Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag Articles RSS Feed | Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network The Importance of Characterization and Narrative in RPGs and Adventure Games Sat, 20 May 2017 14:00:01 -0400 Stephen Brown

CRPGs have been around for decades, with nearly all of them inspired by the likes of Dungeons and Dragons in some shape or form. The genre has also slowly merged with adventure games in recent years, allowing for new dynamics (and problems) to arise in their designs. However, with advancement in technology, video games, in general, have evolved into huge, intricate, and immersive experiences. Which has led for consumer expectations to rise.

Therefore, developers need to focus on creating complex and engaging storylines filled with memorable characters. That's what will keep the genre iterating -- and interesting.

Why Are Story And Characters So Important?

Story is what holds every RPG together, and it gives the player focus throughout his or her playtime. However, great storytelling isn't just about the main narrative, but also compelling mini story arcs and side quests narratives. When the player wants to explore and seek these out, they should be engaged by them and rewarded by them -- and not just with loot. Otherwise, these side quests become mundane, a chore to get through.

Likewise, characters are pivotal to any story -- the two cannot be separated. They work in tandem with great storytelling. They must have personality to be believable. They cannot be blank and emotionless A.I. If the characters are dull and unmemorable, then it will be difficult for the player to become invested in the game.

Although the story may boil down to saving the world, telling this in an interesting way -- with relatable characters -- makes the experience so much more engaging and worthwhile. 

Where RPGs and Adventure Games Get It Wrong And Right

The following RPGs aren't necessarily bad games, but they're also not necessarily great games, either. There are certain design and development decisions, specifically in the realms of narrative and quest design, that harm each game's overall experience. 

The Assassin's Creed Franchise

The Assassin's Creed series has had ups and downs, to say the least, Assassin's Creed 2 and Black Flag arguably the best games in the franchise. On the other hand, the series' side quests have never been great, relying too heavily on treasure hunts and endless fetch quests that offer little variety and no narrative payoff.

Comparatively, its main story has always been quite engaging and complex. This has been one of its strong suits (alongside fun and likable characters, like Ezio Auditore). Although the story in later entries isn't as strong as some of the early narratives in the franchise, it still contains its surprises, ones that keep the player engaged and coming back for more.

The Final Fantasy Series

The Final Fantasy series has always put a focus on its storylines and characters, which has allowed many entries to remain memorable and iconic years (and even decades) after their releases. Entries such as Final Fantasy VI, Final fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, and Final Fantasy X are regarded as the best in the long-running franchise. Even with dated graphics, the strong stories and relatable cast of characters allow them to stand the test of time.

Now, they are not without their faults -- one of them being the lack of side quests. Final Fantasy 15 corrected this to a degree by going open world and including countless side quests of varying quality. But its plot and characters were still a huge driving force behind the game, even through the late-game parts where the pacing of the narrative felt rushed. But in the end, it was still a successful narrative with an intriguing and well-written villain that sits among the best in the franchise.

The Elder Scrolls Series

Commonly referred to as the king of western RPGs, this franchise has always been one of the best at world building, providing players some of the most intricate pieces of lore in all of video games. Flawlessly incorporated into the gameplay, lore, story, and narrative-driven side quests have brought the series acclaim and provided originality. Skyrim may have better combat than Oblivion, but the quest design clearly took a hit, going with quantity over quality.

However, memorable and likable characters have never been present in the series, which does hold the games back from staying with the player long after they finish it. With the next game in the series, Bethesda will need to fix this long-running issue if they want to compete with the next example.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt:

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt improved every aspect and flaw from The Witcher 2. Its main story was epic and hooked players from the start. Nearly every character was detailed and layered, and each was easily likable and memorable as soon as you met them --  like The Bloody Baron, Geralt himself, Ciri, and Triss to name a few.

Many critics and fans alike consistently praise the side quests and for good reason. They all have a good, and often bizarre, story to tell. Players often seek out quests for narrative surprises, not loot. 

The level of detail, care, and passion that has gone into this game is unparalleled, far more than any other game out there. It has an impeccably written story and deep characters. Why? It's because every aspect of each has been created to such a high standard. The game's multiple endings allow for more than one playthrough, so you can experience many different choices over and over again. It is the closest gamers have ever come to a perfect game.

Final Thoughts

I hope that every developer learns the importance of story and characters in RPGs. It's needed alongside strong gameplay and quest design to truly make the game a masterpiece. Otherwise, the genre will pump out one uninspiring game after another -- many with little evolution.

Do you agree, or do you think I am completely crazy? Let me know in the comments. 

Assassin's Creed Ideas: Modern Tue, 23 Feb 2016 22:50:33 -0500 BlackTideTV

Welcome back to Assassin's Creed Ideas, where we look at possible settings for the next Assassin's Creed game each and every Tuesday -- there are a lot of possibilities after all...

If you missed any of our previous entries, you can catch up with the following links:

Before we talk about a possible modern setting in Assassin's Creed's future, we need to talk about the modern setting that we've already seen in the series. Part of the AC games usually takes place in a modern world with a  character using a special machine - an Animus - to relive ancestors' memories through DNA. If you're new to the series or only started playing since "next-gen" consoles came out, you probably haven't experienced a lot of this, as the games have been slowly waning out of their original plot.

Desmond Miles

Desmond Miles Assassin's Creed Trilogy

In what I like to refer to as "the original trilogy" (Assassin's Creed 1-3 including Brotherhood and Revelations as Assassin's Creed 2.1 and 2.2) Desmond was the main character and pushed the rather confusing story forward in both modern and historical times. Let's take a look at this guy's backstory, how he changed Assassin's Creed, and why he isn't in the games anymore.

Originally part of the modern-day Assassin's Order, Desmond decided to "pursue his own dreams" and ran away to become a bartender (it's as ridiculous as it sounds). In September of 2012, a Templar organization known as Abstergo Industries kidnapped and forced Desmond to relive his ancestors' memories through the use of the Animus so that the Templars could find "Pieces of Eden," extremely powerful weapons/artifacts. Here marks the beginning of the original Assassin's Creed game. 

After some time, Desmond breaks out with the help of an undercover Assassin. He then joins forces with her Italian-based Assassin cell and begins to train his abilities with the help of a new Animus in Assassin's Creed II.

Ezio Auditore di Firenze Assassin's Creed II

------------ WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! ------------

Cut to Assassin's Creed III and Desmond has become a fully fledged Assassin; players even get to bring him on a few missions throughout the game. He has learned of an impending doomsday (December 21st, 2012... no, really) and enters a special temple where an ancient device capable of preventing this disaster is held. Using yet another Animus, Desmond relives a different ancestor's memories and finds the key to unlock the artifact.

When he goes to retrieve the device, Desmond is confronted by two goddesses (real talk: the original AC games were all over the place). He has the option to save the world now, releasing the goddess Juno's power on it (killing everyone in the long run) or not save the world, get preserved and essentially become a god himself. Being the great hero that he is, he opted for death by releasing the Juno, stating that the remaining Assassins will deal with her. Thus ends Desmond's story. 

Other Modern Gameplay

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Abstergo Entertainment Desk

Apart from Desmond, the only modern day gameplay we've had access to is as an unnamed Abstergo Entertainment employee capturing footage from Edward Kenway's memories in Black Flag, and as a gamer playing through the memories of Arno and the Frye twins in Unity and Syndicate.

But is that truly it? Some die-hard fans believe that we've already had a modern day Assassin's Creed in the form of Watch_Dogs. Check out this YouTube video on the subject as it can provide a better description of the supposed Ubisoft shared universe than I can:

The Time has come for a Modern Assassin's Game

Whether you prescribe to the shared universe conspiracy or not, it is far past time we got a modern day Assassin's Creed. With Desmond's dying breath, he asked the remaining Assassins to fight off this where are they all? We know a couple of them are running around trying to find more Pieces of Eden, but the Assassin's Order is supposed to be this huge thing - so I ask again, where is everyone?

