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Unity was the game Assassin’s Creed needed

The Assassin’s Creed franchise has been bereft of originality for a long time. The first game in it’s franchise being the most preordered game without other games in it’s franchise to bolster it’s rep, this game packed in crowds. It wasn’t a flawless game, but it was very good for a first try. Future games made small strives in various directions, be it assassin reinforcements or the INSPIRED hookblade. Unfortunately, as of the second game, every year came with a new title and the same good but flawed formula used in the beginning had more and more games built on it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of this franchise, really, I own all the main games to date and even one of the spin off titles for  some reason. I love Assassin’s Creed, even if Unity pulled on those ties. And Revelations. Gad-zooks I was disappointed in Revelations.

Right, back to the point. You see, Assassin’s Creed was always to easy, lingering problems with the combat always meant that with the repeated press of a moderately well timed counter button could defeat a small army for you. Moreover  this was made worse by the introduction of the chained execution system in Brotherhood which took all the challenge left out of confrontation. Not only that, but I never felt stealth or even retreat to hidden locations was necessary in these games as every situation was easily solved by combat. This is after all Assassin’s Creed, a game about being a sneaky bloke who kills stuff in the name of liberty, not being a one man army.

Black Flag, the game that received critical acclaim and the most love from newcomers to the series and fans alike earned the popular sentiment of “It’s an awesome pirate game that unfortunately has Assassin’s Creed bits stuck to it”.

Assassins Creed’s success is a dolphin swimming near the surface, it jumps and dives above and below the water again and again, some jumps are big, some jumps are small but it always returns under the water. Unity was a massive jump that went very wrong and just led to a fin awkwardly surfacing and now everyone mistakes it for a shark and direct their anti-shark hate at it.

Because you know what? Unity had some really great things going for it. The combat was finally made legitimately challenging, a fight between you and a handful of guards could very easily result in a loss for you. This pushed stealth to the forefront as a valid way of approaching an Assassin’s Creed game. Not only that, but a progression system and armour upgrades that compliment your combat or stealth based abilities to hit the new way of play home. It’s great to have some actual meaningful changes come to Assassin’s Creed other than some of the token crap we’ve been fed before.

These are improvements this franchise has been begging for since its conception. Not to mention, the diversity of weapon choices sure was cool, as well as the aesthetic colouring choices and the fact that armour choices actually made a cosmetic difference as well as a difference to style of play. The co op was a neat addition as well and the reformed free running system takes a while to get used to and while I had no strong issues with the previous model, this new model works well for the landscape of 18th century Paris.

Sadly, these significant improvements to the formula of the franchise are completely overshadowed by the sheer incompetence of the state of the game on release. Ubisoft Montreal, for whatever reason, zealously pursued giant crowd sizes in certain areas at the expense of the stability of the actual game. Don’t get me wrong, these big crowds are great for some of the historical events that we play through, but for much of the time it hurts the frame rate significantly, which normally is something that has never bothered me but it can be pretty atrocious. Not to mention the bug where I found myself inexplicably falling through the map, which occurred far more times than it should of. And for the record, why were the accents not French? It’s not like they’ve been shy of native accents in the previous games.

I’m not even going to start with all the locked chests, gated by micro transactions or an IOS companion or something, that stuff was so low I won’t even bother giving it a paragraph of its flaws.

But this all brings me round to my point, Assassin’s Creed has been seeing diminishing returns on subsequent releases for years now, even Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (the one everyone liked) sold less than Assassin’s Creed 3. Unity was the re-branding this over saturated behemoth needed, a new direction with design choices that empowered players and presented returning fans with actual challenge while also turning the heads of those who lost interest years ago. That’s what Unity could have been. What it almost was. But, of course, those who had spent years developing this game thrust it out of the door early and we got the malformed mess that the gaming community laughed at and went on to their next thing. And now we, or rather I, find myself at a point lower than after the previous low point in the franchise for me, Revelations, which I didn’t even think was possible, so low that I can’t even get myself excited for the new one in jolly old London town. Good job, Ubisoft.

Good job.

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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Gaming

 

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The Battle for Number 10 is just getting started

The Battle for Number 10 is just getting started

So the first of a series of televised events in the lead up to the election took place last night. Cameron was suave and predictable, coasting along on the dignity of office and his natural charisma. Miliband had a much more up and down performance, going through bouts of word vomit but coming across as more human and having a sense of humour even when being jabbed with frankly personal questions that were irrelevant to a political interview. Though the winner here was definitely Paxman.

