After a little time away playing other stuff, I went back to The Most Impressive Game this week to do some of the DLC. I’d previously put maybe an hour or two into The Hidden Ones, but now I’ve finished it off.
It’s more of the same, really. That’s not a complaint, just a fact. And it’s all I wanted, actually. It feels a bit rougher, with less impressive terrain and a lot more places where they seem to have forgotten about the rock formation geometry (translation: some of the cliffs have holes in them), but it was just as fun as the rest of the game.
My understanding of this game was that it wasn’t anything like previous Assassin’s Creed games. It was written from scratch, didn’t reuse any engine or assets, and had completely new gameplay. The title also suggests it’s the start of the Assassins. It turns out nothing is true, everything is permitted.
Maybe Ubisoft did scrap everything from the series and built it all up again, but it doesn’t show. In fact, aside from the new control scheme (attacks are on the shoulder buttons now), and the biggest map so far, this is just more of the same. But that’s actually fine.
Yes, so there’s a literal eagle vision now (with an actual eagle), and yes, it tells the story of the start of the Brotherhood, but it’s still parkour and stabbin’ just like before. This time it’s set in the achingly beautiful setting of Egypt, which is far more varied than the sand and pyramids you’d expect, but the core missions are still scoping out the enemy, picking them off, and assassinating a series of important historical figures. And it’s so much fun.
Your guy this time is Bayek, a medjay (a sort of trouble fixer) from the region of Siwa, who, along with his wife Aya, is out to get revenge for the death of his son. Bayek, despite the “by ‘eck” link that can’t be unheard, is a great protagonist. He’s well voiced, has real empathy and morals, and is hard as nails. He’s probably one of the best the series has ever had, actually. At points in the game you also get to play as Aya, who is also great but her sections are generally boating (straight out of Black Flag, and so the worst thing about the game) or combat-lite. She also doesn’t have an eagle, which makes the final mission a bit tricky.
I’ve since found out that the next game, Odyssey, is actually set hundreds of years before Origins, not immediately afterwards as the story of Origins might suggest. This does make a bit of a mockery of the name of this game, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter. I hope they do bring Bayek back for another game though, perhaps round Greece?
I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand, it’s a perfectly good sneaky-stabby 2.5D platformer. On the other hand, it’s a terribly disappointing Assassin’s Creed game with a feeble story that weakly continues on from Ezio’s trilogy.
Initially, it feels a lot like the original 2D Prince of Persia game with obvious technical improvements. The more I played it, however, I realised it was really much closer to the Shinobi game on the Nintendo 3DS, only with a bit more emphasis on staying hidden rather than killing everything.
There’s nothing actually wrong with the game, aside from a couple of “endless runner” sections with their trial and error flaws, but it’s not good enough to make me want to play through the other two games in the series (India and Russia). I’m impressed that not being fully 3D worked a lot better than I was expecting, however.
The final boss was rubbish though. After a couple of proper boss fights with Prince of Persia style swordplay – parrying and stuff – you literally just walk up behind him and press a button. Oh, spoilers, sorry.
I haven’t 100%ed it, but I have most of the achievements, all the collectables except a few secrets and helices, and just shy of 50 hours spent it’s time to move on.
There’s got to be something this game is doing right for me to spend that long on it. It’s the best Assassin’s Creed in a very long time, but I think being set in London elevates it a little too. It certainly isn’t perfect, but I don’t think it needs to be.
I could push for 100%, but I think it’s time to move on now.
True to my word, I’m still playing. I’ve probably put six hours or more into it now, after finishing it. Or at least, getting to the point where I assume I’ve finished it.
What I’ve done, is mainly find collectables. I did also go and talk with Henry, who thanked me for my work and said he had something for me. He didn’t. Similarly, I spoke to Clara, who said the same thing. Yet gave me nothing. In addition, I keep getting popup messages telling me to speak to the woman on the train for more train missions, only she isn’t on the train.