Sure the battle between Templar and Assassin is one that takes place in the shadows of the world and everything they do or say is kept hidden from the public eye, but the shadows are where these two forces live.

Let us take control of a modern day Assassin and send us into Abstergo to take out some high value targets and disrupt the Templars' plans! Give us access to some crazy powerful black ops Assassin team armed to the teeth with weaponry and let us go wild! 

CIA Black Ops Lego Minifigure Team

Critics claim year after year that the Assassin's Creed franchise is getting tired, but that doesn't need to be the case. With a modern setting, anything could be possible. 

That's it for today's Assassin's Creed Ideas article. If you enjoyed, agreed with anything you read, found something wrong, have any input, or an idea for a future article, let me know in the comments section!

Don't forget to read up on the last three articles: Assassin's Creed Ideas: Ancient EgyptAssassin's Creed Ideas: World War One, and Assassin's Creed Ideas: 1920s America. For all of the hottest Assassin's Creed Ideas articles, follow the ACI landing page .

For the best of Fallout 4, Assassin's Creed, and Guitar Hero Live news, guides, and opinion pieces be sure to follow BlackTideTV on GameSkinny! To stay up to date, head over to my Twitter page @BlackTideTV.

Assassin's Creed Ideas: World War One Tue, 09 Feb 2016 09:25:00 -0500 BlackTideTV

Welcome back to the weekly Assassin's Creed Ideas column! Every Tuesday we talk about another possible setting that the critically acclaimed series could delve into. Be sure to catch up if you missed last week's article on Ancient Egypt

This week's topic: World War One or the Great War

Traditionally the Assassin's Creed series deals with two timelines in each of its games: past and present. There is often a modern day person using an "Animus" to relive the memories of their ancestors through accessing their DNA. In the original trilogy, Desmond Miles, who was the modern day hero, actually became an assassin himself. 

There are only a couple of problems that could arise with an Assassin's game set so near to the present:

  • It might not fit with the overarching story of the series. The Animus may not allow memory travel to a time frame so close to the present.
  • Modern weaponry was used in the Great War. Modern weaponry would put an assassin at a severe disadvantage, and the series isn't about to turn into a shooter.
  • An Easter egg found in Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag presented all of Ubisoft's future Assassin's possibilities at the time. What it also revealed was the fact that Ubisoft in no way wants to add the ability to drive in the "Animus." In other words, we won't be steering any tanks or dogfighting the Red Baron.

The Red Baron's Bi-plane

For the sake of this article's continuance, let's step away from the possible setbacks, talk about what actually happened during this time in history and how an Assassin's Creed game could become a part of it.

The Birth of World War One

Although it was one of the most tragic times in world history, the Great War is all but forgotten in contrast to the Holocaust and battles of the Second World War. In case you didn't take history class in school, or maybe you did and just didn't go, I'll shortly recap what happened. 

Straight from the get-go, Ubisoft would be able to relate the events of World War One to an Assassin's game. The entire war happened because of a single assassination.

On June 28, 1914 a group of six assassins (five Serbians and one Bosniak) led by Black Hand member Danilo Ilić succeeded in taking the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne. The goal of this assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary's South Slav provinces (shown in blue in the image below) so that they could become part of a Yugoslavia. 

South Slav provinces (Yugoslavia)

This action led to political outrage, as assassinations tend to do, and an ultimatum was sent to the Kingdom of Serbia. When the Serbs rejected some of the terms, ta-da! World War One.

Where does Assassin's Creed fit in?

I hope I'm not the only one that can see the obvious twist that Ubisoft could put on Ferdinand's assassination. The Black Hand could be a subset of the Templar Order, or the Templar Order itself, simply taking on a fresh new name.

Haytham Kenway Assassin's Creed III (3)

We've seen through the eyes of Haytham Kenway in Assassin's Creed III that the Templars perform almost identically to the Assassins. Perhaps it was the Templars that issued the assassination with a larger agenda at hand. Maybe they were framing the Assassins or someone within their ranks? 

Could the World War have been the result they were looking for? They could be trying to root out the base of the Assassins by leading the world's armies through the general location. Another possible option is that the Templars needed the world focused on a fixed point so they could stealthily operate outside of it. 

This is yet another time frame where opportunities are positively endless. Four whole years the Great War spanned. That gives the writers plenty of time to create a mystery for players, allow a generous helping of open world, trench warfare assassinating, and conclude the story. 

What to Expect

Depending on the route Ubisoft could take with this subject, expectations would be completely up in the air. We would most likely see the traditional World War template of Axis versus Allies with Assassins taking one side and Templars the other.

World War One Machine Gun

Automatic weapons are still less popular than semi-auto rifles in this period, so there wouldn't be too many guards shooting 900 bullets-per-second at players, however, the existence of more powerful ranged weapons would make stealth an even larger part of the game than it has been before. 

Trench warfare would be a staple of the game. In the off-chance that a soldier would cross into an enemy trench in war, hand-to-hand or other melee combat would be used to dispatch anyone sharing that quarter of the trench. It was much too cramped to use ranged weapons, making running through the trenches ideal for an assassin.

Atop all of this, a World War One Assassin's Creed could set the stage for a new "series" of Creed games à la Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood, Revelations, etc. Returning from war, the United States launched into the "Roaring Twenties" where, due to prohibition, gangsters like Al Capone ruled entire cities. Soon after, the Second World War began with the uprising of Nazi Germany. But such are topics for future Assassin's Creed Ideas columns.

The Roaring Twenties 1920 

What do you think about an Assassin's Creed game set in World War One? Do you know of any issues that would arise that I missed? Perhaps you have an idea for how the story would go? Let me know in the comments section down below.

Remember to check out the first Assassin's Creed Ideas article on Ancient Egypt if you missed it, and to follow BlackTideTV on GameSkinny for weekly editions of this very series! See you next Tuesday.

10 Awesome gaming -themed statues (that are probably too expensive for you to buy) Thu, 21 Jan 2016 11:39:23 -0500 Nick Harshman


Have you seen any statues or collectibles that you thought were particularly awesome? Share them with us in the comments below!


Kratos On Throne (Exclusive Edition)


Wow. Just wow. Look at that thing. It's incredible.


We finish with the God of War himself, Kratos. This has got to be the coolest statue I've ever seen, and it's a whopping 29 inches tall. Yet another from Gaming Heads, this statue comes in two versions. The regular edition is Kratos without the God of War armor, and the exclusive (read: more expensive) version is the above picture. I think it's obvious which one is better. Unfortunately, the exclusive edition is no longer available, but the standard statue - sans armor - is still up for pre-order and will cost $480.




This product is definitely a goliath. Standing at 29 inches tall, this piece is still in pre-order and will cost you $750. For that much money, I feel like it should walk around or something -- just saying.


Either way, the figure looks amazing, and I'd love to get my hands on one. 


War and Ruin


Darksiders was an awesome game, so it makes sense that a statue based on the game would be just as awesome. Created by State of the Art Toys, this statue lights up, similar to the Diablo statue. The detail in this piece is breathtaking, particularly War's sword, which sports quite the complicated design pattern. Unfortunately, this is one of the only ones I cannot find anywhere, and so is unavailable. Oh well.




Do I need to say anything? It's Diablo and he glows. HE GLOWS! I'm just gonna leave it at that.


Price wise, this one sits at $350 on Sideshow but is sold out and can instead be found on Amazon for $720 or $999.




I love this statue. This piece was perfectly crafted by Gecco, a Japanese company. This one is special in that it also comes with some interchangeable parts, something most of the others on this list don't do. It comes with a red visor to go over Raiden's face, as well as a red sword and the sword sheath to place in his other hand.


Another plus is that it seems to be the most reasonably priced on this list, listed at $219. In fact, I might buy it right now...I'll be right back.


