Rating: 3 of 5 stars. Don’t avoid it, but don’t kill your pets to get it.
I’ll admit that I struggled to get through Assassin’s Creed III. At first, that is. Once the story really picked up and got rolling I was in love and I don’t give a shit what all the critics say, that was one brilliant game.
Because I never buy games new and will happily wait a few months to get them for 25% of the price pre-owned from EB Games I happened to get AC III and Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag at around the same time, making me labour through both.
Then, by the time it even occurred to me that yet another Assassin’s Creed game had come out (Rogue) we were already trying to save up for a PS4 so I knew I couldn’t swing it. But, fortune smiled upon us and a huge tax return meant we could not only afford a PS4 but I could get Assassin’s Creed: Rogue too. Well, taxes, and the fact that we traded nearly every other PS3 game we had.
Setting – Really? Colonial America AGAIN?
I won’t bore you with details that you can get anywhere else. You’re Shay Cormac and an assassin and nearly everything about the game is identical to AC III and Black Flag, with some of the best bits from the two included (and dropped) and some of the worst bits dropped too (thank dog).
I LOVED Shay the hotheaded Irish boy, running about killing people and having his little witty repartee with that bitch of a Frenchman, Chevalier. Liam is brilliant as the older brother/best friend/role model guy and Hope is a sexy love interest. Achilles is a proper assassin now, mentor of the Colonial Assassin’s and your boss. Weird seeing him younger and wearing Connor’s robes (which, of course, he’ll give Connor in about 20-30 years) but cool I suppose.
But then they all turn into cunts.
The Assassin’s are so hell-bent on getting to these precursor sites and fucking with the artifacts there that they’ll happily level Haiti and Lisbon in the process. Shay gets rightfully pissed when he nearly flattens Lisbon and nearly gets killed in the process and Achilles doesn’t give a rat’s ass. So Shay steals the manuscript that helps them figure out where this shit is and makes a run for it. The Assassin Brotherhood try to kill him (naturally, because talking to him would be too reasonable) and end up shooting him in the side and off a cliff.
Shay wakes up, gets healed up by some weirdly helpful folks. Seriously, they’re like serious Christians or something in how much help they offer and how readily they accept the wounded Irishman. He gets swept up in killing more bad guys (mutual to the Templars and Assassins, of course) and then starts running errands for the British Army and assorted Men of Power.
Betrayed by his mentor, who was probably reeling from the sudden deaths of his wife and son (the original Connor, if you’ve ever checked out the graves at the Homestead) and his role model/best friend Liam, Shay’s clearly got some Daddy Issues and is ready to lapdog for whomever is around.
Well first it’s a colonel or some shit from the army and such and then it’s… ta-dah! Haytham Kenway.
Ah Haytham. I loved him, then I hated him, then I loved him, then I hated him again. It fluctuated. But I always, ALWAYS, feared him.
He’s fearsome and awesome and lends that unique cuntiness brutality to the Templars that probably should have made Shay at least say SOMETHING about their methods. He’s still riddled with Daddy Issues though and only says something in the final scene.
Which, [spoiler alert], fucking rocked. Pure Haytham at his best.
A familiar control scheme, landscape, setting and gameplay. It was good to pretty much know what was up and how to do it all from the get-go. Shay’s a pretty good character and it’s a colourful and interesting cast of characters and their interactions that make this good from the outset.
Loved changing outfits easily and that cold water now damages you so you have to swim and be more strategic in how you do things. Loved the fighting dynamics, again, and the weapon upgrades weren’t bad either.
They dropped the underwater thing from Black Flag, which didn’t really break my heart, and kept some of the best boating bits including blasting icebergs and North Atlantic shit.
They dropped the lameass hunting bullshit from AC III/Black Flag too, I think. Maybe I just didn’t play that part at all because I hated it.
The story was good with the betrayal and all and Shay is a compelling character but I didn’t fall in love with him the way I do other assassins. YES, even Connor. Shay was a hot-headed idealist that was trying to save the world. Sure, he stayed that way, but I didn’t like how easily he became the Templar lapdog.
They got rid of horses?!? Fark. They also have fuck all for Side Missions and the story aside from the betrayal and all was only vaguely interesting. A little more revenge thrown in would’ve rocked and a whole bunch more rebelliousness for the Templars too (not just Assassins) instead of “Oh, I guess I’ll have to kill Adewale because Haytham said so… SIGH”. That shit was fucking lame as hell and I’m heaps pissed they killed Ade.
Haytham hates his father?!?
Worse still was the dialoge between Haytham and Ade where Haytham acts as if his father was a total fuck. If Ubisoft had gone ahead and read their own fucking books, like Assassin’s Creed: Forsaken, which is written as a journal of Haytham Kenway, then they’d know Haytham worshipped his father and spent his life seeking revenge for his death.
Re-used gameplay maybe, re-using a game’s location and time period? Meh.
K, I’m happy enough that they kept many well-liked features from AC: III and AC: Black Flag and ditched some of the bleah that folks didn’t like in those games. Ubisoft proved with Ezio that they could learn from shit they got wrong.
But I believe they were totally mailing it in by giving us the American Colonial Times as a setting again. Particularly when that history had been done and dusted. They really should’ve given us either another time period or location and this feels like a complete cop-out.
Badly-handled but good characters.
Anyway, Shay had HEAPS of potential but ended up lukewarm overall. A poorly-done story for the team-switching Mick. The Assassins too-easily try to kill him and he too-easily goes back and DOES kill them. Nobody seems interested, at all, in trying to do anything right, including our hero.
Awesome Surprise of Awesome
[Actual Spoiler Alert]
Shay is the one that kills Arno’s father. Holy. Shit.
Conveniently enough, I had actually picked up AC: Unity (from trading more games, heh) and had just started it, so the entire setting and all that shit worked in nearly perfectly.
I still don’t know what to think about that though. I mean, damn.
Also, Fuck Abstergo
Know how earlier I mentioned how good Ubisoft is at fixing their mistakes. They’ve steadily decreased the whole Immersion-Exploding bullshit of getting your first-person self in and out of the Animus, but it’s still there and it still sucks sweaty bilge balls.
If you’re listening Ubisoft, never subject me to gather fucking iPads or rebooting servers or Desmond or any of the horrible and fucking lame shit that you’ve put in over the years. We no longer need to be set up for how we’re being a pirate or ninja or whatever, we just want to play the fucking game. Drop that animus crap, like now.