It has been an awful long time since my last post. Whilst I enjoyed writing about gaming, I found I am significantly better at writing about football. This blog got put onto the back-burner whilst my football club, Lincoln City, thrived. I wrote about it, I lived it and my PlayStation sat gathering dust.
The odd game coaxed me away from my computer screen. I really liked Mass Effect Andromeda, the ‘Second Coming’ game which had critics seething and fans of the genre satisfied. I angrily forked out £5 for FIFA 18 recently, fuming because PES is a better game but I can’t be the Imps. Faith, it seemed, had been lost in my console.
As we speak though, the one chance to redeem my console (before Red Dead Redemption 2) is updating busily. Assassin’s Creed Origins has slipped in under the radar today, the fanfare has been minimal and if I hadn’t gotten involved in a conversation about birthday presents I would never have known it was out. When I heard though, there was only one thing to do; head to Louth electronics and part with some of my old titles.
The Assassin’s Creed series is one close to my heart for a host of reasons. I remember playing the very first one, described to my brother on our weekly call as ‘like a medieval Grand Theft Auto’. Of course, it wasn’t at all. It was a shallow, repetitive slog through some of the most beautiful graphics I’d ever seen on my Xbox 360. It had the depth and variety of a Kardashian but it looked three times as good as Jessica Alba. I prayed, literally on one occasion, that any follow-up would be the game AC1 should have been.
As it turned out, AC2 was a stonkingly good game. Perhaps it was because I had a penchant for Florence, perhaps it was the cleverly woven story binding fiction with real-life events and places. One thing is for sure, that game was really good and the follow-up ‘Brotherhood’ was even better. Many point to the second of the three as the pinnacle of the AC series, citing Revelations as a clumsy attempt to tie the three in. I think they have to be viewed as one enormous game, one full-bodied and developing story spread across three separate games. Indeed, it seems my belief is echoed by the developers who recently released the Ezio stories, much to my delight. The gaming world has become so barren that I invested in that rather than any new titles.
Assassin’s Creed 3 disappointed many, a protracted and often tedious stomp through American independence, although I thought it added good elements to an established series. The whole animus farce was still evident, but once you’d got past that there was a solid game there. It wasn’t the world-beater we’d all hoped for, but it set the tone for the next game, Black Flag. It introduced the shipping missions, initially probably a side quest to beef up the lack of locations available on foot in a continent such as America, but it created an opening for arguably the best game of the series so far.
Black Flag had an awful lot going for it, Edward Kenway was a flawed but likeable main character, the sailing aspect was not just enjoyable, it was engrossing and addictive, and at the heart it had elements of Assassin’s Creed too. I spent many an evening slowly creeping through the plantations looking to steal whatever bounty the sheds held. It is, to date, the only AC game I played through twice. The only slight disappointment was the locations, although they were ‘real life’, landmarks and the like were not evident.
We’re on the final straight now, Assassins Creed Unity was the first true next-gen game and I waited with bated breath. I am aware of AC Rogue, a missed opportunity to drag cash from the next-gen console owners, but despite half a play through it never really held my attention. Black Flag had redefined the series, Rogue was released to pacify those last-gen owners. In truth, it was a decent game and the reverse perspective should perhaps be explored again in the seriesMy anticipation ahead of Unity was at an all-time high. It came out when the PS4 hadn’t truly been tested, it promised to be such a treat, but ultimately it became a standard for everything bad about modern gaming. It had clearly been rushed, it was bugged and the multiplayer had been bolted on to satisfy modern-day gamers. It was panned by the critics, but there was good game in there. The dreary setting of revolution Paris didn’t set the senses racing like Black Flag had, but it perfectly encapsulated the gloom of the story. In terms of single player missions, I thought Unity was a resounding success. It didn’t have me playing for months as I’d hoped though, where atmosphere and story had hit the mark, the rest left lots to be desired. I still had patience with the franchise though, I still believed.
Then came AC Syndicate, the game I had dreamed of ever since I first pushed Altair up a tower. Victorian London, teeming with life from those dilapidated slums, murky and bleak like the Paris game but with the sort of improvements that Unity cried out for. Surely Ubisoft couldn’t get this wrong?
They did, spectacularly. Victorian London was garish and bright, the attempt to crowbar in a second protagonist was clumsy. Neither of them grabbed my attention as Ezio had, nor Edward Kenway. The missions were repetitive, the reception subdued if not overtly hostile. The game didn’t ‘flop’ as such, but immediately after its release Ubisoft announced a break in order to get the next game right.
Much time seems to have passed since then, the gaming world has moved on from climbing up buildings and killing the odd guard. However, my thirst for Assassin’s Creed hasn’t been quenched. When I discovered it was out today I jumped for joy inside, because with an extra year to pour into a game, another twelve months testing, another fifty-two weeks developing, surely they’ve got it right this time? Ancient Egypt offers the recognisable locations that have become a mainstay of the series, can the extra time it’s had in the oven ensure this game finally realises the potential oozing from the series?
Right now, as I type, the disc is whirring away in my console, updating on my archaic internet connection. Once I’ve finished and uploaded this I shall be on it, will I be disappointed Unity style, or despondent Syndicate style? Or will I be thrilled, excited and engrossed by the character, a name soon to be as recognisable as Altair, Ezio and Kenway?
I haven’t felt this excited by a new game in an awfully long time. In a few days time I’ll follow this up with a proper review. From there, the blog is back up and running. I aim to write something gaming related once or twice a week. Exciting times, for me at least!