Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood Articles RSS Feed | Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network “Your Possible Pasts”: A Fan’s Retrospective on the Assassin’s Creed Series Fri, 06 Jan 2017 07:00:02 -0500 Neal Cox

Before we begin: I want you, the reader, to know that this article will spoil all of the games in the Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection package (Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin’s Creed Revelations), as well as various other games in the series (Assassin’s Creed, Assassin’s Creed III, etc...).  If you are interested in these games, The Ezio Collection is the perfect way to jump into the series, and you should pick it up now (or when most convenient). Now, back to the Article.

What’s worse: Waiting a long time for a cliffhanger ending to be paid off, or knowing that the payoff will suck?

This was a problem I was confronted with when playing Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection recently. This may sound like I don’t like the games, but I do. In fact, I would say that, like the title hints, I am a fan. I have beaten The Ezio Collection (II, Brotherhood and Revelations) thoroughly before, I have beaten Assassin’s Creed III, and I have played the other mainline entries within the series (Assassin's Creed, Black Flag, Unity and Syndicate), but I haven’t beaten them due to some problems that I will be discussing in this article. I have read the wiki, the codex pages, the in-game library, the whole nine yards. I love these games,  but after re-playing Assassin’s Creed II, I have to admit that they don’t make them like they used to.

PART I: Assassin’s Creed II

Assassin’s Creed II has aged okay. I mean this with love and caring, but its controls were always a mess. They hit the highest highs, making you feel like you are soaring across Italian Cityscapes like a renaissance Flash, and the lowest lows, sometimes giving you the impression that you are driving a car that has four flat tires and a wrench instead of a steering wheel. The “Back Eject” move has given me more grief than I’d care to admit, especially in the challenging “Assassin’s Tomb” missions. But when it worked, especially in the late game, it was a great feeling that has rarely been matched today. The Graphics leave something to be desired, but it’s a Ubisoft Game from 2009; what can you do?

What really makes this game though, is the story. Unlike the other entries in this collection, Assassin’s Creed II was more obviously planned ahead of time. It had a solid base to build off of with the original Assassin’s Creed, and with the proper feedback, development team and setting, the series was transformed into a critical and commercial success. This improvement, this confidence, was present throughout the game.

The story, following main Character Ezio Auditore Da Firenze on his path of revenge throughout Renaissance Italy, had a good mix of freedom and linearity that made the story feel epic, yet focused. It also used various in game items and quests, such as the “Glyph” puzzles and collectible “Codex” pages to help inform the player about the world outside of the game. The only thing that this game failed at, story wise, was fleshing out the modern day characters. But that is a gripe for another section.

The eponymous Ezio is not only a good character for games as a whole, but he is easily the best character in the series, period. He had range (angry, sad, romantic, funny), he had depth, and, most importantly, he had an arch. Not to skip ahead too much, but this is something that many characters in later entries lack. Ezio was not a wise-crackin’ Master Assassin at the beginning of the game. He was an angry and afraid kid, doing his best with the tools he had to avenge his brothers and father. At the end, however, he was no longer angry or afraid.

He was tired, but happy. He had done his job. He had killed the men responsible (minus Rodrigo Borgia, who he should’ve killed, but didn’t due to historical reasons), and now he was at peace.

While Assassin’s Creed II’s ending did leave a few confusing plot holes -- how will Ezio get out of that Vault under the Vatican? Why did he let the most powerful Templar in Europe, Rodrigo Borgia, live? What is the deal with these alien guys? -- it gave us enough to not need another Ezio story. To quote Minerva, the hologram of a long-dead alien who resides in the Vault, when she is speaking to Ezio at the end: “You’ve played your part.” It was time for a new character, a new setting, and a new struggle for our characters in the modern day.

PART II: Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

Oh, we’re playing as Ezio again. I can’t say that I am too disappointed by this continuation. Actually, I would say that Brotherhood is my favorite game of the three. I am also a self-avowed member of the Ezio Fan Club, so it was nice to see him again at the height of his power. But, there are some problems with this game, and it starts with this: All of his stuff will arbitrarily be taken away from him again.

This is to be expected in sequels, but that doesn’t make it right. And on top of that, it also symbolizes another problem with this game: This didn’t have to happen. The game didn’t have to take away all of your stuff, but it did. It didn’t have to exist, but it does. Why?


Money. Plain and Simple. I may love this game, but if the entries after Assassin’s Creed II was decided purely by artistic merit, that entry would have been Assassin’s Creed III. No, not the real one. Another one that chose a different time period (16th century Japan), a different character (A ninja, or samurai, or something cool) and was, you know, Good. Ubisoft had seen that their gamble had paid off, and now it was time to play it safe and make some more money. They had their character and setting, now all they needed was a story and a new engine to put it all together. This may sound like I am hating on them for doing this, and I do hate them somewhat, but you have to make money in the games industry. Why throw out a popular character and setting for “artistic merit”? Artistic merit doesn’t always bring home the big bucks.

Again, it’s not like these games are all bad. Actually, as I have been saying over and over again, they are pretty good. While Ezio’s a little more static this time around, he still has the same charm and charisma that makes him, well, him. Rome was fully-realized, fun to explore and full of secrets. Constantinople was also beautiful and fun to explore, but, like Revelations as a whole, wasn’t as fun as its predecessor.

The real saving grace of these entries, the things that made them all worth it, were the modern day segments. Most people don’t like them (they actually hate them with a passion), but that’s what I liked so much about the older games. These two entries gave the other main characters (Desmond, Lucy, Rebecca, and Shaun) more personality, more life. They also expanded on infamous and unseen Subject 16, AKA Clay Kaczmarek. He is ghost and predecessor that haunts you throughout the first three games, first with his blood and then with memories that he hidden within the Animus, before finally confronting Desmond in person. While the character developments for Desmond, Lucy, Shaun and Rebecca weren’t paid off in the next entry of the series, Clay’s story was. Revelations was his last game, and I thought that they handled him and his story well. Not great, but well. It's better than what the others got.

