Thursday, November 26, 2015

Backlog Gaming Review: Assassin's Creed Unity and Dead Kings DLC Vive La Revolution!

I waited to buy Assassin's Creed Unity because of all the glitches and problems the game had upon its release that I kept hearing about. I'm glad I waited because it seems they addressed and fixed many of those glitches. There's a ton to see and do in Unity besides the main story such as side quests, puzzle quests, murder mystery quests,  and co-op missions that you can play with friends or privately. I liked the character of Arno Dorian (much more than I liked Shay in Rogue) and it was interesting to see a lot of his interactions with his friends and a variety of historical figures like Napoleon Bonaparte and Marquis de Sade.

Introducing Arno Dorian

The viewpoints in 16th century Paris are stunning, showing off a beautiful thriving city with a lot of people. The scenes with the Revolution were also interesting to see and interact with because of the people and I found I would stop and just listen. This also had me remembering all the French I learned as I listened to various conversations. At times having a lot of people could be frustrating when having to chase a target for a mission or spy on someone because they would get in the way causing a mission to fail if you didn't get to where you needed to be in time. There were also times where the controls would be a little wonky and Arno would grab a wall when I wanted him to just run or jump. It didn't happen often though so I didn't mind too much. I also didn't see the point of the game having four different types of currency. I'm not kidding. You had the livres, (what francs were first called) sync points, creed points, and helix credits. I felt this all could have done with just one currency. Instead you have money to buy stuff, the sync points and creed points are used to upgrade gear and skills, while the helix credits you use real money to buy things via UPlay. All of it is completely useless. UPlay is not only pointless, it just screams of greed. The game really only needed one currency and nothing else.

A spectacular view of 16th Century Paris

 I do understand that Arno's tale of revenge with the Assassins vs. Templars has been done before, but I found I did like the story for what it was; an entertaining adventure with some pivotal history and interesting characters in it. Yes, they did take a few liberties with some of the historical aspects, but it flowed really well and was done in a subtle way that made all the events mesh well together. I liked the character of Elise also, and I wish there had been a few more main missions with her because she offered a different point of view and also showed that not all the Templars were power hungry insane people. There's also the factor that she and Arno together were intriguing and they made a great team.

Elise and Arno 

There are several different ways to do many of the missions which I found to be fun. You could either sneak in a window or disguise yourself as one of the soldiers and just walk right in the front door. The AI for the enemies is more aggressive here so I found myself relying heavily on smoke bombs often. At some points it got a little frustrating especially with the final memory sequence because I had to be a certain distance from the target to finish the mission. There were a couple of glitch issues such as a location on the map for a quest not showing up and an odd one where Arno got stuck in a wall and it looked like he was swimming on the wall. Those were the only technical problems I ran into which isn't too bad. Overall the game itself is fun to play with lots to see and do. There's even a mission with a hot air balloon that's very cool.

Hot air balloon over Paris is awesome

Once I had finished up the main story of Unity, I started the Dead Kings DLC. This happens a week after the events of the main story and in Franciade (now Saint Denis) and Arno  runs into the Marquis de Sade once again who wishes for Arno to help him find the manuscript of Nicoleas de Condorcet which is rumored to be in the tomb of Louis IX. Arno agrees to help him in exchange for a ship to take Arno to Egypt. After that you get to explore Franciade and while not as big as Paris it's just as beautiful and there's lots to explore above and below.

A bird's eye view of some of Franciade

Arno runs into some tomb raiders who happen to be working for Napoleon Bonaparte and we see him once again throughout the area. Napoleon is looking for something in a Precursor Temple. While we all know what that could mean Arno does not, but he knows that whatever it is can't be good. He also befriends a young boy named Leon and they work together to figure out exactly what it is Napoleon is after. There are a lot of side missions here too along with some murder mystery quests and a few more co-op missions as well. There are even a few take over the enemy fort missions that are fun to do as well.

Some of the missions could be a bit frustrating because a lot of them were in the catacombs and it could be very hard to see with how dark some of the areas are. I had to use Eagle Vision a lot just to be able to see where I needed to go. Luckily there were only a couple of places that were difficult to see in. You also get some new equipment that is pretty awesome like the guillotine gun basically an axe and a grenade launcher melded together. While not the stealthiest of weapons, it's a ton of fun to unleash all that firepower on your enemies.  The lantern on the other hand, annoyed me. Yes, the catacombs are dark and yes you need a lantern, but it seemed a lot of the puzzles relied heavily on the lantern and it was a bit clunky and tedious. I mean having to use a lantern just so I could scare away roaches to jump on a ledge was a bit much. 

