Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
 
Is the Assassin's Creed series improving?

Ubisoft sent me advertisements for Assassin's Creed IV several times, reminding me that I never played any game of that series. But I do have Assassin's Creed 1, 2, and 3 in my Steam library, having picked them up in impulse buys very cheap at some sale. Always a bad idea that. So this weekend I decided I should at least check out the first Assassin's Creed. And I wasn't impressed.

It started with a rare experience: A Steam game that wouldn't start. It turned out that Steam automatically launches the DirectX 10 version of the game, and although I have a computer which is newer than the game is and has a DirectX 11 graphics card, the DirectX 10 version just crashed repeatedly during the loading screen. The DirectX 9 version didn't crash, but I had to rename files to persuade Steam to launch the game in that mode. After some more fiddling to change controls from keyboard/mouse to XBox 360 gamepad, I was finally ready to play.

Now one disadvantage of having a degree in science is that the pseudo-science of games can get on my nerves. The memories of my ancestors encoded in my DNA? Yeah, right, that would cause my DNA to change every day and make DNA testing rather useless. So after a few minutes of that nonsense I just wanted to skip those cut scenes playing in modern time. And found out that I couldn't. Bleh!

Once I was allowed to start playing, I enjoyed Assassin's Creed for a few hours. Controls were easy and intuitive enough on the gamepad, the historical story was much better than the modern part, graphics were nice (except for the strange horse gallop animation), the cities seemed alive, and everything was rosy. I was told I had to do two investigation missions in the first city, but could do up to six for added advantages. And I was told I could save citizens for them to help me. So I climbed every tower in the first city, did all the investigations, saved all the citizens, and then did my first of nine assassinations with no problem.

Now maybe it was a mistake to not try the assassination after only two investigations to see what the difference would be. But I received very little feedback from the game regarding the effect of me having done the additional missions and saving the citizens. And all character progress is just linked to the scripted story, so I was left with the feeling that I did the "side quests" for nothing.

No matter. I continued playing and arrived at the second city. And half way through that I realized that apart from a few minor differences (more soldiers on roofs than in the first city), the second city played exactly like the first one. So I checked some reviews of Assassin's Creed and learned that ALL cities play the same. Now the gameplay of Assassin's Creed isn't especially challenging. Many of the view point towers are the same, and very few of them require any thought to climb them. Usually pressing the up button is enough, with a few sideway movements at obvious points. You need to be really pushing the wrong buttons to fall off. Combat is only slightly harder. And the "stealth" part is a joke compared to games like Deux Ex: Human Revolution (which I played through twice) or Dishonored. So by the end of the second city I was already bored of Assassin's Creed and deleted the game. Pretty enough, but too repetitive for my taste.

Now I'm wondering if I should try Assassin's Creed 2 and 3. Does the series get any better? Which game of the series would you consider to be the best, and why?

Comments:
/sarc
You need to apply the WoW rule. Assassin's Creed started bad and every sequal gets worse, to which 55 million people can testify.

More seriously, I considered Assassin's Creed 1 one of the first stealth-adventure games.
At it's time it was new and inovative, but without the compelling gameplay gamers from a modern perspective will see it as old and boring.
First attempts at new gameplay styles rarely come out as perfect (You normally get a LOT of the new thing) because the devs themselves don't know how to get the best out of their ideas. It is the subsequent iterations that normally polish up the gameplay and get all the pieces to fall into place.
 
I have not finished Revelations or started 3 or 4, so I can only talk about 2 and Brotherhood. I liked both of them. But then again, I don't treat them as primarily stealth games.

For me, the series is at it's best when your attempt at stealth fails and you re-enact a semi-comedic action/escape sequence from a blockbuster movie. Those situations allow the beautiful and bustling cities generate some emergent gameplay when you try to create an escape route on the fly. Sure, you could just keep spamming counterattacks and kill entire squads of enemies while barely budging from your spot, but that wouldn't be fun.

The historical backdrops help too. If the crusades setting in 1 isn't to your liking, 2, Brotherhood and Revelations give you Renaissance-era Italy and Constantinopole, while 3 gives you the US Independence War, and 4 has pirates (of the Caribbean). In 2 and Brotherhood, I spent a lot of time admiring the architecture and reading the backstories. It's basically history fan fiction.
 