Let me just clear up now, I’m going to be biased here as I’m a Labour Party member and volunteer, as much as I try to avoid it.

Let me be clear, I have a great deal of respect for the man, I’ve even read one of his books. He’s the king of nailing down evasive politicians and has done some great interviews in the past. He brought to light a few promises Cameron had not kept that even I didn’t know about as well as actually got an answer out of him on the matter of the mystery welfare cuts. However his attacks on Ed’s character reflect the behaviour of 5 years of tabloid childishness, something I had until now felt was beneath him. Of course, this is coming from a guy who has a real distaste for personality politics and worries these upcoming debates will just be a battle of memorised sound bites from party leaders on each issue.

My worry, at least in part was this was not totally impartial. Both presenters and the station involved being right leaning and the conduct towards Ed would seem to indicate that may be at play. But again, as I said, I’m hardly unbiased and this may be the rose tinted glasses talking. And of course, Paxman went out with the intent with hitting these leaders weak points, Cameron’s being broken promises and being that Ed wasn’t standing in 2010, the mistakes of New Labour and his personality gave Paxman his angle of attack.

My point is, this set the tone for the rest of the election and it certainly seems that it won’t be anything special in terms of being free from petty squabbling and mudslinging. Though in fairness, these people work in Parliament, a place with less decorum than my very own politics classroom.

But to be clear, ICM’s instant poll called it for Cameron which was expected but it was closer than predicted which is apparently a victory in itself for the Labour Party. I personally am happy the public got to see a less airbrushed Ed Miliband and the Conservatives so far proudly touted sublime record as been professionally besmirched for all to see. Hopefully this election was play host to an approach to substance over style for once and we’ll have real debate or real and serious issues … but I’m not holding my breath.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Political

 

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Did the Halo 5 Multiplayer Beta get it right?

Did the Halo 5 Multiplayer Beta get it right?

So the Halo 5 multiplayer beta has just ended and with it has gone my enthusiasm for gaming on the Xbox One again. I was well into that shit.

Now here’s the thing, I wasn’t at first. My first few games I actually felt really hostile toward it. Halo 5 seemed too fast paced, deaths seemed to quick and most importantly to my self centred gaming mentality, I wasn’t winning. But I went back to it again and again and really began to find myself straight up enjoying and even loving this Halo 5 experience (keeping in mind this was just a beta, 343 could still mess it up somehow). The pace became enjoyable and it all kinda became pretty rad. My only gripes being that the sword felt way underpowered and at least in comparison to the battle rifle, which I found myself using virtually constantly and also I appreciate there were some kind of Spartan suit attacks which I found difficult to find the right circumstance to actually use as melee combat takes a back seat here. I must say I had no issue with the inclusion of iron sights, I don’t think it’ll win or lose many points with anyone.

And also to point out, I played Halo 4 Spartan Ops on the Master Chief Collection after I’d started to enjoy Halo 5 and found myself really liking that this time around. I fell into the camp of people that felt Halo 4 was a bit of a flop previously since my Halo experience is usually defined by the campaign and Halo 4 fell down in more than a few ways, campaign included. I felt bothered by the apparent atmosphere of giving concessions to the FPS giant Call of Duty to appeal to it’s player base. It was also really lame with the weapon de-spawning thing too. But I digress. That’s a topic for another time no doubt.

The Halo 5 multiplayer beta raised my hopes for Halo 5 from being virtually non existent to actually present. I’d lost a lot of faith in the franchise from Halo 4 and appeal to any and all Halo fans reading this that felt disillusioned at the same time I did (all 1 of you), keep an eye on Halo 5 because it might turn out to be pretty swish and while most of you probably jumped ship to PS4 and PC which I do  not even slightly blame you for, just keep an eye on it and maybe choose to live vicariously through some Let’s Plays that come out when it gets released. Your choice, just keep an open mind. Open mindedness is top.

P.S: What’s going on with that whole ‘Blue Bros’ and ‘Red Bros’ deal where all the Spartans are like super masculine and all high fiving and stuff at the end of matches? Just a tad strange is all.

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Gaming

 

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