Tag Archives: Assassin’s Creed

My Thoughts on E3 2017

Critics and online personalities have been saying 2017 is shaping up to be the best year for video games in decades.  E3, the biggest event in gaming, had a lot riding on it.  I went in with few expectations.  E3 is often hit-or-miss, and commentators will usually talk about it in terms of who “wins.”

I’ve fallen victim to this mindset in the past couple years, but I don’t really think it’s healthy.  I wrote posts for Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo separately.  But I’ve realized that E3 is an expo, not a competition.  Sure, one company or one game might generate more hype than others.  But the real winners are us, the video game community.  We’re the ones who get to play the great games.  So instead of breaking this E3 down by company, I’m just gonna talk about everything I’m excited for!  And there is a lot of exciting stuff happening.

METROID

Let me kick off with the return of Metroid.  I went convinced that Nintendo could rock the E3 boat in two ways: porting Super Smash Bros. to Nintendo Switch, or bringing back Metroid.  Smash is going to wait, but Metroid is back in full force.  And although I’m not a huge series fan, I’m now a believer.  Metroid Prime is now in development for Nintendo Switch, and Metroid: Samus Returns is coming to 3DS on SEPTEMBER 15th.  Now that this series is back, I’m gonna do all I can to support it.

MARIO ODYSSEY and MARIO x RABBIDS: KINGDOM BATTLE

Although Mario games are consistently good, I usually don’t get excited about the franchise.  I was burnt out when Odyssey was announced, and Mario x Rabbids sounded too weird to be real.  Come E3 though, both games really impressed me.  Mario x Rabbids is a fun spin on the XCOM style, and it has the great Grant Kirkhope coming through as composer.

Meanwhile, Mario Odyssey looks expansive, innovative, and fun.  It’s the ultimate Mario playground, and a return to the best 3D Mario formula.   I’m definitely going to give it a play at launch.  All in all, a great showing for the franchise.

YOSHI AND KIRBY IN 2018

Like with Mario, I tend to sleep on the Yoshi and Kirby games, but their planned releases in 2018 are promising.  Kirby on Switch promises to bring back cool franchise mechanics and Yoshi looks clever as ever.  Now I just hope for a revival of Kirby’s Air Ride.

POKEMON

We didn’t see much from the Pokemon Company at E3, but what was announced is the development of a main-series Pokemon game for Nintendo Switch.  This is a huge development.  We got no further details, but Pokemon for Switch is a win in itself.

I also rally enjoyed watching the Pokken Tournament DX Invitational.  I know virtually everyone hates Pokken, but I have something of an affection for it.  I’ll probably be picking it up on Switch.

SPIDER-MAN by INSOMNIAC

I’ve always been a massive fan of Spider-Man games.  I played both PS1 games, all three Sam Raimi movie games, and spinoffs like Friend or Foe and Ultimate Spider-Man.  With the recent movie reboot, we got a couple of incredibly lazy games along with them.  Thankfully, at E3 2017, Insomniac Games showed off their new palate-cleansing Spider-Man game.

This game looks incredible.  Despite my distaste for quick-time events, it includes them gracefully and cinematically.  Combat looks complex and engaging.  The world of Manhattan looks vast and varied.  Most of all, navigating the world by swinging looks like an homage to Spider-Man 2 on PS2, the best of the bunch.  I can’t wait for this game to come out.

STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT II

The first Star Wars Battlefront by DICE and published by EA was one of my worst disappointments.  Battlefront was one of my favorite games as a kid, and I always wanted a revival.  Sadly, although the revival was aesthetically beautiful, it turned out to be a bore.  And a money scam.

BUT, if the new sequel turns out like it looks so far, it will be a huge turnaround.  It has a story mode, an improved class system, more heroes, and generally more content.  Furthermore, DLC will be free so as not to divide the player base.  This game has my attention, so hopefully it doesn’t disappoint.

MIDDLE-EARTH: SHADOW OF WAR

This sequel to Shadow of Mordor has actually been around for a few months, but I’ve been on the hype train since the beginning.  I wrote a post about this hype train a few weeks ago.  For E3, we’re getting new story content, new characters, and a look at some of the new mechanics.

