and then continue where you left off is simply a great feature. Nothing is more soul-destroying than having to bail on a mission and then do it all over again.

At the start, they also managed to completely refresh an element from the original game that had always been annoying. You’d have to go to a dude to start the mission, you’d then go find someone else usually to get more information, then you’d kill someone, then you’d have to go back to one guy, then the first guy again…they scrapped that in Origins which was wonderful. You could take on like 4 new missions, work through them and never have to go back and forth between people. It made the run-up to an assassination seem a lot more realistic but also drastically less boring and repetitive.

The only thing that did get a bit stale was the hunting aspect. I feel like it was almost perfect but by the last few levels of each aspect (melee, assassins blade, etc) I found myself just getting bored and usually not bothering to explore it any further. I think I only got two aspects fully improved.

Future of the Series

This is where I become a little concerned. I feel like there are two elements to explore here and I will discuss my opinions on both in just a second. The game can advance two aspects of its story: the present day and the past. The manner in which it will do this has been hinted at within Origins but I feel like only time will tell which direction Ubisoft heads in. My main hope is that they take the proper time again to come up with ideas and develop them. Origins was a refreshing reboot and it would be a shame to scrap that by rushing to release a sequel.

The Past

I get the feeling that Bayek’s story had been told. There’s no need to explore Egypt anymore (from a gameplay standpoint) and since Bayek continues on there, I can’t see him returning, at least not as the main character. His wife on the other hand, Aya, is a prime candidate for the next game. Having changed her name to Amunet (literally meaning Hidden One), Aya went in pursuit of Cleopatra and spared her life, only on the understanding that she would rule over the people of Egypt in the way that she’d promised. We know from previous Assassin’s Creed games that she kills Cleopatra within the next two decades.

As Aya/Amunet has moved to a new location and as her character was developed throughout the game, I feel like Ubisoft may follow her in the next game. We could see her involvement in the destabilization and ultimate fall of the Roman Empire and even though we’ve seen Rome as a city before, that’s over 1400 years from when the game would be set. That’s not to say they would even explore the city of Rome at all as you’d have the entirety of the Roman Empire in all its glory to play with. I’d be quite happy playing her in the next game and it would allow players to stay connected and feel like the game followed on properly from the previous one (something that they failed to do in the last few games). The game could even start off with the assassination of Cleopatra and then follow Aya as the assassins are outlawed and banished.

One element that is essential to the storyline in the past is interaction with the First Civ temples and artifacts but more importantly, the history. We NEED to get a game sooner or later that lets us explore the first civilization, even if just a tiny bit. Perhaps flickers of memories that help tell the story that little bit better. They’ve essentially been teasing us with that since like Brotherhood, maybe even as far back as Assassin’s Creed II. Certainly it’s been an idea since Black Flag but I can understand why they are hesitant. I don’t think anybody wants a full game based in that civilization as it would lose the feeling of interacting with history that we’ve come to enjoy. They just need to find some new details to share with us instead of simply rehashing the same First Civ stuff. That does take us onto the other issue: the present day storyline.

Modern Day

So it looks like we have a new main character: Layla. Not my favourite and certainly no Desmond (although her higher intelligence can certainly be appreciated). It seems that the modern day storyline is going to link in with the past. William Miles arrives at the end to take her to Alexandria without any real explanation as to why. My first thought was to collect the apple but the odds of it sitting in a random box are pretty astronomical. Besides, after doing a little research it seems that the apple from Origins is in fact the same one that ends up in Solomon’s Temple in the first AC game. So why the fuck are they going to Alexandria then?

A question for the next game I’d imagine. What we can gather from the messages from after the cataclysm is that Layla is going to be involved in some sort of time travel or universe hopping. The pictures and audio all suggest that she will create an animus that actually allows her to travel through time to relive the memories of people but also change the past and impact the future. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at first but if they do it well then I can totally get on board.

However, before doing that, they need to decide what the fuck is going on. I mean where is Juno? She was released all the way back in AC III, she was interacting with the world and creating a following in Black Flag and then she basically just vanished. If she is the threat then that needs to be established. The present day storyline in this game revealed very little about what was going on (and trust me, I read ALL the emails and other nonsense on Layla’s laptop). The next game needs to establish how Juno is either not going to be a threat or is going to be defeated and it needs to tie this in with whatever time travel or alternate reality shit they decide to explore. They need to worry less about tying the games to the film and instead focus on tying the games to the other games.


Thanks for reading! How did you find Origins? Has it rekindled your love for the series?  Let me know down below! 

Don’t forget to follow me on here and on Twitter to stay up to date with my posts!

If you have anything to add or perhaps a suggestion for a future post, leave a comment!

Peace!

Journey into the Unknown!

For anyone who reads my posts regularly (which may be nobody) you’ll be aware that while my posts are usually rants (hence the name of my blog) that convey my opinion on some trivial matter such as a film or game series, I tend not to reflect on my own personal life.