Tali'Zorah vas Normandy


Another one from Gaming Heads, Tali was an easy choice since she is one of the best characters in the Mass Effect series. This statue boasts amazing detail, especially in the hood of Tali's suit.


If Tali isn't quite your cup of tea, you can always check out Garrus and Liara as well. They are equally well-crafted. But who cares about them, right? I think we can all agree that Tali is the best.


Right now, Tali is still up for pre-order and you can nab her for $330, or the exclusive version for $340.


The Clicker


These guys give me nightmares, so of course I'd love to have one in my house. Made by Gaming Heads, the clicker stands at 19 inches tall and is one of the grossest looking collectibles out there. But the details are so well done that you can't help but want it.


They're still up for pre-order at $350, if you'd like to get one.


Edward Kenway Resin Statue


McFarlane Toys is responsible for this 14-inch, $400 beauty, which shows the notorious pirate Edward Kenway enjoying a lovely jaunt down a beach. This is one of my personal favorites, purely because of the attention to detail. Kenway's costume is one of the more complicated designs of the Assassin's Creed universe, so to see it rendered with such accuracy and care makes this one of the best I've ever seen. 


Link on Epona


Created by First 4 Figures, this statue stands 17 inches tall. This one is cool because who doesn't like Zelda? I mean Link...of course I meant Link. This particular statue is based on The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and also comes in an exclusive faux bronze finish that honestly looks kinda ugly. In case you were wondering (and if you weren't I'll tell you anyway) that exclusive version is selling for over $2,500 on Amazon. Sheesh.


Nathan Drake Premium Format Figure


We start with Uncharted's Nathan Drake. Created by Sideshow Collectibles, this statue is just pure awesome. Sitting at 16.5 inches tall, the attention to detail on this piece is incredible. 


What really stands out to me, though, is the way they created such realistic looking clothing. Not to mention they got Nathan's face one hundred percent right, something that is more difficult than you'd think. As for price, this one is $350 from Sideshow, but since it's sold out there you can go to Amazon and find it for...wait for it...$550.


I personally wonder where Drake is running off to, though I suspect it's to break up with Elena again.


If you're like me, you've always wanted to start your own collection of comic/game/movie memorabilia. And if you're like me, you can't afford it because those statues cost hundreds of dollars and your firstborn child.


That doesn't mean we can't dream though! We can still look at these beautiful pieces of art and hope that someday we'll be able to buy one of them...but just one since they're so damn expensive. Either way, here are 10 of the coolest gaming-related statues that are out there.

No Assassin's Creed in 2016? Good. Sun, 10 Jan 2016 09:15:36 -0500 Nick Harshman

This past week, Kotaku posted a story claiming they heard rumors that the next main entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise will not only be set in Egypt, but will also be released in 2017 instead of 2016. In other words, Ubisoft has decided to give the series a much needed rest. I for one cannot help but feel thankful that they have chosen to let the franchise catch it's breath.

Should this rumor be true, this will be the first year since 2009 that fans will not receive a main entry in the Assassin vs. Templar franchise. Of course fans can still look forward to Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India and Russia, which are due out January 12 and February 9 respectively, but those games serve more as spinoffs than entries in the main franchise.

Don't get the wrong idea, I enjoy Assassin's Creed quite a bit. Unfortunately, I also feel that since the decision to annualize the series, its quality has taken a dive year after year. This culminated in the debacle that was the Assassin's Creed Unity release: littered with bugs, a lackluster ending to say the least, and a love story that at times felt shoehorned in. 

Fast forward to Syndicate's release in 2015 and you'll find the game feels much the same as its predecessor - minus the bugs - and arrived with a resounding thud. Much of the gameplay is similar, combat is tedious, and the recycled combat animations are disappointing. This iteration could be considered the very definition of playing it safe. Designers eliminated the bugs, nixed the multiplayer and focused on a single player experience in Victorian London, one of the most popular time periods in fiction. As they continue to pump out new sequels every year, Ubisoft can't make the drastic changes the series so desperately needs.

If Ubisoft does take 2016 off, what changes should we expect in 2017's Assassin's Creed? First and foremost, the developers face a hard decision: do they continue to incorporate the present day storyline? If so, they need to expand upon it and move the story forward - as it is now the plot has plateaued. It almost seems as if they had no plan for after Assassin's Creed III and have been winging it since then. Taking a break will allow them to flesh out the plot for future games. 

Ubisoft also needs to completely overhaul the combat system. The foundation is there for Batman Arkham style combat, but the clunkiness and poor enemy AI prevent the current system from coming into its own. Combat akin to Shadow of Mordor would be ideal for the Assassin's Creed franchise as it allows for the free flowing combat style the developers could be looking for. 

Fixing the minor problems that have been plaguing the series for years resolves some of the fans' remaining complaints. Issues such as sticky jumping and inconsistent character movement, NPC characters lacking personality, and creating a realistic environment are just a few of the possible improvements Ubisoft should focus on.

Assassin's Creed is not a bad series and I would go out of my way to recommend it to others, but it continues to test my patience. Ubisoft would be well served taking a year and getting their head on straight. Here's hoping 2017's Assassin's Creed is the redemption the series needs. Who knows, maybe we'll even get a game set in Feudal Japan.

A look at the Assassin's Creed series from best to worst Wed, 04 Nov 2015 09:00:32 -0500 Ty Arthur


Floundering franchise or wellspring of ideas?


While each title had something to make it stand out, it does seem like there's only so many ways to refresh and revitalize the same gameplay before you run out of ideas, and it may be time for Assassin's Creed to take a few years off and come back in a whole new format.

What do you think of our ranking of the games, and do you want to see a new title every year or agree that the series needs to take a break?


Worst: Assassin's Creed: Unity


Assassin's Creed unquestionably stumbled with its first faltering steps into the next generation of console gaming. Frankly the endless stream of bugs made people want to take up assassination as a profession and target certain game developers...


If you went with the PC version you could look forward to crashes galore, but any edition had an absolute avalanche of technical problems crushing any hope of a good game experience. Bodies would contort in insane ways, parts of your face would disconcertingly vanish, sometimes you'd just fall through the floor, objects would float in the air for no apparent reason and you'd be taken with the irresistible urge to dance while climbing ladders or running across ledges. It was sort of like being in a horror movie, but not on purpose.


The game was so bad that Ubisoft Montreal CEO Yannis Mallet actually issued a formal apology to fans for the bug-ridden release and even handed out free DLC as a mea culpa. We can only hope a lesson was learned here and the series never dips this low again.


Assassin's Creed III


Just as it seemed like Brotherhood couldn't work, this entry in the series seemed destined for greatness, and both of those assumptions ended up completely incorrect. The setting had everyone excited – medieval European assassin game series heads to the American revolution? - but the end result was anything but gripping.


I remember the excitement felt when the first video teasers landed was only matched by the disappointment of the end product as the main character isn't particularly exciting, the intro segments are way too long and the game was very buggy upon release. Although they don't get mentioned often, there were actually some graphical shortcuts used here that really didn't sit right, especially the foliage and leaves that looked like flat cardboard cutouts.


The DLC is worth mentioning however, as the idea of George Washington becoming a tyrant who has to be taken down was incredibly interesting. Even with new animal-inspired powers for your Native American assassin, the end result was a little lackluster though, ending up quite repetitive with a weak ending.


Assassin's Creed


If you weren't aware of the twist ahead of time (and I wasn't when I first popped that disc in), the sci-fi/modern day twist at the very start of the game really messed with your head. Like “Sixth Sense” messed with your head. I first played the original Assassin's Creed on Christmas Day 2007 after having imbibed quite a bit, and honestly I thought at first that someone at the factory had messed up somehow and put the wrong game in the case. Those who trolled all the forums or stayed on top of the gaming magazines at the time actually missed out there.