Combat looks more intense and brutal.  Cinematic scenarios and conquest missions are coming through in full force.  And the plotline of Talion is coming to a head as he confronts the Dark Lord Sauron.  I honestly can’t remember wanting a game this much.

MISCELLANEOUS COOL STUFF

There was a lot of other stuff at E3 that looked neat to me, so I want to mention it.  Fire Emblem Warriors is an idea I had years ago, and to see it in action is thrilling.  I like that it has character switch and strategic mechanics.  Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a big point of love for me, and what I saw at E3 looks like a beautiful successor to the first game.

Days Gone looks like it’ll be the most interesting zombie game since The Last of Us.  Uncharted: Lost Legacy will be an interesting game, especially thanks to its two female main characters.  God of War is finally on deck, and it looks much less over-the-top than its predecessors, which I enjoy.  Bethesda’s VR shenanigans, like Fallout 4 in full VR, looks like an exciting step forward.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus seems like a ridiculous, Nazi-killing extravaganza and I can’t wait.  Anthem looks like a fun, huge multiplayer experience that will hopefully deliver. The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti, Super Lucky’s Tale, and Cuphead are bringing back fun, quirky platforming adventures.  Assassin’s Creed: Origins actually has me really pumped because I’m a fan of the franchise and I like the new mechanics.  Although I’ve sadly never played the first game, Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks like a great sequel and it’s stunning in 4K.  Sonic Forces didn’t get a lot of new info, but we saw a team-up of four legendary villains, which should be cool.  Lastly, Crackdown 3, The Darwin Experiment, Dragon Ball Fighter Z are games I know nothing about, but they look sick.

So that’s where I stand on E3 2017.  Reactions are all over the map, but I’m honestly coming away from it feeling excited.  A major plus is the fact that most of these games are coming out this year, so 2017 should be a great year for games after all.

Assassin’s Creed III: Why the Hate?

My annual stint of playing Assassin’s Creed has come again, and I’ve been playing a lot of Black Flag.  A great game, for sure, but that’s a post for another day.  Whenever I go back to the series, I always think about the first one I played, Assassin’s Creed III.  Somehow this game seems to get a lot of hate.  Well, maybe it doesn’t get hate, but people seem to forget about it a lot.

Assassin’s Creed III had a difficult task from the beginning — follow up the acclaimed second game and provide a foundation for a new story arc.  Early on it had incredible promise…the E3 trailer alone sold it for a lot of people.

Imagine this!  The satisfying realism of Assassin’s Creed placed in the colonial era, letting the player experience the American Revolution.  A Native American rising to carry the American rebellion’s fight for freedom on his shoulders.  Surely this was a fail-proof concept, right?  Well no, it never is.

But Assassin’s Creed III is not a failure of a game.  I mostly enjoyed it when I played it through the first time.  It introduced naval combat that was the basis for its groundbreaking sequel.  You were able to storm fortresses and take them single-handedly.  The cities of Boston and New York were realized beautifully.  All of that was great.

AC3Frontier
This game had a beautiful wildland frontier. (Photo: PlayStation Europe via Flickr)

In my view, the problem this game ran into was that it didn’t quite deliver on its implied promise.  The Assassin’s Creed games traditionally use history as a playground.  You collect items that eventually have an impact on you, or the surrounding world, or both.  Story-wise, the games usually make you feel as you would want to feel.  The first was experimental — you felt like a badass, stoic killer.  In the second, you played as a charismatic renaissance man (who operated in the literal Renaissance) with a sense of roguish purpose and familial devotion.  In the fourth, you played a pirate with a questionable moral compass, always taking or looking for something in return.

Fittingly, the first Assassin’s Creed was a very focused and intense experience, the second was a bit more playful and eccentric, and the fourth was the ideal pirate fantasy.  So what about the third?