Today I have decided to go out-with my usual post-type and share with you some insights into my mind and current life plans. Usually I try to introduce the topics I plan to cover but this is mostly going to be off the top of my head as I’m writing so we’ll just see how it goes.

 

I’m mostly going to discuss a trip I’m about to take but I feel like in order for you to understand my concerns and fears I need to invite you inside my little bubble of a life just to highlight how far outside my comfort zone I’m about to go. These pieces of information may seem rather random right now but I swear it makes sense in relation to this post. Let me briefly describe to you why I never really go out and experience life to the fullest:

For starters I have awful social anxiety…I’m not even sure if it’s limited to social situations, maybe I just have anxiety in general, but certainly a key component of it is social. It can sometimes takes me months before I feel comfortable talking to someone in a normal capacity so typical day-to-day situations tend to involve me going out of my way to avoid social interaction with strangers.

For a very long time I was unable to get a job because most jobs involved social interaction and the thought alone made me feel ill. I started having anxiety attacks in exams which soon spread to other situations (to be fair, I was at uni at the time and most of these situations also involved me being hungover so I think it was my mind associating feeling nauseous with certain situations). Suffice to say that several times while at the cinema I would spend most of the film trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to get up and leave which as a movie lover (possibly addict) was incredibly disappointing. I have improved a fair bit but perhaps that’s a discussion for another time. On top of my social issues, I am also one of the fussiest eaters you will ever meet. For as long as I can remember I haven’t eaten any fruit or vegetables which as you can imagine, limits my diet quite a bit. It’s not like I eat everything else either, I basically have the diet of a 15 year old that has been left to fend for himself.

To add to my already limiting characteristics I also have a phobia of spiders but not just your run of the mill phobia, oh no, I am absolutely scared to death of the little bastards. Let’s just say that I’ve fallen out of a lot of trees as a result of this highly irrational fear. You can therefore assume that I will not be visiting Australia any time soon (in fact Antarctica is looking all the more promising). I do understand that Australia really isn’t that far from Thailand and that I’m most likely walking into the real world equivalent of the Forbidden Forrest with its nest of extremely large spiders.

Again, I have somewhat improved on this over the last few years but if a spider is bigger than a thumbnail (for example) then chances are I won’t be able to deal with it unless it’s on the floor and I can drop a very heavy book on it. So this should hopefully paint a fairly clear picture as to why I have the time to sit at home writing blog posts about Star Wars, Assassins Creed, drug laws etc…now let me share with you how I’m about to be catapulted out of my comfort zone.

I’ve been working for the last 6 months and recently realised how badly I need a holiday. As someone who lives in Scotland, I’ve never ventured outside of Europe and even my trips out of the UK have been to areas where the lifestyle is pretty much the same e.g. Italy, Rome or Spain. My initial thought was Egypt because out of everywhere in the world, that is where I want to visit the most. I had looked at flights and hotels but quite quickly came to the conclusion that if I went to Egypt alone I just wouldn’t experience everything there was on offer.

I’d go look at stuff but not really immerse myself in the culture. Luckily, a friend of mine was planning a holiday to Thailand and some of the surrounding countries. I’d personally never even considered visiting anywhere near there for a whole host of reasons (primarily the spider issue) but when given the options of going there for three weeks or waiting months, taking time off work and ultimately going nowhere and doing nothing with my time, I felt that the first option was the one that would be most beneficial. So I handed in a holiday form, it just got approved yesterday and my flights are booked to head out on my adventure.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered not going at least 15 times today alone but you have to understand that I get cold feet with every single decision I make. Committing to any sort of party, event, holiday, anything will be followed by my brain giving me a list of reasons why not going could be the better option. Obviously the biggest ones that come to mind are things like giant spiders (or even just small spiders…really any spiders at all), the language barrier (but even just the social aspect with or without there being a language barrier), and of course the food. I’ve read that places like Bangkok are incredibly sociable cities and that the nightlife is amazing but I can’t imagine that being the case for someone who struggles to start and hold a conversation.

So why am I going? I feel such a trip could be make or break: No matter what, I’m going to be forced out my comfort zone so it’ll either push me to evolve or it will snap my psyche and leave me in the foetal position on a foreign continent. One of the biggest comforts (which is also somehow one of the fears) is that I’ll be just under 6,000 miles away from home. I’m going to feel like Sam and Frodo leaving the Shire. Strangely enough, one of the best ways for me to motivate myself in any situation is to relate it to a game or a film.

I guess it’s sort of my coping mechanism that also acts as an incentive. Different games/films make me want to do different things, for example: Far Cry 3 makes me want to try skydiving or get a tattoo or explore new cultures; 127 hours makes me want to explore and climb, to find adventure where I can, even if I’m doing it alone; Warrior makes me want to go to the gym…you get the idea. We will of course ignore the fact that the first two exams have pretty horrific outcomes for those involved and should really be adverts against exploring rather than what I use them for. So in order to prepare myself for this “adventure” I have started playing Far Cry 3 again (which happens to take place on an island in the area I’m visiting, although whether it is based on a real island or not is beyond my knowledge).