Besides that nonsense, I’ve also been solving the murders for the Penny Dreadful side-missions. They’re quite fun, each seemingly based around a known Victorian murder story (like Sweeney Todd) only with a twist (i.e. it wasn’t the barber). They play out a bit like investigations in Batman crossed with something from Phoenix Wright. I think I’ve exhausted them all now though, as I can’t see any more on the map.
Onward with the collecting, then. And the Darwin and Dickens memories too, I think!
Before I started playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, I was reminded of how many people saw it as superior to Assassin’s Creed Unity. It seems that although in the most part Unity was a return to how the series used to be, it was overly “Ubied” up, with map icons galore and bugs a-plenty. The latter of which is par for the course in Assassin’s Creed, of course, but by the time I got round to playing it most had been patched out. I still had plenty of issues, but it was a better game than the version early adopters had despaired with.
That was Unity, however. At first, I found Syndicate a little hard to enjoy. More grimy, more violent than Unity, and with too much of a focus on trains perhaps. I instantly hated Jacob, one of Syndicate’s twin protagonists, for being too cocksure and brash. Evie, however, was pretty awesome, so I used her wherever possible in his stead.
Initially, the mission structure confused me. I didn’t understand how to do the next “story” memory, as they all seemed jumbled up with side quests and targets and other stuff. Eventually, at some point in Sequence 4 or 5, I realised you have to do the “Evie head”, “Jacob head” or “Skull” icons on the map. Until then, I’d stumbled randomly through the game and it didn’t help me like it.
Soon enough, though, it clicked. I really got into it. I started liking Jacob more (he’s brilliantly sarcastic). The conquest events, which seemed tedious and dull when a few hours in became one of my favourite bits of the game. The story was simpler, less convoluted, than Unity (and most of the recent Assassin’s Creed games, actually) and I think was better for it. Evie and Jacob take over London and find a piece of Eden. Done. No treachery, no double/triple/quadruple agents (aside from one character, but you can see that from a mile away), no unexpected twists. Just good, old-fashioned Assassins vs Templars.
And I completed it. At least, I think I did. You see, I finished what was clearly the final mission: kill the main bad guy. That’s not a spoiler – it’s literally the aim of the game. After that, no credits. No end sequence. Nothing. Except for an email, as in, a real email in my real-life inbox, from Ubisoft congratulating me for completing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. Now, I’m no fan of Ubi’s end of game credits, which are often longer than the game itself as they list every human being that has ever lived, and their pets. It just seemed odd not to have them. Or anything.
I did, however, have a message with some suggestions. I should do some missions for Queen Victoria, and take over the rest of London. So I did those too. Nothing.
There are non-story missions still littering the map. Associate activities, flowers to collect, and so on. Surely I don’t need these to “finish” the game? My usual metric is to declare a game completed when I hit the credits. That hasn’t happened and I’m not sure it will. In any case, I’m taking it as done.
By the end, and I mean the end I got to rather than the end which may or may not exist, I realised that I was enjoying Syndicate way more than I’d expected to. I know I declared Unity a return to form when I played that last year, but this is another step closer. A definite refinement. I may even do what I’ve not done since Brotherhood: Try to get all the collectables, because I’m enjoying it that much. Once more, it isn’t perfect. But if Ubi can take this and polish it a bit more, then I have high hopes for Origins. It has taken a long time to recover from the massive misstep that was Assassin’s Creed III. They’re there now – just don’t ruin it!
If you want to see my complete, but lengthy, playthrough, then watch this video playlist:
I’ve not done a roundup post for a while, but I have been playing quite a lot of stuff. Regardez:
Battlefield 4 (PS4)
I’m not a fan of shootmans, but I am a fan of bargains, so Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline together for around a fiver was a steal. Then I did an odd thing: I actually played Battlefield 4. Not only that, but I think I’m quite near the end. It’s been quite good actually, although at this point I’m finding it a little bit repetitive – enter area, snipe everyone, move on. Naturally I could mix up my play style and use some different guns but when I tried that it didn’t go well. Tanks and boats and stuff did add some variety at least. Online? No.
