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Power Member - Level 9
Like many gamers out there now, I am a regular fan of Ubisoft’s juggernaut Assassin’s Creed series. I buy and play each major console installment; from the bug-ridden, disjointed III to the series highpoints Brotherhood and Black Flag. The announcement of Rogue, however, has dredged up some mixed feelings. The first, and most painfully obvious, is “Damn, Ubisoft… do you just want all the monies?” I mean a yearly release schedule is already too frequent; you run the risk of ending up with another AC III if you keep up that reckless pace, and to do two yearly releases truly puts the series on a razor’s edge of failure and oversaturation, but to do two yearly releases less than a month apart? This is practically insanity. But, for an immersionist like me there’s another concern…
Although I was a late comer to the Assassin’s Creed series (I didn’t buy a PS3 at launch) I did buy and play through the original just prior to the announcement of the second installment. The concept was novel and, although I disliked Desmond, I fell absolutely in love with Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus. I spent hours just walking around Jerusalem in that first game, in fact the setting was the true star of the first AC. Altair seemed a hollow shell, Desmond was unlikable, but the city itself was so vibrant and alive. Over the course of the novel story I was familiarized with game’s intriguing fiction and I was even on board with the twist about the First Civilization and the Apple of Eden. By the time I finished the game I was glad I had played it, and I freely admit I was now hooked. I was eager to see how this ‘trilogy’ would end. How would Desmond become a capable assassin by the time the story moved into the modern day in game 3?
I was hesitant with AC II; I was not convinced when they announced a Renaissance Italy location. I liked Jerusalem and the Middle East; it fit with the origins of the Assassin Order, so suddenly switching to foppish clothes and secondary characters like Leonardo Da Vinci made me feel like the series had already lost its way. I stayed onboard, however, because I wanted to see how the third game would turn out with Desmond. Ultimately I was blown away, almost from the first moment when I was ‘born’ as Ezio Auditore Da Firenze. AC II fixed all of the niggling problems of the original release, it seemed, and Ezio was immensely more personable than wooden Altair was. If the first game was bait then the second was the hook; from the perfect villain in Rodrigo Borgia to the evolving character of Ezio, II just had everything a great story needed, including more personality for Desmond. Suddenly I didn’t dislike him the way I had before. Now I was amped for the final game in the series.
Ubisoft threw me a curveball with Brotherhood. I didn’t expect a departure from the numbered games like this but ‘AssBro’ ended up being my favorite in the series! The evolution of Ezio into a master assassin was exhilarating and I even delved into the competitive multi-player, reveling in its innovative design. By the time I finished the added DLC Battle of Forli and the excellent Bonfire of the Vanities I felt like Ezio’s story was over and it had the perfect ending. Even Desmond’s tale had ramped up with an unexpected twist. How was he going to get out of this? I was thrilled and giddy with expectation for the series’ final entry.
The announcement of Revelations was probably the moment I finally accepted that Ubisoft was going to milk this series for all it was worth. I admit I was disappointed; Ezio’s story ended on such a perfect note at the end of Bonfire that I did not want to play as him again. I heavily debated not buying ‘AssRev’ at all, but ultimately I felt like I had to see his story through. I had been born as Ezio, I had lived as Ezio, it was only fitting that I die as Ezio… which I fully expected to do by the game’s end. I liked the bomb crafting aspect of the new game but the hook blade, I felt, was cheesy. I disliked the setting in Constantinople as well, even though I had been eager to return to the Middle East. I soldiered through Revelations as I prepared for Assassin’s Creed III, which I was already apprehensive about. “When were we going to get to the modern day setting where Desmond was the assassin?” My guess was that it would still have to happen in ‘AssThreed’ but that it would end up being just the modern day portion of it instead of getting its own entire game.