In the End, Brotherhood and Revelations were the last two games in the “original” sequence (AC I - AC III) that were any good. They had their faults, and I do blame them for taking up all of the good writing and characterization from the rest of the franchise, but they were worth it. They are games worth playing.

PART III: Where it all went wrong

Well, we’ve finally arrived to the bad years of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Revelations to many was thought of as the weak link, the one that would be remembered for its holding-pattern story and terrible tower-defense game. Then Assassin’s Creed III came out.

This failure hit me especially hard. I was really amped for this game before it released. I had the collector’s edition, I waited in line at PAX East to see a live demo of it, and even though I was worried about the creative licence that the game was taking with the Battle of Bunker Hill (they turned the battle from one right outside of Boston to one in the middle of some primordial jungle-forest), I was convinced that things would work out in the end. A little creativity never hurt anybody.

Well, that is true, and it is the lack of creativity that hurt Assassin’s Creed III. Connor was not a proper follow-up to Ezio. They thought that a lack of emotions would make him cool, like the Man with No Name or some other emotionless hero. Instead it made him annoying and, worse still, boring. He didn’t change. He started angry, and he ended angry.

New England, the place I love and call home, was not a proper follow up to Renaissance Italy. While it was fun to traverse and fight in, it was samesy and overall the game suffered for it.

The game-play changed, going full action-game on everyone. It made it fun to play, but at the cost of what made Assassin’s Creed... well Assassin’s Creed. Brotherhood and Revelations also, in my opinion, strayed too far into action territory, but Assassin's Creed III finally took us into full-on God-Warrior territory. Assassin’s Creed, the first one, was a stealthy game with hit-and-run action. I like fighting my way out of failed stealth situations (something that happens to me often), but now Assassin’s Creed had gone too far. Through a long and barely noticeable process, the series had become something entirely different. Something generic.  

The worst thing about this game, however, is its treatment of Desmond and the gang. By Revelations, Lucy was dead (and revealed to be a Templar Double Agent), Desmond’s dad had joined them and they were all ready to stop this world ending event once and for all. The stakes couldn’t be any higher. Naturally, all they did in the game was stay in a cave until another alien ghost guilts Desmond into dying so he can “save the world.” It sounds heroic, but when you see it play out with Desmond grabbing these two Pillars that essentially electrocute him, it feels anti-climatic. Like the writer of this game also hated Desmond, and wanted to give all of those in the “We Hate Desmond” Camp a real big victory.

There were some out of cave diversions, but they were just that: diversions. We got to see the modern world, and see Desmond in action, but never in full. Desmond came close at the end of the game, with him finally being able to kill people -- even though he’s had a hidden blade since AC II -- but he never truly turned into the Master Assassin that the series had promised us. To drive this home, the two reasons that the history segments exist, story-wise, is to:

  1. Find ancient artifacts called Pieces of Eden.
  2. Train Desmond so he can be an assassin (after AC1 at least)

But now the fans got what they wanted: A dead Desmond and a future for their beloved franchise.

And ever since, the series has been in a holding pattern. People like Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. They also like the Sailing Sections in Assassin’s Creed III. I liked neither of those things. Nobody really likes Assassin’s Creed: Unity, and for good reason. It’s bland, it makes the Assassins bland and its main character, Arno, like Connor before, is also bland. Paris was nice, and the game looked good (when it worked), but that wasn't enough to save it from itself. What’s worse still is that it took place during The Reign of Terror, one of the most interesting time periods in human history.

I did not play Assassin’s Creed: Liberation or Assassin’s Creed: Rogue. I would like to play Rogue, its story intrigues me, but I don’t have much hope for it. I did play a substantial amount of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, and I found some of its characters initially interesting. Jacob and Evie Frye make for a good double act, but, as I brought up earlier, they both stay the same for way too long. Never are they unsure of themselves, never do they change or grow as people.

To be honest with you, I lost interest in the game halfway through. Maybe they do change and become entirely different people at the end. But Ezio -- my main man -- had already changed substantially, both age-wise and maturity-wise, by the midpoint of Assassin’s Creed II. They may be funny (at least Jacob is), but they aren’t dynamic. And that’s where they fail.

Back in September of 2016, Ubisoft was in danger of being bought out by French Media Company Vivendi (and they still are). Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, spoke to several news outlets, discussing the state of the company during these hard times. Guillemot was concerned that a potential merger with Vivendi would hurt Ubisoft's "creativity, agility, and risk-taking" which was  "intrinsic to our industry." However, I think they lost those things around Assassin’s Creed II. Sure, Rainbow Six: Siege is fun, so is Steep (to an extent), but what have they really done that’s knocked people’s socks off since Assassin’s Creed II? Far Cry 3 was daring on the narrative side, but game-play wise it was the blueprint for all of Ubisoft's other open world games. More Call of Duty than the daring and brutal Far Cry 2.

Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft

I hope Assassin’s Creed finds its way again soon. The gameplay in the last few games has improved, probably to the best it's ever been, but a steep price has been paid. I miss that crazy Ancient Alien/Conspiracy/2012-inspired story that was both a "risk-taker" and "creative." I miss Rebecca and Shaun actually being important characters to the story, rather than being some C-3PO/R2-D2-esque side characters that appear in every game because they have to. I miss the Assassins being good, and the Templars being bad.  The whole “we’re actually the good guys” thing the Templars tried pulling in AC III didn’t work, not because it wasn’t interesting, but because, to use Revelations as an example, the Templars will literally throw their henchman off of a carriage and to their deaths if they don’t ride fast enough.

