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Moving on: why I’m pumped for Assassin’s Creed III

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 07:35 GMT By Brenna Hillier

There’s a good reason why Assassin’s Creed III is the first numbered entry in years; it’s also the first since Assassin’s Creed II to get the story moving. Give Ezio the kiss off and prepare to love Connor.

Assassin’s Creed

A huge cross-media franchise which has spawned multiple novels, tie-in comics, and even short films in addition to games.

As well as the core releases, there have been mobile and portable spin-offs and even a surprisingly weighty Facebook experience, all of which added to the huge canon.

The first game released in 2007 and was considered a very interesting but flawed experiment; the second blew minds and sales records.

Multiplayer introduced with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood won multiple awards for its fresh take on online play.

The next core entry, Assassin’s Creed III, was announced last week for an October release. It will finally close the story introduced in the first games, and will feature a new historical protagonist, engine overhaul and expanded forest gameplay.

The other day I swallowed my pride and went back to Assassin’s Creed: Revelations – mainly because I’d heard there was a new piece of DLC with some juicy story gossip – and to my great relief, the bug that ruined my first attempt had been corrected. With no eye for completion percentages or concerns about synchronisation rates, I dashed through the final few missions and enjoyed a nicely open-ended conclusion to the story of Ezio Auditore, star of three Assassin’s Creed’s games now. On the off chance you haven’t finished I won’t spoil what happens in those final moments, but I’m pleased to think both Ezio and I have some closure.

I think poor old Ezio has spent longer in the saddle than he or Ubisoft expected. Development began on Assassin’s Creed III almost immediately after Assassin’s Creed II shipped, and in the two years since, the team has pumped out two yearly sequels which have added valuable material to the world’s canon and satisfied fans, but without significantly moving the story or gameplay along. Now time is running out, thanks to a narrative emphasis on the year 2012, and the piece d’resistance of the trilogy is finally on the way.

Some people aren’t very excited about this. The choice of historical setting is a little bit risky; while history buffs are aware of the potential of the American Revolution, for many American gamers it’s a list of names and dates memorised in elementary school, which is hardly sexy. Having to chop up British troops, even in historical context, is another turn off for those on the other side of the pond (Middle Eastern fans aired this complaint with the original, too; the French seemed less concerned about their minor vilification in sequels).

And of course, some players got very attached to Ezio over the course of three games, forgetting that he’s not actually the series protagonist. Desmond Miles is the series protagonist. The beauty of the Animus mechanic is that while Desmond’s frame narrative was probably largely sketched out in Assassin’s Creed I pre-production, his ancestral adventures can go anywhere. That’s the fun of the franchise, and why I’m so excited to finally leave Ezio behind.

Ubisoft has stated repeatedly that the story introduced in the first Assassin’s Creed was always intended as a trilogy, and while it hasn’t ruled out the possibility of new games beyond that, we are coming to the end of the plot originally planned out by Patrice Désilets, along with Jade Raymond, later producer Alexandre Amacio, and many other less public Ubisoft staff who are just as passionate about the game as you are – probably more.

The chance to move that story along is another major attraction; Desmond’s story is a big one, and it’s been going for a over five years now. Assassin’s Creed I, released in 2007, begins with his abduction and exploitation by Abstergo. In the course of exploring the life of ancestor Altaïr, we uncover a rivalry dating back hundreds of years, between the group of modern day assassins who raised Desmond and the multi-national corporate entity the Templars have become.

Assassin’s Creed III debut trailer.

You’ll notice that I’ve only glossed over what Altaïr gets up to because although his adventures are what Abstergo is after, and the meat of the gameplay, they are in many ways just filling. They fill the gaps in between the glimpses of a story which unfolds incredibly slowly in the modern day sections. Desmond could be doing anything in the Animus – it doesn’t matter what – as long as he discovers the tinny snippets of information Abstergo is mining him for, which provide the simple, central story: The conflict between the two major factions.