So why am I writing this post? I guess the same reason that people talk about their problems: it’s therapeutic. If I share my fears with random strangers on the internet then in a sense I’ve acknowledged that these fears are indeed real but that they shouldn’t hold me back from enjoying life. I mean we only get one, right? So what if a giant, face-eating spider jumps out of a tree and proceeds to chase me down the road…I should just look at it as life experience or inspiration for my book.

I mean if I stay trapped inside the boring little town where going to the pub to watch football is the highlight of everyone’s week then how am I ever going to look back on my life with fondness? Another way of looking at it: what if the Animus from Assassin’s Creed becomes a real piece of technology and someone tries to look back on my life (not that I plan on having children but that’s not the point). All they would see is me sitting at home watching films or reading. Would I rather they see that or would I rather they watched as I walk with elephants or visit ancient temples?

If I survive and make it back to bonnie Scotland then I’ll be sure to update this or write a new post which shares me experiences. If this is my last post then just assume that I died either by being killed by a spider or trying to escape one!

Bioshock (2 & Burial at Sea): Ruins, Ruined, Will Ruin!

For those of you who have never played Bioshock: what are you waiting for? Stop reading this post right now, go buy Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite and play them now. Go! Now that you’ve done that, we can continue. I’ve started this post more times than I’d care to mention but I’ve never successfully built any momentum in writing it. For me, Bioshock is a difficult topic to write about because I can never do the story justice but it seems pointless to write about the series without mentioning how incredible the story really is. I’ve therefore decided that rather than simply telling you how much I loved Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite, I would instead tell you what I greatly disliked about Bioshock 2 and the added content for Bioshock Infinite, before going on to mention my hopes for the next Bioshock game (and what they should definitely avoid doing).

 

Before I delve into what is truly the Phantom Menace of the series, if you haven’t played the games and intend to, I advise that you continue this at a later date. I’m going to be writing this post with the assumptions that 1) you have played both Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite and 2) that you’ve played Bioshock 2 and the Infinite DLC OR you have zero intention in playing them (which is something I would strongly recommend). Alternatively, you can skip down to the bottom half of this post and find where I start talking about the direction I hope the series will head in.

 

I guess we better get down to it and discuss the first error in the series: Bioshock 2. Before I mention the issues with this game, let me just point out that I understand; I understand why they did it: Rapture was this incredible city and the ideas and creativity that went into creating it are very evident as you explore. If it were me, I’d struggle to let it go after only one story when there is the potential to explore so much more of it. That being said, Bioshock 2 did not make me happy to be back in Rapture. In fact, the emotions I felt were quite the opposite. You play as the character Subject Delta, a Big Daddy who is basically searching for his Little Sister (for lack of a better description). I’d only been playing the game for all of 10 minutes before I realised why it was going to annoy me: similar to film sequels (which I’ve ranted about several times) Bioshock 2 had reached that unfortunate moment in its creation where the writers had tried way too hard to include things we were familiar with from the first game, while also having to add new and exciting aspects that felt forced and for me, rather annoying. For example: We are almost immediately introduced to the character Sofia Lamb. Through the storyline and audio diaries we learn that she was invited down to Rapture by Andrew Ryan and played a key role in the civil war that broke out between Ryan and Fontaine. For those who have played Bioshock 1, don’t worry if you don’t remember her as she was never ever mentioned despite your conversations with Andrew Ryan and Frank Fontaine (or Atlas) themselves. Likewise, there was never a single audio diary or “ghost” flashback to even hint at her existence. Now of course as rational beings, we know the reason for this is quite obvious: at the time of Bioshock 1’s creation, there were probably no plans for a sequel and therefore no reason to leave clues or details that could be brought up in any future game. So instead, we are force-fed some half-assed storyline that doesn’t quite fit with what we learnt in the first game. Unlike the other Bioshock games, I’ve only played through Bioshock 2 once but to me, a lot of things don’t make sense: For starters, when we leave Rapture at the end of Bioshock both Andrew Ryan and Frank Fontaine are dead, along with Dr Suchong (who died outside the gameplay). Dr Tenenbaum we later discover left for the surface and regardless of which ending you get in Bioshock 1, you head for the surface with the Little Sister’s you saved. Considering that these are all the main players in the “Rapture Games” that were going on, being all the minds responsible for key game aspects such as ADAM and Big Daddy’s etc, I find it rather hard to believe that within the 8 or so years between the first and second game, Sofia Lamb and her minions have managed not only to kidnap children and create more Little Sisters but have actually improved the idea of the Big Daddies to create the far more assassin-like Big Sisters. Perhaps I’m being overly critical but I’ll move onto my next issue: the overall storyline.

