Assassin’s Creed 3

*Native american gibberish*

The Assassin’s Creed series follows the ancient conspiracy between the Knights Templar (bad guys) and the Assassins (good guys), as their intricate, shadowy, and Greek mythology-based plots converge around the protagonist, Percy Jackson – I mean, Desmond – who uses ill-defined technology to relive the memories of his ancestors through the medium of open-world, stealth-heavy RPGs.

The series is probably the perfect cross-section of how the notoriously fickle triple-A gaming industry has changed over the past console generation. The first game, a 2007 trip to the 12th century Middle East, was praised for its unique concept and excellent design, which was enough to overshadow its lackluster gameplay and confusing story. The sequel came out in late 2009, and iterated on the original concept by moving the time period to the more recognizable Renaissance-era Italy, while also shoring up the gameplay issues and having a more coherent and basic plot.

And then the critical and financial success of the series started to cause problems. I’ll say up front that I’m perfectly fine with supplemental material for sprawling franchises like this – providing more information or gameplay for fans who want it while not being necessary for the casual player’s enjoyment of the central games.

From what I can tell, Ubisoft have the first aspect down pat, but are still struggling a bit with the second. Between numbers 2 and 3 we’ve had no less than six tie-in games, with a seventh released alongside the latter (most of which contain pivotal story elements, and none of which I’ve played), in addition to a slew of novels, comic books, short films, and other mounds of Styrofoam packing peanuts, surrounding a package – the real, serious, numbered games – that I actually quite enjoy. (more…)

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Argo

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Argo. The true story of a 1980 CIA operation to mitigate the Iranian hostage crisis, and a narrative that, if you substituted Gellerese for Arabic, would be indistinguishable from a Mission: Impossible episode.

And, according to the AMPAS, the capital-letter Best Motion Picture of 2012. This is gonna be a hard one, folks. My reaction to the movie is one of mild approval – I like it, but not nearly enough to really care about it. And so, not only is this going to be really hard to review, but it’s going to be even harder to write jokes about.

Argo is well made, well acted, and well written, but it lacks any sort of signature or specific style to set it apart from the crowd. It’s a good movie, but it definitely won’t be remembered as the best that 2012 had to offer, because it just didn’t capture the same magic that we got from offerings like The Avengers or Skyfall.

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