Yes mate, I didn't enjoy the first one either. I got bored with it pretty quickly. In the end I watched a story summary on YouTube and jumped into AC2. And I really enjoyed it.

So yes, based on my experience and considering it is already in your library, try AC2.

And regardless, the only way you'll find out is to try it yourself ;)
 
I've played all the Assassin's Creed games. I'm a big fan of the series. These days whenever I tell someone to try the series out I always send them to Assassin's Creed 2. AC1 doesn't really hold up any more, it was good when it came out... but I don't think I could ever replay it.

I would recommend looking up a plot summary of AC1 and jumping over to AC2, it's a much better game.
 
More seriously, I considered Assassin's Creed 1 one of the first stealth-adventure games.

I have two problems with that statement: One is that games like Thief, Metal Gear Solid, or Deus Ex are nearly a decade older than the first Assassin's Creed.

And second I had problems identifying Assassin's Creed as a "stealth" game at all. For me the essence of a stealth game is having to watch guards, learn their paths, and know which way they are looking, to then keep completely out of their sight. In Assassin's Creed I just press the "blend" button, and walk right past most guards. You need to do something "high profile" in front of a guard to break stealth. And then you just dive into a stack of hay or sit on a bench and suddenly you are invisible again.

For me, the series is at it's best when your attempt at stealth fails and you re-enact a semi-comedic action/escape sequence from a blockbuster movie.

That is probably where I failed to get the best out of the game. For example I never used the vigilantes to help me escape, which is presumably why saving citizens had no effect on my gameplay.

The historical backdrops help too. If the crusades setting in 1 isn't to your liking ...

I liked the crusades part, I didn't like the modern part. But then in the modern part you are very limited in your interaction with the environment, so it is basically just cut scenes.
 
From my experience, AC2 is the best so far, but word is ACIV is superior to the rest, so YMMV. AC1 was simultaneously great and an ordeal to suffer through all at once. I'll make a quick note that the whol DNA memory thing makes more sense once you get to the final events of the game; there's more than your conventional science going on here (it bugged me too until the big reveal).
 
I have played all the games and will probably play any future releases.

The modern day stuff in AC2 is both a larger part of the game and far, far more obnoxious. The series as a whole runs on a kind of dual progression where you have the historical setting (Crusades, ren Italy, Istanbul, AWI, Pirates) and then you have the metaplot about modern day people fighting against a templar conspiracy and ancient aliens and stuff. The metaplot is really, really bad and my experience of the games is that I enjoy them in spite of it rather than because of it - you sit through the sections where you're working for Ubisoft or investigating the evil precursor alien ruins for the reward of getting to play the historical gameplay.

The big leap up from AC2 onwards is that the historical stuff seems to take a bigger part of it. It has been many years since I've played the first game but my vague memory is that you're playing a character in a setting but you don't really get invested in the setting? Whereas, in later games the focus is pulled back from you just being an assassin and you're more involved in the history of the place - you get involved in trying to stop the rise of the corrupt Borgia family, you attend Venetian carnivals, you chase people over the roof of the Grand Bazaar, you break into the Vatican, you disrupt a cult of Romulus living underneath the ruins of the Colosseum, you take part in the Boston Tea Party, etc etc etc. The series, especially recently, as a focus on spectacle and taking part in historical events that was lacking from the first game.

Also, it should be mentioned that the latest game is a really, really good pirate simulator. Just about anything I could have wanted from a buccaneering game is present (capturing merchant vessels to make money, upgrading my ship in minute detail, whaling, desert islands, mutinies, Royal Navy blockades, etc).

My conclusion would be that the gameplay is alright at best, the metaplot is actively disruptive and neither of those really matter because the core [premise? theme?] of the games has always been good enough to justify it. Exploring a given region at a given time and learning about the various factions and individuals involved is compelling enough to drive the series. I should also mention that 2 and 4 have enjoyable protagonists, although three fails flat.
 
I gave up on AC as a series somewhere in the Ezio saga. It was fun at times, but it got tedious. So I skipped Brotherhood and Revelations then while I wanted to try 3, I never got around to it.