 

I find that FPS games are often at a disadvantage in terms of storyline because you have to keep it moving from one point to the next, so it’s difficult to keep the player’s attention because there are always problems that stop them advancing from one area to the next e.g. a door is frozen so you need to get a certain plasmid. This can often impact on the enjoyment of the game because you can find yourself just wanting it all to end so that the story can progress. Just to be clear, this is not a problem I had with either Bioshock 1 or Bioshock Infinite to any great degree. Both of these games still had a narrative that flowed and didn’t feel like you were doing the same bit of gameplay over and over. Unfortunately, Bioshock 2 feels like the Groundhog Day of games. You literally do a level then something happens on your transition to the next area that impedes your journey, forcing you to take a detour and solve some sort of unrelated issue. With Bioshock 2, these “predicaments” felt badly written like people sat in a board room and just threw darts at words to create a scenario “Ah, a frozen door” or “someone shoots the train with an RPG”. Again, maybe I’m just being overly critical.

Finally, referring back to my point about Bioshock 2 being like any film sequel, you have the issue of them trying to make the points from the previous game/film that worked well, better. So Bioshock 1 had its rather incredible storyline of how you’re a biologically altered son of Rapture’s creator who has been essentially brainwashed the entire time in order for you to kill Andrew Ryan. On top of this rather unique twist, the player would also receive a different ending to the game depending on their actions towards the Little Sisters: those who saved them would be seen as a rescuer who takes them away from Rapture to become some sort of family, while those who harvested them would essentially ascend to the surface to begin world domination. It was a nice little addition to what was already a very well written story. Then we get to Bioshock 2. Initially, the game had me intrigued by this idea of a weird, psychic connection with Eleanor Lamb (Delta’s Little Sister) but over time this just became more and more tiresome. For starters, the voice/character of Eleanor Lamb was incredibly annoying. Every single time I heard her saying some irritating sentence that included the word “father”, I found myself hating the character more and more. The second issue is of course the ending: as I mentioned, Bioshock 1 gives you one of two possible endings whereas Bioshock 2 has something like 6 (I believe). Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a potentially cool idea but the endings themselves were somewhat underwhelming. Playing off on the idea that your actions were essentially good or evil, how Eleanor acts is basically an outcome of that. If you were seen as evil then she is evil, if you were good she is good. I think my hatred for her character somewhat clouds my vision of the matter but there is also the fact that I find the entire storyline of Bioshock 2 kind of irrelevant to the franchise as a whole which I’ll talk about later.

 

Then of course we have the next bump in the road: Burial at Sea which is the DLC for Bioshock Infinite. Now I don’t know about all the other fans of the Bioshock series but for me, Infinite ended as perfectly as it could. I didn’t even realise there was a DLC for it until months after completing it and it wasn’t until a year after that that I actually decided to download it. Burial at Sea once again returns us to Rapture where a slightly aged Elizabeth (who we assume is the same Elizabeth from our journey through Infinite) visits Rapture prior to the events of Bioshock 1. Here she recruits the help of Booker who turns out to be one of the Bookers who had been Comstock which is one of my big issues. We see a sort of flashback of this Booker becoming Comstock, trying to take baby Elizabeth but instead of losing a finger, she loses her head. He then asks the Lutece’s to put him in another dimension where his memories basically warp to fit into that reality, hence why he considers himself to be Booker rather than Comstock. I have two issues with this which after reading various forums and such on the internet, appears to be largely up for debate by fans: 1) Infinite ends with Booker being killed before he can choose whether or not to become baptised, therefore there is never any uncertainty surrounding this decision and no reality where he chooses to have his memory wiped and ultimately become Comstock (but of course there are theories that this Comstock escaped having moved from one reality to another while existing in one initially where Elizabeth did not get powers) and 2) I find that the entirety of episode 2 destroys an aspect of the Bioshock franchise that I found the most intriguing. This should perhaps by a point all on its own so let me explain:

Exploring Colombia in Bioshock Infinite leads the player to discover an array of connections to the previous games. We can listen to tears into alternate realities where key characters have looked in order to find inspiration or in the case of Fink, to steal ideas. There are voxophones (the Bioshock Infinite equivalent of audio diaries) which let you hear people discussing the tears and what they’ve seen through them. In the final moments of the game as Booker and Elizabeth walk through the lighthouse doors from one universe to another, Elizabeth says “There’s always a lighthouse. Always a man. Always a city.” This quote plays on a recurring theme of the game: Constants and variables. Some realities have things that always remain the same. Take for example when you meet the Lutece’s who ask you “heads or tails?” You can see from their board that they’ve been keeping track of how many times heads has come up in that same reality (or at least different realities that lead to that same situation). Similarly, in all these realities there are certain constants: a lighthouse, a man, and a city. Bioshock starts off at a lighthouse, as does Bioshock Infinite. We then have Booker and Jack Ryan who are the men, and finally we have Rapture and Colombia which of course are the cities. Arguably the similarities go a step further though, as we have the songbird which is the same as Big Daddies. Big Daddies of course protect Little Sisters while the Songbird protects Elizabeth. So we could view the Little Sisters as shattered versions of Elizabeth within the Rapture reality. All these recurring ideas that while being directly mentioned were still rather subtle, get obliterated in the Burial at Sea storyline. We not only witness but actually become involved in the contact between Rapture and Colombia which to me just destroys the ending of Infinite. When Elizabeth first takes us to Rapture at the end of the game, we use a bathysphere. As you may recall, only one person was supposed to be able to use these spheres during the lockdown in Bioshock 1: Andrew Ryan. This was one huge clue to the parentage of Jack at the start of the game. So how can Booker use one? There are two possibilities: Either the lockdown is not currently in place OR Booker, despite being from a different universe, is essentially the same person as Jack Ryan, to the extent that their DNA is actually indistinguishable. To me, this was just one of the small details that added to the overall mind-explosion at the end of the game. I mean Elizabeth can literally open tears to anywhere at this point, yet she waits for you to move the bathysphere? It seems a little redundant if it wasn’t meant as a clue or hint. I’m sure you’ll see what I’m getting at; these stories are meant to be parallels of each other. They both have vastly different storylines but are still similar in key ways. Then we get Burial at Sea. Now, one theory that explains Burial at Sea without ruining both Bioshock 1 and Bioshock Infinite is that it takes place in an alternate version of Rapture, all be it a very similar, almost identical version. You see, if these realities are meant to be separate of one another, then you can’t merge Elizabeth with Little Sisters or Booker (all be it a Comstock version of him) with Jack Ryan. I mean sure, Burial at Sea takes place before the storyline of Bioshock but still very near it and it is still within the same reality. It just feels forced. Our little walk through Rapture for those brief moments at the end of Infinite was enough for me to think “wow, Rapture”. I really didn’t need a whole DLC that forced another story down our throats in the same manner as Bioshock 2 did.

 

Finally, (don’t worry, we’re almost there) the gameplay itself in my opinion was way off the mark. Burial at Sea part 1 was pretty much your typical Bioshock gameplay and ignoring the storyline, it was a lot of fun to play. The 2nd part is where we take control of Elizabeth and this is where I believe players were let down. Due to the storyline, Elizabeth no longer has her powers so we basically play a powerless version of Dishonoured (way, way too similar to Dishonoured) where we sneak around learning details that ultimately seem pointless. I won’t get into this part too much because that opens up a whole new can of worms which I quite frankly don’t have the heart to get into. Anyway, if it were me creating the DLC and its story, I would have chosen either another Colombia reality or something similar. My first choice would probably have been the reality where Booker helps the Vox Populi take over Colombia and is seen as a hero (before being killed). I’d have THAT as part 1. In keeping with the structure of Burial at Sea, I’d keep part 2 as an Elizabeth game. I’ve found that a lot of people enjoyed Burial at Sea because it brought Elizabeth back down to a human level. We all remember the moment where she runs away to dance with strangers on the beach. Many players prefer that version of her rather than the God-like being she becomes. Why not both? I’d like to have started off as Elizabeth right after the events of Bioshock. She could still be hopping through realities and using her powers but maybe they are dwindling or she doesn’t have full control of them or something like that. Maybe she has to explore her memories to find out how she used to be able to create completely new realities and you play through her memories of her in the tower, learning to pick locks and break codes. I’m sure she’ll have tried to escape so why not have that part as the weird, Dishonoured sneaking bit. I think this part of the game would focus more on exploration rather than combat. I haven’t mapped out all the specifics but you get the general idea. Obviously this is just my opinion so I wouldn’t expect everyone or necessarily anyone to agree that this would have been a better approach but for me, I’d rather have seen these areas than the connection to Bioshock 1.

So what would I hope to see in the next Bioshock game? Let me tell you what I DON’T want to see: I don’t want to see us exploring Rapture or Colombia again. As much as I loved these cities and their history, going back is just a recipe for disaster, as is bringing Booker or Jack back into the picture for whatever reason. Jack’s story was tied up nicely as was Booker’s (which was another reason I didn’t enjoy the imaginary Booker we had to listen to in Burial at Sea). Keeping with the constants/variables idea, we’ll need a new city, a new man and a new lighthouse. If the Elizabeth/Little Sister idea is also a constant then I’d imagine we’ll see a new version of them too. I think this might be where things get difficult. Elizabeth is possibly the most loveable characters ever seen in video games so I think they’re going to have to avoid having a character even remotely similar to her. I also think they may struggle to create a new interesting version of the Big Daddy/Songbird without making it seem too forced. I’d actually prefer them to leave that aspect out entirely, especially after Burial at Sea made the communications between Rapture and Colombia in this regard so obvious. I think there are some things that we’re guaranteed to see again in terms of gameplay: Without a doubt we will be given some new and exciting plasmids/vigors (another constant?) as these are vital to what we consider to be Bioshock gameplay. I’d imagine we’ll also see some new weapons that are unique to this new universe.

