Assassins Creed: The New Assassin (Episode 5)

AC3-FlagWell surprise, surprise, it wasn’t long after our journey to Constantinople that your parents announced yet another trip for the following year, and a whole new time period to.  Was I worried?  Not at all.  Although our relationship had started to crack, I had faith in your parents ability and as all relationships go, a change can go a long way to revitalizing the love between partners or so I thought.

A few weeks went by and you finally revealed where we would be headed, who we would be playing as and what time period we would be visiting.  Suffice to say, you blew me away.

Orders have been shouted and a general riding a horse comes into view, stopping alongside his troops.  Him and his entire army are wearing redcoats, holding up the English flag proudly.  A battle is under way and more troops can be seen joining from the top of the hill.  “Fire!” and the front row of Redcoats open fire into the distance.  As my perspective changes I can now clearly see who the Redcoats are firing on.  It’s the colonists who are severely outnumbered.  As the bullets reach their lines a few soldiers in the back turn and jog away.  The Redcoats General equips his telescope and surveys his enemies. 

While this battle is taking place, a beautiful eagle is hiding in the trees, simply observing the battle from above.  A tranquil melody starts to play and I hear a new voice.  A voice with purpose and reason. 

” I watch them fight and die in the name of freedom.  They speak of liberty and justice, but for who?”

The eagle takes off, soaring beautifully, weaving in and out of tree tops.  So full of grace.  As the eagle spreads its wings to slow down, I see its claws drawn, ready to land and as it stops, two legs appear in the tree next to him, running and then leaping. 

A medical tent comes into view and I see a man brought in on a stretcher.  Two soldiers are keeping guard.  As they stare straight ahead, the new Assassin walks forward cutting between them.  There’s no time to stop him so they don’t even bother.  As this new Assassin makes his way to the battlefield, quizzical looks are given to him by the colonists making their way up the hill.  One colonist is brave enough to stop this strange-looking man. “Hold you!”, the colonist commands.  This new Assassin just keeps walking.  A horse can be seen and a man trying to calm it.  As the new Assassin approaches, another colonist tries to stop him by firmly placing his hand on the Assassins chest.  The new Assassin removes it without force but with an attitude that says, “I’m busy”.  The man trying to calm the horse only has few minutes to notice the Assassin before him and the horse are suddenly gone.

The new Assassin charges forward, leaping over spiked barricades.  As he lands in the open plains, a slight ringing sound can be heard.  As he urges the horse forward the ground starts exploding with cannon fire.  The general of the Redcoats gives the orders.  “Ready, Fire!” Bullets whiz past this Assassin on horse back and I faintly hear the horse neighing in pain.  The colonists look on into the battlefield with pure amazement.  One of the Colonists, takes his telescope out to see what is happening.  The Assassin’s horse falls forward, dead, while he runs to the nearest rock providing cover.  “Fire!”, the order comes again.  The Assassin makes it behind the rock just in time as more bullets fly past.  As the Redcoats begin reloading, this new Assassin sprints forward, ready to battle.  

Charging the front line, the Assassin uses one of the Redcoat soldiers as leverage to heave himself up and over the first line of defense.  While still in the air, one Redcoat soldier swings his rifle but the new Assassin lands just in time to counter, grabs the rifle, and adjusts it so that he is holding the barrel and then he slams the handle into the soldiers face, the rifle firing into the ground.  Another Redcoat tries to impale him, but the Assassin quickly knocks the Redcoats rifle to the side sending him off-balance and in one beautiful motion, swings around and hits the soldier square in the face with the handle of the rifle.  The Assassin dashes forward, while the colonists on the other side still look on.  Another Redcoat tries to hit the Assassin with his rifle, but he counters, grabbing the rifle then punching him in the face.  As the Redcoat looses his balance the Assassin pierces his chest, and pulls the trigger.  The soldier falls back just as another tries to attack from behind.  Countering again and knocking the rifle out of the enemy’s hands, the Assassin grabs the soldier and uses him as a shield as other Redcoat troops open fire on him, killing their own brother.  

Back on the other side of the battle.  One of the soldiers from the colony runs to the General and hands him the telescope. As the General peers through, the battle continues.