The reality that Assassin’s Creed might now never end was settling in, and I was doing my utmost to accept that. I hated the first part of III; confusion reigned as I was forced into the role of Haytham, easily the most uninteresting assassin since Altair. He was immediately unlikable and I despised him, so finding out his true allegiance was not the shocking surprise Ubisoft meant it to be. By this point, after 4 games, I was fully onboard with the Assassins and their struggle against the Templars. To the point that I had zero interest in even empathizing with them so being forced into Haytham felt like an unwelcome violation. I resented Ubisoft for that and I nearly quit playing the game. But once I got through his part and I was able to immerse into Mohawk culture as Ratonhnhakė:ton all was forgiven. Connor (because, really, his Mohawk name is ridiculous-hard) was a joy to play in his original setting but once he began training to be an assassin under (insert kindly, stereotypical mentor here) Connor began to chaff. He became more and more unsympathetic as time went on. By the end of III’s disjointed, confusing story I was just glad it was over but the huge slap in the face came when Desmond’s tale unceremoniously ended. Now we would never get the game that closed the series; in fact Ubisoft went so far as to announce that doing a modern day version is unlikely and that fans should look to Watch Dogs as a substitute for the AC III we should have had. By the end of III most players agreed that the only thing ‘AssThreed’ really had going for it was naval combat.
By now the series had hit an all time low. Sharks were jumped, anti-fans gnashed their opinions loudly, things were looking grim… so grim that AC III’s DLC about evil George Washington had veered so far from the mark that I didn’t even finish it. Even Liberation fell short; trying as it did to utilize all of the Vita’s features, and that was despite the fact that Aveline was the best Assassin since Ezio. It was clear now that Ubisoft had no intention of doing much of anything except make money on a yearly franchise. To bring the series back from this brink they would need to do something revolutionary, something incredible, something piratical. Black Flag hit like a 32 gun broadside… and it sold me a PS4 in the process. If nothing else ‘AssFlag’ proved the series could move beyond Desmond with ease… well, sort of. Universally everyone hated the modern day part… in fact most everyone hated the whole tie-in with the Assassins… ok, let’s face it: we got to be gorramn pirates! We sailed with Blackbeard and Calico Jack, we sang sea shanties at the top of our lungs while getting Edward Kenway so blistering drunk that he habitually woke up in a pile of palm fronds! Black Flag was the best game that never needed to be an Assassin’s Creed game. In fact it shouldn’t have been an Assassin’s Creed game; it should have been its own game, because it really was its own game. But Black Flag did just what Ubisoft needed it to do; it saved Assassin’s Creed. It pulled the series from a briny death and it was so successful at doing it that I hardly noticed my crushing disappointment with its DLC/spinoff Freedom Cry. Such was my passion for Black Flag that I was willing to forgive the one-note theme of Freedom Cry and its mute sailors who roved seas of boredom. In fact, by the end, I was ready to sign on with the Assassins and their creed once more. The announcement of Unity hyped me for something I never thought interesting before: the French Revolution.
A true next gen Assassin’s Creed. And many ‘Squees’ were heard ‘round the world. This game had the mechanics; this game would be the most like AC II in terms of revolutionizing the series. It was going to right all the wrongs that had become blatantly obvious in the formula. But wait, what’s this, a templar love affair? No matter, that’s interesting. Let’s do it. Unity will keep us all hooked until Ubisoft gets off their ass and creates the NEXT pirate game that we all want to play. But then…
Rogue? What? For the PS3 and 360? Not for the PS4? Huh? Templar!?! Suddenly: confusion. Over the course of six games (AC, II, AssBro, AssRev, III, AssLib, AssFlag) we’ve been indoctrinated into the Assassin Order. Sure they gave us a glimpse into the evil empire with the multiplayer in Brotherhood and certainly they let us play as despicable Haytham in III. We even played an (eventual) Assassin mole in Black Flag but to suddenly change the protagonist to a Templar. The very people who have been keeping us down for six games… the Man, for godsakes, the Templars represent the Man! The callous regime that pulls the strings of every corrupt government around the world and Ubisoft now wants us to play a traitor? Sure this is interesting, intriguing even, and without a doubt LOTS of gamers are dying to jump into a Templar’s shoes, but for me… for an immersionist like me to suddenly switch sides to a team that I really don’t like, that I truly disagree with in philosophy and practice… all I’ve got to say is there’d BETTER be some gorram sea shanties, Ubisoft. Do you hear me? Sailing around arctic seas in banal silence is NOT acceptable, Freedom Cry proved that! For the record I don’t like the idea of playing as a Templar, but I am willing to try.
Willing to try, that is, once the Remastered HD GOTY version hits the PS4…