The lights are on
It's a serious question. Did I just start sucking at AC or has this game changed in a really bad way?
TL;DR: 1) You can get hit during combo animations, 2)counters seem unreasonable for most of their swings, 3) den defense is retarded, 4) notoriety is a pain to manage and I only do it to keep from having to do den defense (has no effect on enemy awareness), 5) awareness (for templars and roof guards) is always in instant engagement status, 6) climbing seems haphazard, and 7) the rooftops are not worth occupying for the riflemen. In conclusion, all they had to do was not mess with the basic things that were still there in AC:B but they did and as a result I am frustrated the entire time I play this game. I do not recommend. Rent if you must.
AC:R has some very minor differences in gameplay from AC:B or really any of the other games. These minor changes have made this game incredibly frustrating for me. Some of the new features are about as annoying. Here's my list:
- You can now be hit by another soldier while in one of Ezio's elaborate kill animations that you have no control over whether he continues it or not. If your lucky you might be able to pull off a haphazard counter.
- Counters are much harder to execute. The window of time is very small and in many cases beyond reason. Part of this may be due to the fact that simple militia men are few and the stronger classes are ever present.
- You can now take over small dens throughout the city. Once you take it over it may be contested in which you have to enter into a den defense mini game. The mini game (similar to a tower defense game) is somewhat hard to operate, but the challenge is not ridiculous until the last wave when a siege machine comes. The siege weapons are very hard to kill and must be completely destroyed despite the fact that all the operators are completely exposed. You also have an indirect artillery piece that you'd think would be perfect for doing some decent damage but every time you attempt to hit it it will seem to barely miss (it will never hit it and will never miss for anything else). You can spend your moral (currency to buy more units) to upgrade your barricades, buy hand to hand fighters, and sappers but none of these units have any effect on the machine. It is possible to spend a large portion of your morale on a barricade (which once again is great for infantry) but it will be destroyed in a matter of seconds by the machine. Despite all of this winning is easy: simply start to permeate your slots with riflemen and grenadiers (if they're unlocked yet) and use your artillery well to repel the infantry until the machine comes and hopefully you'll have enough raw firepower to destroy it. This is the only way I've found to win. That said nothing else in this mini-game can be used and the game becomes a boring nuisance. This leads us to what causes you dens to come under attack...
- Reducing notoriety is now very costly and time consuming, and worst of all it actually matters now if you hate den defense as much as I do because if you let the meter fill all the way up then one of your dens will be attacked. There are no longer wanted posters every where you go as in AC:B. They only way to reduce your notoriety now is to bribe heralds or kill Public Officials. Public officials are hard to come by and are annoying to drop what your doing and go after. Heralds not only cost money but are also not as common as one would like and only reduce notoriety by 25%. Notoriety also has little to no effect on how quickly guards notice you as far as I can tell. It's really like all the templars are on high alert all the time now. Notoriety is now simply a chore you have to do to keep from doing another chore (den defense). The good news is that once you assign an assassin to a den and then manage to max him/her out the den can no longer be contested, but until then for those of you like me who enjoy running around the city with 100% notoriety getting into the biggest fights possible you are likely to have every den you own under attack by the end of one of those stunts.
- Getting around in general is much harder. Not harder in a new challenge kind of way but frustrating, limiting what you can do kind of way. It's hard to put into words but something about the climbing seems less smooth. Ezio will often simply stop climbing as if confused about what you want to do even through the next hold point is just above him. The city also seems to be just harder to climb in general. If you want to flee to the rooftops you better look all the way up the wall first because theres about a 30% chance that you'll get halfway up and realize that there is no next hold point even though the roof is not much higher (No, the hook blade does not make much of a difference).
- In addition to an encumbered ability to make it to the roof, once you get there there I would say that there's about an 80% chance there will be a guard there waiting for you with a gun. Maybe not on your roof but definitely on an adjacent roof. There is virtually no chance that they will not see you unless their back happens to be directly towards you. They also do not tell you to get down first as in prior games; engagement is immediate.They do not miss for any reason. Their range of sight (seemingly in peripheral and distance) feels greater than in prior games and is definitely greater than yours. To shoot enemies that are not right in front of you you must lock onto them. The range limit in which you may lock onto a target is significantly shorter than the range that they can engage you from. Some are in small boxes that makes them unable to be killed with anything but a ranged attack. If you are already in a melee fight getting him to throw a knife at the box rather than your attackers is next to impossible. Unboxed gunmen understandably back away from you as they shoot/load/aim. When you attempt to close the distance with them Ezio will usually automatically go into combat mode in which he will stop running and begin his slow careful combat creep. To break this you can hit L and resume running toward him but often this is not enough to make up for the lost time and you will be shot. Once you get to the rifleman do not expect an easy kill. They are very skilled at blocking your sword/hidden blade with their rifles. You must perform a combo kill (three quick hits in a row). The problem with this is that since they back up as much as they can to put distance between you and himself he is almost certainly standing on the edge at this point. After the first or second hit he will fall off the edge. This seems great, but they take next to no damage from falls unless from an extreme height. Also they can climb faster than you (even while carrying a rifle) so don't expect a long time to escape. My advice is to not even bother with the roof unless you have to.
That said, there are some fresh new concepts in AC:R. I won't list them, they are all listed in the professional review, but honestly it just makes the problems even more inexcusable because the game could've been so great. They changed things that didn't need to be changed and as a result, I find myself frustrated and forcing myself to play. I definitively regret buying this game. As for other fans of the franchise I highly suggest renting first.