Back in 2007 a lot of hype was building around a new IP set for release on both the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 called Assassin's Creed. It was one of the bigger games that was actually starting to look "next-gen" to me. The free running, the open cities, the amount of NPC's on screen, and the fighting mechanics all looked amazing, and it had me very excited to get my hands on this new title.
November rolled around and I finally had my long awaited chance to check this historical assassination simulator out. One of the biggest surprises came from the story of the game. The futuristic sci-fi elements were unique and it was a fantastic way to tell a narrative. Using the very cool (I wish it was real) Animus machine to go back in time and relive your ancestors memories was bad-ass, especially when that ancestor was Altair, a true video game bad-ass of bad-asses who was just all around...bad-ass.
The game wasn't a complete joyride, however. It suffered from a ton of repetitive tasks to the point that I actually stopped playing, and didn't even beat it until I heard that Assassin's Creed 2 was announced. Little hiccups are expected in a new franchise, and I was still pleased enough with it that I was getting excited again to try their second installment out. Plus, with the promise of a new, and more talkative, character, a ton of more things to do in the world, and the ongoing ties between the Templars, Assassin's, Desmond, Altair and this new protagonist, Ubisoft, once again, had my pre-order.
In June of 2009, Assassin's Creed 2 came along. This game might go down as my favorite improvement over an already good game, ever. Everything Ubisoft said they were going to deliver on, they did, and then some. The free running never felt better, the story telling was top notch, and improved visuals made this Assassin's Creed game a true accomplishment.
I also felt that it came out at a perfect time compared to its predecessor as I always think the perfect time to hype something up, is just when people are about to start forgetting about the franchise in question. Ah. Do you see where this is going now? YOUR GAMES ARE COMING OUT TOO FAST!!
I find it incredibly rare for this complaint to pop up. In this day and age we are so all-consuming and instantly ready for the next shipment of goodies, that we hardly have time to really enjoy any one thing for a significant amount of time. I remember as a kid I had an awesome Sub-Zero action figure. I cherished the hell out of that thing. I took him everywhere, made him have battles of epic proportions in the grocery store. I even made my own stories up with him and didn't even use him as Sub-Zero when that hat got old. Now, I'm not saying to bring your Assassin's Creed case with you everywhere and throw Altair off of your roof, but I feel the idea of cherishing something with time is something that is happening less and less now.
Not long after Assassin's Creed 2 blew us away, Brotherhood was announced...and then Revelations, and then 3 and 4 felt like a high five away. Purely as a consumer, this constant onslaught of releases might come across as a rushed, cash-grab attempt. Even though I know Ubisoft has several different teams working on these projects simultaneously, and they aren’t nearly as rushed as it appears, it's still going to seem that way to the average consumer.
Really though, shouldn't the bottom line be about whether the content they’re releasing so fast is good, and if it is, isn't that a good thing? In a perfect world, yes. However, I have always felt that for a game to feel good to me, it has to be around 80% of awesome content and gameplay, and 20% of me being in the mood to play said awesome stuff. And because of that lack of patience we are all developing at a rapid rate, the more you give me of the same, the more my mood is going to dwindle down for it. I know that they have made some great and not so great changes to the franchise over the years to keep things interesting, but it all feels so familiar that whenever they have announced a new game as of late, I have given a slight shrug and muttered a quiet "cool".
This all seems like a "me" problem, and I realize no one is forcing me to buy these games as soon as they come out and make sure that I am all caught up with them. But the "me" problems are the only real ones I care about, and since I 100% of the time agree with my own opinion, it has come to a rant about it. So even if I didn't stay up to date with the games and only bought them when I felt like it, the fact that it gave me these feelings in the first place is still there, and will always be whenever I start playing an AC title.
I mean, since 2007 we have seen six full releases, not including any that were exclusive to hand held devices. That sounds like a sports game or a Call of Duty release schedule. Assassin's Creed is not an E-sport, and shouldn't be treated as one. Yes, the multiplayer has come a long way, and is now incredibly fun, but the heart of these titles has always been their single player experiences. I actually love the story of these games, and I really felt (like a lot of people did) that it didn't mean that much in Assassin's Creed 3, and that's a huge let down.
I truly believe that when the first game came out, this had huge potential to be some of the greatest modern story telling I have ever seen. I mean "modern" as with our knowledge and technology we have today, I don't think this story could have been told nearly as well at any other time, and I think pacing it would have only played into its hands.
I look at games like Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. The pacing between those two allowed the perfect amount of hype to wash over me, that I was like a little school girl on release day for Arkham City. A key part of this, is the fact that the Assassin's Creed games, are good freaking games. They deserve the full school girl like hype that any fantastic franchise gets damnit! This also plays a huge part in my consumerism, how excited I am for the thing I am going to throw a good $60 on, and how likely I'm going to actually spend that money.
I don't just blame this on our lack of patience being felt by developers, or the fact that our over consuming ways of news, products, technology has made us greedier than ever. Hell, I love technology. I'm writing this article on a bad-ass piece of technology while drinking my coffee that was pumped out by bean-grinding robots, all while I await my shipment of next-gen, jaw-smashing console gaming to arrive at my door, which I know is on your truck and in my city because of other brain-blowing technology, I can track where you are with my system, UPS!
What this really comes down to, is the fact that I actually miss looking at a pre-order date, and getting upset it's so far away. I miss forgetting about the game months later, only to be reminded and pumped up all over again, and then pissed right off that it's still so far away. I also wouldn't care at all if it wasn't for the fact that I mostly love all of the Assassin's Creed games, and want to feel that good about getting them. The fact that they sometimes feel like a chore to move on to the next one, is upsetting to me. I never want that rush of excitement and anticipation to be a thing of the past for this industry that I love so much, or for individual franchises that have proven their worth.
Now go and buy Assassin's Creed 4, it's freaking awesome! I mean, pace out the releases...yep.