Opening mindscrew aside, there's no question this game has aged, and perhaps not very well. More interesting features and smoother gameplay have been added to most of the games since, so while this one has nostalgia going for it, its definitely among the weaker entries with quite clunky controls. For some fans, the placement of this game so low on the list might be a bit of a controversial one, and it really could be swapped with the previous entry for those feeling a little more generous.


Assassin's Creed: Revelations


Assassin's Creed: Revelations is the game that almost wasn't – originally set to be a handheld game for the 3DS, it was scrapped and an announcement was released from Ubisoft that there wouldn't actually be an Assassin's Creed game that year... until it was resurrected for the main consoles of the time as Revelations and came out anyway.


While not an explicitly bad game, the formula was getting pretty stale by the time Revelations showed up, and those new features added in didn't really resonate with fans. The hook was kind of nifty, but looking back it didn't actually add a whole lot, and the minigame of defending areas against waves of Templar reinforcements wasn't particularly compelling. This wrap-up to the Ezio storyline was a middling experience that just didn't manage to knock it out of the park.


Assassin's Creed: Syndicate


With Syndicate only out for a few days now it's tough to make a real call yet as to where it really lands in the ranking of the series, as viewpoints are going to change as a game sinks in over repeated plays. Assassin's Creed III is probably the best example of that - it received stellar reviews from the major game sites at launch but is now universally reviled.


We'll have to see with AC:S finally lands, but right now it seems to be sitting in the middle of the pack: there's some great stuff going on, but it certainly isn't the peak of the franchise. Carriage chases and top hats aren't quite as innovative as being a pirate.

As a standalone, side-story title it gives a brief glimpse into Victorian era assassins, again slightly changing the formula and abandoning multiplayer, but leading some to wish for another multi-game arc featuring a character we can love as much as Ezio.

Personally, I'm a fan of the top hats, mutton chops, flintlock pistols, and high speed carriage chases. With the organized crime aspects and shooting from a carriage while chasing down other horse-drawn vehicles, sometimes the game almost feels a bit like you're Nico Bellic in old time England. It probably won't ever be heralded as the best entry in the series, but it does sit solidly in the middle.


Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood


No one expected this game to work, and everyone thought an epic flop was brewing over at Ubisoft. How do you take single player stealth assassin gameplay and tack on multiplayer to it? Somehow it worked, and while the experience isn't quite the crazy wild west of say something like GTA 5 multiplayer, it definitely had solid appeal as you wondered whether the person next to you was a simple peasant... or an assassin with a blade ready. Honestly, it's still fun today, if you can find enough people for a match, that is.


On the single player front, exploring Renaissance-era Rome (a much larger city than the previous games) while battling the corrupt Borgias family was quite satisfying, and adding in the ability to recruit followers added a welcome new dimension. Being an assassin is a good time, but leading a whole cabal of assassins is even more so.


Assassin's Creed: Rogue


How weird is it that the bone thrown to previous gen players who hadn't upgraded to the Xbox One / PS4 yet ended up being superior to the current gen counterpart? Rogue was almost an afterthought, put out because not everyone was ready to throw down the cash for a new console and pick up Unity (and as we discovered, those poor gamers actually came out with the better end of the deal). Culling out multiplayer and using a very clear template from the 360 / PS3 days might have actually made this a better game with the focus on tweaking and improving the formula.


Of course, it's also worth noting you finally get to take up the cause of the other side and carry the torch for the Templars instead! Long range kills with the rifle and causing mayhem with a grenade launcher add in unexpected elements as well, offering a solid follow-up to the amazing Black Flag.


On the downside, Assasin's Creed: Rogue is overall very similar to that previous game, but since that's one of the best entries in the series, that's perhaps not such a bad thing after all.


Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag


Everybody knows that pirates and ninja are mortal enemies, but apparently pirates and accidental Caribbean assassins go together a bit better. Black Flag moved us away from the story's roots a bit by throwing in a protagonist who didn't even intend to ever be an assassin and had no real knowledge of the war against the templars. He just found a cool outfit, put it on, and got down to the business of killing and looting!


The emphasis on ship combat is what entirely makes this game great (so something good finally came out of the maligned third installment, which first introduced the idea). Between the island exploration, tense naval battles, and typical city assassination elements, Black Flag is one of the most straight-up enjoyable entries in terms of game play.


Best: Assassin's Creed II


Opinion is overall divided here, with fans about split as to which game is really the best, and I have to admit even I waffle sometimes on which is currently my favorite. Honestly, this and the next slide could be swapped on any given day and they'd probably still be right, as both Assassins Creed II and Black Flag are very solid high points. But, looking back across the entire series, the sequel to the original title just does so much right that it's worth being counted as the pinnacle.


While the original title offered a previously unknown mix of historical stealth combat and modern day sci-fi shenanigans, the first direct sequel improved on nearly every aspect in major ways. There was no more running back and forth from the safe house constantly, significantly improved combat, better storylines, and the most loved protagonist in Assassin's Creed history: Ezio.


The dynamic environments for fleeing (or stalking an assassination target) still hold up today even after so many iterations, and there was tons of fun to be had hunting down all the feathers, video segments, and statuettes. Granted, by today's standards it may not have the graphical flair (or the ship-to-ship combat that's become so highly acclaimed), but this is still one of the most fun, polished games in the entire series.


For a series that only started in 2007, somehow we've reached a staggering 20+ titles already (if you count all the spin-offs, mobile entries, and social media web browser games). That's on par with the Call Of Duty franchise that everybody likes to rag on for having an endless stream of yearly installments.


Like clockwork, the official 2015 entry Assassin's Creed: Syndicate just finally arrived, this time culling out the modern day elements in favor of a more straight historical narrative and offering up dual protagonists in 1860's London.


It goes without saying that with so many different games coming in such a small window of time, there's a pretty big gap in quality between them, with some significantly more worth your time than others.


If you want to know what games are still up to snuff and which should be relegated to the bargain bin, you've come to the right place. We'll skip all the mobile phone and handheld games and instead focus on the core console titles that compose this rapidly expanding series.

In-game collectables, how I loath thee Thu, 24 Sep 2015 11:02:20 -0400 Chelsea Senecal

In-game collectibles have sparked several debates on forums regarding their true merit and purpose. Many gamers feel that they are a gimmick in making the game seem longer, while others find them fun when done right.

After years of considering myself a completionist, I can truly say that collectibles alone have ended that. A few games with fairly easy battles, ridiculously fun mechanics, or engaging stories were cut short of my 100% completion rate due to arbitrary collecting.

While grinding to level is equally annoying (for the often same reasons), it at least serves a purpose to furthering your gameplay. 

Too often we are expected to spend hours mindlessly collecting while developing carpal tunnel or a migraine. However, there are examples of both good and bad collectibles.

The bad: time consuming crap

The first game that comes to mind is Assassin's Creed (and especially Black Flag). It has a cool storylines, interesting gameplay, and at the time, innovative mini-games, like whale hunting. However, those damn Animus fragments... all for a trophy and a cheat. While that sounds like it might be worth it, that's 200 fragments. And in Black Flag, most are on individual little islands with no other incentive to stop there. So, get on you ship, sing a shanty and head to a tiny island, jump off, swim to shore, grab your fragment, swim back to the ship and off to the next island. 100 times.

No thanks. The rewards are kind of cool, however, 200 is a lot and by the time you're finished, it's the end of the game. This was one of the first franchises that actually made me reconsider my completionist tendencies and I'm glad I did because...

Basically, every GTA game hands out trophies/achievements for collectibles. When I was younger and only had one new game a year, I appreciated the "expanded" game - hunting pigeons, stunt jumps, now spaceship parts, whatever. But rarely does the player ever get anything unique or useful. Rockstar likes to throw some cash or weapons your way and if everything is done, here's a trophy. However, to adamantly seek each hidden package as an adult with s*** to do, ain't nobody got time for that. 

The good: world-expanding nuggets

Far Cry 4 has a unique system of collecting where the objects are placed in areas you would go anyway and there aren't a million posters to destroy. Every time you do collect, you get rep that later benefits your gameplay by opening up weapons and tools while it's still relevant. That's fair. 