The Assassin now with his Tomahawk drawn, charges up the hill.  The other Redcoats also have their swords drawn and are ready to battle.  He sidesteps two, before countering and slitting the throat of a Redcoat soldier.  The sounds of metal on metal piercing the air, haunting the battle.  Side stepping a soldier who is trying to attack from behind, sending him face first into the dirt.  A Redcoat swings his sword, but is immediately blocked and the right side of his stomach is quickly sliced open by the Assassin’s Tomahawk.  The Redcoat falls.  Meanwhile, the colonists are being inspired by the events that are unfolding and they start advancing on the enemy, firing rifles and shooting cannons.  While the Assassin fights, a cannon ball hits it mark sending a dozen Redcoats flying through the air just as the Assassin counters yet another soldier, sending the Tomahawk, blade first, underneath the enemy’s chin just as another cannonball hits a few feet in front of him sending a few dozen guards all around the battlefield. 

As the dust settles the Assassin finally see’s his target.  The General Redcoat on the horse.  For a few seconds, time seems to slow down, and they both just stare at each other.  The Assassin charges to the right where heavy smoke is emitting from the battle.  “On him!”, General Redcoat orders but it’s to little too late.  Out of the smoke, mid-air you see the Assassin’s feet launching himself off of a few crates.  He flies through the air, penetrating the smoke, bow and arrow drawn, aiming directly for the general. He releases the tension and the arrow flies through the air hitting its mark on the General, piercing his left shoulder and sending him falling from his horse.  General Redcoat with his pistol drawn points at the Assassin but the pistol doesn’t fire.  As the Assassin gets nearer a look of fear crosses the Generals face.  The Assassin, using his Tomahawk, peels back the coat of the General slightly, which reveals the Templar symbol in the form of a chain.  The Assassin ends his target as metal meets flesh. 

The general of the colonists witnessing the events from the telescope slowly puts it away and gazes at the battlefield not knowing what to think.  The eagle is soaring high above the battlefield then flies away into the distance.

As always, you manged to capture me with this beautiful CG “look at what I’m all about” trailer.  My love was unwavering, my commitment to you was steady but what ultimately solidified everything in me having faith in this new exciting journey was the first look at the world we would be visiting.  The frontier looked breath-taking, the snow, the weather, the climbing, the movement, the intricate story woven into this fascinating time period, The American Revolution.  I was sold and pre-ordered the collectors edition the day after.

The months dragged on and every new detail you shared, got me even more excited.  I could not wait.  Eventually the end of October came and I got a phone call from the store saying I could come pick you up.  I organized with work to get the day off and proceeded directly to the store so I could finally hold you in my hands again.  The collectors edition that you came in was truly remarkable.  Journals, a big statue of Connor, the new assassin and a multitude of other little items that got me giggling.  I sped home, eager to unwrap you and caress you the way I know nobody else would treat you.  I undressed you slowly, savoring your smell, touching and reading everything you had to offer.  But I couldn’t contain myself any longer.  I took out the disc and inserted into my PS3.  After a lengthy install I was ready but then a notification popped up saying I needed to update the game.  I was perplexed by this and it was the first red flag that went off in my head.  I quickly dismissed the thought and proceeded with the update.  Finally when it was done, I was presented with the familiar worm hole and then the logo “Ubisoft” and then the beautiful, modern design Assassins Creed 3 logo was presented, “press start” solemnly waiting for me to obey.  I did.

At first I was in awe.  The world was vivid and realistic, everything was polished to mere perfection.  I entered a theater house and was pleasantly surprised by the sheer scope of the building.  My first mission was made clear.  I had to assassinate a man, sitting in an upstairs balcony overlooking the stage without being seeing.  I started to climb and the next red flag went off in my head.  “This is a crowded theater.  How can nobody see me?  The lights were dark but not off and anyone in their right mind should be able to see this strange man climbing around the theater.”  I let it go, dismissed the thought and carried on.  As I jumped from column to column another red flag went up.  The characters coat had stretched from where I jumped from to where I am now.  The more I climbed, the longer his coat got.  I started to get nervous and decided to reload the level.  Surely, it wouldn’t happen again.  It did though but after climbing to my target it sorted itself out.

