I believe that Assassin’s Creed didn’t need restructuring. I will get hate for saying this. I will get people who won’t agree with me. I will get very few people who actually do agree with me. But the common denominator among all of these: I don’t care, it’s my opinion.
The AC series, as I will refer to it from here on out, never became stagnant or repetitive to me. Syndicate was a welcome shift, but didn’t make a total change at the same scale that Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot teased in a recent Gamespot interview. Several of my fellow writers will vehemently disagree with me on my belief that every game in the franchise was good both on their own and looked at as a whole.
AC2 was a major departure from the mechanics of its predecessor. The same cannot be said for the next few titles through Syndicate. Anna Karasik, a fellow editorial writer for OnlySP like myself, wrote a piece recently that lauded the same well-publicized and mostly-positively-received Guillemot interview. In the editorial, Anna mentions how the series has seemed to only go downhill since the death of Desmond Miles in AC3. A few people on the official Ubisoft forums I used to frequent also droned on and on about why Ubisoft decided to take a pseudoscience route to resolve the present-day timeline conflict.
It’s odd — the direction of the plot of the series has really clicked with me. I started actively following AC back during development of Brotherhood. How they closed out the story of Desmond combined with the spinoff comics series (The Fall and The Chain) was very satisfying, but quite abrupt.
But enough about story — let me get into gameplay. As I already mentioned, AC2 was the biggest all-around departure from its predecessor than any installment since then. From its breaking of the monotony and repetition of AC1 to its epic music and assassination/combat mechanics, I hope most of you, our dear readers, will agree that it was a great game overall. The innovations of Brotherhood and Revelations included a more fluid combat system and throwbacks to AC1’s Altair, with both also revolving around the pseudoscience-approach modern-day storyline while the player takes the role of Desmonds’ ancestor, Ezio Auditore. .
AC3 came next, wrapping up Desmond’s story with a nice bow on top of a visually jam-packed and quite-frankly stabby-stab-stab fun package. The addition of hunting and a revamped stealth mechanic kept things fresh and interesting. Unfortunately, the next installment, ACIV: Black Flag, didn’t add a whole lot that’s really different from AC3, with the notable exception of pirates (yay for flintlock pistols and cutlasses, and Blackbeard of course) and the stereotypes that come with them — no Desmond, and a disembodied, nameless and voiceless Abstergo employee. AC Unity brought players to the French Revolution as Arno Dorian, and introduced the crossbow/hidden blade hybrid phantom blade. Released on the same day as Unity was AC Rogue, a game that took the series on a darker story path. Shay Cormac is an assassin-turned-Templar, but for reasons that aren’t so black and white.
Last but not least is AC Syndicate, the latest installment in the series and the last of the major games in the franchise. Brutal and more visceral than any of the past entries, Syndicate introduced Jacob and Evie Frye, the first playable sibling main characters of AC. Cane swords and metal knuckles added flare and style to beating someone to a pulp in Victorian London. Bare-knuckle brawling wasn’t out of the question, however, since both Jacob and Evie are equally capable of dispatching anyone while armed or unarmed. I loved the combination of all that was good from the past games in Syndicate, such as fluid combat, multiple weapons, stealth, navigation and mission mechanics.
So there you have it. Sure there was some necessary repetition in many of the installments. Sure there were some technical problems and issues. Heck, there were even some moments of “Why am I still playing this?” after my nth attempt at trying to get perfect synchronization in a memory or overpower Cesare Borgia in a one-on-one.
But despite all of that, I still don’t think AC needed the revamp everyone keeps saying it does. I don’t think Ubisoft needed to take such drastic development timeline choices. Let’s go over some tips for whatever Ubisoft ends up cooking up in Assassin’s Creed Empire: Take the games at face value; Try to have some patience and strategy; Trial-and-error never hurt anyone; Taste the story, so to speak; When frustration strikes, take a breath and try again; Whenever you think one of the titles sucks while playing, look for a silver lining; and most of all, play for fun.
Live by the Creed, die by the Blade.
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The opinions in this editorial are the author’s (a.k.a. mine only) and do not represent OnlySP as an organization.
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