@Elliottamer: you sir, are right. sorry for the bad reading of your comment, was distracted at the time.
How the latest game in the Assassin's Creed series has affected one fan's hopes for its future.
Back in 2009, GameSpot sent more than a few readers into a tizzy when we named Demon's Souls game of the year over the universally acclaimed Uncharted 2. That decision was never an easy one. Both games were superb experiences. Both were the sort of games you could praise for hours on end without running out of steam. And neither was my favorite game of 2009.
No, that honor went to Assassin's Creed II, the game that cemented my love affair with the series. I had a terrific time with the original Assassin's Creed back in 2007, but like so many others, I knew in the back of my mind that this game's best quality was its potential for what might come next.
What that first game did right, it did exceptionally well. That feeling of boundless momentum as you leaped across rooftops and scaled entire buildings, the sinister joy of stalking your target, planning a kill, and executing it to perfection. It had a style and flair all its own, but it hadn't yet translated that into an identity.
With Assassin's Creed II, the folks at Ubisoft Montreal did just that. Here was a sequel that took the core elements from the first game--the stylish movement, the thrill of a perfectly executed assassination--and expanded on them in just about every conceivable way, thereby establishing a distinct personality in the process.
Whereas the first game suffered from repetition and a pervasive feeling of deja vu, the sequel gave us a feature-rich open world brimming with reasons to go exploring. I can't tell you how much time I spent searching for glyphs, trekking through those beautifully designed underground tombs, or simply wandering the streets and rooftops looking for historical landmarks. If Assassin's Creed gave you the ability to run and jump like a maniac unconcerned with gravity, then Assassin's Creed II gave you a reason to do so.
Assassin's Creed II also gave me a reason to care. It presented the debut of a new protagonist, the young Florentine nobleman Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Ezio began the story as an affable ladies' man in the carefree haze of youth, but his life took an abrupt turn for the worse when several family members were publicly hanged as a result of some sort of political conspiracy. This sent Ezio and what was left of his family into hiding, which then began his search for answers and vengeance.
If Assassin's Creed gave you the ability to run and jump like a maniac, then Assassin's Creed II gave you a reason.
It was a story anchored in universal themes: the desire to protect one's family and our inclination to return the favor against those who've wronged us. Unlike Assassin's Creed's stoic and mysterious protagonist Altair Ibn-La'Ahad, we were given plenty of reasons to empathize with Ezio. He was more than a ruthless killing machine: he was a guy with a family trying to figure out his place in the world…who also happened to be very good at stabbing people in the face.
Assassin's Creed II was a remarkable achievement--my favorite game of the year by a pretty comfortable margin. After all was said and done, I couldn't wait to see what Ubisoft had in store for Assassin's Creed III.
Well, that was silly of me, wasn't it? You know how this story turns out.
Rather than wait a few years and give fans another leap forward on the level of Assassin's Creed II, Ubisoft took the Activision route and turned the franchise into an annualized series. 2010 continued Ezio's story with Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and 2011 did the same with Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
I don't know whether I'd consider either of those games full-on sequels. To me, they occupy some nebulous space between sequel and expansion pack, adding layers of new gameplay mechanics and story continuation without doing much to the core elements that have made Assassin's Creed one of my favorite franchises of the past decade. I loved Brotherhood, and I liked Revelations, but neither one of them hit me with the same impact as Ezio's debut back in 2009.
And that's been bothering me. With each successive game--particularly in the case of Revelations--it feels like the series is veering further and further from what I've enjoyed most about it. There's a gradual loss of focus, a series morphing into a pastiche of new ideas and experiments that sometimes work but more often don't. I wouldn't go so far as to call the games bloated, but I've certainly had to work that much harder to be the assassin that I enjoy being.
With Brotherhood, it was more of a hint of things to come. Its failures were largely offset by some genuinely great elements, like a terrific multiplayer component, even better underground caverns, and an improved economy that fixed a glaring issue in ACII where you literally earned more money than you could spend. But the system of recruiting and managing assassins fell flat with me, failing to establish any meaningful connection to Ezio's immediate surroundings. Renovating landmarks lacked the practical value of renovating shops, and the various Da Vinci war-machine missions were a weirdly inconsistent exercise in frantically learning new control schemes just in time to not need them anymore.