As we progressed through this world and the new story you were trying to tell me, I felt myself getting lost and irritated with you.  You always wanted to hold my hand through the first six hours of our journey, forgetting the reason I fell in love with you was playing the way we wanted to play.  You were becoming awfully controlling and the world, even as glamorous as it looked had many flaws but none worse than the ever persistent bugs that kept taking me out of our experience.  The world seemed to be broken and you and your parents just didn’t seem to care.  You told me I could hunt animals and sail and I admit, I loved the times when you and I were sailing, battling other ships, braving the harshness of the sea and exploring new islands but everything else felt empty.  Was our relationship doomed?  Had I changed or had you?  I wasn’t enjoying this journey at all.  It felt like we were a couple that no longer loved each other.  Every bug that we came across left us in an awkward silence during the reloading of levels.  We were on the verge of collapsing and I think you wanted to be something special.  You wanted the world to see how pretty you are but you didn’t have the personality to go with it.  You became an empty shell of something that was once so special and pure.  I still don’t know what you intended to accomplish with this adventure but nothing hurt me more than what you did to Desmond.

I understand that most people didn’t like Desmond’s story but I was one of them that did and I had no problem with your parents wanting to get him out of the story but they could’ve ended it with respect.  Desmond was just tagging along, and he made no real effort in anything.  You did finally allow him to go on missions but he was never really in any danger and there was nothing exciting for him to do.  The last couple of time periods you had him trained up.  He became the Assassin that you set out for him to become and for what?  To die?  To unleash hell on earth?  You and your parents didn’t know what to do so you just rubbed him out.  That was when I broke up with you.  At the end of our journey, at the end of Desmond’s journey, you left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.  I would’ve dealt with the bugs and the boredom that we had sustained in this journey but I could not accept how you and your parents casually threw Desmond under the bus.  He deserved better and still does.

It was here that I decided that I would never accept an invitation from you again unless I saw that beautiful IP I fell in love with all those years ago.  You would not sway me with beautiful videos, polished game worlds, and activities to do.  I will not be played the fool a second time nor would I ever hand over so much cash for a broken experience.  You hurt me in a way that cannot be described.  Our time was fun and it’s a shame we had to end on such a bitter note but unfortunately I’m stubborn and the “Once bitten, twice shy” mentality runs through me.

I knew you and your parents would plan another trip and out of respect I would acknowledge it but not fall for it.  Only others would venture with you.  I was set on not even booking a ticket for the next adventure and so with a heavy heart, I placed the disc back into the cover, set it neatly on the shelf and never returned.

The world always seems beautiful until the veil is lifted.

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Assassins Creed 3 Review

When I started playing this game last week Wednesday, I was amped up and super excited.  I bought the freedom edition which came with an awesome figurine of Connor with the old American flag behind him, a George Washington diary, a metal case with art work by Alex Ross, and something else.  The George Washington diary looked awesome but unfortunately somebody at the printing company screwed up.  Some of the pages were bound in on each other which I found rather disappointing.  But luckily this is a review of the game not the journal but I suppose I should have taken that as a warning sign.

The game continues directly from where Revelations ended.  Desmond, Rebecca, Shaun and Desmond’s father, William Miles arrive at the grand temple where they are supposed to unlock the secrets to saving the world from a big ass solar flare, an event that would take place December 21, 2012.  You relive another of Desmond’s ancestor’s life, Ratonhnhaké:ton, pronounced “Ra-doon-ha-kay-doon” or his western name, Connor Kenway.  The time period is set from 1753 to 1783 way after the revolutionary war ended.  I’m not going to delve into the plot at all with regards to Connor’s or Desmond’s story but just how the game plays and what the experience over all was.

First off, the game is stunningly beautiful, especially in winter.  When you’re running around the frontier, jumping through trees and watching patrols amble their way in the snow, you can’t help but admire the beauty of it all.  The level of detail with regards to the frontier is breath taking but Boston and New York not so much, mostly because there really wasn’t much to see in these towns.  They were still new towns developing so it felt kind of bland.  If they could’ve used the anvil next engine in say France it would be freaking beautiful.  It would have been absolutely stunning if they had this engine for the previous instalments.  A nice new addition to the weather is rain and storms. I could almost smell the petrichor in the air (that’s the scent you smell right before it rains). The character animations are a big step up when compared to the older games and the fluidity of the movements make it that much better.  The best thing about this game is the naval battles.  Commanding your own ship on stormy seas and blasting the shit out of enemies was the biggest high point of this game.  It looks beautiful, believable, the controls are easy to grasp and it’s generally just a shit load of fun.  You can also hunt animals but it becomes a bit tedious and very time consuming.  The quick travel returns but kind of defeats the purpose of quick travel because you actually explore the tunnel and have to find a way out.