In terms of the storyline, I think it’s difficult to say where they’ll go. I feel like they can’t ignore everything that happened in Bioshock Infinite completely but at the same time, relying on it at all would be a bad move. Perhaps we’ll see a city in space (please no aliens, please no aliens) or maybe just a normal ‘land’ city but one that appears futuristic or maybe the opposite. My main hope is that the storyline is compelling, has twists and turns but isn’t just thrown together to try and surprise us. Having twists in the story just for the sake of it just becomes tiresome and frustrating. The stories told through Bioshock are what make it such an incredible game series. The gameplay is cool but as someone who just doesn’t enjoy FPS’s for the most part, I think if the storyline was lacking then I’d give up. Take Assassin’s Creed for example. Those of you who have read my post on it will know that I love the gameplay but when the storyline goes too off track, even a game where the gameplay is fun and exciting loses its allure. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that they don’t repeat Bioshock 2 but with Colombia, although I feel like that would be more difficult to do given the ending but if they keep to what made Bioshock and Infinite good but avoid the things that made Bioshock 2 and Burial at Sea bad then hopefully they should pull another successful game out of the bag.

It almost wouldn’t shock me if in order to keep things fresh, they had us playing as the bad guys. Maybe as the villains of this world where we’re trying to create a device to trap Elizabeth who is hopping through realities and changing things. Maybe we go up against a version of Elizabeth who became evil rather than good and is simply trying to destroy and conquer and it’s up to the player to try and stop her. Then again, the whole “fighting evil versions of yourself” was sort of the storyline to Infinite when you think about it. As I mentioned above, I’m kind of hoping they stay away from the previous games as much as possible but it could be difficult. All I know for sure is that the next step in a game series that has already had us choosing whether to absorb power from little girls or save them while underneath the sea in a giant city, or jumping between realities while fighting an evil version of yourself in a floating city, anything is possible…anything.

 

Assassin’s Creed: Rogue and the Downfall of the Series

If you aren’t remotely interested in the Assassins Creed game series and/or know absolutely nothing about it then I advise you to visit one of my other posts instead as I will not be explaining the general storyline and will be writing this on the basis that you have at least a little knowledge about the games and their stories. The purpose of this post is ultimately to explain why I believe Rogue could have been hugely improved and where Ubisoft went wrong with it, why the series is failing as a whole and what I believe needs to be altered in order to regain the trust and love of the fan-base.

In Rogue, players begin their journey as Shay Cormac, the novice assassin who is still learning from those more experienced than him. After being sent to retrieve a suspected piece of Eden from Lisbon, Shay unintentionally triggers an earthquake that destroys the city and kills those who live there. This earthquake actually happened in 1755 and this is one of many examples where the franchise combines their fictional world with actual history. Upon returning to North America, the assassins that Shay considers friends and possibly even family are planning their next move to another similar site. Shay realises that the assassins are putting this destructive quest of beating the Templars to these sites above part of the creed of the assassins: “Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent”. There is a lot of commotion and ultimately Shay is believed to be dead but then wakes up in New York to be met by a Templar. From this point, players see the other side of the war and become a Templar themselves. Shay and his Templar companions ultimately crush the assassins in North America (at least temporarily)  before turning their attention to France i.e. kicking off the French revolution.

So what is my issue with Rogue? For me, the entire game is flawed in one very simple way. For those familiar with the franchise, you’ll know that in all the previous games killing a civilian impacts your synchronization/health as well as causing a warning message to appear to inform you that Desmond’s ancestor did not kill innocents (of course Shay is not actually an ancestor of Desmond but the point is still the same). Rogue is different in that your activity is not limited by the creed of assassins and therefore you do not have to “stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent”. This would be all well and good if not for the fact that Shay turns his back on the assassins and joins their enemy entirely because they were willing to risk harming innocents…what?

Another issue comes more from what I expected vs the final product: on the run up to the release of Rogue, I had already lost most of my faith in the franchise after Assassins Creed 3 and Black Flag but the trailer for Rogue grabbed my attention (at the time I didn’t seem to notice that Shay was wearing a Templar outfit). What I envisioned for Rogue was a character whose journey led him away from the assassins as a “rogue” for whatever reason, someone who hunted both assassins and Templars and perhaps saw their war for what it really was: destructive. This rogue would put the safety and wellbeing of the innocents ahead of any war between the assassins and Templars. Ubisoft has this really noticeable game progression strategy they use between games: they’ll test something to a small degree in one game, whether it is ships or storylines or side missions or game mechanics, and then in the next game it will become a major aspect. For example: in Assassins Creed 3 players get to fix-up a ship and use it occasionally for missions, it’s only a minor aspect though. Then we see the next two games focus very heavily on ships. The same goes for storyline aspects: Shay wasn’t the first experience players had of being a Templar. In Assassins Creed 3, you begin the game as Haythem Kenway (a character Shay encounters and also the father AC 3’s main character and the son of AC 4’s main character) who we believe to be an assassin initially but later learn that he is in fact a Templar. In Black Flag, the first person you encounter is Duncan Warpole, an assassin who has switched sides and is now helping the Templars. I could go on but my point is that this game isn’t really covering any new ground. Instead, the game leads players to believe that in some situations the Templars are in fact the “good guys” which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given what we’ve learnt about them in previous games.