On a whim I picked up 4 and man what a fun game. It still has the trappings of the previous games, but the inclusion of the shipboard elements just makes for a whole package game that is great.

I feel that they have somewhat redeemed the series with this latest chapter, no longer do I feel like I need to avoid the games if then next ones are like Black Flag.
 
Just my opinion, but I do think they show improvement, even as emphasis shifts away from stealth. Stealth is always available and a nice feature, but those free run rooftop escapes are fun times.

Didn't care much for the first one.

AC2+Brotherhood+Revelations were much better, and I still would put the original AC2 as having the best music, which matters a lot to me.

Mixed feelings about AC3. One positive is that parts of it are just so damn pretty. Youtube the opening opera mission, it left me just in awe. The trouble with it is that I found the setting somewhat painful. The architecture of revolutionary America just isn't as interesting as the grand structures in Renaissance Florence/Rome. I got bored with AC3 and didn't finish.

AC4 is amazing, it's a really fun game. It's bright and beautiful and exciting. But it feels less true to the whole idea of assassin's creed. Chasing down a ship, boarding, and capturing it are really fun times, but quite a far distance from sneaking up to a guy, stabbing him, disappearing into the crowd. The stealth stuff is still there, there are tons of missions where you move from hiding spot to hiding spot slowly picking off all the sentries and guards. But there are also a lot more brazen conflicts.

If you're starting the series, I'd say either start with AC2 or Brotherhood if you care about in-game music (so pretty) and amazing architecture, or jump to AC4 if you're more looking for very finely tuned game mechanics and overall experience.
 
AC1 is how old? Comeone.

From feedback and reviews AC2 and AC4 seems to be the best ones.


 
Are you saying games older than 5 years are fundamentally not worth playing any more? What does that say about the medium computer game compared to let's say books, some of which are still quite enjoyable after a century or more?
 
I just bought it after finding it cheap on a key site.

Had no problems getting it to run and it ran great on my SLI system even before I upgraded to the Beta driver that supposedly has a better profile.

It's the first AC game I've played properly and I am really enjoying it. I actually prefer the on-foot sections to the sailing bits unlike most users, but that could be because I am new to the series so unlike them I am not bored of the regular mechanics.

I don't like stealth games as they mostly boil down to trial and error + memory test game play but so far AC4 hasn't suffered from that.

I plan on getting Liberation HD in January but I won't go back to the older games even though I have them in my library (the keys came with my gfx cards). They just look too dated. Having played what I'd imagine is the same game but with better graphics I don't really want the same or worse (if it has trial and error memory test stealth) experience but looking dated.
 
The second game is significantly better than the first one. In the second game, there are more enemies, more mission variety, more character interactions, better story. Everyone agrees it is a significant improvement.
 
I have to agree with most other opinions. After AC 2 the series drastically improved, with more varied gameplay and more humour. I'd consider Brotherhood (effectively AC 2-2) the peak of the series, but I haven't played 4 yet and 2 proper introduces most of Brotherhood's cast and is also very entertaining, so it might be a good idea to start there.
But to clarify, it's mostly a game about being told a story while moving from A to B (albeit often in a fun way) and occasionally doing mediocre combat.
 
Haha I've heard one of the worst parts of the new AC4 is that, periodically... it makes you play AC. But yeah, repetition is the order of the day when it comes to these games. It mimics all the due diligence done to make the assassinations go off smoothly, but it feels more like a chore. And yes, we all know that DNA memory thing is BS... but c'mon, willing suspension of disbelief and whatnot. Their history, though, is dead on. Every assassination is all based on historical figures.
 
AC1 is unfortunately the weakest game in the series. It's very repetitive and has some very annoying mechanics that I hated. For example you can hardly run at all because guards are too suspicious. And don't try riding too fast either. If I was to give some advice on playing AC1 it would be to go for all the story missions and skip almost everything else. Or just watch a Youtube clip that explains the story and skip directly to AC2.

From AC2 and onwards the mechanics became much better and while still repetitive to some degree it really didn't feel as awful in that regard.

Now for me personally I really love the backstory in the modern world, but it's gameplay isn't that good.

The latest one, Black Flag is really quite good, but then I loved the ship combat part of the game. The rest was pretty much like the other games but quite simplified.