I've had to work that much harder to be the assassin that I enjoy being.
This past year's Assassin's Creed: Revelations lacks Brotherhood's flashes of brilliance; it refines a few elements here and there but fails to bring forward any meaningful contributions to the formula. There's really nothing bad about what Revelations introduces to the series, but so much of it feels unnecessary and incongruous with the rest of the game.
The den defense sections, with Ezio placing troops while standing as still as a statue, couldn't be further removed from what I love about freely darting across rooftops. Bombcrafting makes for an interesting diversion, but like calling in assassin strikes, it's a superfluous aid in a franchise where combat is already incredibly forgiving. And then there are the Desmond sections, which are a confusing mix between enjoyable character exposition and clumsy, bewildering puzzle platforming.
All too often, Revelations feels like one missed opportunity after another layered into an increasingly massive web of distractions. On top of that, Ezio's role in the story has been reduced to a vehicle for exploring more obtuse historical secrets and political intrigue. He's as likable and charming as ever when the story allows for it, but the bulk of the game doesn't really feel like his journey. That personal connection I felt toward him in ACII is gone; now, he's more like Atlas bearing the weight of the ever-growing Assassin's Creed canon, one pained grunt at a time.
I'm sure Revelations, if viewed in a bubble, is a highly enjoyable experience.The core of the series that I love so much--the feeling of effortlessly jumping across rooftops and stalking targets for the perfect strike--remains perfectly intact. It just feels ignored and a bit dusty. Instead, you have all of these different elements swirling around that core that fail to really move the series forward, and the end result is a game that feels redundant and oftentimes unnecessary.
…like Atlas bearing the weight of the ever-growing Assassin's Creed canon, one pained grunt at a time.
And now, thanks to the level of honesty you can only find in corporate earnings calls, we know that yet another Assassin's Creed game is on the way later this year. All the rumors suggest that there will be a brand new character in a new historical setting, but I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a faint worry in the back of my mind that the series has established a certain trajectory with the past few games and that this next game will only continue it.
It's an odd position to be in. I love this series like few others, and in spite of my issues with Revelations, I still managed to have a good time with the game. But it definitely feels like I'm approaching a crossroads here. I can easily see "good time" eventually becoming "guilty pleasure."
So here's what I'm hoping to see. I want to see the next game come along and floor me with its fresh new take on the Assassin's Creed formula. I want to see a game that builds on the core of the series in a meaningful way, bells and whistles be damned. I want to see a game that remembers its identity and builds on that.
I think there are a few ways that this can happen. First and foremost: Ubisoft Montreal has to take every last advantage of the new historical setting. Use the new timeline and environment to build on the way players move throughout the gameworld. The feeling of momentum and acrobatic wizardry is without a doubt the best part of this series, but it has to evolve.
Ubisoft Montreal has to take every last advantage of the new historical setting.
The hookblade was a good start. Make sure this new era means new technology is at our disposal for maneuvering through the gameworld. And make sure the new city's architecture affects our traversal as well. If it's something like 19th-century New York City and the streets are much wider than Rome or Istanbul, give us a fun new toy for making those massive leaps across rooftops. Let us hitch a ride on trolley cars or zip across power and telegraph cables. Hell, set the game during winter time and let us slide across ice-covered rooftops.
Outside of evolving how we move through the world, give us new reasons to explore that gameworld. The scattered Animus fragments in Revelations didn't do it for me because they were tied to those awkward Desmond sections, but the glyphs in ACII led us to delightfully ridiculous puzzles which themselves unlocked another chunk of of that excellent Eden video. Build on that with new incentives to explore the city and attach them with meaningful rewards.
And, finally, give us a story anchored by a character worth caring about, and don't let his or her personality be overshadowed by the canon. Ezio is one of my favorite video game characters of the past decade, but his role in the story seemed to grow smaller and smaller with each successive installment as those games focused on diving into ever-deepening pools of mystery and conspiracy. Start off by giving us a reason to care about this person, and let that personality shine even as the character unravels the bizarre secrets of the war between Templars and Assassins.
I have no doubt that the team at Ubisoft Montreal is capable of breathing new life into this series. Anyone who has played one of these games before knows the artistic talent and sheer attention to detail that goes into creating an Assassin's Creed game. But I'm truly hoping that the team uses this next game, with its new setting and characters, as an opportunity to return its attention to the core of Assassin's Creed and really move that part of the game forward. Forget the menu-based strategy minigames and tower-defense mechanics. Remember what made this series stand out in the first place and give those elements the update they deserve.
I just think the first Creed was to see if it could work ... AC ll was really the first one .. That just me not trying to get people piss off
In fishing terms AC l .. Was the bait AC ll.. Was the hook AC bh..was the thrill of reeling it in AC R...is story about the one that got away ... Lol
Agreed and I really like the statement "Ac let you jump around like a maniac and AC2 gave you a reason" I thought that was a good assessment although I loved both games. They did say this new ACIII has been in development for three years which they made sure to note right away during their conference call because they know interest is waning. I have my doubts but AC is still my favorite franchise even with the abomination that was ACR and hopefully the next one really will live up to the hype...or I'll be done.
Perhaps it's just me, but while AC1 was a good game in itself, about halfway through it I found it to be repetitive and I couldn't find any motivation to continue playing it. The miniquests scattered across the city seemed quite disconnected from the main narrative, and the main character in the lab wasn't someone that I could easily relate to because we are not told too much about him. If anything AC1 is good for the potential it pointed to, but to call it the best of the series is to do AC2 (the highlight of the series) an injustice.
@couchtater12345 - Exactly! you put what I was thinking into words better than I did. I liked Ezio, but Altair was bonafide KILLER. Ezio was a teenage boy, emotinal, etc - It just didn't feel as cool.
@0verminded I agree. What AC1 lacked in variety it more than made up for in atmosphere and a sense of stealth, danger, and urgency. When I assassinated someone, it was a big deal, you had that SWOOSH in the background that added to that feeling that you were a badass killer. When you killed a prime target, the screen started flashing, it got loud, things seemed to be spinning out of control! The environments also fit the mood perfectly, especially Acre, which I though added to the sinister feeling of being an assassin. AC2 lost all that for me. While I did enjoy being able to customize and the Eden sidequest was quite cool, assassinating was no where near as fun. The environments while beautiful, did not convey the tone of an assassination game. When I killed a target there was no dramatic music adding to suspense, it was a playful little string quartet diddle. Ezio also struck me as too emotional to be a cold blooded killer. Altair was cold. He was emotionally detached, one can imagine looking at him and knowing he would snap your neck and not even raise his pulse. I didn't get that from Ezio. Overall AC2 was an enjoyable game, but it lost a lot of what made AC1 awesome to me. I'm hoping that we see more of AC1's tone, atmosphere, and difficulty return in AC3.
It actually ends with ACIII. It has been in development since ACII and it is logical that they released it before 21.12.12
ACII was my favorite in the series, although I did enjoy Revelations and Brotherhood. Take out den defense, do right by the new setting and character, and I'll be more than happy with ACIII.
My big complaint with the AC series is the dumbed down combat from the first game. In AC1, you couldn't really expect to engage 10 or even 5 guys without risking death. I also feel like AC had much more focus on stealth (seeing as its a game about assassins...). AC2 (to me anyway..) just seemed, easy - or flashy - or both...or I don't know...Just not as good or engaging as AC1 (again, to each their own). I didn't really see where they were going with the Desmond story. All the weapons and armor really made the game a cake walk, and while I think the game play is fun - There really isn't much to holding down a button and pressing up....(which is 95% of controls used in AC). Last but not least, the evade mechanism. To me it seemed that piles of hay, and strange rooftop gazebos littered almost every inch of the game. Escaping from enemies became about as difficult as scratching my head. So while I appreciate the game for its art and visuals, I am done with the AC series. I got halfway through Brotherhood and just returned it. I did however enjoy this article - I wish there were more like it on this site. GG Gamespot!
Sorry, but the trend has been set. Nobody can keep pumping out a game every single year and NOT ruin the series and/or make only minimal uninspired changes. Unfortunately, what bugs me most about the series is that it looks like it will suffer from Resident Evil Syndrome. A ton of sequals but a larger story that goes absolutely nowhere. When I first played AC, I was excited by the idea of the past bleeding into the present, and two factions battling over these magical objects. I thought as the series went, we would eventually move closer to the "present" and desmond becoming a super assasin fighting in the present with awesome skills, abilities, cities and weapons. Instead, the developers seem obsessed about the past, and the double obsession over Ezio means that Desmond become mostly pointless, as did the guy before him (X?). I fear that the series will always now be about battles in the past. That means it will never reach the present time and therefore there is literally no real "end" for the larger story about modern assasin's and their battle with the powers that be. It will be forever spinning its tires, just like how Resident evil never moves to actually address the battle with umbrella and why they keep spreading zombies around.
@ResponsibleGame Not to mention giving your fans a reason to want it more by adding a couple years in between sequels. I just don't see how people crave playing the same thing year after year after year AND still paying full price for it. :?
See , this is the problem with annualizing of franchises . Sheer lack of Innovation . We've seen it happen with Call of Duty and looks like Ubisoft have decided to adopt Activision's motto . Annualization works well with sports games , but with story driven adventures ? That just does'nt work out . And I hope Ubisoft understand that and don't follow in the footsteps of Activision .
Nice editorial and certainly sums up my own feelings towards the AC series as well. ACII blew me away, I enjoyed Brotherhood a lot but agree that the series started to lose focus. Renovations didn't make any sense, I don't care about the multiplayer but if others do great and the assassin recruitment/development felt like an incongruous add on. Nice idea, but lousy execution. And considering the game is titled "Brotherhood" and all the initial marketing showed off Enzio bringing all his friends that's pretty much inexcusable. The rest of the comments about the continuing loss of focus hit the nail right on the head. They need to take a step back, strip this thing back to it's core and make sure that they aren't just adding lame stuff in an attempt to justify shipping another title out the door every year.
this is a big tossup for some. alot of people rave about the AC series, but I agree with this drawn out explanation of it. AC2 was gold. then its been going downhill from there. i enjoyed brotherhood, and haven't bothered to finish ACR. just..doesn't interest me. the story just took off...brotherhood still had the same feel to me. but something is just missing in the revelations story. don't know what...have a hard time caring. this next instalment will be a bargain bin buy for me. ...if at all. and I truely hate saying that. I had so much enjoyment with the ezio story at first. oh well, we've all noticed ubisoft is a little lets say egotistical, so i'm guessing the quality is dipping due to success. damn shame.
@dodgingbullet : I did not mean they were bad games, only that they were not deserving of being numbered entries. To explain it better: Both AC and AC II had their own settings, era, technology, characters. Revelations and Brotherhood were merely AC II sequels, not AC sequels. What I mean is something like this: 1 - AC 2 - AC II --> AC:B --> AC:R 3 - AC III In short, I would call Brotherhood and Revelations side-games in the franchise, whereas I and II (and hopefully III) are the main-games. If it comes across that I think the non-numbered entries are worse than the numbered ones, it's simply because I would rather have an entire new setting than replay the old one with some changes (though I have to say that the multiplayer component is a more than worthy addition).
I bought AC1 for the PC when they finally got around to making it. I played through the whole game and enjoyed it quite a bit. When I saw they were making AC2 for the PC too I went ahead and pre-ordered it. When it arrived I installed the game, was then forced to create a Ubisoft account. I then spent the next 2 entire evenings troubleshooting why I could not play my game. I uninstalled it and put the case on my shelf. A week later I received an email from Ubisoft with some sort of an attempt at an apology. I deleted the email and haven't looked back since. I don't reward companies that release unplayable games and treat me like a criminal.
The first Assasin's Creed I liked and finished and never picked up again because of the repetitiveness. However, AC2 put that repetitiveness to shame. I could only get through 3/4ths the game before I just quit and haven't picked it up since. There's seriously no skill required with these games while you just do the same thing over and over. I think between the two games, I died a combined 3 times. That's not a challenge, and its not entertainment. Add in "go here, perch for map, hunt targets" rinse repeat over and over, and ugh....I'm bored just remembering this. The story was decent, but not good enough to see through to the end with all the slogging through you have to do.
@Game SharpLad Thats the same thing I was thinking! I always wanted a ninja in assassins creed. Btw, good article ^_^ but I'll never forget the first assassins creed.
Good editorial. I like the Assassin's Creed series, but for some reason the story and gameplay never sucked me in the way other games have. I've played both AC1 and AC2 (which was a definite improvement) but never felt the urge to play Brotherhood and Revelations. I'm just not that interested. Other games that came out in 2007, like Mass Effect and Bioshock, seemed much more engaging to me.
If Assassin's Creed gave you the ability to run and jump like a maniac unconcerned with gravity, then Assassin's Creed II gave you a reason to do so. I already read this someone else blog before!!
Just a quote from the largest Russia's gaming website: "If Brotherhood only gave a small alert, Revelations cries loud to stop pumping out games and think about evolving the series. Because Constantinople - where is Ezio heading to reach the five keys of Altair's library - is a pretty carbon copy of combined Rome, Venice and Florence not only in design wise. Those who have a sharp eye can recognize old models and textures albeit in a new point of view."
Thanks for the straight forward article, i really enjoyed it and i can say that assassin's creed revelation is terribly bad, and the updates done is nothing special at all, let us hope the ACIII would bring a life to this interesting, and beloved game...
Awesome article, simply awesome. honest words from, i can say, a real gamer. what has happened with the AC series is the corporate greediness in the game industry - annual titles that should contribute to the planned budget. and it is not only AC, as others posted before me. there are many series that were simply turned in to a pointless "expansion packs". there are undoubtedly many visionary people at Ubisoft, but what the hell were they thinking - tower defense, reading reports for completed missions, restoring shops and locations ?!?!? even now, wile reading this article, on top of my mind there are at least a dozen of ideas that relate to "how can you be a better assassin". i am sure that goes for any of the true fans. really, Ubisoft, go back to the initial formula and just improve on it. start creating diamonds, not graphite
The problem with Assassin Creed is that the story wants to be more than it should be, while keeping it simple would have been more than enough.
Back in 2009 GameSpot was right to choose Demon's Souls as game of the year. I don't understand why anyone will say that Uncharted 2 deserved to be. Back to business, I can play new games of Assassin's Creed as many as Ubisoft is going to release.
@ElliotTamer - I think it´s gonna be called AC3 because Brotherhood and Revelations where a part of the "Ezio" saga (includes AC2/Brotherhood/Revelations), not because both games where not worthy of being numbered entries. I actually think they managed pretty good and they give a lot to the game in general, now it´s just a way to explore those things and improve them :) it´s a process of trial and error. Great article by the way, congratulations
Revelations and Brotherhood are, to put it simply, not worthy of being numbered entries in the series. Ubisoft knows that. So the fact that the next game is called Assassin's Creed III and not Assassin's Creed V actually gives me hope.
i think they should remake...Prince of Persia: Trilogy in one single game (covering The Sands of Time, Warrior Within and The Two Thrones) and release it in Fall 2014/2015...utilizing the latest technologies for Wii U, XBOX 360, PS3 and PC...rather making yearly Assassins Creed...UBISOFT is losing the charm... It will sell...
I think with these sequels, they need to implement a new atmosphere, and some new interesting gameplay and tweaks. I haven't played any ACs after AC 2, but I can tell that it's just an expansion of the first.
@thequickshooter The reason Abstergo used these "sticks" as you call them was because they wanted to catch Desmond alive. Not to mention, guns would be a total game-breaker.
demon's souls was a little better then uncharted 2 but assassin's creed 2 (and 1) really remarkable and the story is soooooo well made i think ac series has the best story (but not the best logic, abstergo uses sticks as weapons instead of guns? yeah doesn't make much sense)
@stealth6spy Yeah I agree. Call of Duty 2 and Modern Warfare 1 legitimately impressed me. Them churning out sequels like a production line made me lose interest just because I couldnt afford to keep up with them all. Also it makes them feel less "special" or important. Look at Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Tony Hawk etc. They had legitimately good games in the series but overdid it and devalued their own product.
Even if the article is very good and I fully agree....wasn't it published a while back? Nothing new to write about?
Love the article. Plus, i think it would be cool if the new character would be more stealth martial arts, and pull off some good manouvers - Tarzan style or something. - And by Tarzan i'm thinking something like epic stuning scenes more like urban ninja style if you may. And the assassination sometimes could be like one guy being on the shadow in the wall A) and in a second he passes to the wall b) lending a fatal move to someone in betwen, stealth way, And by doing that he spreads fear to someone else that was watching -almost- everything, but because he blinked or locked the other way in the moment of the fatal move he doesn't understand why or what happened. -Just spreading some ideas won't hurt...- ^^
Great article. AC has become one of my favorite series. Beating the long standing GTA series as my #1 favorite. AC2 was so great. I played through that game 3 times with in a month. That is very rare for me. I might come back and play a game I completed once before a few months down the road. But AC2 was so much fun that I never wanted it to end. I also really enjoyed AC:B. I played through that one twice. Though my biggest beef with that game was how you had to play out a mission a certain way to get 100% sync. I hated that! How about you let ME decide how to take my target out? I missed the thrill of stalking my target and trying to decide the best way to take him down. Instead I'm being told how to do it, and it sometime spoils the whole mission, because their way might be the best, but not necessarily the most fun. Or their way could be the most frusterating. I won't get in to my beef with AC:R, the article pretty much listed them all. The tower defense was non-exsistant to me. It never came up again after the introduction of it. My dens never got attacked once. Anyways, the series is still fun for me, and I'm looking forward to see what AC3 brings.
Personally, I'd like to see the game set in Japan's Bakumitsu Era (1860's, for those that aren't into history) It'd be cool if you could play as a ninja & assassinate samurais..
I completely agree with this article. I loved AC1 and AC2 was just massive and colorful and so historically relevent. I mean they had how many cities for us to move between and so many different people to add to the story. While I thought that the gameplay and story of the last two were definitely good and helpful, I miss AC2. It was revolutionary. The thing with these companies is they do milk it like COD. They know that we are hooked because we have already played through the story and are this invested that they can put things out that aren't great and we will still pay the same price because we have to know more about this story. I hope they're serious that this game has been worked on for 3 years and the last two were worked on by a different team, because while revelations was fun it was so short. AC2 took me well over 30 hours, AC revelations less than 10. They also need to get back to the color of AC2, cuz while Constantinople is in the middle east like the first one, seriously is Italy the only place with color. The people at Ubisoft need to really step up with this next one or they may lose a lot of people.
The problem with assassin's creed is you are practically invincible. There is no challenge. I would loathe upgrading any of my gadgets because the game would just get easier and easier. I think they should bring the realism of being hit by a sword and getting hurt from it in.
"feels like the series is veering further and further from what I've enjoyed most about it. There's a gradual loss of focus, a series morphing into a pastiche of new ideas and experiments that sometimes work but more often don't. I wouldn't go so far as to call the games bloated" This is exactly I how feel about the series since Brotherhood came out, its being filled with superfluous content, that is making the game bloated and moving it away from what made the first two games so great. I'm also not big on the excess use of technology, I would like to see the next assassin take it back to the basics. Ezio ended up with more gadgets than Batman. I prefer the man(or woman perhaps) to rely on their physical abilities and training. I don't really have a problem with things like the Hookblade zipline, but that's really as far as I would like to see it go.