Here is what I think Rogue should have been like: It could have been very similar to what it was but with some key changes. As I mentioned before, I think Rogue should have stuck to its name. Rather than putting the Templars into some sort of holy limelight, Rogue should have followed Shay as he acted as a third party to the war, neither assassin nor Templar. While stopping the assassins from causing the destruction of any more cities Shay could also have been preventing the Templars from launching any major attacks on either the Assassins or innocents. Basically he’d be tracking down pieces of Eden so that neither side could use them. Shay wouldn’t willingly go to war with the assassins; he’d just be trying to stop them. I mean these people are his friends and while they may be misguided, they weren’t bad people. In only the second mission of Rogue, you can overhear to prominent assassins talking about a recent attempt to uncover a precursor artefact (i.e. a piece of Eden). During this conversation, the player can overhear how an earthquake had taken place and there was no way of knowing if the assassin who was sent on this mission had recovered said artefact. It seems as though the assassins while being very dangerous and destructive are in fact unaware that they are the causes. So Shay would kill those who were of immediate threat to the lives of innocents but other than that he’d be trying to just make them stumble. The Templars (as we know from previous games) are generally selfish and cruel people. I mean just to give you an example, the group of Templars that Haythem Kenway is a part of begin massacring native American settlements and burning them to the ground and yet here we have Shay buddying up to them? I think Ubisoft made a terrible error in an attempt to try and create an “original” feeling game. Shay could still have discovered all the new technology that the assassins don’t use such as the rifle and the oil. Perhaps the assassins had indeed gone a bit too far and Shay was hunting down the ones that were pushing the cause towards a dangerous conclusion. He would no longer be an assassin but would still be trying to help their cause. This storyline would still have led to the North American assassins being crippled (leading to the storyline of AC 3) and could still have led to the AC Unity storyline without much adjusting. It wouldn’t have even altered the modern day storyline either because it would still show a dark time for the assassins and would still be a useful tool for Abstergo.

For me, the franchise reached its peak at Revelations when the stories of Altair and Ezio reached their conclusions. Revelations itself while being a very interesting game was actually where I believe the downfall of the franchise begun. After Assassins Creed 2, Ubisoft began moving away from the simple assassination technique and instead started fitting players with more and more weapons. While I do feel that some of these advances were fun and made sense, it became a bit much. I mean we end up with a hook-blade in revelations which to me just seems ridiculous. The guns were also somewhat of an issue. Rather than going back in time, Ubisoft continued to advance closer and closer to the present day. In AC 3 we are at the start of the American Revolution and guns play a major role, which is a bit bizarre since the main character is basically bringing a knife to a gun fight. As we continue to advance, it’s going to eventually become a sniper game where the assassinations are carried out from hundreds of metres away.

The storyline itself has also felt more and more rushed and less and less interesting. You’ve already read my issues with Rogue but let’s go back a game to Black Flag. I didn’t even play Black Flag for a year or two after its release because I’d felt THAT let down by AC 3. The idea of being on a ship just didn’t appeal to me and ultimately I just forgot about it. When I eventually did get round to playing it, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. While I wouldn’t describe it as an Assassins Creed game, being a pirate was a lot of fun and the storyline itself was interesting enough. The real issue was this game was that it wasn’t an Assassins Creed game in the typical sense yet everything in the game was set as if it was. In fact, Black Flag was closer to what Rogue should have been like than Rogue was. I mean you kill assassins, you kill Templars, the only difference is that Edward Kenway (the main character of Black Flag) just didn’t care about either cause and just wanted to get some coin. Had he been trying to prevent either side from winning, he would have been the perfect candidate for Rogue. I have to say though, Black Flag has much more character development than AC 3 or Rogue and it was definitely the best of the three. Had there been a few more main missions that actually explored Edward’s role in the brotherhood a bit more, ultimately leading to his murder, I think the game would have been even better. AC 3 was the real let down though. The main character (Connor) is unlikeable and underdeveloped and while some of his storyline was interesting, it was one of the few Assassin Creed games that I was playing just to get through, just to see how the modern day storyline progressed. When the side missions and collectible become a longer aspect of the same than the main storyline, you know there is a problem. Not to mention that the consistency of the game just got lost somewhere. Assassin outfits from Altair to Ezio start appearing in random places around the world with no real explanation. I mean it was very cool to unlock Altair’s outfit as Ezio but that made a bit of sense. By Rogue and Black Flag, there are like 7 or so different outfits from famous assassins or Templars or just the local populous and to be honest, it all just seems a bit much. Don’t even get me started on the collectibles: I mean just in Rogue you have treasure chests (this is nothing new), Viking swords, letters from the war, Templar maps, native pillars, animus fragments, naval animus fragments, cave paintings and shanties. These would be cool if not for the sheer number you have to collect as well as the fact that they are completely scattered across North America.

