Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nothing is True, Everything Is Permitted

"His name is Desmond Miles, and he has brought us to the end."
- William Miles, Assassin's Creed 3

So if I have to summarize it in one word, Assassin's Creed 3 is disappointing.

I could forgive the clunky parkour that caused a few ragequits. I actually liked the overhauled combat system - it wasn't as smooth as Ezio's, but Ratonhnhaké:ton's fighting style had more weight, and was more manageable for me. The naval battles were fantastic, even if they were few and far in between. And I could ignore the fact that a lot of the content was obviously padding.

Then there are the glitches. There are horses that spawn partially underground. There are bar patrons that float and spin in the air like some sick mockery of Dhalsim. There are cutscenes where the characters' mouths do not move while they speak, as if they were communicating telepathically. There are bears stuck in vertical waterfalls and raccoons that fall out of the sky. The recruitment sidequests are a pain to complete, because they don't easily show up in the minimap.

And even those faults are forgivable. The franchise's setting is pretty immersive and a lot of people had high hopes for the themes that the developers presented - especially with that Mayan end of the world element thrown in the mix.

There are major spoilers from this point forward. Consider this a fair warning.

There are two things that stood out in this game that I didn't really like and ruined it for me.

The first thing is that the game didn't allow the players to deal with the assassination targets as they saw fit - instead the developers opted to use cutscenes to deal the killing blows. Unlike the previous games in the series (where they let you do awesome things like have a fistfight with Rodrigo Borgia in the Vatican), there is no sense of accomplishment in finishing major sequences in the hero's timeline.

The second thing is the fact the the ending was cheap and provided no closure - in fact, the ending made AC3 and every game before it feel like a drawn-out prequel to an unwritten body of work. It's quite pathetic when the rolling credits are much longer than the closing cutscene which should have tied everything together.

I can't believe Desmond was killed off just like that. There was no build-up and a lot of plot holes were still open by the time the screen faded to black. It doesn't even make sense that the game throws the player back into the Animus after the end, because the host is already dead.

Perhaps the worst part about the ending is that the developers didn't write themselves into a corner, unlike what happened to the Mass Effect trilogy. Unlike the Reapers (who were essentially gods), the AC universe had a solution to the super solar flare (their poison of choice for the 2012 apocalypse, so to speak) in the form of ancient alien shielding technology and mathematic precognition. They had no excuse to write a sloppy conclusion for the game.

The sacrifice angle was truly unnecessary (and somehow felt like an afterthought), while Juno's release into the world was just adding insult to the injury.

Long story short, I think the Wikipedia entry makes for a better read than playing the actual game. I should have bought Sleeping Dogs instead.

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