In Assassin’s Creed II, released in 2009, things move along at a more spanking pace. Desmond escapes Abstergo and goes on the run with the assassins; he knows very little about them, having rejected his family heritage, but together we finally learn something of his birthright, and what Altaïr’s legacy has wrought. The assassins discover what Abstergo is after and resolve to stop it, and Subject 16 helps Desmond uncover pieces of the franchise’s overarching puzzle. The game’s ending takes a sci-fi twist which confused many players who’d rushed through through both games, especially if they’d not explored Ubisoft’s prolific cross-media productions, but if the publisher is to be believed, accusations of “Lost Syndrome” are unfounded.

In Brotherhood (2010) and Revelations (2011), cries of annualisation are probably justified; the sequels definitely don’t leap ahead gameplay-wise the way the first jump did, instead piling on feature after random feature, and the story slows right down. The assassins move around in an attempt to evade Abstergo, work to uncover secrets ahead of their Templar rivals, and generally fail to discover anything of great interest to Desmond and his quest. Desmond spends the entirety of Revelations in a coma, and the most exciting reveals have to do with the assassins’ mysterious leader; the fate of Altaïr and Ezio; and finally, the backstory of Subject 16 and Lucy Stillman. This last bit is the juiciest but adds nothing to the resolution of the Abstergo-assassin conflict. Moreover, it’s buried in a DLC pack, behind two hours of those unbearable first person puzzles someone at Ubisoft apparently completely forgot to focus test.

Let go of Ezio and the Renaissance; three outings are more than enough.

There are good arguments for the two less-delightful releases. The Assassin’s Creed II follow ups aren’t necessarily bad, and they kept the brand fresh and relevant; both sold like hotcakes. They gave us something to chew on while Ubisoft threw resources at Assassin’s Creed III, a game which, by all accounts, will shake up the gameplay in significant ways – as well as tying together the story that started it all. You could probably skip straight from Assassin’s Creed II to Assassin’s Creed III and not miss much; those two number-less titles colour in the franchise but don’t add much of significance.

It’s time to change that. Desmond hasn’t had much chance to shine in the series so far, with his gameplay sequences largely adjunct to the parts where you actually get to stab things. But he’s the keystone to the whole Assassin’s Creed story, and he and ancestor Connor are about to go big. So let go of Ezio and the Renaissance; three outings are more than enough. Assassin’s Creed III will be the biggest and very possibly the best in the series to date, and the first in three years to take a bold step forward. I can’t wait to see what happens.

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6 Comments

  1. The_Red

    Reading this makes me feel like I’m in a really tiny minority, since I actually LIKED the first person Desmond scenes. Really. I don’t know why they are so hated. They were fast and easy and also helped explore Desmond’s mind and backstory a bit more.

    Maybe after the disaster that was Brotherhood, the improvements of Revelations affected my judgement but as much as I hated Brotherhood, I came to LOVE Revelations. Also, it had more Altair which is always a good thing in my book. That being said, I’m also can’t wait to see what happens in AC3.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. absolutezero

    About 3/4 of the way through Assassin’s Creed 2 I stopped caring about the story and I stopped enjoying the game.

    Gating the story behind multiple chase sequences that are easy to get lost in the first time you do it, and ending up miles away from where you need to start the mission again just drove me insane.

    That and the complete lack of planable assassinations that made me love the first game. It was all cut-scene into chase into hugely public kill.

    Right now im much more interested in what the new Hitman can do, its had a bad start with everything that they’ve shown and even it seems to be falling victim to the cut-scene, set-piece thing.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Len

    Same here, I gave up after II, got bored.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. DSB

    I really like the basic idea of melee assassination, and I really love the setting this time around, but much like absolutezero, these games just have a tendency to crumble once I start putting any amount of time into them.

    I actually finished ACII, but it was so full of filler. The first one felt like a glorified tech demo, and ACII was obviously more detailed, but there was just so much repetition and it was like they really struggled to introduce any kind of mechanic that would really feel like you were progressing in your abilities as well as the story. The “late game elite” element just didn’t exist.

    It would’ve done well to be at least 10 hours shorter. It was just 10 hours of pointless repetition, 10 hours after it had gotten old. You got a few new weapons, but you were still doing the very same things with them.