Oh, one thing I forgot to mention: the DLC’s. I have to admit that I’ve never really jumped at the opportunity to purchase any of the DLC’s for Assassin’s Creed despite being a huge fan of the franchise. The DLC for Revelations looked like the most moronic thing in the world, carrying on with the shape moving thing you did to unlock Desmond’s memories within the game by collecting Animus fragments. I recently purchased a reduced season pass for Black Flag (something like £6.30) which includes the Freedom Cry storyline which takes the player through Adewale’s journey to free some slaves. I’d heard pretty great things about this DLC and most of the reviews viewed the storyline as intriguing and captivating. There were a few things I did appreciate within the DLC: firstly, the system of unlocking things was refreshing (although this was overshadowed by the ease of doing so) and I think the storyline had some interesting moments. That being said, the story overall was moronic and considering it was about slaves (specifically a black ex-slave freeing slaves) it felt diabolically lacking in emotion. How is that possible? Well, firstly the nature of how you come to be on the island just felt unoriginal and badly written, your reason for staying was also poor, the relationship that Ade has to the other characters is dry and finally, freeing slaves is far too easy. This allows me to mention something I’d already brought up: the franchise’s ability to recycle previous ideas to try and make them seem fresh. You’d think that every slave you free would have sort of feeling or emotion related to it, making the player feel like a hero of the people. That is very much NOT the case. Remember in the main Black Flag game when you need to save some pirates so you can add them to your crew? Or remember when you rob a plantation to get supplies? Or remember any game ever when you can chase a thief or bribe a herald? Well, that’s exactly how you free slaves. If you’ve mastered those things in the previous games then you’ll pretty quickly have rescued all the slaves you need to unlock everything. I’d heard people describe Freedom Cry as “feeling like its a game all of its own” which is certainly not how I felt after completing the ridiculously short main missions. Another point I’d mentioned before was that I felt weird playing as characters that were not the ancestor’s of Desmond. I mean I know he died and its meant to end his story but personally I think his storyline is what held it all together. The franchise has no path now, it has no main characters and the story as a whole is just some blurred mess.

Ultimately, I think the franchise needs to go back to basics. I had this discussion with some friends of mine who also enjoy the series and my suggestion was this: If I were creating the next game, I’d take it back to the very early days of the brotherhood, perhaps not the very beginning (although that would be a possibility) but certainly back to when the assassin ball first began to roll. We need to go back before guns and crazy weapons to a time where the assassins had a hidden blade, a sword, possibly some throwing knives and a hood to blend in (although having two hidden blades would be much better, it would be difficult to explain it given that Altair only had one). We need the game to become a bit more about strategy rather than just firing every weapon you have and knowing you’re going to win. I mean in Black Flag and Rogue you get berserk darts and sleep darts (in Rogue you get this in bomb form as well, along with a shrapnel bomb) which kind of removes a lot of fun from the game.  I think Ubisoft need to come up with a piece of Eden that is incredibly interesting and adds to the story, rather than one that is either just put there for the sake of it (Rogue) or opens up a potential storyline only to never explore it (Black Flag). I believe recent rumours are that the next game (to be released in 2017) is to take place in ancient Egypt which certainly gets my hopes up a little. The idea of combining one of my favourite franchises with one of my favourite civilisations (from a historical standpoint) just gets my imagination running wild. I really hope that Ubisoft have some fun with the “plagues of Egypt” and the pyramids. I also think they need to do something about the modern day storyline because after AC 3, it has been severely lacking. I’ve enjoyed the first person aspect and the computer hacking but there hasn’t really been much going on. I mean in the first game, the bleeding effect causes you to gain eagle vision and you see the warnings and codes left by subject 16 in his own blood which point towards the end of the world, in the second game not a great deal happens other than a little fighting (however in the past you do just learn that god-like beings from a civilisation before our own is manipulating human history from the past) but brotherhood involves exploring the colosseum, stabbing Desmond’s love interest and finding out more about this civilisation that came before, revelations was a bit lame but you were stuck in the animus at the time, AC 3 had a whole temple to explore which led to even more being discovered about the previous civilisation. When we reach Black Flag, Rogue and Unity there isn’t a great deal going on. Black Flag may be the exception to this but overall you’re basically just hacking computers which while fairly enjoyable, only really uncovers information. This could have been really interesting but what we find is little bits and pieces on previous game characters. Black Flag at least involves Juno attempting to take over your body as well as the sage trying to murder you…but things have definitely slowed down.

So there we have it! I’m considering doing a post sometime soon looking into the current science and theories that relate to the Assassin Creed games such as genetic memory. If this is something that you’d be interested in reading then let me know in the comments and i’ll start it sooner rather than later.