HYRULE WARRIORS LEGENDS (3DS)
Which is still amazing. There’s more DLC this week, but in the meantime I’m nowhere near finished. I have beaten the boss on the first Adventure Map (unlocking a second) and unlocked most of the characters. It’s just so much fun – I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.
Unravel Demo (PS4)
I’ve actually bought the full game as a result of being impressed with the demo. That and 1) it was on offer, and 2) my daughter was quite adamant I had to. She’s played the full game but I’ve only done the demo. It feels a lot like Limbo so far, albeit brighter and cuter.
Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U)
Ever since seeing this when it was announced I’ve been interested. I wasn’t entirely sure why, as I had no idea how the game mechanics would even work – some sort of cross between Akiba’s Trip, Idolmaster and Fire Emblem? Maybe? Who knows. It didn’t matter. Turns out, having bought it on release, it’s Persona. And it’s very most excellent, even if I’m only a few hours in so far. I really should get back into Persona 4 Golden, actually. Stupid Vita.
Table Top Racing World Tour (PS4)
This was a free rental on PS+, and it’s not very good. Somehow, though, I’ve been playing it off and on and I’m just over halfway through the game. It makes me pine for Micro Machines and how much better that is than this, which is slow and has boring (and very few) tracks.
Assassin’s Creed Unity (PS4)
I’m still playing it! I completed it not so long ago, but I’m still having fun doing side quests and mopping up all the collectables. Been a few Assassin’s Creed games since I last did that, so it’s obviously pushing the right buttons.
Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (3DS)
So many boobladies. In eyepopping 3D! But as well as that, Shantae is a fantastic platformer with metroidvania elements. I’d enjoyed the original GBC game on the 3DS Virtual Console so when it was available as part of that frankly ludicrous Nintendo Humble Bundle I was very pleased indeed. I’m quite a way through it too, having been unable to put it down for a whole weekend, and I’ve just one main area left to clear, I think.
Everything is permitted. Except parking here between 8am and 6pm.
You may think that because of the way I’ve haphazardly been playing this off and on over the last couple of months (or more) that I’ve not been enjoying it, but that’s actually not true. I have enjoyed it quite a lot, it’s just other games have been sidetracking me.
Over the last week I’ve made a conscious effort to “get it done”, in a straightforward way: just the story. I was finding it all too easy to be distracted by side missions and collectables and that in turn was having an effect on how I was following the story (and I do so like to follow stories), which coupled with intermittent play wasn’t conducive to getting through the game. The upshot is, that I barrelled through the last three or four sequences and finished the game.
In many ways, Assassin’s Creed Unity is a return to Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, with almost all the action taking place in Paris, not unlike how Brotherhood was in Rome. There’s no III/IV/Rogue boating nonsense here – it’s proper back-to-basics assassining which is familiar and fun. A downside is the number of weapons at your disposal are a little reduced, but it doesn’t really suffer for it.
Concentrating on the story allowed me to ignore many of the many hundreds of icons on the map, which clutter the place and make the missions seem unwieldy. Just vantage point, targets and sometimes shops were generally enough, and now I’ve completed the game and acquired a fantastic new sword, I can merrily run around Paris with gay abandon mopping up all the chests, crests, cockades, side missions and other attractions.
So is it any good? A lot of people would tell you no, Unity is not. The story is not especially strong, and the plot muddies the water between assassins and Templars to the point where it doesn’t really matter which side you’re on – both have a stake in the French Revolution (but seemingly for the same reason), and there’s an uneasy truce between the two age-old adversaries for much of the game. In fact, the final boss (spoiler?) would appear to be a Templar working the Order for his own gain, dispatching more of his own “team” than those who would traditionally oppose him. It’s odd, but after previous games it’s something different, I suppose.
