I actually enjoyed Assassin’s Creed III, but the announcement of a fourth game just 12 months later has me worried. Very worried. Assassin’s Creed is repeating Call of Duty’s juggernaut cash-grab and is facing a similar premature burn-out, possibly as soon as 2013.
I’ve only played three Assassin’s Creed games. The original, its sequel and Assassin’s Creed III. Revolutionary-brotherhood-hunters or whatever came between never interested me, and I think that’s why I’ve so far enjoyed all three games. So far, Assassin’s Creed hasn’t been an annual series to me.
However, sales have been high and Ubisoft is keen to wrangle as many pennies out of what may be a dying franchise before giving it a much needed rest.
Assassin’s Creed would have beamed with a refreshed glow if it had skipped a year and amazed us with its Pirates of the Caribbean setting on next-generation hardware.
I’m not suggesting a full-blown hiatus. Assassin’s Creed would have beamed with a refreshed glow if it had skipped a year and amazed us with its Pirates of the Caribbean setting on next-generation hardware.
As it stands, it’s being made for the current consoles with some predictably half-backed Wii U GamePad support and ported to the next generation. It’ll become like Gun and, errr, all of those other Xbox 360 launch titles that were actually from the previous generation and soon forgotten.
With its seventh consecutive release, another new protagonist and watered-down next-gen appearance, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag feels about as fresh as a man walking off a fifteen hour flight sitting next to a screaming baby (side bar: I’m in that very predicament as I write this with ten-and-a-half hours to go).
I’m not totally soured on the idea. The we-accidentally-published-it-so-screw-it-here-it-is-early trailer at the weekend actually looked quite good. Even if I was expected Captain Jack Sparrow to awkwardly swing in looking for his hat. Besides a hooded man, it had a distinct lack of assassins and a far greater emphasis on pirating.
I like that.
However, I probably would have liked it a lot more in 2014 made for PlayStation 4 and the third Xbox.
It feels -- and this really is conjecture here -- that Ubisoft is relying on the Assassin’s Creed because it knows its a sure-fire way to sell 10 million copies every year, and it wants a piece of the Call of Duty annual pie.
I’m happy that Assassin’s Creed at least appears to be evolving, but I’m sceptical that it might it nothing more than another coat of paint. The previous three (real) games have benefited from minor improvements in each iteration, but none of them have reinvented the wheel when it comes to gameplay. It’s basically exactly the same thing with a sea change.
That can only take a series so far, and is why I lost interest in Call of Duty after Modern Warfare 2. I played Modern Warfare 3 for a few weeks and Black Ops 2 for about 10 minutes -- but only because I didn’t buy it.
I don’t think I’ll bother with this year’s iteration because Activision was so intent on whoring out COD while it’s making money. From a business perspective, that’s the right decision. As a gamer, it’s died long before it’s time. Call of Duty will never have the quarter of a century longevity that Nintendo can claim with Mario and The Legend of Zelda.
I fear that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is following the same path to demise. It’s a great business decision -- I’d have made the same call if I worked at Ubisoft -- but as a gamer, and one who’s enjoyed Assassin’s Creed until this point, it’s hard to get excited and easy to get worried.
Meanwhile, I apologise for any Blag typos. I keep typing that but genuinely don’t mean to or even notice half that time. It has a little bit of a Blops ring to it, so maybe it’ll catch on; assuming the Internet hasn’t already decided that Black Fag is just too good to pass up.
By Ben Salter
Is the Assassin's Creed series still exciting?