Wolfenstein is another great example. The structure of the game makes it easy to see what you've collected and what you need. Because the game is set up as levels, and not open world, you can go through the level as many times as needed to find what you're missing. You'll never ask yourself, "Where the hell is that one painting in all of Skyrim?"

Mass Effect's collectors (pun intended) are my favorite. They give you lore and deeper information about your universe. The objects are rarely shoved in your face, there is not a ridiculous amount of them, and there isn't a map showing you exactly where they are. Collecting insignias, finding keepers, and locating Asari writings actually encourage you to explore the areas while learning about the war that you, as the player, were just thrown into.


So, you're probably saying, "Just don't get them. No one is forcing you to collect anything. You're just lazy." And that's fair. However, we can't let the game devs off the hook completely. If it's obvious that the collectibles were used to make the game seem longer, then that's not very cool. No one buys Assassin's Creed because they want to play a 40 hour game of I Spy. 

However, if the collectibles actually do, in fact, add depth and engagement to the game without feeling disjointed and half-assed, then that's awesome and I'd gladly hunt down every piece.

What are your most loved and hated collectables?
Xbox One Bundles expanded through Labor Day Sat, 05 Sep 2015 12:52:56 -0400 Anthony Jondreau

If you have yet to get your hands on Microsoft’s newest console, Labor Day Weekend might be the time to do it. While the Xbox One has come bundled with Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag and Assassin’s Creed: Unity for a while now, the bundles will be expanded until September 7th. An Xbox One will include Assassin’s Creed: Unity, as well as any one of the games below, the choice of which is up to you.

  • Lego Jurassic World
  • Rory McIlroy PGA Tour
  • Minecraft
  • Batman Arkham Knight 
  • Rare Replay
  • NBA 2K15
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • Destiny
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • The Elder Scrolls: Online
  • Forza Horizon 2
  • Far Cry 4
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
  • Payday 2: Crimewave Edition

In addition, two bundles will give you a third game. The Madden 16 Bundle comes with Madden 16, AC: Unity, and one of the games above, as well as a year of EA access. The Halo: The Master Chief Collection Bundle includes Halo: The Master Chief Collection, AC: Unity, and one of the games above. You can also get AC: Unity and Black Flag, as well as one of the free games. 

The standard bundle is available for as low as $349.99, while the Madden and Halo bundles will be $399.99.

5 games within games that we wish were games of their own Sat, 22 Aug 2015 07:23:55 -0400 shox_reboot


And that's a wrap folks! Are there any minigames that you'd love to see become something of it's own? Let me know in the comments!

Destiny: Sparrow Racing

Alright so I'm cheating a little here since this is more of a community-driven event than something that Bungie had officially implemented in the game. 


I mean really, who hasn't thought about Star Wars pod racing when riding these things? 


The foundation is all there. The sparrows have varying models, some with their own unique features. For example, the XV0 Timebreaker's able to perform quick, lateral movements along with the possibility of achieving greater than normal speeds at a risk of blowing up. 


Right now all we can do is zoom around a planet from a starting point to an end that we set for ourselves. If you haven't gotten a bunch of your mates together and done this yet, you're missing out on something that's a lot of fun in this game. Plus its a break from the constant grinding and shooting. 


I really do feel Bungie may have had ideas for implementing sparrow racing in one way or the other. Think about it - there is next to no point in giving attributes to the sparrows if not. Heck, Xur even carries items that you can buy to upgrade the speed on your sparrow! 


Out of everything on this list, this may be something that could come true in a very near future. 

Assassin's Creed IV: Naval Battles
Hands down one of the best parts, if not the best part, of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag were the naval battles. 

Again, this is an area where there is a lot of depth you wouldn't expect from something that isn't what Assassin's Creed had ever been about. I mean really, ask anyone what a game from that franchise is about and they'll all answer: "killing people". 


The ships move like you'd imagine a ship would, and the amount of detail put into them is just beautiful. You could fit it with different types of weapons, take on legendary ships in massive battles, I could go on and on. 


This I feel, is a gem in hiding. We've never had a proper game that simulates naval battle this well before, and it took the developers of Assassin's Creed of all things to give us a taste of it. 


C'mon Ubisoft, you've got something great here. Just do a little bit of work on ironing out the weak areas (for example, it's a bit too easy) and we've got something amazing. 

Saints Row IV: 2D Side Scroller! 

This is yet another sequence, but a great one at that! 


After the protagonist of the game learns that his best friend may still be alive, you are thrown into a 2D side-scroller where you help your friend save his former lover by defeating hordes of enemies.


That is the most basic explanation to give for this, but there really is nothing else to it. It functions exactly like a 2D side scroller beat-em-up, so there should be no question whether it's fun or not! One of the best parts of this is that your character (the protagonist) carries all the little bits of customization you've done in the main game into the mini-game!


Please make this an arcade game! 

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake's Nightmare

This one may not be quite as well-known now, since the game in question was released so long ago. 


After a certain point in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Snake (presently Big Boss) gets captured by the enemy and subjected to a rather graphic torture sequence before being thrown into a holding cell. 


Players who chose that point to save the game and end their session for the day (or night) had a surprise waiting for them the next time they reloaded it. I remember my experience vividly. I actually got rather spooked by this (I was a kid back then). I booted up my save and suddenly, I'm not playing Metal Gear Solid anymore.


Instead I'm playing a hack n' slash flick where I was massacring a bunch of hideous-looking monsters using two swords. 


It was all dark and grimy, and pretty bloody as well. I could execute a few combos and an AOE spin. I was confined to the place I was in with a seemingly endless horde of enemies pouring in. Oh, and after a certain point I could enter a 'beserk mode'. 


I feel like this game showed Hideo Kojima had a certain flair about him for games of this genre. Who knows, perhaps this is where we saw the birth of the idea behind Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. 


I guess that makes this sequence of sorts an odd addition to this list. But hey, I won't complain at all if we get a hack 'n slash horror game from Kojima. 


You probably were expecting this to be on the list if you'd played Witcher 3: Wild Hunt by now. (If you haven't yet, what's wrong with you?)


Gwent is the the Witcher's own card game. Completely optional of course, but why anyone would avoid doing this fun little side activity to take a break from killing stuff is beyond me. Well...actually I'd understand, the main game's that good. 


I won't be going into too much detail about the rules, since it's got a surprising amount of depth for being a minigame. I'd even venture that this particular virtual card game is harder to pick up and play than Hearthstone


Don't let that turn you off, though. Get past learning the rules and play around with this game for a bit and you'll see just how fun it can be. It requires patience, a good amount of deck building and doing a bit of research into tactics as well but...which card game doesn't? 


I'm even on the verge of starting a second play through of Witcher 3 and devote it to making Geralt the Gwent master of the known kingdoms. (It's actually got it's own quest line and rewards for playing through it.) 


Here's hoping the folks at CD Projekt RED decide to bring Gwent into the spotlight sometime in the future. I can picture it now. Witcher 4: Grand Gwent Tournament. Pretty sure the developers will come up with a much better name, though. 


There's a joke along the lines of Inception on the title that I just don't want to mention. 


Yeah. That one. 


But anyways, from time to time we find games that are developed by people who love games so much that they put games within your game so you can game while you game. 


Devs probably don't think so much of them - they're just giving us a lot more stuff to do in-game and changing the pace up a little bit to keep us from getting bored slaying monsters or sneaking around a huge mountain base. 


But sometimes, I just wish I could have that game within the game (alright, this is the last time I use the line) as a game of its own! So, here is my list of minigames that had me wishing they were so much more. 


There will be some spoilers if you've never played any of these games before, since some activities tie into the story. have been warned!

The Unintentional Horror Game: Genre Changing Glitches Mon, 01 Jun 2015 20:08:26 -0400 Dani Gosha


Sharing Is Caring


What are some of the creepiest glitches you've witnessed in a non-scary game?