The Precursor Temple was interesting to explore with a few lighting puzzles and brazier puzzles. The scenes with Arno and Leon chatting together were nice because it showed Leon gradually getting Arno to see that there is always hope and even caused Arno to change his mind about a few things. With the main story and side missions Dead Kings is only a couple of hours, but it's a couple of hours worth playing. 

Arno in the Precursor Temple

Overall Assassin's Creed Unity (which includes the Dead Kings DLC for free) is a solid game and it is fun to play. There's a lot to see and do on your own and plenty to do with your friends via co-op missions. It's worth checking out because of the fun of the missions and because of the fact that the main character is actually pretty likable.

Note: I played this game on the PS4.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Backlog Gaming Review: Assassin's Creed Rogue, Not Perfect At All

*Note: There's going to be some spoilers in this review, so if you haven't played it yet and don't like spoilers you may want to wait.*

Next in my gaming backlog was Assassin's Creed Rogue. I was curious about the story because it is told from the Templar perspective via the assassin turned templar character Shay Cormac. It started out promising enough and then it was a long frustrating adventure in disappointment. There were just so many issues that I had with this game among the story and mechanics. 

Shay Cormac, the protagonist of Assassin's Creed Rogue

Shay starts out as an assassin who seems full of promise, but is brash and quick with his temper. We see Achilles from AC 3 as a much younger man and he seems a little more aggressive here because of all the anger he has inside him from losing his family. He has high hopes for Shay however and things seem to be going fairly well until a trip Shay takes to Lisbon to get an artifact, yet when he took it he discovered it wasn't a normal Piece of Eden but an artifact that kept the world together. When Shay removed it, it caused a huge earthquake that killed a lot of people. 

Of course Shay was angry and there is a huge fight between him and Achilles about it because he was convinced that Achilles set him up. In fact, Achilles had no idea that would happen and it makes things worse when he doesn't believe what Shay has told him. This is when Shay leaves the Assassins and joins with the Templars. The game is all about Shay's story in this moment and what he does to try and stop the assassins from getting more artifacts that will essentially destroy the world. 

This is when the frustration, issues, and annoyance with the game come into play. Let's start with the ship controls. Yes, we're in the Americas again a la AC 3 which drove me up the wall with all its issues. I didn't mind until I tried sailing The Morrigan. This was clearly a copy and paste of Black Flag (which I loved) and I could forgive that if only the ship controls hadn't been so damn clunky. I couldn't understand why they were this clunky and awkward when in Black Flag they were practically flawless. There was no excuse for these controls and it made me miss Black Flag and the Jackdaw which was a much better ship.

The Morrigan, woohoo clunky sailing

Then there are the battles that involve running. It got pretty old fast when Shay would constantly be trying to climb buildings or trees when I didn't want him to. The controls for combat were clunky as well, plus there were moments where the game would freeze or Shay would be hanging in mid air for no reason at all. A few times I would get a black screen and the game wouldn't load at all. With all those issues, I truly don't understand how AC Rogue got all these great reviews from others and makes me wonder if we had played the same game, because it is not perfect at all. 

Shay never doing what I want him to do during battles

The story started off interestingly enough, but then it just flops around and makes me despise Shay. I understand the story shows you that there really is no good or bad on either side and that both are flawed although they both claim to want the same goal of peace. I thought Connor was bad in AC3, but Shay is a whole new level of emo asshat. For someone who claims he doesn't want to kill innocents, kill others, and wishes the assassins and Templars would talk to each other he does a lot of killing of his former comrades and practically no talking at all. It's a lot of yelling bravado about how he wants to protect the world which is all well and good except for the part where he hunted down his fellow assassins and murdered them. I will never forgive the writers for him killing Adewale who was one of my favorite characters in Black Flag. 

At the end it's not even satisfying when you realize this is all over a misunderstanding on behalf of Achilles who didn't believe Shay until the end when he sees for himself and realizes that he was right about the artifacts and telling the truth about what happened in Lisbon. There's the usual final battle and of course Shay kills his best friend who still believes in the assassins to the very end. Achilles is the only one left and of course Haytham Kenway (poor Edward Kenway would have hated to see that his son joined the Templars and became a total jerk) shoots Achilles in the shin making sure he'll never be able to get in his way again, but we know how that turns out later. 

Here's the thing, Shay does question some of the things the Templars do as well and yet he still stays with them. Yes, the assassins aren't perfect but so many of the Templars are evil sadists and he thinks he's going to protect the world with them. Really? Rogue just ignores so much of the already established lore and gave me a character that wasn't likable at all and in fact made me want to shove him off a cliff at so many intervals. Even the side quests with taking over gangs wasn't enjoyable because of the frustrating game play mechanics. This was as disappointing as AC 3 and that says quite a lot. So this isn't worth it at all. You can just skip it and get the back story with Unity which I will be playing next.