Connor in battle
Assassin’s Creed III promised the ultimate American Revolution experience. (Photo: PlayStation Europe via Flickr)

Assassin’s Creed III, from a thematic standpoint, promised an action game that would capture the chaotic, uncertain underdog story of the American Revolution.  It planned to show off moral gray areas of war in a way that none of its predecessors had done before.  In a way, it delivered on that — the story tackles betrayal and loss in a pretty interesting way.  However, the protagonist, Connor, is kind of a stick in the mud.  He never tells a joke, and doesn’t have much of a personality — he’s a classic dutiful warrior.  He’s far from chaotic or roguish.  He suffers horrible loss, so it makes sense that he would be stern, but he doesn’t mesh that well with the other characters, like the revolutionaries.

Sadly, the rest of the game reflects this issue of one-dimensionality.  The sidequests of collecting feathers or trinkets are interesting ideas, but it’s hard to get invested.  There’s no substantial payoff.  The story missions take cool ideas and make them scripted.  A mission focused on an massive battlefield confrontation has you follow a clear-cut path to a stealth assassination.  Riding with Paul Revere to alert the minutemen under the nose of the British comes down to following directions from Revere’s voice clips.

This game loses a lot of the dynamic conflict that so many stories about the Revolutionary War capture.  It’s a shame, because Assassin’s Creed does this kind of stuff very well.  There was just a little too much focus on creating a certain story and not enough on letting the player do whatever they darn well please.  It’s not a terrible game and it doesn’t deserve to be forgotten, but the vision it had was held back.

6 Great Games to Kill Time With

As a college student who celebrates Christmas, this is a magical time of year.  Not only is it the holiday season, it’s also winter break.  That means about a month of time to recover from the past semester of school.  For me, that also means catching up on lost time playing some good games, and it’s a rare opportunity to sit down and spend a lot of time with a game.

I realized, though, that a lot of games that take up a lot of your time aren’t worthy of that time.  Still, a lot of them are, so I’m going to give you my own personal recommendations of games that are great for filling out a month of time at the holidays.

The Elder Scrolls

You’ve probably heard of these games — Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim — these are my go-to games to get immersed in a game world.  I particularly start to feel like playing Skyrim during winter time, since the setting is already Nordic and wintry.  I grew up with Morrowind, though, and any of these games are perfect for sitting down and losing yourself.  Skyrim was recently remastered, and a new Elder Scrolls is going to be made eventually, so keep an eye on this franchise.

Assassin’s Creed IV

I’m mentioning Assassin’s Creed IV here, but really any Assassin’s Creed worth its salt can take its place.  I’m a huge fan of the early Assassin’s Creed games, and although they have very real flaws in gameplay and story, they deliver on historical settings beautifully.  The fourth game has the most content in my experience, but I’ve enjoyed ones before it as well.

Minecraft

Minecraft is the ultimate in open world, creative video games.  You can try to survive in its harsh simulation of nature and build yourself up to master your environment.  You can give yourself free reign over every asset in the game and bring your visions to life.  It’s so endless that it’s an almost meditative game to play and explore in.  So if you’re looking for a game that lets you create your own world, this is the one.

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

I’m kind of biased since I love this game so much, but out of all the Legend of Zelda games, I call this one the best and longest so far.  Its gloomy overtone and use of light is also very fitting for the winter months.  There’s so much to do in this game it’s kind of overwhelming.  If you’re looking for a nice, stylized experience that will take up a good amount of time, consider this one.  It just got an HD re-release, so now is the time!

Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Witcher 3 won tons of awards for a reason.  It combines elements of hack-and-slash, fantasy, and open-world exploration more gracefully than I could’ve expected.  You see elements of Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and more, all with a fairy tale spin.  Killing monsters with style in a medieval setting has rarely looked so cool.

Dark Souls

This is kind of an off-beat suggestion, but Dark Souls is a great option for a long haul.  These games are possibly Japanese company From Software‘s greatest work.  They’re notoriously hard, but they have an incredibly immersive, grotesque atmosphere.  They’re most famously an exercise in frustration.  But they shows their deep lore through gameplay, and have some of the most rewarding triumphs in gaming.  These are great if you want a reminder of why you loved video games in the first place.