Assassin’s Creed III – Meh With a Capital M

I must be one of the only people in the world who is not excited about the upcoming release of Assassin’s Creed III. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the Assassin’s Creed franchise. I’ve just gotten bored with it.

When Assassin’s Creed first came out in 2006 I was swept away by the stunning graphics and the wonderful story line. The main character, or hero of the game if you prefer, was Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad. Set during the third Crusades, the game’s tapestry was rich with history, both real and imagined.

Of course we only see  Altaïr once Desmond Miles, bartender extraordinaire, has been plugged up to the Animus. A machine that allows modern day folk to ‘live’ their ancestor’s memories.

Most people I know, didn’t like the first one. Stating that it was repetitive, boring and too long. Of course the biggest complaint was that you could not really assassinate anyone. Which is true, the moment you killed your target, no matter how discrete you were, you had to fight for your life.

So okay a little annoying but not enough to put me off the entire game. Just the graphics alone made my eyes feel like they were stretching out of their sockets trying to take in all that breathtaking, colourful and real looking verse.

What a wonderful blending of science fiction and historical drama. The Animus, which tied all the memories together was exciting and scary.

Still definitely my personal favourite out of all of them.

Which leads me into my first complaint. The next Assassin’s Creed had a new protagonist Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Desmond is rescued from the evil Knight’s  Templar aka Abstergo by the modern day Assassins. When he enters their Animus he re-lives the life of Ezio.

Now Ezio was okay, but, he isn’t Altaïr and his story arc is nowhere near as interesting. *Please remember that this is just my opinion.* But obviously, Ezio is the masses favourite. Because he  has come back no less than four times. I quickly got over any excitement I initially felt when I heard that a new Assassin’s Creed was being released.

But my lacklustre reception of all things Ezio, was not just down to his character. My dissatisfaction grew because of the change in the graphics and the storyline.

Gone were the breathtaking graphics that ‘one’ brought to the party. Gone were the brilliant mixing of history and science. Instead we were given graphics that were…okay. We were given a larger history lesson via on-screen data messages, a lot. And the interaction between Desmond and his ‘saviour’ Lucy Stillman, suddenly changed.

By the time that Brotherhood was released, the Uncharted series was huge. As Nolan North voiced both Desmond and Nathan Drake from the Uncharted series, and Nolan’s speciality is ad-libbing and engaging in banter with the other actors, Ubisoft decided to have Desmond and Lucy interact with each other differently.

What??

Where did this come from? When did Desmond and Lucy turn into Nate and Elena? Why try to make them into characters from another verse?

All this just proves to me that Ubisoft has lost their way with the franchise.

Assassin’s Creed II and beyond I could just about deal with. I was still able to suspend my disbelief enough to go along with Ezio dealing with Leonardo DaVinci, and the Borgias.  But it did get increasingly difficult to enjoy the games themselves. I still haven’t finished Revelations. And before I move on, I do have to say, I like the fact that Ezio is older. I mean seriously the guy had to age sometime.

Now III has an assassin interacting and presumably influencing the American War of Independence. *cue mouth dropping open* Huh? I’ve seen the trailers and the new assassin’s ‘costume’ (yes, that’s right, I said costume) is so out of place compared to what everyone else is wearing, I’m surprised that he isn’t shot on sight.

There is also the little detail of the ‘assassin’s tomahawk’ it looks far too modern and again out-of-place. The whole thing has completely broken down my ability to suspend my disbelief.

I really do think it is time for Ubisoft to move on.

Max Payne 3: Been There, Done That, Got The T-Shirt

Max Payne 3
Max Payne 3 (Photo credit: s3rioussam)

You know how sometimes you just get that feeling. You know the one I mean. The one where you just know that you’re not going to get too excited about something, despite all the hype? Well that’s how I felt about Max Payne 3.

So rather than rush down to the store and spend my hard earned dinero on buying a copy I went to BlockBuster and rented the game for a week. Wise choice.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the game, I just don’t love it.

Rockstar Games obviously set this instalment of the Max Payne story to be a stand-alone experience. In other words you didn’t have to play the other two games to enjoy it. It seems to work fine under this premise but, the story has been done before.

Rockstar Games seem to specialize in ‘Game Noir’ at the moment. It was great when games first started using ‘Film Noir‘ as a starting point for their games. But now? Everybody seems to be doing it and that’s okay, but geeze guys change the story up a bit. The “world weary hero” having to watch over the vacuous, vain and spoiled rich has been done before…A lot of times before, time to give it a rest Amigos.

English: The Rockstar Lincoln logo, a division...

The game play is easy enough, I’ve only died a couple of times, but overall the gun toting bad guys are easy enough to dispatch. Which brings me to my other ‘gripe’ about the game. The “Bullet Time” feature. Come on guys! I know that this feature was revolutionised  in Max Payne 1. But the feature of slowing down time for gunplay has been used by everybody since then, even in ‘Gun’ for Pete’s sake. *Just a short side note, I loved that game, just having Kris Kristofferson voice one of the character’s made the game an instant winner for me* So streamlining it for 3 just isn’t enough.

And I know that Max is supposed to be a ‘rummy’ who’s hooked on pills as well, but the graphics meant to show us that fact are annoying as hell.

But, I do still like the game, like any third-person shooter it is easy for me to get caught up in the action and spend hours playing the game.  I guess that is my point. I do love third-person shooters. But I don’t love Max Payne 3. I’ve looked at my reasons listed above and I still can’t quite put my finger on why.

It has to do with story, I’m sure. I had no problem getting into Naughty Dog‘s Uncharted series, but to give credit where it is due, the writing for the Uncharted games is top–notch.

Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

I guess I’ll have to play it to the end. I should be able to accomplish this in the week I rented it for (you sure couldn’t have done that in the old days). In the mean time, I’ll ammo up and go out and kill some more bad hombres  and see where Max is going to take me next.