    Of course then there’s the whole Dan Brown vibe which is kinda cheap. I’d much rather have a more complex story, that actually owned the era the game spent most of its time in, and much less of the whole “Axis and Allies” sensibility. Firstly it’s pretty childish, but secondly it’s completely underwhelming. You have a really powerful object like that, and the only people who are looking for it are a bunch of rich twats who like to play dress-up?

    It’s so shortsighted.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. yummmy

    It was ok I guess that desmond died but the story will carry on. Juno will try and destroy earth, so the modern team of assassins may have to find an ancestor that knows how to kill her. Also desmond may not be dead but like in AC revelations, trapped in his mind or the memory place? its just a thought. It would be cool if they found a way to carry on with connors story and maybe connor meets juno? please reply with your thoughts.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Sadismek

    @5 My thoughts are: WHY THE HELL YOU DIDN’T PUT A SPOILER WARNING IN THE FIRST PLACE, MAN?

    #6 2 years ago

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    A short teaser for Star Wars: Battlefront has been posted by EA on Twitter. Well, that speeder isn't going anywhere. Can someone give us a lift to @SW_Celebration http://t.co/srEVrAA0zl #SWCA https://t.co/4W4LG8myke — EAStarWars (@EAStarWars) March 25, 2015 The teaser shows vehicles which we could be using in the game, but it mainly shows the snowy landscape […]

  • Pillars of Eternity releases today – get all the review scores here

    Pillars of Eternity, which still stands as the second most-funded video game on Kickstarter, finally releases today. It’s also getting some rather positive reviews scores, which we’ve rounded up for you. The isometric, party-based RPG from Obsidian Entertainment was one of the first video game projects to take to Kickstarter, and hit its $1.1 million […]

  • Take an in-depth look at Evolve’s Behemoth monster and four new hunters

    Evolve’s fourth monster, the Behemoth, as well as the four new hunters are shown off in new gameplay video. Evolve’s latest gameplay trailer gives everyone a good look at each of the four new hunters and the massive Behemoth monster. The hunters can be bought either separately or though the hunting pass, while the monster […]

  • PS4 firmware update 2.50 causing issues with Killzone: Shadow Fall

    The suspend/resume feature in PlayStation 4′s 2.50 firmware update is causing some issues with Killzone: Shadow Fall. Killzone: Shadow Fall developer Guerrilla has said that the game is experiencing some issues in some instance where the suspend/resume feature is used. The timing of when players put the game in suspend mode does have an effect, […]

  • Bungie on Destiny matchmaking: “We believe there’s no substitute for a pre-made team”

    Crazy though this may seem, it’s possible that Destiny shipped according to plan. History points to community as a crucial component, far from the contingency that many now suspect. Paul Davies spoke to Bungie for clarity. “The community always engineers the best solutions for bringing players together. While Matchmaking is a great resource for introducing […]

  • Bloodborne works with suspend/resume, but only offline

    PlayStation 4′s newly-added suspend/resume feature works with Bloodborne as you’d expect, but only while offline. PlayStation 4 received the long-awaited suspend/resume feature today as part of firmware 2.50, and people are starting to test it out with various games. Bloodborne does work with the feature, but only if you play offline. Playing online is arguably […]

  • This is what Crossy Road looks like in first-person

    Crossy Road is fun and addictive. But in first-person, it’s mostly frightening. YouTube user Andy Front Films likes Crossy Road so much he decided to show off what it would look like in first-person. If crossing roads quickly and watching around for cars and trains, all of this as the camera chases you felt intense […]

  • Take a small behind-the-scenes peek at Mass Effect 4

    BioWare cinematic director Ken Thain has given us a very slim look behind the scenes at some motion capture work from the upcoming Mass Effect game. The upcoming Mass Effect game, whether it ends up being called Mass Effect 4 or not, will most definitely incorporate some form of motion capture work. How do we […]

  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection – 8GB day one patch on PS4, 16GB on Xbox One

    Day one patches for Borderlands: The Handsome Collection are pretty hefty. Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection require players to download lots of gigabytes to make the experience as smooth as possible. The PlayStation 4 version has an 8.31GB day one patch. The Xbox One version however has […]

  • Get a PlayStation 4 with Bloodborne and The Last of Us for $435

    If you’ve been waiting for the perfect game to get to buy a PlayStation 4, there’s no better time than the present. Amazon is offering a good PlayStation 4 bundle at the moment. For $434.99, you get a PlayStation 4 console, The Last of Us, and Bloodborne. The Last of Us is of course the […]

  • Upcoming Battlefield Hardline patch to nerf the K10, buff battle rifles

    Battlefield Hardline’s first patch will focus on weapon balance and a few changes have been proposed. Battlefield Hardline lead multiplayer designer Thaddeus Sasser posted a few of the balance changes that the team is considering for the next patch. K10: reduce bullet damage to 33 Saiga and PTR: reduce recoil to bring more in line […]

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and a new Resident Evil game coming this year, according to research firm

    According to digital games analyst SuperData, a new Resident Evil game is due this fall and that this year’s Call of Duty is Black Ops 3. In its latest report on digital console games, research and analytics firm SuperData revealed that a new Resident Evil is coming this fall. “We anticipate this month’s downturn to […]

  • Bloodborne: you can add gestures to your messages

    As players get deeper into Bloodborne, they keep uncovering so many of its little new additions, including this one. Bloodborne, like all of the Souls games before it, allows players to leave messages for other players. These messages could be used to point players towards impending doom, treasure, or just be sarcastic and witty. What […]

  • PlayStation 4 firmware update 2.50 is now live

    PlayStation 4 firmware update version 2.50 has started rolling out. Reports are coming in saying that Yukimura, PlayStation 4′s firmware 2.50 has been made available to download. The update is clocking in at just 245mb, so get downloading. 2.50 brings with it many new additions, including the suspend/resume feature, backup and restore, accessibility options and […]

  • Harley Quinn DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight is a prequel

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s Harley Quinn pre-order DLC is set before the events of the main game, according to Amazon’s description. Today we learned a few details about the pre-order DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight, namely the Harley Quinn one. According to the description on Amazon, the DLC takes place in the lead-up to the events […]

  • Bloodborne Vicar Amelia summon mystery solved

    Bloodborne players unable to summon near Vicar Amelia: here’s your solution. Bloodborne’s secrets are unfolding by the hour as clever players piece together From Software’s cunning design. Yesterday we reported problems summoning in the Cathedral Ward, before the Vicar Amelia boss fight. It turns out this isn’t a bug – or if it is, it’s […]

  • Steven Spielberg will direct film adaption of Ready Player One

    Steven Spielberg will direct the film adaption of the sci-fi, virtual world, video game themed novel Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Warner Bros. bought the rights to the film in June 2010 and hired screenwriter Zak Penn to rewrite the previous draft written by Eric Eason, according to Deadline. The book takes place in […]

  • Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets shouldn’t forget about the custom audio

    Here’s a friendly reminder for Bloodborne players with PS4 headsets: be sure to download the Headset Companion App from the PlayStation store if you haven’t already. As previously reported, the game supports a custom Bloodborne audio mode which can be uploaded. It contains custom audio created by developers specifically tuned to enhance the audio. This […]

  • EA explains why FIFA Ultimate Team transfer prices are now platform specific

    EA has posted a blog entry explaining its FIFA Ultimate Team transfer market price ranges which now include platform-specific pricing in order to best the coin sellers. EA said it has implemented the changes to FUT over the last several weeks because it should be “fair and fun for every player,” ultimately coming to the […]

  • Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness now available

    In case you forgot, Game of Thrones: Episode 3 – The Sword in the Darkness was released today. It is available on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. The third episode releases on iOS devices and Android tomorrow, March 26. The Sword in the Darkness finds Asher Forrester heading to Mereen […]

  • Bloodborne players are already documenting their crazy antics

    Bloodborne has been available for almost two days now in North America, and already players are posting interesting clips and character customization choices for the game. Below are interesting takes on creating a character and videos of a frustrating death and another full of blood coming from a very painful place – monster or not. […]

  • FIFA Ultimate Team celebrates sixth year in existence with giveaways

    FIFA Ultimate Team is celebrating its sixth year in existence with special events running from today until March 29. According to EA, every FUT fan will be handed one free pack every day, and those who play at least one match in the FUT Birthday Cup will have a chance to win rare “tradable In-Forms” […]

  • Halo Online is a F2P PC game in development exclusively for Russia – video

    Halo Online is a free-to-play game which will launch this spring in Russia, and is in development with Saber Interactive. According the reveal event attended by IGN Russia, the game was designed to run well on lower-end PCs and runs on a modified Halo 3 engine. The game is set on a secret UNSC space […]

  • SteamWorld Dig Xbox One release expected in late May

    SteamWorld Dig is coming to Xbox One, developer Image & Form has announced. A firm release date hasn’t been announced, but the studio expects the title to arrive on the system in late May. “We’re preparing quite an elaborate Easter egg for the Xbox One version – a gaming thing that we really wanted to […]

  • SMITE celebrating first anniversary with a sale on skins, Ultimate God Pack

    Hi-Rez Studios is celebrating the first anniversary of SMITE with a sale. From today through Friday, March 27, the Ultimate God Pack, which includes all current and future Gods, will run you $19.99. Alll individual pre-launch skins are 50% off, and all Gem Packs will award bonus gems. In addition, from March 27-29, all SMITE […]

  • Borderlands 2 has sold around 12 million copies, says Gearbox

    Speaking with Microsoft’s Major Nelson in his podcast, Gearbox Software boss Randy Pitchford stated Borderlands 2 has sold somewhere around the 12 million mark. As of August 2014, it was announced by Take-Two in its financial report the 2012 game had sold-in 10 million units. Pitchford noted in the podcast he learned of the figures […]

  • Broken Age releasing on PS4 and Vita same day as Act 2 on PC

    Double Fine Productions has announced it will release Broken Age on the PlayStation Store next month. Act 2 will also be released on PC. The full Broken Age adventure will release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on April 28 in North America and April 29 in Europe. It features cross-buy and cross-save. Broken Age Act […]

  • Star Citizen earned another $1 million within two weeks – total hits $76 million

    Star Citizen continues its funding streak with backers pumping another $1 million into the game’s development in the last two weeks. The total earned for the space sim has now reached $76 million ($76,015,532 to be exact) with 851,395 backers contributing to the staggering figure. Star Citizen’s latest update was version 1.1 which included two […]

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline top Media Create charts

    Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Resident Evil Revelations 2 and Battlefield: Hardline were the big ticket debuts during the March 16-2 period in Japan, with each game claiming the top three slots on the Media Create charts, respectively. Final Fantasy Type-0 HD moved 92,094 on PlayStation 4, while Resident Evil Revelations 2 moved 73,373 units on […]

  • You can now learn English or Spanish on Xbox One with the Rosetta App

    Want to learn English or Spanish? Rosetta Stone has an App for that on Xbox One. According to the language teaching firm, Rosetta Stone’s Discover Languages, the new application teaches English and Spanish by way of immersive simulation. Users will virtually travel to learn vocabulary and grammar “necessary for real-world interactions.” Here’s how it works: […]

  • PayDay 2 and PayDay: The Heist have sold over 9 million units combined

    The PayDay franchise is a lucrative IP for Starbreeze and Overkill, as both games combined have sold over 9 million copies as of November 2014. The company has also sold over 8 million paid DLC packages since PayDay 2 was released in 2013 (via NeoGAF). In its Q2 half year report issued in February, net […]

  • Nintendo wants to “surprise” customers with NX, not expand upon existing hardware

    Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has firm wants to “surprise” players with its new NX system. Speaking in an interview with Nikkei, translated by Kotaku, Iwata wouldn’t go into details on the new system, but stated expanding on a current gaming system would be “dull.” “In the past few years, the idea of what [encompasses] a […]