 Legs for Miles


We all know that Saint's Row is a crazy game. funny even but not well....whatever is going on in this image. The glitch isn't entirely scary game wise but just imagine standing on the street late at night and suddenly a spider lady six legs short is coming up behind you. Yeah, no thanks. 


Leather Face Glitch


We're afraid of what we don't understand which makes this Mafia II glitch scary at first glance. One minute you're talking to a sweet old Italian lady and the next thing you know you're talking to what looks like a mannequin. 


It really isn't that bad if you realize what you're looking at though. The glitch is a simple texture swap which causes the leather jacket to overlap the skin of the old woman's face for a few seconds. Unlike other glitches, this one fixes pretty quickly.  


Assassin's Creed Not So Unity


If you were to look up the latest gaming glitches, without a doubt this glitch from Assassin's Creed Unity would show up. In fact, it shows up anytime the game doesn't properly load textures and while it provides a good laugh it also makes things kind of weird.


Black Flag Does The Rapture


I'm not talking about the Bioshock Rapture, I'm talking about the biblical one that has people flying up to the sky all willy-nilly. This Assassin's Creed doesn't give a sinking ship about physics or stealing your entire crew while it is at it. Not sure if we should blame a bad patch, Moses or global warming. 


Fallout 3 Reanimated NPC's


If you thought the Fallout 3 head glitches were terrifying than you're going to absolutely get a scare out of these reanimated NPC's. The glitch occurs when you've killed an NPC, save your game, and reload it. The system grabs bits and pieces trying to put the previously killed NPC back together but instead of getting the full picture, we literally end up getting blood and guts. Gross. I'll take the floating heads. 


Fallout 3 Floating Heads


No, Floating Heads isn't some kind of Talking Heads cover band, it is just an eerie glitch that happens in Fallout 3. There's no real reason for this, it kind of just happens. 


The Witcher Goes Edvard Munch


I've always said that video games should be looked at as art but I never thought it would be taken so literally. Thanks to an unexplained glitch, The Witcher's otherwise fairly decent looking Geralt channels Munch's popular The Scream painting. It is both hilarious and disturbing. 


Laying The Smackdown in WWE2K15


WWE games are the absolute worst when it comes to glitches but to be fair, they're the most creative. I don't know what's going on in the glitch above but for WWE games that's the norm. 




From Cradle to the Glitch


If you ever wondered what having a kid would be like Sim's 3 is not the place to get that idea. A number of players have reported their babies hitting some seriously freaky growth spurts but luckily the glitch can be avoided.


According to forums, the glitch is the result of users using a nude skin mod which corrupts the game. 


Skyrim's Headless Heroes


We've heard of the Headless Horseman but Skyrim isn't bothering to save face with a pumpkin replacement. This glitch, thanks to a previous in game beheading, isn't as scary as it is disturbing but is quick to make a fantasy into a nightmare. 


Ah, the video game glitch.


Every gamer's worst nightmare at least, when it messes up the progress of your game. Other than, it is usually just a few seconds of creepy. And boy do I mean creepy. 


Who knew the sudden distortion of 3D polygons could be so scary? It is even scarier when it is in a game not meant to have you covering your eyes.


Despite what we may think, game developers aren't perfect and neither are the games they create which means every once in a while there will be a hiccup in the system. Unfortunately, sometimes those little hiccups turn into a 'kill it with fire' moment.


There are happy accidents and then there are 'what did I just witness accidents.' Check out these glitches that unintentionally turned our games over to the dark side. 

Free Games on Xbox with a Paid Membership In April Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:34:10 -0400 T.W. Francis

Microsoft announced that in the month of April they are offering double the amount free games for those with the Live Gold Membership. With titles like Gears of War: Judgement and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, they are going huge. Microsoft also said that since they launched the Games with Gold promotion subscribers have downloaded more than 100 million free games.

On the Xbox One for the entire month they are offering Pool Nation FX (normally $10) and Child of Light (normally $15). April 1st – 15th for the Xbox 360 they are offering Gears of War: Judgement (normally $20) and Terraria (normally $15). April 16th-31st also for the Xbox 360 they are offering Army of Two: The Devil’s Cartel (normally $20) and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (normally $30).

With the membership going for $60 for a 12 month period (according to the Microsoft Store) you are still paying for the games.

So is it worth it to have the Gold Membership to get these games for free?

Ubisoft to Give Assassin's Creed Unity Players DLC as Apology for Glitchy Launch Fri, 28 Nov 2014 19:06:25 -0500 KieraB

Assassin's Creed Unity developer Ubisoft has announced a change of heart about the upcoming Dead Kings. Instead of selling the game for a price, it will now be given away to Unity players as a sincere apology for the latter's faulty release.

Formerly a season-pass exclusive game, Dead Kings could double as not just a symbol of apology, but also as a reward for patience: dealing with hundreds of different bugs and glitchy scenarios from the jump could not possibly have been enjoyable for fans.

Further, players who have already bought the season pass, which Ubisoft has since discontinued selling, can enjoy their pick of a free game instead. They can choose from from the games Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, Just Dance 2015, Watch Dogs, Far Cry 4, Rayman Legends, and The Crew.

While the Ubisoft developing team is still working on patches to fix all the holes -- one in particular had Arno Dorian actually falling through the ground -- CEO Yannis Mallat had this to say about the situation:

"The launch of Assassin's Creed Unity was a highly-anticipated moment for me and for our development teams around the world who dedicated a tremendous amoung of energy, passion and skill to the game's creation. Unfortunately, at launch, the overall quality of the game was diminished by bugs and unexpected technical issues. I want to sincerely apologize on behalf of Ubisoft and the entire Assassin's Creed team. These problems took away from your enjoyment of the game, and kept many of you from experiencing the game at its fullest potential."

Following the player-made reports of Unity's various problems, the team has responded swiftly, releasing a third corrective patch on Wednesday, Novemeber 26. This patch is intended to fix issues with the game's stability, performance, matchmaking, connectivity, gameplay, and its menus.

Even through this shortcoming, season-pass players will still be able to reap the benefits of having the pass, including the Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China DLC, which shifts over to new assassin protagonist, Shao Jun. Maybe China and the other games can occupy time well while Ubisoft gets Unity running smoothly.

(Tip) Dos and Don'ts of Assassin's Creed: Unity Fri, 14 Nov 2014 09:03:52 -0500 Chris_Lemus

Ubisoft quickly followed up it’s release one year ago of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag with Unity, another installment of the series that reinvents how gamers control a historically influential assassin. The turnaround time between titles did not limit the new features added. Here is a guide explaining how to navigate France with the new added abilities.

Do: Get use to the last known location feature

Use the A.I. against itself. Plan the route to use in the mission before navigating throughout the map. If you are likely to get caught, or do get noticed, the silhouette is a good indicator for where to change direction or hide. This turns the intention of stealthy defense in to a counterattack offense.

Do not: Play through side missions as pre-assassin Arno

Although it may seem wise to earn money by doing side missions, the activities are harder without the abilities and agility of post-assassin Arno. This is especially noticeable to those who have played previous titles. Not only will the side missions be more enjoyable when dawning the assassin's suit, but experience and creed points can also be collected in addition to money.

Do: Go vertical

Open rooms and windows are not an added feature to Unity that appears sparingly. The only escape or chase route is no longer limited to ledges, rooftops, streets, and hiding spots. Crawling through open windows helps activate the last known location feature and shortens the time needed to cross a building. Open rooms also offer opportunities to reach the objective in a stealthy way.

Do not: Go parallel

Unity takes place roughly 60 years after Black Flag. During that time, advancements have taken place in warfare that make guns more reliable and common. Not only will riflemen take positions in rooftops and balconies across France, but sword-wielding guards will also carry pistols.

