Retreading the Past
You really have to wonder what it’s all about. Playing all three of the games in the Ezio trilogy back-to-back and going for platinum trophies in each. That last part is really where all the wonder and questioning comes into play.
The issue comes from the similarities in all three of these games. It’s a gradual evolution of the Assassin’s Creed formula and that means you’re doing the same thing over and over in order to get these trophies. Instead of upgrading your villa in AC 2, you go to upgrading shops in Brotherhood and then again in Revelations. It’s a repeat of what I just did the other week.
The odd thing is that it feels good going around and upgrading the shops, watching the amount of income my bank is receiving go up little by little. I’ll then just let the game sit while I’m off doing other things in the real world so that when I do come back my coffers will be full and I can spend that money on more upgrades. In this game I need to net around 500,000 of the currency to buy all the books and get one of the trophies. So it’s serving a purpose I suppose.
The best thing to happen to the series and this game so far is the increased traversal speed. This comes from the hook blade and the traversal wires. The hook blade allows you to basically leap up a building, where before it’d seem slow and plodding to scale a building, now if positioned correctly you can take large leaps up the side.
The wires going between the roofs of buildings give you more reason to actually use the roofs as a means of traversal. Before you’d stumble from roof to roof, taking large leaps across a street only to grab the next roof ledge, or scan the environment for one of the wires connecting building that you can run across. Now you can run under a wire and jump up to zipline across, keeping up the speed and flow of movement. It’s something that really adds to the fun and enjoyment of the game.
The worst part about the movement in this game is the fucking controls! Normal gameplay, sure, it can be just fine. You’ll get to where you want to go most of the time just fine. The problem is when you’ve been playing for a while and trying to clean up on trophies or do almost anything that you think should be fairly simple. What then happens is that you run up a wall, or off the side of a building, or hit a guard on accident. Basically, you do the exact opposite of what you’re thinking. It gets so fucking frustrating when you’re trying to get 100 percent sync in a mission and there’s a disconnect between your brain, hand, controller and game; and you now for certain that it’s the games fault.
The new location of Constantinople (Instanbul) is a really great choice for the series. It’s a place I never would have guessed the game would go. Even though I played this game back in the day, I had no recollection of this being the location they used. Perhaps because it’s not one of those really popular hot-spots around the world.
What I do like about it is just how different it is from the past two games. There’s just more color and life in the scenery and people that you come across. Groups of women will be wearing vibrantly colored dresses, making them really stand out from the crowd.
It’s nice that little details like rugs, bazaars, and pots letting out little plumes of smoke litter all the nooks and crannies of the environment. The world seems more dense with objects, compared to the practically baren streets of the prior games. It feels like instead of a program placing all the building and making the streets, the developers took the time to go in and add more texture to the world.
The map does feel smaller than the previous game so far, which I don’t think is a bad thing. They removed all the open areas where you needed a horse to really get around and instead focused on the city itself. It makes the game feel more focused, which I’m currently hoping transfers over to the story and main mission (which I’m not that far into).
Okay, just finished the game. So the size of the city is really nice, it makes things a bit more condensed than they were previously and that makes everything quicker. The problem is that the city on street level is a bit of a maze (broken record sound). If you just start walking around on the street with the map off you’d have almost no idea where you apart from a few sections. There aren’t enough bespoke areas that have a layout that allows you to get your bearings and let you navigate from the environment clues.
I enjoyed the side dungeons, they were all nicely modeled and had some good atmosphere. They really felt special and unique to this game, which perhaps isn’t something the previous games did as well. There were less of them in this game but it all felt more tight.
I do enjoy the story of these games, and this one is no exception. While I tend to think that Ezio’s story is a little weak, what drives me forward is what’s happening around the Animus itself. The history of the Isu, the relics they created and the humans interacting with those objects.
It’s really cool piecing together how everything ties in together, especially at the end when Ezio, who realizes that Desmond is listening to him through this technology, actually starts talking to Desmond. The Isu are the best part of the story, and playing through these three games in a row makes me want to go into the other AC games to get their story also. Last time I played them I don’t think I really understood everything that was happening outside of the Animus. The ending of AC Odyssey with Kassandra meeting her true father is what made me really interested in the Isu.
The story revolved around Ezio finding 5 keys that Altaïr left, these keys open a door in the basement of the old Assassin’s base. The keys are made with precursor technology and so when they are found, Ezio is allowed to see a memory of Altaïr. It’s a nice way of filling in some of his story (I don’t remember ever playing the first AC game so I’m not sure if it’s ever covered) and combining it with Ezio’s journey.
He eventually gets all the keys (of course), meets a hot librarian woman, makes friends with Suleimon, beets up some Templars and keeps hidden another Apple of Eden.
The game also has a sort of side-story that’s played through a first-person perspective where you go through platforming environments as you listen to story. Playing through the animus memories, you discover a lot of Desmond’s backstory, how he grew up and eventually made his way to Abstergo. His father is played by Q from STNG which is kind of cool. And you eventually learn that Lucy was actually a Templar and was sent to infiltrate the Assassin’s. That makes sense when you take into consideration how at the end of the last game the Isu made you stab and kill her. So good on them for that!
I can feel the drum beating on this series, three years of annual releases does not make a huge difference in gameplay. Looking past all that, these games are very enjoyable and should be played. The Isu and Animus storyline are what really propelled me through these games. That and a bit of the gameplay, even though it can get a bit repetitive when going for platinum since you have to do most of what these games offer. Just be prepared for a bit of a grind in addition to the story segments.
The final boss fight, which amounts to a section where you’re flying behind a carriage and assassinating people on horses, then fight the boss while falling off a cliff… is an interesting choice. I do like the carriage part but the last bit isn’t anything you’d ever remember.
Final Score – 8.0
Original Release – 15 Nov 2011
I’m interested to see where they went with the main story in AC3, since the remaster of it comes out shortly. AC3 was a game that I started and never finished, but I’m looking to change that in the future. It was exciting to look back on these games, games that I played and mostly forgot when they were released. I enjoyed the story of Ezio and even the stuff out of the Animus, especially given the general discourse for that aspect of these stories. It surprised me in how much I enjoyed it. I must say that I do look forward to getting back to the gameplay of Origins and Odyssey, since a lot has changed in gaming locomotion since 2011