If Ubisoft wants to make a million games set solely in the past, fine. I get that I am the only person who liked Desmond and the modern day stuff. Just give me one thing in return: more characters like Ezio Auditore. Not just one character, but several that grow and change throughout their games. Ones that have emotions, strengths and weaknesses. I would trade all of the conspiracy-laden modern day stuff for one more game with a main character like that.

6 Things Which Make a Game Great Mon, 24 Oct 2016 02:00:01 -0400 Sand Snake


Good gameplay, interesting storylines, quests which offer choices, deep companion characterization, and innovative ideas all play a key role in making you enjoy any game you play. These are my top six aspects of gaming, and that will most likely change as games become more advanced. But what are some of your ideas for what makes a great game? Or what would make a game even better for you?

6. Innovative Ideas

Too many games are getting caught up in imitating other games. Now while that can lead to better quality versions of that particular game, it can also lead to overuse of those mechanics. Most people, while they like a certain kind of game and will usually buy similar games, will usually stop buying them once they realize they are pretty much buying the same games again.


Games need to be freshened up every once in a while, otherwise as gamers grow older many will drop off the radar, because they have seen it all and played it all. If the gaming industry is to increase in growth and expand, they need to hold onto every single gamer and attract more with innovative ideas that keep those older generation excited and hungry for more.


Two games that stand out, and deserve some type of award for having achieved that very goal is Fallout 4 with its Settlement System, where you can build a settlement, and Dying Light for its extremely fun parkour mechanics. These two games have transformed their relatively simple and average gaming experience, into something truly epic, simply by adding two complex innovations. Building settlements and watching people come in to fill them up, although quite time consuming it can be quite fascinating. I can usually spend hours building a settlement, just so I can have a base in the area to get supplies, and have some sort of safe house from the wasteland. Which can be very useful, when playing survival mode.


The Parkour system is the same way, you find yourself stomping, killing, jumping, and running all the time because it is so much fun to watch your character do it. It's even more thrilling when you have Night Hunters chasing after you. Nothing gets your blood pumping like the sound of Night Hunters detecting you in the middle of the night, and being chased through a zombie infested city.

5. Interesting Companions

Companions and great voice actors are another important tool in making a decent game, into an epic game. While some people might undervalue this aspect in comparison to graphics and other areas of gaming, it does play an essential role in drawing people into their world. By having unique and interesting companions with you, makes you look forward to every piece of dialogue or conversation in the game, it makes you want to learn more about them and in doing so learn more about the world around you. Having characters that act like your wing (wo)man just generally makes you want to play the game just that little bit longer, especially if you're able to level them up and watch them gain new abilities. 


But what would really take games to a whole new level of amazing, would be to see games break the restrictions on romance options, get rid of companions that give long tedious explanations about their lives, give companions actual dialogue that relates to each main quest so that you can engage them throughout the game, design companion side quests that will have a genuine impact on the results of the main quest, and be able to befriend anyone you meet on the road, not just companions you have to use because they're part of some main quest or side quest. I think by doing all that, games could become a lot more immersive.


Lastly having voice actors that are good at what they do, by conveying emotion through their voices or bringing the characters words to life can play an important role as well. A good example of this is Ezio in Assassin's Creed Series, his voice is constantly being adapted to show his age and his maturity. Now while you might not be able to notice the subtle difference, the way it gets deeper and gritter in each Ezio game in the series does affect the way you perceive your character.

4. Choices with Consequences

I have recently begun to notice a growing trend of games providing choices that can have immediate or future consequences. This, by far, is the most exciting development in gaming history. Having choices that matter, makes you truly think about, and weigh up, each decision you make. It adds that extra spice to every single action you make, and forces you to question every single decision you make -- in a futile attempt to get some type of foresight into what is about to happen next.


But the absolute greatest thing about having choices is replayability. This allows for a whole new side of the story each time you play, and that makes you far more likely to start the game again. Plus it's nice to see, after hours of game time, the impact you have left upon the world -- whether it be good or evil.

3. Quests that matter

I cannot stress enough how important quests are in making an average game extraordinary. To do that games need to follow four simple pieces of criteria I always find myself using.


1. The side quests have to play a relevant role in supporting the main quest, whether that is subjugating rebel tribes in order for you to ascend to the throne, or simply helping you to build your reputation in the provinces. In either case those side quests have to impact the main quest in someway to give it meaning. Otherwise completing those side quests can become a tedious chore, which most people will only do because their either completionists like me or want to gain some extra experience.


2. All quests have to fit in line with what the character's role is in the game. A bad example of this is Fallout 4's Minutemen quest line, where you become a General, a rank where you would assume all you would have to do is dictate what needs to be done and assign duties. But instead we have repeat quests of you rushing to defend a settlement, rescue hostages, and clear settlements. Which would make sense for the first few settlements, because you're rebuilding, but once you have three fully functioning settlements, you should be able to use to some type of map to have your followers do some work for you. I mean what's the point of being a leader, if a lot of your time is spent doing the same stuff you already do everywhere else in the game?


You see the same problem appear in Dragon Age Inquisition, you're the inquisitor, a person with great power, and yet you are constantly reduced to a mere servant. Collecting and killing a certain amount in nearly every single side quest, except for friend quests. While the map is an excellent addition to the game, which I hope future BioWare games use, why are there only three people to assign tasks to?Surely the Spy, Commander, and Adviser all have hundreds of people under their command, yet we never get to use more than three. Why?