Evading guards in a straight line will likely result in lining up in their crosshairs. The chance to get shot will also increase with the amount of enemies Arno alerts at one time, and they will not wait for close quarters combat to end before shooting (sometimes from multiple shooters).

Do: Be honest with yourself

Previous Assassin's Creed titles have focused on different styles of play including combo attacking, gadget use, and stealth. Unity caters to the gamer instead of the features. Combined with a vast and dynamic map, this leaves every opportunity for players to tailor Arno to their style. Gamers who prefer battling opponents should utilize the revamped customization to focus outfits that increase health and heavy weapons, while those who prefer sneaking around should stick to lighter weapons and stealthy outfits.

Do not: Assume the controls are the same

While the character's movement in the Assassin's Creed series is smooth and liberating, ideas Ubisoft stayed with in Unity, the few controls they added add detail to motion without impeding  navigation. Learning to use the L2 or left trigger on console versions will streamline crawling through windows and using the cover option when passing undetected in small areas. Practicing different variations of drops could also mean the difference between evasion or death in a game where strategy in important.

The common denominator between new controls is the momentum-based physics incorporated into Unity. If players do not build up enough momentum, they will not have enough power to make the jumps necessary to move. Without knowing how to correctly sustain momentum, enemies could regain the distance lost to Arno during a chase.

Target's Black Friday Sales Include An Assassin's Creed Bundle Deal Mon, 10 Nov 2014 16:47:05 -0500 KieraB

Mark your calendars for November 28, because Target's got a number of deals and bundles ready for Black Friday.

The store's main website posted a small preview of the deals to become available for sale - including one that might be of particular interest to Assassin's Creed fans.

Starting on the last Friday of this month, Target will be offering their Assassin's Creed Unity bundle for $329.99. This includes a 500GB Xbox One system at their "lowest price ever": $329.99, including a free $50 gift card, when players purchase Assassin's Creed Unity and the fourth installment, Black Flag, as digital downloads. 

Normally, the two games separately purchased would amount to $119.98 value in Target; the Xbox One itself would normally cost $399.99. At the end of the day, people who take advantage of the deal would save $70.

Other deals and bundles up for grabs will include Yoshi's New Island Nintendo 2DS bundles for $99.99 each, Disney Infinity 2.0 and Skylanders: Trap Team starter packs for $39.99 each, as well as The Evil Within and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor for $25 each.

In addition to these particular sales, Target will feature a multitude of buy 2, get 1 free deals for over 100 featured games prior to the frenzy that Black Friday brings.

For the highly-anticipated Unity bundle, the codes needed to download the two games will be included in the box packaging, and the extra $50 sounds none too shabby of a deal, either. 

Godspeed, to those of you looking to make the journey to your local Targets for the deals!

Tabata Talks Gender Bias Despite FFXV's All-Male Cast Tue, 23 Sep 2014 19:01:17 -0400 Chris_Lemus

The video game director who purposely kept an all-male main character cast in his latest video game is speaking out against gender bias in electronic entertainment.

Final Fantasy XV’s director Hajime Tabata’s remarks come during a year of controversy in the video game community involving females as playable characters.

“It’s not healthy to have a bias in genders,” Tabata said to IGN.

Tabata revealed that the latest installment of Square Enix’s best-selling series is about 55 percent complete, and includes an all-male cast due to the vision of former director Tetsuya Nomura.

Despite the decision, female characters could still appear in the game, according to Tabata.

Earlier this year, Ubisoft’s creative director Alex Amanico told Polygon that playable female assassins were cut from Assassin’s Creed Unity due to “the reality of production” despite the company already offering playable female characters in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag.

Amanico’s comments were followed by a tweet by Rust developer Garry Newman against “self elected video gamer feminists” and an interview with video game voice actor Troy Baker talking about the “obligatory female character.”

There is currently no release date for Final Fantasy XV, but it is being developed for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Ubisoft Says No More Mature Titles on Nintendo Wii U Wed, 20 Aug 2014 07:49:05 -0400 PencilPusha

When you hear the word 'Nintendo', what do you think of?

Mario? Zelda? Kirby?

Apparently, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot is starting to think that way as well.

Watch Dogs is due for release on the Wii U at the end of the year and it will be the only Mature-rated game that Ubisoft will release on a Nintendo system. According to an interview with, Guillemot said that Ubisoft will be focusing more on the types of games that Nintendo fans play because Assassin's Creed didn't sell well last year.

Assassin's Creed III and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, which was dubbed one of the Top 10 Games of the New Generation So Far, came out on the Wii U and Guillemot said that "Nintendo customers don't buy Assassin's Creed." Guillemot pointed out that Nintendo fans are more interested in games like Just Dance, so Ubisoft will focus more on what Nintendo fans want for Nintendo systems.

Guillemot also stated that, next year, Ubisoft plans to release more games for the next-gen consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. This will help Ubisoft stay in competition since many people are quickly upgrading to next-gen consoles and creating newer, faster ways to get ahold of new games, according to the GameInformer interview. Guillemot believes that people help to recommend games in a retail setting, which is better and much more personal as opposed to buying a digital copy. But digital copies are easier and faster to get rather than driving to the store for a game you can get right off the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live Arcade.

Nevertheless, Ubisoft plans to keep an eye on EA's new Access feature on the Xbox One and see how it works before they jump into something similar. Digital copies seem like the new wave of the gaming future, but sometimes nothing beats opening the case to a brand new video game.

Keep in mind, Nintendo fans, that Ubisoft is listening to you!

Do Video Games Emulate NSA Tactics? KillScreen Writer Says Yes. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:51:00 -0400 Evan Lower

In a recently published KillScreen article, contributor David Chandler examined video games in the context of surveillance and panopticism, a term outlined by French philosopher Michel Foucault in his book Discipline and Punish

In his article titled "Think the NSA is bad? Games are masters of surveillance," Chandler avoided centralizing the article on the obvious Watch Dogs in favor of old school games like Mortal Kombat and Ocarina of Time, making his way through the history of video games (and ending with the abovementioned Ubisoft game) as regards the sensitive subject of everpresent observation.

The central figure of Chandler's theory is the panopticon, an architectural philosophy invented by Jeremy Bentham and immortalized in Battlefield 4's map, "Operation: Locker."

Chandler envisioned the famous boss battle at the end of any video game episode as the very embodiment of Foucault's philosophy, the boss's presence and awareness as symbolic of the guards in the middle of the prison.

Chandler says a lot more and in greater detail than I could ever relay to you, so instead of wasting any more of your time, go ahead and check out his article

Let's Reboot: Assassin's Creed Mon, 02 Mar 2015 05:38:49 -0500 Elijah Beahm

We live in an age of reboots and re-imaginings. From total reboots like 2013's Tomb Raider to soft reboots like Assassin's Creed: Unity, we're seeing a lot of new trends in old ideas. While some games seem fine as they were, a few could benefit from a tune-up. Today, let's reboot a franchise on the verge of losing its identity and purpose in its current attempts at revival: Assassin's Creed.

Assassin's Creed (Full Reboot / Full Reboot)

I know, we get tons of Assassin's Creed games now. More than three in 2014. That's part of why I think the series needs a fresh start, instead of a soft reboot like AC: Unity. What Assassin's Creed needs is some time to breathe. Wait at least two years before releasing another title; let the fans want a new game. Then, one or two full reboots.

Reset the universe, ground it in reality.

Okay, now remove the First Civilization.

Also, remove the complex bloodline quasi-science gobble-dee-gook of the Animus. Make this just be a secret society following an ancient tradition across the generations. And let's make the Assassins and Templars two halves of the same whole, instead of enemies. AC3, Liberation, and Rogue have all made solid cases that, if not for plot requirements, the two sides would have stopped fighting ages ago.

Instead of having the two factions start out at each other's throats, let's instead make things more political, and like an actual conspiracy. Templars and Assassins can be good or bad guys, and they conspire around actual historical events. Sometimes you'll do good, sometimes you'll do ill, but no matter what, the plot can be intriguing and believable. Let's not have coincidence and magic space wizards decide how everything plays out.

Let's keep the gameplay still be as fluid as Black Flag, but with far more challenge. A good of way of doing this is to emphasize the preparation elements of the Witcher 2. You have every weapon on the planet available to you at every minute, and instead have to tailor your skills to ever mission you take. Need to swim? No heavy weapons or you'll drown. Going for a long distance assassination? Your crossbow takes the place of your sword. Everything finally becomes balanced through the more limited and specified equipment.

Need to swim? No heavy weapons or you'll drown. Going for a long distance assassination? Your crossbow takes the place of your sword. Everything finally becomes balanced through the more limited and specified equipment.

And safehouses can have more purpose than just quest hubs.

On top of this, you can set loadouts like you would in a multiplayer game. As you unlock new items both through core missions and gaining experience, you expand and improve your loadouts. This way you still can swap between playstyles, but you still have to get back to a safe house first. They'd have to be more numerous as a result, but that could tie into a revamped version of Brotherhood's economic sim system.

You have to evade detection still, but stupid tricks like sitting on a bench won't always work. Instead, we take notes from Dishonored and Thief, allowing you to hide in the environment's nooks and crannies. We vary enemies so only some can climb after you, meaning a lazy guard can be easily lost, but a trained killer will hunt you down. Some guards might have gear similar to yours as well, such as grappling hooks or smoke bombs.

Further varying your approach is the need to use different distractions for different enemies. Lazy guards could be drawn off by a lady of the night, but you might need a fellow assassin (because were are 100% bringing back the Brotherhood system) to pull off a false shot to get the attention of trained soldiers.

We're gonna need a bigger smoke bomb...

Your targets would be similarly affected, allowing you to manipulate them into traps. A skittish one could be scared by a gunshot to run into a hallway booby-trapped with trip mines. A more violent one could be drawn out into the open by a friend then assassinated from behind. The most clever targets might actually try to pursue you, forcing you to lead them into a trap or escape and try again.

Lastly, let's hit the elephant in the room -- the next assassin, the star of this reboot, is a woman or at the very least a custom character. Whether the entry is set during the modern day or in the past, we need more diverse Assassins. And on that note, I know it's a joke but seriously, let's make this be one of the new time periods explored:

It could be fun... and cover some really heavy topics!

Normally I include a second, more extreme proposal after a more close to form reboot idea, but for once, the idea is too big to fit in one article. So keep your eyes out for a follow-up on the more extreme take on how to revive the Assassin's Creed franchise!

Do you like the idea of a more Hitman/Witcher style Assassin's Creed game? Do you have ideas of your own? Please be sure to share your thoughts in the comments, and let me know what games you'd like to see get a reboot in the future!

New Feminist Frequency Video: Women as Background Decoration Mon, 16 Jun 2014 18:06:09 -0400 Amanda Wallace

Lightning rod figure Anita Sarkeesian has published her newest video as part of the "Tropes vs. Women" series, this one focused on women as background decoration. 

Ms. Sarkeesian's series, part of her Feminist Frequency channel, is focused on highlighting the negative tropes specifically applied to women in gaming. A trope can mean a variety of things, from figure of speech to a cliché, and the series has touched on a couple including the Damsel in Distress and Ms. Male Character. The series is a good introduction to feminist commentary in games, and breaks the subjects down into 30 minute segments with plenty of video game clips and assorted content. 

This video focuses on "women as background decoration," and touches a lot on sexual objectification and women in sex worker occupations. She talks about content like missions that have you walk through brothels or changing rooms, the option to use women as camouflage in Assassin's Creed 4, and sex worker mini-games in the Grand Theft Auto series.

If you've been interested in Anita Sarkeesian's work in the past, or are interested in feminist game commentary it's an interesting watch. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the video.  

Unity's Lack of Female Assassins is Not Just Bad Business, It's Bad Form Tue, 17 Jun 2014 10:29:37 -0400 Angelina Bonilla

Ubisoft's decision to exclude female assassin's in their newest game, Assassin's Creed: Unity has rapidly become a topic of controversy among gamers. A co-op experience that’s meant to be played with  friends, Unity originally called for a female avatar as part of the many customizable options for the assassins, but she was taken out. Why? Apparently, it was just too much work.

Creative Director Alex Amancio told Polygon in a recent interview 

“It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets,” Amancio said. “Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work.”

Yes, It Would Be More Work

Yes, females can be harder to animate and design then males because there tends to be more variations in the female body.  Females can be a variety of shapes, just like men, but women tend to have drastically different body types. Clothes fit differently on women and yes they would have to do some extra work in order to get it right, if they wanted to make the females extremely customizable.

But Not That Much More

Dragon Age: Origins gave all of the females very similar bodies and (despite the slight unsettling effect of having an older woman have the breasts of a 20 year old) it worked for the game. The teams could always use a one size fits all body for the female character. 

Other Games Have Already Proven It's Totally Doable

While it’s completely understandable that they would want to keep the main character in the game and not cut him out, why couldn’t they have just made a female variant of the character? Mass Effect did it and it’s one of the most well-known franchises in the video game industry.

In fact, Female Shepard voiced by Jennifer Hale is more popular among fans than Male Shepard. The character Arno can be the same and they can have the almost the exact same dialogue it’ll just be a woman. 

And On Top Of That, Ubisoft Has Already Created Female Assassins For Prior Titles

There are ten studios working on this game. Ten! Why couldn’t they just assign one of them to make female assassins? It isn’t like they haven’t done it before. They already have female assassin models to go on from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood as well as Assassin’s Creed Black Flag (you were able to recruit female assassins in those two games) and Aveline the main character from Assassin's Creed Liberation.  

They’ve done it multiple times before and yet they aren’t willing to do it again despite the positive reception? All because it would take more production time? Female and male characters have shared animations before in the series, why can't they do that again?  It's mentioned in the tweet of the animation director of Assasin's Creed 3 Jonathan Cooper.

Additionally, Cooper mentioned the Trend Blend System which cuts down the time it takes to animate characters.  A description of the system reads as follows.

With the new Trans Blend System, the animator was able to create a new animation set by only redoing the idle and basic navigation animations. A new set could be done with fewer than 10 new animations. How did we do this? When we transition from a pose to a walk, the generic base motion action would get triggered and then cross-fade with the new specific walk animation. It gave a great result and meant that animators no longer had to worry about animating all the transition animations. This allowed us to create more animation sets in much less time, using less content.

This Move Does Not Make Sense. Or Dollars.

I would understand if they had barely enough money to work on the game so they had to leave it out. However, what they brought up is that it would be twice as much work for them to make another female character. While the examples above highlight that 'twice as much' is probably an overstatement, the additional work would pay off with appealing to a broader player base - likely making Ubisoft even more money.

According to the Entertainment Software Association's 2014 Essential Facts about the Computer and Video Game Industry, 48 percent of gamers are female, the rest being male. Women 18 or older represent 36 percent of the game buying population as opposed to the 17 percent of boys that are 18 or younger.

This means that, potentially, Assassin's Creed Unity is missing out on a fairly sizable percentage of the gaming population by doing this. It isn’t that women can’t empathize with a male character. Any character that’s well written can be a universal voice for many people. Women just want the studios to show the effort to include them rather than brushing them off.

Many female gamers have taken to twitter to express their displeasure with this decission.

Assassin's Creed Unity is guaranteed to make money thanks to its massive fan base.  The fact it’s a multi-million dollar franchise helps too. Why would they want to make less money because it would be more work? Are they worried they won’t make the money back? Maybe they should worry, but ignoring a demographic isn't the way to secure the future of the franchise.

As successful as Assassin's Creed is as a franchise, it’s not going to stay that way forever.

New elements need to be added in order to make it stay relevant, and appealing to a larger demographic might be a way to keep the Assassin's Creed afloat in this constantly changing market of video games.