Gameplay is the same as before, albeit with the ability to create distraction or assistance opportunities when mounting an attack. Rescue some prisoners and they’ll occupy the guards, for example. There are more “predetermined” methods of offing your mark too, but that flies a bit against the free-form “do it however you want” way of earlier games. You can still do that, but you’re suggested ways of achieving your goal. Perhaps that’s for the casual players or something – I rarely stuck to them.
Graphically it’s a massive leap from Rogue, as you’d expect being on newer hardware, but aside from far more people roaming the streets and a longer draw distance when synchronising viewpoints, it’s not really that important.
I’m not sure where in the hierarchy of Assassin’s Creed games I’d put Unity, but it’s certainly better than III and the first game, of course, and it’s probably the best non-boating one since Brotherhood. In the middle, maybe? It’s certainly pretty good, and I expect many of the complaints at release (bugs and performance issues) simply aren’t there any more. I’ve certainly not seen many – fewer than most titles in the series at least. Assassin’s Creed Unity is definitely recommended, especially if you loved the earlier games.
Here’s my almost complete, spoiler filled playthrough. If you’re interested.
In the sewer time, when the weather is fine, I can climb right up and stab his eye. Or neck.
A mission for the Theatre (I am still not sure why I’m involved with the theatre, actually – I know it sits on top of the hive of villainy that is The Assassin Brotherhood headquarters, but surely bringing more people in isn’t what you’d want?) involved finding someone called Rose, and then finding three sets of costumes dotted around Paris. Why. It wasn’t a bad mission, but like a lot of the game so far, why am I doing it. Not me, I mean, but Arno.
His dad was killed by a Templar, sure. That would mean he has a thing against them, and I can understand why he want to join the Assassins with that history. However, the man who brought him up and the person whose murder Arno is blamed for, was also a Templar – and Arno seems to want to find out why he was killed and exact his revenge there. I’m not really sure the story is making sense nor is it going anywhere. Still, hunty-stabby is always good, so meh to the plot.
To that end, I was set to take down the King of Beggars, who was hiding in the sewer. There’s a bit beforehand where you need to find one of his underlings, and then you can also block up some sewer chimneys (there are sewer chimneys?) to aid with the mission underground. The King of Beggars himself was in a large circular room protected by some guards, and it was pretty tricky to reach him – if he spots you, you’re killed very quickly as he has a powerful gun of some kind. Managed it after a few attempts, and then escaped through the thick smoke which I’d caused earlier but magically only affected the bad guys and not me.
Had a chat then with the Marquis de Sade, who is an interesting fellow. He seems to live like a prince in the slums of the city, having orgies. Those wacky French. He’s sort of helping me, but doesn’t seem to be an assassin, so I’m not really sure why.
After what seemed like a very long period of time just scrambling over rooftops looking for chests and collectables, I finally decided to pursue the main questline again. Well, after a mission or two for the theatre, anyway.
The next mission was the one where you have to infiltrate Notre Dame and assassinate Sivert. Of course, I messed it up a few times mainly by being spotted or not planning my escape. Eventually, I got my act together and did it properly, or at least an approximation of properly, by taking down Sivert’s associate first, nabbing his keys, and then waiting in the confessional ready to do this:
After that, there was some bizarreness involving portals and timeshifting and jumping between servers or something. Frankly, it didn’t make a lot of sense, and required me to avoid trains, climb the Statue of Liberty, not be hit by flying debris and outrun and avoid data corruption. Or something.
Finally, I returned to wandering around doing good deeds, collecting those rosette things, and generally running into people and knocking them over. As you do.
It’s more Assassin’s Creed! Yay! My favourite series of neck-stabbing games. I’d heard a lot of bad things about this entry, and so waited until it was cheap enough to risk. £10 in this case, and so far, it’s been just fine. The story isn’t that good however, and Arno seems to have fake conviction to carry out his tasks. He doesn’t seem too bothered about the death of his father so the only reason he joins the Brotherhood is because he has nowhere else to go. And his girlfriend is a Templar! Good grief.
