The End of an Era
by, 2nd January 2013 at 02:01 AM (209 Views)
I just want to let everyone know, there are going to be some major spoilers for Assassin's Creed III up ahead. Read at your own risk. With that stated let's get this ship underway.
I started playing Assassin's Creed in 2007, about a month after its release. We rented it and played it at a friend's house. They didn't like it. I however, was hooked. The historical intrigue, the free-running, the whole "blending in and killing a dude with no one knowing" thing. It was perfect. I played that game every time I sat in front of my Xbox. After I beat it, I took to just mucking around the medieval Holy Land. It was amazing.
In 2009, I got its sequel, Assassin's Creed II, and was floored. It took all the good aspects of the first and ratcheted them up into something infinitely better. It took the bad aspects and flushed them down the drain, and it gave us a suave, clever, likeable protagonist with a considerably more emotional backstory. It will go down as one of the greatest games of this console generation beyond a shadow of a doubt. It was a graphical improvement, a story improvement, and all around... simply perfect.
Over the next two years, we received two more Ezio games, each adding features and trying to improve the Assassin's Creed formula. And in 2012, Assassin's Creed III launched.
Assassin's Creed III is a massive graphical update. It's a ridiculously pretty game. Cutscenes look like a Zemeckis movie, with realistic facial animations and richly textured clothes. Free running hasn't changed much, aside from the far more realistic Connor animations, and combat has changed significantly. Whereas in the first four games, combat was a delicate, intricate dance based on perfect timing. You held your right trigger and pressed the attack button at the exact moment to perform a counter kill. Herein is my first gripe with ACIII.
Combat has been reduced to, see the flashing triangle, press B, press X, chain X to other bad guys in the vicinity. If you're fighting an officer or those dudes with the axe, press B and then A instead, then spam X. It's ridiculously easy. Naval combat, however, is exhilarating. Your first time behind the helm of a ship is simply... giggle inducing. There's a certain sort of inherent awe you feel when you first jump up to full sail and plow rapidly across the sea, firing cannons at the enemy. It's one of the game's finer moments, and one that really makes the experience as a whole worth it.
The game's graphical prowess hampers it in the worst of ways. The best example is easily when your character tackles his father out a window, who protests "We don't know what's on the other siiii-". You burst out a window, then are treated to about three second of a loading screen, then see them plummeting into the river as he hollers "iiiiiide!!". Things like that are jarring and unnecessary and silly. The other place you notice it is when the framerate inexplicably drops and sets the lip-syncing off. It's distracting and ruins the immersion.
Another thing - the game, chock full of glitches and errors, really ruins your sense of immersion. In the first four games, I never once had trouble forgetting the real world and buying into it, but when my character gets stuck in the middle of a wall and starts wobbling back and forth, prompting a guard to continuously notice and forget you both hilarious and frustrating.
Lastly, the ending. The ending is... not awful, but... it's not good, either. Neither Connor's nor Desmond's ending offers any sort of closure. Connor's has him fight through the Revolutionary War (which starts as a big part of the game and then is suddenly forgotten), kill his father in the most anticlimactic boss fight in the series, then bizarrely kill Charles Lee in a bar after they both share a drink. It's awkward and unsettling. Desmond's is no less dissatisfying. After a few semi-fun present day missions, he manages to kill a fleeing Daniel Cross with one stab and kill Vidic (VIDIC!!) in a cutscene with the Apple. Both disappointing, but then they take it to eleven. Desmond returns to save the day, gets in the middle of a spat between some demigod holograms, and then dies. We're treated to a cutscene of a radio broadcast telling us the worst is behind us, and then one of Juno saying it's her time and walking past Desmond's corpse.
I wasn't mad at the ending. I was just disappointed and sad. I've been with this series for five year, doggedly and determinedly sticking with it, despite all the "aw it's so repetitive, aw this series needs to stop putting out games yearly". I love this series. It's my favorite. But it doesn't deserve this weak of an ending. Desmond doesn't deserve such a lame death. It's a shame they sacrificed giving a strong ending to a story that took five games to develop in favor of a sequel mongering one. As a dedicated fan of this series, it's hard to swallow. I've followed this character for five years and all that story they worked to develop has equated to essentially nothing but a weak ending that does little to really end the story in a memorable way.
Rest in Peace, Desmond. You deserved better you, beautiful sonofabitch.
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