One of my fondest, most joyful and downright favourite memories of playing any of the Assassin’s Creed games is pushing the eject button on my console. For me, the series from Ubisoft is the very opposite of why I love videogames. I realise the series pulls huge numbers, and sells scarily well every year, but the game caters to those who would cut off their own arm off to secure a pre-order with some wanktastic hat DLC or a scrappy poster to blutack to their wall, without noticing that each release is sloppier than the last in terms of bugs, and utterly the same in terms of everything else. Their aggressive pre-ordering and DLC tactics are a swift kick in the balls considering the lacklustre quality of the games that appear rushed to the shelves each year.“…Hey cool. You pre-ordered our rehash game of the same old shit from the last 10 years. You get an extra mission where you can climb another tree or stab yet another enemy in the back like you have done in all the previous games! What’s that? You preordered the game and it’s a barely functioning buggy nightmare? Ain’t that a shame, thanks for the money anyway, see you next year!”
The thing that really annoys me is the lack of a new direction or even bothering to be different with each title. “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?” I hear you cry. Bitch please, even the titan of video gaming Call of Duty has at least tried a new formula with Advanced Warfare, and it actually turned out to be pretty great! As big a company as Activision is, they should be applauded for not setting out to make another MW3 (they very well could have played it boring and safe again). The result of their recent gamble was making over a billion dollars in ca$h money while satisfying skeptical old fans of a series that was becoming stale, while also gaining new fans.
Happy gamers = Profit!
But with AssCreed it’s the same recycled boredom year in, year out. At every E3 lately a new AC title is revealed and part of me hopes, candle in hand, that the series will finally take a leap of faith into a new, joyous haystack.
Oh look.. Pissed off protagonist.. Climbing a tower.. Steering a boat.. Robbing rich folk… A story about something to
do with the end of world…Sometimes I wish the world would end so we weren’t inflicted with another yearly installment of this garbage. I lost track of all the convoluted timelines and stories after the unholy mess that was AC III, a game so groundbreaking you couldn’t even play as the main protagonist until after about six hours of dicking about with recycled fetch quests and napping on a boat periodically and picking the occasional fight with a pirate. Fun. Then, after more fetch quests than an MMO, we finally start the game’s main campaign only to discover that the hero we will spend the next 30 hours with has the emotional depth of a piece of toast. Then came ACIV, Unity and the poor man’s installment for last-gen, Rogue. All equally filled with about as much joy as being hungover at work.
What is the huge fascination with this crap? For the past century people have whined about COD being annual. “Well fuck it,” said Ubisoft, obviously not content with being bested on money-grabbing, “Let’s release not one but THREE games in the one year!” That is only mentioning the Assassin’s Creed games, the fact is that Ubisoft’s other offerings like Watchdogs and Farcry are in essence the same genre of empty checklist game design in different settings. Essentially, if you wanted to only stare at huge maps littered with a billion uninteresting and repetitive quests for you to complete mindlessly, Ubisoft has you covered in any of their AAA games.
Be smart… These days buying a game day one usually nets the same exclusive content promised to preorderers ( as an example I bought Evolve and have absolutely everything the butthurt masses has minus some inconsequential skins). Being tricked into thinking a bloated fee is acceptable just fuels the flames of greedy enterprises and inspires them to bring us more of the same recycled bullshit and overpriced DLC.
To finish, here is a challenge I present to you:
When the next AC game is released, do not buy it.
I want you to try an experiment where you insert the disc of any of the previous AC titles into your console instead and pretend it is the new game. You will be pleasantly surprised that the experience you have will be just as samey, dull and monotonous as whatever the new title will be. Plus you save yourself $80 to spend on something cool. Like a disc shredder.
Now after all this doom and gloom I would like to point out one redeeming factor for Ubisoft (no, it is not Uplay). Ubisoft’s diamonds in the rough are the excellent indie titles that the publisher green lights such as Child of Light and Valiant Hearts. Low cost, indie-driven Games like these, especially from a AAA publishing powerhouse such as Ubisoft, are nothing but good news for the industry. Future developers should look to this as inspiration for getting games out that manage to maintain artistic integrity with a big company behind you.
Clap clap Ubisoft. I haven’t ruled you out just yet, but I still hate Assassins Creed.