At least Paris is excellent to run around and explore and climb and stuff. That’s the best bit of Assassin’s Creed games anyway. Stopping crimes in the street, finding hidden stuff, and opening chests – all this is good stuff. The fighting is improved over previous games, and it looks astounding, especially when you synchronise from a vantage point. The climbing requires less precision too, making getting around a bit more fluid, and being able to quickly climb down stuff as well as up stuff is a massive improvement.
As far as progress goes, I’m a few hours in and have “grown up”, joined the Brotherhood, and started renovating a theatre. Arno is a bit angry we weren’t allowed to kill the guy who killed his girlfriend’s dad (who was Grand Master of the Templar Order in Paris, so killing his killer seems an odd move for an Assassin), but he’s been given another chance to do so now, which I’m about to begin. Once I’ve done this theatre stuff. And climbed around some more.
Oh 360. It’s been a while. Certainly since I completed anything on you, anyway. How unloved you are these days. But, since Ubisoft failed to release Rogue on the Wii U, I was left with little choice.
And it’s a shame, because much as I hate the recent boating bits in recent Assassin’s Creed games, they’re made much more bearable (especially in the ludicrous “boat stealth” sections) by being able to use the Wii U gamepad’s massive map. In fact, on Black Flag, I would usually steer the boat entirely by looking at the map. It made it much easier and – most importantly – made the boat bits shorter as a result. Anyway.
In the latter half of the game, Shay starts to wonder if his turncoatedness was actually wise, as he started systematically wiping out his former chums (and chumette) in the Brotherhood. As a result, it was pretty obvious how things were going to turn out, but the trip to get there was enjoyable enough.
Although, in terms of the story at least, Rogue was definitely the shortest “main” Assassin’s Creed game. There’s plenty of optional filler, of course, but the end of the plot seemed to come around rather too quickly. I like what Ubi did to tie it in with Unity though, bumping off Arno’s dad (after briefly meeting Arno himself, as a child) in the final epilogue mission.
It has faults, like all Assassin’s Creed games, and it has bugs (again, like all Assassin’s Creed games), but Rogue is the best one since at least Revelations. I do really want to play Unity now. Only I’ve nothing to play it on. Hmm.
While my 360 was on, I thought I might as well make a start on this. I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy it, as I knew there was a lot more boating, like there was in Black Flag, and I’m not keen on the idea of being a Templar who used to be an Assassin either – although I do have a theory about that, which I’ll mention in a minute.
I’m only half way through Sequence 2, but I’ve heard Rogue is substantially shorter than Black Flag so I’m not sure how far that actually is storywise. Shay, the man with the worst Irish accent ever, is still an Assassin, and has killed George Washington’s brother and a fat man called Smith, but has started to question whether he should or not as Washington was sick and Smith was harmless. So far, there has been a lot of tedious boating, not much proper assassining, The actual assassining has, however, been great as always, especially Washington’s garden party.
You can see that the game is stitched together from other games. There’s asset reuse in the boats, the Homestead (straight from Assassin’s Creed III), and the Abstergo offices (from Black Flag). The “modern day” plot involves a virus hitting the Abstergo network, causing glitches and corruption in the Animus. It’s this which I think (and hope) may explain Shay’s Templar conversion. From some of the files I’ve found in the offices, it would appear that things are not as they seem. It wouldn’t be the first time either – in Liberation, Citizen E shows what “really” happened in various bits of the game – and I expect something similar to be happening here. We’ll see.
It seemed very hurried towards the end. Years were skipped. Very little story exposition happened. Events just occurred in quick succession, and I realised how linear this Assassin’s Creed game actually was.
I’d started to suspect a twist at the end, and by the end of Sequence 7-ish I’d realised what it was. The ending threw me, until (spoiler), and the Citizen E thing happened.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad game, but it’s probably the worst Assassin’s Creed title in a long while. Even without the boats. It’s just a shame that it was so short, so linear, and so disjointed, as the actual assassining was enjoyable. The PS3 pad didn’t help either, I suppose.