But more importantly one of the greatest things about Assassins Creed is the story.  Right from the beginning when every one of us fan boys was trying to decipher the symbols that were painted on the lab walls and floors, we were trying to figure out just what the hell was going on.  Then Assassins Creed 2 wet our appetite even more with the glyph locations and the video titled the truth showing Adam and Eve.  Brotherhood was just as good and Ubisoft kept the modern story arc going and always left you wanting more and googling to your hearts content, desperate to solve the mystery.  When Revelations came out I thought that the Ezio saga was getting stale but it did still have some pull and I thoroughly enjoyed the final chapter of Ezio’s adventure and was anxiously awaiting how Desmond fits into this web of conspiracy and it’s here that Ubisoft lost the plot.

Visually and if you only play the naval battle missions and spend all your time in the frontier, this game is a freaking master piece but unfortunately I feel that Ubisoft has put a lot of effort into places that isn’t relevant to the Assassins Creed experience and has missed the bar completely on this one.

Assassins Creed 3 is the buggiest triple-A game I have ever played and that’s with the day one patch.  Connor got stuck in walls at times, I saw a chest move by itself, guards that stop patrolling, a ladies dress that defied gravity and so much more that I was actually tempted to send hate mail to Ubisoft.  There were no tombs to discover, not a hell of a lot of platforming and nothing worth discovering either.  Side missions have lost all meaning to the story and present little to no challenge at all.  Synchronizing one hundred percent no longer adds to the enjoyment of replaying a level because your optional objectives are not always challenging, instead they become excruciatingly painful.  The combat system has been dumbed down to the point that you might as well not even get into a fight because all you have to do is wait for a guard to attack and then either disarm them or counter attack them.  While I am aware that this is roughly the same as the previous games the combat in here specifically lacks any excitement. Also when a line of guards is about to fire at you, you have a chance to grab a nearby enemy and use them as a human shield but there are times where you can’t see the warning indicator and you will get shot to hell and loose a substantial amount of health in the process.  Speaking of health, it regenerates after a combat sequence and it is almost impossible to die unless you deliberately run off a cliff or miss the warning indicator and get shot at twice by rows of guards.

The biggest problem I have with this game is the story.  The main story arc of saving the world ended way too easily and it left me with a, Is that it?, kind of feeling.  I was sorely disappointed at how Ubisoft spent all this time building up this awesome story and then just ending it with hardly any drama or emotion.  None of the characters had a sense of impending doom upon them.  They expressed concern sure, but not one of them showed fear or even panicked.  It’s like they didn’t really care or understand the ramifications of this thing.   They were all completely emotionless except for maybe a few small scenes. Ubisoft tied up a few loose ends but everything was just so easy.  It almost feels like they got bored with their own story and personally, after investing five years worth into this series, the ending and the answers that we get leaves me with a horrible taste in my mouth.   Connor’s story was also exceptionally boring and he had no character development at all.  He was either, whiney, neutral, frustrated or angry and he was just doing as he was told.  Granted he was driven by revenge after his village burned down but you would think that after years of training to be an assassin that he would have some form of enlightenment or understanding and start realizing that there are bigger things happening in his world besides his needless lust for vengeance.

This is an empty shell of an Assassins Creed game and it honestly hurts to say such bad things about it.  For a game that has had a three year development process, it felt rushed, unpolished and had a general lack of care and effort put into it.  If this is how they treat their top IP franchises I don’t want to imagine how they treat their lowest IP and this review is coming from a dedicated Assassins Creed fan boy who owns all the original games for PC and PS3.

If you’re a fan you will probably appreciate the finer things this game has to offer but if you’re new to this IP rather play the first four and give this a miss and watch the ending on You Tube.