Note that this probably isn't a series that you should play non stop from 1 to 4 and all the other ones in between because it will become very repetitive. I've bought them all shortly after release so I've played them with around a year between each title and that's pretty good spacing between them in my opinion.

Now with the extreme cliffhanger at the end of AC3 I was really looking forward to seeing some more nice backstory (in modern times) in AC4 but it's slightly disappointing in that regard. Not much is really happening but I assume it's building up the story again for future games.
 
From best to worst:

AC4 > AC2:B > AC2 > AC2:R > AC3 > AC1
Liberation probably fits in there somewhere, but I never played it.

AC2 refined the controls of AC1, and manufactured an actual point to completing minigames, and included a little meta-game home ownership/shop ownership thing.

AC2: Brotherhood expanded that and gave you a little troupe of junior assassins to control as well.

AC2: Revelations was more of the same, but with some awkward tower defence minigames and starting to get a little tired.

AC3 played a different - much more complicated - trading-missions kind of game with the home-ownership/wealth metagame, introduced the boat and sailing, and, and hunting and skinning animals. But it was a hell of a mess.

AC4 refined every single feature of AC3 and stripped out the unnecessaries, and focused less on the housing and more on the boat. Because, y'know... PIRATES.

AC4 is easily the best in the series. Because pirates.
 
AC2 and its spinoffs are really good, can't really comment on the rest of them. AC1 had some major flaws that got fixed in the next game.
 
"Are you saying games older than 5 years are fundamentally not worth playing any more? What does that say about the medium computer game compared to let's say books"

Not a good comparison. Books per se didn't change in the last years aside from story, computers and their associated technology did. But you know that Tobold :)
 
Memories in our dna is still not stone cold fact but its closer to fact than BS if you ask me.

These scientists seem to agree: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-25156510

 
Then how do you explain the scenes where his descendant experienced memories of Altair from AFTER his children were born and his wife died? Are the DNAs of Altair and his children mysteriously synchronized even after birth?
 
Then how do you explain the scenes where his descendant experienced memories of Altair from AFTER his children were born and his wife died? Are the DNAs of Altair and his children mysteriously synchronized even after birth?

Well it is a bit sci-fi I'll give you that. BUT unless I missed something there's really no memory of Altair after impregnated the woman. That's even a very relevant scene in the beginning of AC2 which I found a bit cool.

Well that's not really the whole truth either because you get to play an older Altair at a later point (Revelations perhaps? I keep mixing them up a bit.) but they kind of give a story explanation for that and I don't want to spoil it.
 
AC1 is in my view the poorest Version. Yes, it is the first one and the rest gets polished bla bla bla - The Ezio Story is way more fun. Ignore the modern part. That is completely disrupting the fun part.
I have AC3 waiting for me this winter and will buy AC4.
My order of Preference:

AC 2 Revelations
AC 2 Brotherhood
AC 2 (Standard)
AC 1

The AC 2 Brotherhood and Revelations are very, very similar but the main story is fun.
I suggest to struggle through it and play in the order they come, as the Ezio Story is quite nice and the main selling point of the series.
 
Edit to the above: I did NOT play through AC1 as it annoyed me in the middle part. I played through all AC 2 parts (AC2 / Brotherhood / Revelations).
 
I agree wholeheartedly. I played the first Assassin's Creed, and the modern scenes full of their terrible pseudoscience absolutely killed the game for me - to the point where I very quickly stopped playing and haven't gone back to the series since.
 
I read somewhere not so long ago that even the devs that worked on AC1 think of it as more of a tech demo than a full fledged game. So yeah, it is very repetitive and a grueling grind. The series gets much better with each iteration.

I would not consider AC a stealth game though. Stealth is just one of the tools in your arsenal not your bread and butter. They are very limited in AC1,but that's another thing that gets better which iteration.
 
I read somewhere not so long ago that even the devs that worked on AC1 think of it as more of a tech demo than a full fledged game. So yeah, it is very repetitive and a grueling grind. The series gets much better with each iteration.

I would not consider AC a stealth game though. Stealth is just one of the tools in your arsenal not your bread and butter. They are very limited in AC1,but that's another thing that gets better which iteration.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool