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Assassin’s Creed & Final Fantasy kick off our AAA franchise celebrations

Friday, 4 April 2014 08:26 GMT By Brenna Hillier

The Big Ones: Assassin’s Creed and Final Fantasy are the first two franchises to come under scrutiny in this series on the multi-title properties VG247 has grown to love over the years.

assassins_creed

Indie games are great, and we love innovation, but there’s something to be said for the big, triple-A franchise thing – and it’s usually said in chart-topping sales figures.

We all have a franchise or two that we hold near and dear. Maybe it’s just one very special series of games, or maybe like me you have a good half a dozen at least. In this series of features, we’re going to count off some of our favourite big names, starting with two that are very close to my own feeble but passionate heart.

Assassin’s Creed

Of today’s two franchises I’m starting with Assassin’s Creed because it comes first alphabetically, if not chronologically. My love for Assassin’s Creed is well-documented (I’m on my second Abstergo hoodie; I have an eagle-peak dressing gown; I lost my assassin’s symbol tablet gloves and literally cried) but I never actually get tired of talking about Ubisoft’s bizarre science-fiction slash historical fiction slash naval battle simulator slash stealth sandbox slash tech demo, so here we go.

“It’s easy to forget how revolutionary Assassin’s Creed was, with its groundbreaking crowd technologies and gloriously free movement.”

I’d love to tell you that I bought a first-printing copy of the original Assassin’s Creed because I knew, with powerful games journo instincts, that I would love it and it was going to be huge. Actually, I’d been sick in bed for a couple of years, during which time I missed a lot of games, and I decided to pick it up better to prepare for possibly reviewing the sequel now that I was well enough to go back to work. Also, my brother recommended it to me. “It’s got a lot of stabbing,” he said. He really knows me well.

The first Assassin’s Creed is often written off as a tech demo for the rest of the franchise but I love it. It’s far more tense than later sequels with its hyper-vigilant guards and limited stealth options. I understand it’s not fun for everyone, but I love the challenge of having to be anonymous. I love that you can’t just faff about and expect bystanders and guards to ignore you. Later games might have made the guards better and more tenacious hunters, but it also made them far more less likely to notice you in the first place, eventually watering down the already weakened notoriety system to that it may as well not exist at all.

The very first trailer for Assassin’s Creed, shown at E3 2006.

It’s easy to forget just how revolutionary Assassin’s Creed was, with its groundbreaking crowd technologies and gloriously free movement. I even enjoyed the puppet control system, where each button represented a different part of Altair’s body, and actions varied depending on your “profile”, which many have described as unnecessarily clunky. The modern-day sections were a revelation to me; I’ve always been the sort to go off poking into corners when a game tells me to run in a straight line, and to be rewarded for faffing about instead of getting back in the Animus made me feel like the developers and I were playing together, rather than them herding me to their narrative goals.

“Now that Assassin’s Creed has been annualised it’s easy to be cynical about it. But the fact of the matter is Ubisoft keeps trying new things within the series.”

Assassin’s Creed as a series has had its ups and downs since then, but there have been plenty of ups, and despite my love for the purity of the original I found plenty to love in later games. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood in particular is a highlight; the unusual approach to multiplayer was a revelation, and the building up of an assassin’s guild was extremely satisfying. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations started to suffer from a bit of feature glut but provided some much needed extra colour to both Altair and Desmond’s stories, as well as letting us blow stuff up with bombs, which I rarely argue with. Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag took the fun naval section from the much-criticised Assassin’s Creed 3 and turned them into a sheer joy and delight to play. And Assassin’s Creed 3 – well, uh, you could pat animals, and I really liked that. Moving on.

Now that Assassin’s Creed has been annualised it’s easy to be cynical about it. But the fact of the matter is Ubisoft keeps trying new things within the series, has been very careful about guarding its canon, and very actively monitors feedback in order to keep improving and refining, with multiple studios given a go at hitting a high note. We’re genuinely excited about Assassin’s Creed: Unity for a variety of spurious reasons rooted in wild speculation, and Assassin’s Creed: Comet, if it is a real thing, is likely to be pretty decent too, because Ubisoft is über-protective of its baby.

Click through to the second page for Final Fantasy.

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5 Comments

  1. Johnny Cullen

    Oh God, that Assassin’s Creed trailer with the UNKLE track and the Richie Ashcroft vocals. Thanks for reminding me of that. That was an bloody awesome trailer.

    #1 11 months ago
  2. salarta

    I’m kinda skipping past the Assassin’s Creed part because while I’ve played all of them up until Black Flag (and didn’t play Liberation either), I’m refraining from the franchise since Ubisoft decided to dick over Desilets.

    I’m not sure what it is that makes some people think FF6 was the last true Final Fantasy when FF9 exists. I can see why some people don’t consider FF7 or FF8 to be Final Fantasy games though; they started getting more advanced in technology compared to older games. And FF13 really isn’t a Final Fantasy game, hence why I don’t list it with FF7 and FF8. :P

    I replayed FF6 recently, and once I had it beat (I was so ludicrously overpowered by the end, I beat all forms of Kefka in 5 minutes), it was both endearing and depressing to think of how far the series has fallen and how we’ll never have games like that ever again.

    One thing I have to say about FF6 though: with the U.S. script at least, the early parts had me scratching my head at the gender dynamics. Both Terra and Celes need to be rescued by Locke, and there’s a fair amount of dialogue and events that present this idea that both women are replacement-Rachels for him to protect. Terra starts out that way, but Celes takes that role from Terra once she shows up. So, Terra and Celes aren’t quite the strong female leads I remember them being as a kid, but for their time, they were stronger than any that came before them in video games. With the exception of Marle from Chrono Trigger, if that released first; I don’t feel like checking release dates right now.

    FF12 was a pretty good entry. It wasn’t the best. In fact, I would probably say it was an average Final Fantasy; better than FFI-FFIII, worse than FFIV-FFX, but definitely worth playing and definitely deserving of the Final Fantasy name. I think the faults in it came from corporate. Anyone that played Xenoblade could see how awesome Matsuno’s work can be when allowed to do things his own way, and one of the most heavily stated facts about FF12 is that Matsuno actually wanted Basch to be the main character, to suggest that he was forced to add and emphasize Vaan and Penelo by higher-ups more interested in gimmicks and trends than in quality.

    When I first played FF12 back on release, it seemed like the atmosphere had a very weird anti-sexual vibe. I don’t mean the game refrained from including sexual content, I mean it felt like the game had a sexual flavor right below the surface that was getting repressed. I can’t really think of any reason why I got that sensation. Maybe it was the lack of romantic relationships of any sort among the characters? Since FF4, every Final Fantasy had at least one such relationship either established or implied.

    #2 11 months ago
  3. Gheritt White

    @salarta At least your upset about a real-life human being getting dicked over this time, as opposed to an entirely fictional character.

    #3 11 months ago
  4. brotherhoodofthewolf

    salarta you don’t half talk some rubbish, and don’t know that much really, for someone so vocal about Sqenix. i think you have too much time on your hands and should lay off the heavy posting a bit.

    of course FF13 is an FF game.
    ff6 came out before chrono trigger.
    matsuno didn’t work on xenoblade.
    ff12 had a sexy vibe in fran, and the script treated her relationship with balthier very nicely – with a few nods and winks that they were more than just professional partners. this is explored further in revenant wings.

    #4 11 months ago
  5. salarta

    @brotherhoodofthewolf My bad on the part about Matsuno, it shows what happens when I don’t dig extremely deep into knowing everything about a game and a couple years pass.

    FF13 isn’t a real Final Fantasy game, it’s a concept for a new IP that had the Final Fantasy name and bastardizations of its concepts slapped onto it. Even Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, both abhorred for being seen as deviating too much from what fits Final Fantasy, have more right to be called Final Fantasy than FF13.

    As I said in my post, I didn’t feel like looking up the release dates of CT compared to FF6; which came first wasn’t important to the overall message. Thanks for sharing that information, though.

    Fran was fairly non-sexual too. The clothing they wear is just clothing, she doesn’t get flirty or suggestive with anyone including Balthier, and her relationship with Balthier was more along the lines of adventure partners than anything else.

    I know a lot about Squeenix, likely far more than you.

    #5 11 months ago

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    Sledgehammer Games has told VG247 it’s looking at opportunities to recreate classic Call of Duty maps in Advanced Warfare. According to co-founder Michael Condrey, players of the latest Havoc DLC are asking how Exo abilities and verticality can be added to classic franchise maps. “We’re taking a look at some opportunities to really highlight the […]

  • GTA Online reader playlist week 7: and the winner is…

    Stuff was shot. But only one player emerged victorious. GTA Online player e031271 won last night’s VG247 reader playlist, beating myself, Matt and regulars solidorwot and Revolting. Congratulations, Mr e031271. A deserved victory. We play a GTA Online playlist in an open session every Wednesday on PS4, because it’s both funny and fun. Anyone’s welcome […]

  • Leaked screens reveal The Reef as Destiny’s new “social space”

    A handful of leaked Destiny screens seem to confirm that The Reef location will be the new social space in Destiny. The new addition is likely to be revealed as part of the upcoming House of Wolves expansion. Reddit user Megamanexe4 dropped the screens on the site earlier this morning, along with grabs that reveal […]

  • Darksiders creator teases Battle Chasers game

    Joe Madureira, creator of Darksiders, has released art that strongly suggests a Battle Chasers game is in the works. Battle Chasers was a comic book from the late 1990s that suffered notorious production problems between issues and was never finished. Madureira formed Airship Syndicate after the collapse of THQ, where he co-created Darksiders. His latest […]

  • Infamous video nasty Axe recreated in GTA 5

    The trailer for notorious horror movie Axe has been recreated in GTA 5. The shot for shot remake is the work of gigerbrick who has previously recreated exploitation flicks like Machete and Hostel using Lego. The original Axe movie was banned in 1984 in the UK but passed with cuts in the late 1990s. Movie […]

  • Payday 2 for PS4 and Xbox One includes “a year’s worth of paid DLC” for free

    Payday 2: Crimewave Edition will include a year’s worth of paid DLC from the PC version of the game for free. The new-gen version of the game will be available June 2015, and includes almost all of the paid and free DLC released so far for Overkill’s popular first-person shooter. That DLC includes The Big […]

  • Yes, Mortal Kombat X will require Xbox Live Gold or PS Plus

    Mortal Kombat X won’t bypass Microsoft and Sony’s premium online play requirements. Reports that Mortal Kombat X wouldn’t require PS Plus or Xbox Live Gold started circling earlier this week thanks to a communications error. Answering fan questions on Twitter, producer Shaun Himmerick accidentally gave the impression that premium console subs would not be required […]

  • This is what Destiny players most want next

    Destiny patch 1.1.1 has resolved or at least addressed a number of complaints voiced by the community, but there are plenty more. des Destiny community manage David “Deej” Dague has put out a call for Guardians to share their concerns – or rather, what they think the community is most concerned about. “Set aside your […]

  • Google AI can play games now, so we’re probably all going to die

    Google has brought us one step closer to our inevitable slaughter or enslavement by machine overlords. Google has developed an AI that can learn to play video games and devise brand new strategies. Let me just rephrase that: Google has created an AI that can teach itself new skills, including how to play video games. […]

  • First footage of Renowned Explorers: International Society surfaces

    Renowned Explorers: International Society is a turn-based strategy game from the team behind Reus, and it looks great. Renowned Explorers was announced almost a full year ago, but has been pretty quiet since then. Developer Abbey games has now announced that the game has hit alpha, and will be open to select testers soon. You […]

  • Cities: Skylines developer commits to mod support

    Cities: Skylines will fully support the modding community. Hailing from famously mod-friendly publisher Paradox, Cities: Skylines is a no-brainer for mod support – especially as a lack of mod support is one of the things SimCity was so heavily criticised for when it firts launched. In the developer diary below, Paradox’s Jakob Munthe is joined […]

  • Nosgoth update adds Vanguard, many fixes

    Nosgoth, the free-to-play multiplayer brawler set in the Legacy of Kain universe, has been given a significant makeover. The major feature of the latest Nosogth game update is a new playable human character called the Vanguard. “Equipped with mighty throwing axes and a shield, the Vanguard can take more punishment than any human class that […]

  • Xbox Live Gold 12 month sub $40 on Microsoft store

    Microsoft is offering $20 off 12 month Xbox Live Gold subscriptions at the moment. An Xbox Live Gold 12 month subscription will normally set you back $60, but a Microsoft Store promotion has it on offer for $40. The offer is restricted to the US store. Although you can opt to grab your sub as […]

  • Tomb Raider movie script to be penned by TMNT writer

    Tomb Raider will be Evan Daugherty’s second reboot of an established universe. The Tomb Raider movie reboot has signed on a writer and a distributor. Deadline reports Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent, Snow White And The Huntsman and G.I. Joe 3 writer Daugherty will write the film. Additionally, Warner Bros. has signed on to distribute, […]

  • Shelter 2 pre-orders open, launch trailer debuts early

    Shelter 2 is a game in which you are a mother lynx and must protect a den of kittens. Yes, it’s delightful. Shelter 2 is coming to Mac and PC on March 9. Pre-orders are now available on Steam at 10% off or on GOG.com with a free skin and soundtrack, or 20% off if […]

  • That Batman: Arkham Knight trailer is full of codes

    Batman: Arkham Knight’s trailer is like a Transformer – there’s more than meets the eye. The new Batman: Arkham Knight trailer contains a number of codes. Eagle-eyed users have spotted four so far, and work on cracking their meaning is progressing. According to an /r/games thread rounding up results so far, the codes pertain to […]

  • Assassin’s Creed haystacks won’t save you from a fall

    Assassin’s Creed fans, don’t try this at home. Assassin’s Creed characters can survive falls of almost any distance as long as they aim for the haystacks scattered handily throughout the environment. As you probably deduced from your familiarity with common sense, this isn’t a real thing: falling from heights kills you, the same way a […]

  • Why are people buying PS4 and not Xbox One?

