Assassins Creed 3 (PS3) A Casual 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.

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Alan Wake (PC) A Casual Review

I found myself installing a game.  A game I had only read a few reviews for.  No matter how hard I tried I had to experience it.  I began my quest confused and lost, stuck in a dark nightmare with no way of returning unless I somehow rescued Alan’s wife, Alice.  I ran through the woods, flashlight and revolver in hand battling dark entities know only as The Taken but the darkness was overpowering.  My flashlight burned the darkness away and revealed the weakness these entities had.  I fired round after round at the hoard around me, the beam of light highlighting the cold black eyes.  It was to much .  I had to reach a safe place.  In the distance there was a single beacon of light shining down like a sign from God.  I had to run.  I had to escape the darkness.  I was running, my hands numb and sweat on the mouse.  I made it just as The Taken had reached me.  As I entered the light The Taken dissipated before my eyes like a wavy mirage but i was safe.  I had found my safe haven. ” – Vitosal’s own manuscript page

Playing Alan Wake was a breathe of fresh air and a nice break from the more commercial releases that have plagued my desk recently.  While it did take me a while to get through it i found myself almost addicted to the simplicity of it.  This is not a great game, and it’s not bad.  It’s a decent take on an old tale spun in a slightly different way.  Progressing through the game is like watching a series.  It’s full of twists, turns, gasp moments and cliff hangers and the fact that each episode starts off with ” previously on Alan Wake “ is a nice little addition to the formula.  I wish more games did that.  The only other game i know that does the whole previously thing was Driver San Francisco which funnily enough was a game I enjoyed as well.  The game reminds of something i have read or watched or seen but i can’t put my finger on it.  It’s like a Stephen King book only better with exception to The Shining and Silver Bullet because those were cool books and movies.

You play as main protagonist Alan Wake, a successful thriller novelist from New York who journeys to the fictional town of Bright Falls, Washington, with his wife Alice for a relaxing vacation.  But then the shit hits the fan when Alice disappears and events from Alan’s new book start unfolding in the town although he has no recollection of even writing it.  Intriguing isn’t it?   As the story moves forward you learn the history of Alan and Alice which adds a nice depth to the character and you might even start to sympathize with him.

The graphic’s are pretty much what you would expect from a game like this.  Nothing really fantastic to report on visually considering that this is pretty much a dark and light game.

E.G. 1:  When it’s night time, it’s dark….enough said.

E.G. 1:  When it’s day time, it’s light…….enough said.

Based on the complicated mathematical examples I gave above the only difference between night time and day time is that in the night time you need a flashlight and all the crazies come out to play while in the day time the town is completely normal. (well, except for a few characters)

The controls are simplistically easy.  Left click shoot, Right click focuses flashlight beam, E interact, Shift to dodge and sprint, Q to replace batteries and Middle Mouse button to use flash bangs and flares.  As simple as that is it can sometimes be gimmicky.  When i want to sprint I first dodge and then sprint.  And when you actually do dodge an enemy i found the camera to be annoying because it focuses on you  dodging the guy and you can’t see where you’re running.  ( I manged to run off a freaking cliff)

The story is pretty good, a decent plot mixed with an intriguing character that would journey to the bowels of hell in order to save the world.  While this is something we have all seen before I enjoyed this character more because i can relate to him.  ( Except for the part where he was willing to fight the darkness, where I would curl up into the fetal position, waiting for death and wondering why God is punishing me)

I really think this probably the most under rated game I have ever played.  Granted it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but If you have the money, enjoy dramatic, creepy thrillers and need something to play before the bigger releases come out, I recommend this.

Happy Hunting