3. Make every side quest unique and interesting. In all honesty I would prefer to have fifteen good long side quests, rather than having hundreds of filler quests, where the only purpose is to waste your time and keep you occupied. Witcher 3 again is an excellent example of side quests that are not only useful for experience but excellent to play. It's the only game where I actively go around searching for side quests, because I don't want to miss out on anything they have in store for me.


4. The last, and most important, rule for all quests is the pacing. I hate it when a ton of quests are dropped on top of me in the first few minutes of the game. Way to make me feel the weight of the entire world resting on my shoulders! It would make so much more sense for those games with only a few good side quests to spread out the quests to places the main questline will eventually take us too. There's no need to be immediately inundated with quests that make us feel like we are being steam rolled.

2. Thrilling Storyline

The best games I have ever played, like the The Last of Us, have this incredible storyline that makes you feel every moment of it. Every heartache, every moment of joy, and every close call to death. There is no other game in my opinion that comes close enough to eclipse The Last Of Us by Naughty Dog. The story truly entrenches you in their world and makes you a part of it. You feel the pain of their loss, you feel their growing affection for other characters. You practically feel everything; the fear, the panic, and the excitement of delving through an apocalyptic world.


If the story is that good, you don't care where the story is leading you, all you can think about is how you want to see more of this world, you want to know what happens next. That's what really makes a game truly immersive and enjoyable to play.

1. Awesome Gameplay

The best games in the world have amazing gameplay that challenges gamers to devise new strategies to defeat their opponents. They also give you dozens of ways to complete a single objective. A great example of this has to be Witcher 3, where you can take out enemies with melee weapons,spells, potions, track down enemies using your senses, and you can even bewitch people and bribe them. It makes playing Witcher 3 so much more exciting knowing that you have so many options to choose from. Not to mention the quests in this game are unique and extremely well crafted, you don't get a ton of repetitive quests asking you to go and kill someone or collect an object. There are only two things that are repeated and they are contracts and quests to find armor pieces, both are optional and both change slightly each time.


But coming back to my original point that gameplay is important, you only have to compare Witcher 3 to Dragon Age Inquisition's immensely boring world to realise how important it is to be able to choose the way you complete your objectives, and the way you fight each battle. Doing the same thing over and over again can get old very quickly.


This slideshow is going to dive into what makes a game great. There are six main aspects which join together to achieve the best games, things like gameplay, interesting storylines, diverse quests with lots of choices, engaging characters, and innovative ideas. But, how do these make games great? Read on to find out!


*Beware this slideshow will contain some spoilers*

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: 1920s America Tue, 16 Feb 2016 12:51:29 -0500 BlackTideTV

Welcome back to Assassin's Creed Ideas, a weekly column where - every Tuesday - we look at a new historical setting that would make for a great Assassin's Creed game! There have been two previous installments in the series and I'm sure you'd enjoy them, so check them out by clicking the links below:

This week we've got a shorter article based on a little idea in the latter of the two articles above. In Assassin's Creed Ideas: World War One, I brought up a quick thought that a 1900s based Creed game could set the stage for a new miniseries in the franchise, much like Assassin's Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations.

America in the early 1900s

Returning from the First World War, American society evolved into an era known as "The Roaring Twenties," which in-turn released "The Great Depression" of the 1930s, lasting until the onset of World War Two, and the rest is history (haha).

Al Capone Roaring Twenties 1920s Gangster

Today we're talking about the lavish lifestyle of so-called "gangsters" in 1920s America.

Al Capone, Johnny Torrio, Charles "Lucky" Luciano, Meyer Lansky, you may recognize many of these notorious gangsters, bootleggers, and gamblers as fan-favorite characters off of HBO's hit TV show Boardwalk Empire, but the truth of the matter is that they were all very real people, who committed very real crimes. 

Before the creation of the National Crime Syndicate (Syndicate... I'm on a roll today) in 1929, many gangsters in 1920s America held continuous battles from city to city over territory, as well as the importation and transportation of every American's favorite banned liquid: alcohol. Prohibition hit the country hard, effectively making gangsters' lives great... except for the competition part.

How does Assassin's Creed fit in?

We're constantly reminded of how the Assassin's order are the good guys in the Assassin's Creed series, but let's get real: they're ASSASSINS. They kill people. This is the definition of an assassin, provided by good ol' Google:

Assassin Definition courtesy of Google

A game set in the twenties having the Assassin order get down and dirty with organized crime could bring reality back into the series. Finally, players would see the truth behind what they've been doing in the games all this time: murdering people. There's no better setting to make the morality of the series seem abundantly clear.

I bet you'll never guess how many people involved in major crime agencies were assassinated in the 1920s. Who better to do that assassinating than the Templars and Assassins, hidden amongst the feuding gangs of east coast U.S.A. or Chicago? Using bootlegging, gambling, and battles over territory as a front, the two lifelong enemies could go at it in "secret," the media's attention on specific faces of organized crime like Al Capone instead. 

1920s Gangsters

An Assassin's Creed game with this base idea could be ridiculously elaborate and incredibly intriguing, allowing players to meet all of the infamous gangsters previously mentioned and more. Sprinkle in a backstory of bootlegging and the re-legalization of alcohol, have multiple cities available for exploration (Chicago, Atlantic City, New York), include many a reference to HBO's Boardwalk Empire (mainly because it's awesome), and give players the side option to create and manage an NPC gang fighting for territorial control in the U.S. and you've got yourself a damn fine game. 

So, what's up Ubisoft? Working on this yet? 

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 two articles: Assassin's Creed Ideas: Ancient Egypt and Assassin's Creed Ideas: World War One. For all of the hottest Assassin's Creed Ideas articles follow the tag on the ACI Homepage.

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 his 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.

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.

Assassin's Creed series debuts on PlayStation Now, today Tue, 15 Sep 2015 10:47:16 -0400 Courtney Gamache

PlayStation has announced that five of the Assassin's Creed games will be available to play on PlayStation Now. The streaming service PlayStation Now will provide a service of renting games using on-demand, which is how the early Assassin's Creed games will be played. 

Assassin's Creed Games Available on Streaming

While only five of the earlier Assassin's Creed games are debuting, PlayStation already has announced that they're adding Assassin's Creed: Syndicate once it's release date of October 23rd, with full compatibility with the PlayStation 4. Below is the list of earlier Assassin's Creed games that are debuting:

  • Assassin's Creed
  • Assassin's Creed 2
  • Assassin's Creed Brotherhood
  • Assassin's Creed: Revelations
  • Assassin's Creed III

A catch in the system

Although some Assassin's Creed games are now available to play on the PS4, the only way to do so is through the streaming service of PlayStation Now. The PlayStation 4 is currently not backwards-compatible, which is slowly bottle-necking the way gamers are allowed to play their oldies but goodies. 

What do you think of the PlayStation Now service? Would it be easier for PlayStation to just develop backwards compatibility with the PS4? Give us your thoughts!

Twelve games undeserving of their critical praise Sun, 16 Aug 2015 18:39:02 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

We’ve all been there before. We have been playing a game that was showered with critical acclaim, and while we don’t think the game may necessarily be bad, we wonder, “Why is this getting so much praise?” While this thought may not occur during playtime, the thought may have crossed your mind after the end credits roll.

To clarify, I am not claiming these games are awful; some of them are pretty good. This list is a collection of games that caused me to question their critical acclaim while playing them.  With that in mind, let’s get to the good stuff!


I have to give credit where credit is due: Bethesda is great at creating gigantic virtual sandboxes for players to muck about in. The problem is they rarely fill those sandboxes with anything interesting. While Oblivion had many of the same issues as Skyrim, I found Skyrim the more boring and uninteresting of the two. With constantly repeated dungeons, floaty combat, shallow game mechanics, and an overall boring world, Skyrim is more repetitive than the Dick and Jane book series.   

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

I love a good turn-based strategy game; I’m slightly addicted to them. When I heard the venerable XCOM series was receiving a reboot, I was ecstatic. The original games have not aged well; so being able to play an XCOM game with modern design and sensibilities was a tantalizing prospect. While Enemy Unknown was not bad, it had several design issues and a lack of depth found in other turn-based strategy games.

The game can be easily completed by keeping your squad in a phalanx formation and simply abusing Overwatch like it's no one’s business. Once you get your soldiers promoted, they essentially become all-powerful demigods who laugh at the enemy invaders. A combination of individual classes can make most of the game a breeze. The lack of depth was also noticeable.

I celebrate a game becoming more accessible for newcomers, but there are ways to add depth for those who want it without alienating newer players. It’s far from a bad game. I like the veteran series being thrust into the limelight once again, and now we are getting more, but hopefully the forthcoming sequel will rectify some of the issues found in Enemy Unknown.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood

To the time of writing this, I have completed nearly every game I have started. I rarely start a game I do not finish unless the game is awful or just drab in every way. Brotherhood is one of those games.

I endured the uneven first game due to the unique setting and experience (Middle East during Medieval times = awesome!), and Assassin’s Creed 2 improved upon the first game in so many ways, giving me what I enjoyed from the first game with less of what I didn’t. So why in the world was Brotherhood so boring? The game doesn’t introduce many new or interesting ideas; the story was snooze-worthy; and the game was just monotonous as a whole.

Uncharted 2

I debated including this one. However, after the lovely comments on my last piece where I dared accuse Uncharted 2 of not being as great as people think it is, I couldn’t help but include it here!

Yes, Uncharted 2 in NO way deserves the amount of critical acclaim it has received.

Half-Life 2

I’ve really lost it now, haven’t I? (I assure you I haven’t, or maybe I never had it.) Before you discount this thought, though, let’s talk. Half-Life 2 is a good game, but it is nowhere near the perfection people claim it to be. It’s a small game wrapped in a large tech demo. The game was a vehicle to show what the Source engine could do, and at the time of release, it was impressive. Now, though, not so much.

There are some great moments in the game. Ravenholm was tense and dripping with atmosphere. Experimenting with the gravity gun was satisfying. The upgraded gravity gun was even more satisfying. Between all of those moments, though, there is a lot of filler. The game is filled with a glut of boring vehicle sections, some tedious puzzles, and unnecessary fluff which the later episodic release rectified. It’s still a good game, but there’s a reason many fans are still talking about the original Half-Life over the sequel.

Bioshock Infinite

I’ve argued the case for Bioshock 2 before, but I still find people who think BioShock Infinite is the better game because they like to pretend Bioshock 2 does not exist. Bioshock 2 had large locales to explore, gripping combat, depth of gameplay, and was also fun to play. BioShock Infinite was a corridor shooter that quickly devolved into a monotonous slog towards the endgame.

I almost didn’t finish the game due to how boring and predictable the gameplay and design had become. The story was the only thing keeping me invested in any way.

At least it had great art design!

Fable III

The entire Fable series is built upon a foundation of unfulfilled promises and disappointed players. That said, the first two games managed to be enjoyable, even if they came nowhere near the heights they were projected to reach. With Fable III, Lionhead went one step forward and three large steps backwards.

The most egregious change was the abandonment of a menu system in favor of a hub-like area to access your inventory and such. The result was a confusing and ultimately unnecessary system. They also had a ridiculously simple and unfulfilling combat system that was as shallow as it was bland. A bevy of technical issues and a pointless section towards the end add up to one undeserving game.

Grand Theft Auto 4

It’s boring. Hmmm. Is that not enough? Alright, alright, here ya go!

GTA 4 is full of uninteresting characters populating a dull world with failed attempts at social critique, plagued by poor controls and gameplay. Just play Saints Row instead: the controls are better, it is far from pretentious, and it’s just plain fun to play - something the GTA series has yet to learn.

Arkham Knight

Honestly, this one is a matter of principle. Yes, Warner Bros. should NOT have knowingly released such an obviously unfinished PC port. They are completely at fault for pushing this sorry excuse for a game out the door. But why in the world was the game positively reviewed almost everywhere while an entire section of the playerbase couldn’t even play the damn game they bought?

The shady tactics of WB releasing the now infamous PC port should have affected scores overall. After all, Metacritic scores are one of the only ways to get these AAA publishers to pay attention, listen, and learn from their mistakes.

Telltale Games

I really enjoyed The Wolf Among Us. The Walking Dead: Season One affected me on an emotional level only two other games have. Tales from the Borderlands is shaping up to be a solid surprise too. So why are Telltale’s games on this list? Because of The Walking Dead: Season Two and Game of Thrones.

The Walking Dead: Season Two is the very definition of a disappointing sequel. With weaker writing and plot design coupled with brain-dead character decisions and forced confrontations, the game left a lot to be desired.

As a fan of the books who was interested to see what Telltale would do, I am disappointed Game of Thrones has such a poor design base and is just so uninteresting. So far the game has been extremely predictable and plagued with poor design. Now if they would only start from scratch…

Gears of War 3

Marcus and company land on this list with a, you guessed it, an insipid entry in the beefcake versus meat slabs series. While the entire series could be on this list, I managed to somewhat enjoy the first two titles and complete them. Gears of War 3 on the other hand, remains one of those games on my “Do not want to finish list.”

With minimal to no evolution in any way over previous entries, failed attempts at gravitas and drama, and lame firefights, the acclaim heaped onto GoW 3 is puzzling.


Checklist for a "meh" game:

  • Repetive gameplay and embodiment of a Skinner box: Check!
  • Bland and lackluster gameplay: Check!
  • Story that reads like a thousand chimps' attempt at a space opera: Check!
  • Inflated expectations due to misleading ads, coverage, and such: Check!
  • Greedy business practices and insuting comments from the devs: Double Check!

And so it goes.

No doubt you completely agree with my list. However, if by some small chance you do not agree with my choices, sound off in the comments! Have I missed a game that in no way deserves the critical acclaim it has received? Make your voice heard as well!

Now go play some better games!

Nine Celebrity Video Game Voice Actors You Missed Sat, 25 Jul 2015 17:30:01 -0400 Elijah Beahm


While gaming struggled many years for recognition and acceptance, every day we see more proof of how mainstream it has become. As games become more commonplace, so do celebrity appearances in games. Got a favorite celebrity appearance in a video game? Let us know in the comments below!


Phil Collins -- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories


While technically Phil Collins only says a few brief lines, there is an entire mission built around his in-game concert in this PSP/PlayStation 2 spin-off of Vice City. You have to stop some bombers with your bare fists, all while keeping Collins and a movie director safe. Your reward after preventing the heinous attack? An entire song performed by Phil Collins, in-game. As mission rewards go, this is a pretty rock solid one.


Sean Bean -- Kholat


Sean Bean must be very tired of dying, which is probably why he agreed to narrate the indie horror title Kholat. Not only does he get to be the voice players hear at every turn, but he gets to live by virtue of not being present. This is equally fitting, seeing as Bean's only other video game role was as the bastard son of the reigning emperor in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The lack of assassination attempts likely is very refreshing.


Ray Liotta -- Grand Theft Auto: Vice City


You might be able to take the gangster out of the real world, but he'll still be looking for trouble. Ray Liotta's profilic movie career is full of action and mobster films, so it seems only fitting that his two appearances in video games are as gangsters. He not only appeared back in 2012 as one of the cast in Mob of the Dead for Call of Duty: Black Ops II, but is the star of his own Grand Theft Auto game.


Taking place in the middle entry of the PlayStation 2 GTA trilogy, Liotta plays Tommy Vecetti, a loyal gunman with an ax to grind. While many of the same ideas present in Grand Theft Auto III were present in Vice City, one of the biggest shifts was the greater focus on story. By bringing Liotta in, the series began a trend of voiced protagonists with real motivations. Vice City heralded a turning point for the franchise that would later lead to the further complex stories in GTA IV and GTA V.


Elijah Wood -- The Legend of Spyro


One does not simply become the lead actor in two epic fantasy franchises, but Elijah Wood pulled it off anyway. Not only did Wood get to play the iconic Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings, but was also brought on board for Krome's reboot trilogy of the Spyro series.


While the games themselves had a middling reception (leading to Activision rebooting Spyro into Skylanders), the story and voice acting were highly praised. Not to be deterred, Wood has taken on other gaming related projects, including playing one of the lead antagonists in Season 10 of Roosterteeth's Red vs. Blue.


Chloe Grace Mortez -- Dishonored


Most people remember first seeing Mortez break onto the scene as Hitgirl in Kickass. She packed a surprising amount of punch for such a young actress, but she actually has done far more subdued roles. Take for instance her role in Dishonored, as the heir to the throne, Lady Emily Kaldwin.


Mortez not only had to portray the character, but handle two completely separate voice overs due to the branching narrative. As a result, she played Emily as both a malevolent ruler to be, and as a peaceful idealist. Not an easy job for anyone, but Mortez brings something genuine to Emily that many young characters in video games lack. While Emily's looking all grown up in Dishonored 2, it's not confirmed if Mortez will continue voicing her or not.


Tony Jay -- Legacy of Kain


Tony Jay remains one of the few actors who can say he acted in one of the original hand-drawn Disney films and in several iconic video games. From The Hunchback of Notredame to Fallout, he's voiced dozens of characters for gamers and moviegoers alike.


What remains one of his most iconic roles is the Elder God in Crystal Dynamic's Legacy of Kain series. His baritone voice carried great weight in every role, but he made Elder God truly titanic, mocking series protagonist Raziel's struggle. While he sadly passed away in 2006, his voice lives on for generations of fans through his prolific work.


Christopher Walken -- True Crimes: LA


While old school adventure game fans remember Christopher Walken's iconic appearance in Ripper, most gamers don't realize he's also the voice of George, a character from Activision's True Crime series. Walken not only voices the character, but narrates both the game's intro and outro sequence. What makes his inclusion particularly odd though is how subdued he is by comparison to his usually flamboyant performances.


Ashley Burch -- Aliens: Colonial Marines


Yes, right after Ashley Burch of Hey Ash Watchya Playin'? got her big break in voice acting as Tiny Tina for Borderlands 2, she voiced a very (let's call it "unique") Gearbox production. In Aliens: Colonial Marines, Burch plays the red headed, by the book pilot Lt. Reid. Reid often comes into argument with the lower ranking members of the cast, including ordering them to leave a marine behind at one point for the sake of the mission.


What's most impressive is that it's actually hard to identify that it's Burch in the role until you read the credits. While more recent projects such as Life is Strange have highlighted Burch's range, this was one of the few times most gamers heard her do a far more serious voiceover. Sadly, neither Burch nor anyone else of the star-studded cast (including Lance Henriksen and Michael Biehn) could save the game's dismal story.


Kristen Bell -- Assassin's Creed


It has been many years since the tragic twist ending of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, but that doesn't mean fans have forgotten about former series mainstay Lucy Stillman. What those same fans might have realized is that Lucy was played by none other than Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars fame. Bell played Lucy through each entry in the series, going from a side role to being one of the lead protagonists.


Assassin's Creed is not Bell's only dip into video game voice acting. She also reprises her role as Cora from Astro Boy vs. The Junkyard Pirates in Astro Boy: The Video Game and as Anna from Frozen in Disney Infinity.


Voice acting in video games is one of those professions that has its own stars, like Dee Bradly Baker (pictured above), Troy Baker, Tara Strong, and Nolan North. However, that doesn't take away the excitement when a movie, web, or TV actor takes their step out onto the digital stage. Sometimes though, they slip by us. Here are nine celebrity voice overs you probably didn't realize were in games.

Nine Things Next-Gen Multiplayer Needs to Succeed Sat, 18 Jul 2015 15:07:14 -0400 Elijah Beahm


Multiplayer has been a part of this industry from the start, and its impact can be felt across the spectrum of platforms we play on. Whether you like online gaming or not, we've come a long way, and have a even further journey ahead to travel. Here's hoping developers choose the right path for online gamers.


Encourage and Grow Your Communities


This last part is something only a few publishers and developers have done really well. For example, 2K Games managed what seemed almost impossible at the time, and bred a longstanding Bioshock 2 multiplayer community. Between offering assets for wikis, and porting the game out of pocket to Steamworks as Games for Windows Live began shutting down, 2K Games did good by their community.


They also repeatedly tried to do right by them in terms of DLC. When it seemed like Minerva's Den might not release, they gave out the Protector Trials for free on PC. When they found out they could port it over still, they did, and they kept the Trials DLC completely free regardless. They also gave Minerva's Den for free to anyone who had bought the original, Games for Windows Live version of the game. On top of that, they made all multiplayer DLC free for everyone, and decreased the grind in the progression system so members of the community could regain their ranks quickly in the new Steamworks version.


This is how you reward a loyal community. You don't treat them like EA did with Dead Space 2, where they never ported any of the DLC, and when it was found some was already on-disc, EA just quietly made a few items and armor sets unlocked for PC users. They never got the Severed DLC campaign (which reportedly never got past pre-Alpha on PC before being cancelled on that platform), nor did they get any of the multiplayer patches.


Publishers and developers both need to learn from these and other examples, and understand that you don't survive through game sales alone. You need that community who will stick it out years from now. Bioshock 2 is thriving and active on PC after five years. By contrast, no one is playing Dead Space 2 on PC anymore. Consider that fact.


Scoreboards Don't Count as Multiplayer


I would think this would go without saying, but judging by the number of games that have tried to use this as a placeholder for real multiplayer, it apparently does not. A scoreboard is fine on its own, but it does not make for great multiplayer. Most people don't care, and often times those who do are more interested in kill/death ratios in Call of Duty than how many Animus Fragments they've found in Assassin's Creed. Let's stop using this as a crutch.


We Need More User Generated Content


For a long time, it seemed like modifications were on the way out. Very few games supported mods during the last generation, save for a handful of shooters, and a number of strategy and RPG titles. That is changing though, thanks to a rebound in the focus on user generated content. Even if a game is a completely solo experience, you can play levels or experience new content made by other gamers.


User generated content is the lifeblood of many older games. Tron 2.0 and Skyrim both got fan expansion packs in the past three years, well after their publishers had moved on. Mods are free DLC that developers don't have to spend a dime on. Whether or not you think mods should be commercially released is another debate, but you can't deny the popularity of modding. Some developers even use mods as ways of finding the best new talent to hire for their next project.