    PS4 is outselling Xbox One – but why? A new report may have the answer. Last month, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US again, returning it to the top of the charts after just two months away. Why? What has caused this reversal in fortunes in Microsoft’s home territory? According to a […]

  • Toejam and Earl are back with a new Kickstarter

    The early 90′s are alive and well in a new bid to bring back Toejam and Earl. Toejam and Earl released for Mega Drive (Genesis, Americans) in 1991, and the eponymous characters went on to count among Sega’s best-known characters. They appeared in a platformer, a light gun shooter and finally a 2002 Xbox game […]

  • New Wander trailer shows off Azertash form

    Wander is a collaborative, non-combat MMO in which you can take on a number of unique forms. Wander players begin as an ambulant tree called an Oren and can progress through several different bodies as they explore the environment, learning its secrets. One of these, which we’d not seen before this trailer, is the amphibious […]

  • SOMA approaching beta phase on PC and PS4

    SOMA, the new horror game from the Amnesia: The Dark Descent crew, is getting close to playable. Frictional Games has apologised for its recent silence over the project, but said it’s focused on reaching beta. Sorry all for the silence! We're closing in on Beta and everyone's working hard to get there. Once that's done, […]

  • Square Enix does not condone Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest HD Remaster

    Square Enix has said it’s not involved with a fan remake of Final Fantasy spin-off Mystic Quest. 1992 SNES game Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is being remade by Dark Design as Mystic Quest HD Remaster. The developer is even taking pre-orders for the project. Unfortunately, it looks like it is in no position to be […]

  • New Hunger teaser released by LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers

    LittleBigPlanet Vita co-developers Tarsier Studios have released a teaser trailer for Hunger, which was announced in May 2014 at the Nordic Game Conference. The game has been rumored to be the firm’s unannounced Sony project since 2010. Platforms are still to be announced, but the studio became a first-party SCE developer a few years back, […]

  • Here’s two Mario Party 10 overview videos, one featuring amiibo

    Overview videos for Mario Party 10 and the amiibo which work with the title have been released by Nintendo Japan. Obviously each one is in Japanese, but you get the gist all the same. Mario Party 10 releases on Wii U March 20 in North America and Europe. Thanks, AGB.

  • Clan Raids announced for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App

    Activision has announced a new Clan Raids mode will be made available through the Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Companion App. According to the CoD community blog, raids are time-based challenges where success earns you a spot on the Clan Raids leaderboards and new Clan Raid-exclusive in-game gear like the Equilibrium set. Clan members will […]

  • Play Battlefield Hardline starting March 12 through EA Access

    Xbox One users with an EA Access subscription will be able to play 10 hours worth of Battlefield Hardline starting March 12. EA Access members will are being granted access to the game five days before the street date, with full multiplayer and all saves transferring over into the main game. It was announced yesterday […]

  • This video summarizes the contents of Destiny patch 1.1.1

    With Destiny patch 1.1.1 now available, here’s a video summary of what to expect. In the video above, Arekkz Gaming gives you a rundown of the important bits in the update. Subscribe to Arekkz Gaming for more Destiny tips and trick through the link.

  • Destiny 1.1.1 patch notes out, update is live

    Destiny’s 1.1.1 patch arrives today, so if you have been kicked from activities, it means you will need to download the patch now that it’s live. We will be pushing the 1.1.1 patch for Destiny shortly. Players will be kicked from activities and required to download the patch. — Bungie Help (@BungieHelp) February 25, 2015 […]

  • Payday 2 packs based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number coming

    Starbreeze has announced another collaboration with Dennaton Games which will see masks based on Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number appear in Payday 2. The collaboration consists of two free updates when you acquire Hotline Miami 2 or its deluxe version on Steam from February 25. The two updates, called Hotline Miami Mask Pack and Jacket […]

  • Velocity 2X making its way onto Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One

    Velocity 2X will be released on Linux, Mac, PC and Xbox One Futurlab has announced. The developer is in charge of the port, which will be published by Sierra. According to Futurlab, the deal with Sierra came about when self-publishing proved to be difficult due to spending “more time doing PR and marketing on Velocity […]

  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number finally has a release date

    A release date for Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been announced, finally. The game will arrive on Linux, Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita March 10. It is now available for pre-order on GOG, Humble and Steam for 10% off for $13.49/£10.99. There’s also a Digital Special Edition available which includes tracks from […]