As I continue to battle through my last gen backlog, I found that I have at least three Assassin’s Creed games to get through before I can start on Black Flag. With this in mind, I made the decision to attempt to power through only the main story, this lasted only for the first sitting. What I found was all the stuff that made the Assassin’s Creed games good, was anything but the main story, so from my second session, I relaxed a little, took my time, allowed my OCD to kick in, and I started to fall back in love with the Assassin’s Creed franchise.
So the story, as I commented on Assassin’s Creed 2, the story ended on quite an interesting cliff hanger, and I was very interested to see how it continued. This game started exactly where the previous had left off, however apart from a brief mention at the beginning, it was like it hadn’t happened, until the end of the story. I’ll be as spoiler free as I can, but I didn’t really care for the main story. Each mission you started, you were also given a secondary objective, these would allow you become 100% synchronised. Failing the secondary objective wouldn’t have any detrimental effect, but would allow you to go back and try again if you really wanted. Most of these were ‘do mission without being detected’, ‘do mission without touching the floor’ or ‘do mission in x amount of time’.
The story itself was very linear, within the first couple of minutes of playing, you knew who you would be facing off against in the final battle, and the rest felt like a bit of a grind to get these. As I was trying to rush, there felt a number of missions, which felt more like side missions, simply put in there to prolong the game, as it really needed flushing out. Some of the missions where quite annoying, and had to be attempted multiple times, and there seemed to be a very fine line between being detected and losing your target. I guess with the majority of the story missions where either follow quest or protect quests, and with stealth not being one of my strong points, I found it quite difficult, and nearly threw the controller on a number of occasions.
Like the other games, you play as Desmond, and spend the majority of your time in the Animus, however you can get out at any time, and have a walk around your current location in the real world. This was something I only did a handful of times, as all I could find to do was talk to your colleagues and get maybe a couple of lines of dialogue, check your email (which felt pretty pointless as it was group emails about mp3 players and who was going on a food run), or go outside and have a walk around. However you were only allowed ten minutes outside. I know the email were probably to make your colleagues feel a little bit more human, however with them literally working feet apart, surely they’d have had these conversations verbally.
So back in the Animus. It felt very familiar, with a few tweaks, and a handful of additional feature. First think to mention I guess is the climbing, although the mechanic felt the same, it seemed there was a change to the wall layout making it a lot more difficult to find your way to the top of any tower. I’d find on a number of occasions I was either stuck, or having to drop a couple of ruts to then try again.
Next, travelling. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to mention that this one is set in Rome, and it’s a single open world map. This meant getting from one side of the map to the other, on foot, took a good few minutes. What they did to address this was allow you to ride horses through the streets, and also add unlockable fast travel points. The horses in the streets didn’t really work for me, as I’ve never really found them that easy to ride. This would essentially mean I’d spend my time knocking down pedestrians or smashing into walls while trying to gallop through the tight streets. The fast travel were interesting, however you’d have already had to have been to the location, and the enemies would have had to be have been removed to be able to use it. I found I used it once or twice in the beginning, then did the rest on foot. Introduced in this game was the lifts, these where dotted around the map, allowing you to go from ground level to the roof in a matter of seconds, idea if you were being chased by angry mods.
Taking out the enemies in a certain area would mean taking out a specific well guarded Borgia captain, then climbing his tower, and setting it on fire. This would unlock the fast travel points, and any shops in the vicinity. As a bonus, the towers would normally include the synchronise points to unlock the view of the map, so it was essentially two birds with one stone. Even though I was still trying to get through the game quickly, my OCD kicked in, and if there was a shop or bank I could buyout, I did before leaving the area.
Probably worth mentioning the shops here, like in Assassin’s Creed 2, you had the tailors, the blacksmiths and the art dealer, in this it also included the bank and the doctors. The more banks you had, the more money you could build up before having to go and collect your income. A not so welcome change to the shops in this game were the ‘Shop Quests’. You would need to loot a handful of items before you could unlock the top tear gear, this being for the weapons and armour. When I unlocked the first blacksmiths, I did attempt to pick up the required items, however found the loot chests dotted around the map where so random, it took the fun out of it, and I simply didn’t bother.
Another item you’d unlock when taking out the Borgia towers where the local Pigeon Coops. These were used to train your band of assassins. The assassins could be found around the map getting beaten up by guards, if you interviened and the assassin survived, he/she would join you and you could send him/her on missions to earn you money as well as level themselves up. The higher level they were, the more difficult the quest you could send them on, meaning the rewards where higher. One pretty cool thing was, when you had a handful of assassins under your control, you could call on them in battle, to stealth in, take out a target and then help clean up. This was especially useful towards some of the later quests where things got a little hectic.
One noticeable change of the game was the graphics. There was a kind of day/night cycle with would not change the look and feel of the map, but would also include quite a nice cloud shadow, which game the game a little more depth. I also noticed the the character models seemed to have a lot more detail to them, especially the faces.
There were a handful of story quests outside of the Animus, however these felt like they were trying a little too hard to be an Uncharted game, with Nolan North voicing Desmond, it really did feel at times I was playing Uncharted. I guess this leads to on to the end of the game. Once the Animus story is done, you have to go to a location in the real world and do a lot of jumping, and lot of climbing, and a lot of this was timed. I’m not really sure what it added to the story, apart from frustration, and would have happily sat through a five minute cutscene instead. Once the game is complete, you are shown the credits, however there is no way to skip them, and it was approximately ten minutes before the last achievement dropped. Once it has, you are dropped back into the Animus, and can then clean up.
Approx Time taken to beat – 15 hours
Difficulty setting – Normal
Score – [Rating:3/5]
Games TrailerTags: Approx Time, Games Trailer