As development tools become more user-friendly, and in-game toolsets get more powerful, it stands to reason that user generated content needs to be taken more seriously as a means of online content.




Let Cooperative and Competitive Multiplayer Blur


The fact cooperative and competitive multiplayer are beginning to blur is a great sign, but there are only a few games that have toyed with this. Dark Souls, DayZ and Watch_Dogs remain the only notable examples, and even this early on, they show promise. Dark Souls in particular has caused many anti-multiplayer gamers to reconsider their stance on the issue, because it put it in a new context.


Taking competitive play out of instanced matches and making it more like a boss fight puts it in clearer context for those who don't regularly go out and play Domination or Capture the Flag. With the addition of cooperative players helping each side during conflicts, Dark Souls lets the players define the battlefield.


Watch_Dogs took this a different direction by empowering players with a variety of play styles. Maybe you go and spy on someone or hack their phone in a one on one battle. If you prefer racing, you could take on mobile device users or enter street races. If you like team battles, those are available too. They aren't carted off in some alternate landscape, but instead are present in your game, and have tangible rewards for both offline and online play.


As we step forward, these types of integrated multiplayer could even tie into grander mechanics. Imagine a world where the Dark Souls invasion system and the Shadow of Mordor nemesis system are combined. The potential is tantalizing, to say the least.


Think Outside the Box For What Genres Can Have Multiplayer


A year doesn't go by when I don't hear someone say "[game] doesn't need multiplayer!" Except, did you ever ask yourself what kind of multiplayer that would be like? The XCOM: Enemy Unknown team asked themselves that, and what resulted is a surprisingly popular turn-based RPG style multiplayer that even got a wealth of new maps in the expansion pack Enemy Within.


The same happened with Mass Effect 3, and later Dragon Age: Inquisition. Perhaps its time we stop saying something shouldn't be done, and start more regularly asking "can this be done, and will it be fun?" Not only does this open the door to new multiplayer games, but it lets mechanics be handled in new ways. Assassin's Creed: Rogue's detection system wouldn't exist without Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's multiplayer, and similar examples exist across many franchises.


So let's really push the envelope and see what works. If it fails, then go back to the drawing board; but if it succeeds, then help it grow.


Truly Dynamic Levels


Letting us level one building in Battlefield 4 was impressive back on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Now though, with the hardware available to developers, we should be seeing a lot more dynamic elements in levels, and not just in shooters. If anything, more games need to look to some of Sony's more recent games for inspiration.


Take the airstrip level in Uncharted 3. When the level opens, one team is a plane that is preparing to take off. Meanwhile, the other team is on a set of moving trucks, chasing after it, guns blazing. This leads to some hilarious and awesome moments that only happen because of the players and the level both being equal participants.


Similarly, PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royal built itself around levels that would blend between two games. One minute you're in Pappa Rappa, but within minutes, Killzone invades with giant mechs firing on players. Every level did this, and would significantly impact the approach players would take to battles. That isn't even counting smaller dynamic elements players could use to their advantage, like setting off traps or knocking opponents into hazards.


We need more levels like this. While making a level flood or have half of the map become full of poison gas might seem impressive to some players, we could do so much more. Destiny's raids have randomized, dynamic elements as much as they do scripted ones. Syndicate had different enemy spawns and behavior based on difficulty levels. These are the sorts of things we should aspire to in future multiplayer titles.


Understand What We Want From Online Co-op


When I reviewed Sunset Overdrive, the game had an excellent open world that was begging for two player campaign co-op. Instead, it had one of the blandest eight player horde modes ever created. Too many games just tack on online cooperative multiplayer without any consideration of what the mode needs. This weird misunderstanding of what we want in co-op is increasing in frequency, as more and more cooperative games are made.


First off, we want to play together with like-minded players. This really is what developers should consider first when going forward. Halo: Reach had one of the best matchmaking filters by asking you several general but important questions about how you liked to play Halo This helped like minded gamers to team up easily.


This should be a default feature in co-op, especially when the co-op is in the main story campaign. If someone is just there for the action, then pair them up with other people there for action. If someone cares about the story, get equally considerate players on board with them.


We also need goals worth playing for. The point of cooperative multiplayer is that you are working together, towards some end. This is why co-op in campaigns works so well, and why standalone co-op modes that are barely connected with the main game fall apart. Some games like Halo 5: Guardians have been making strides to close the gap and integrate co-op into their stories, but we still have a lot further to go.


Still, making players work for a narrative goal might get them through once or twice, but we need consistent, enjoyable reasons to bring friends along. We need new tactical options to open up in cooperative shooters. We need new dialogue choices in cooperative RPGs. We need incentive to play in co-op that offers a different experience, without cutting players out of every option. The benefits should be realistic to the player count.


Online co-op has been evolving at a fast rate, ever since Halo 3 and Borderlands popularized it. Hopefully that means these growing pains can be passed through just as quickly.










More Content, Not Bigger Battles


This is another thing that has continually been happening, and is a big issue for multiplayer. Sony was able to get over two hundred players playing together in its game MAG. It was also so dry and visually bland a game that it could have been a PlayStation 2 title in pre-Alpha.


Some developers have caught on to the idea that more content is better than grander scale, but still are struggling with it. Titanfall offered over twenty maps at launch, and released a bunch of free content updates, but also tried to charge ten dollars for three packs of three new maps. This was a terrible idea, and the game benefitted greatly by just letting everyone have the new maps for free.


This shouldn't even be news to developers. For years older games like No One Lives Forever and Unreal Tournament offered free map packs and new game modes as updates, not something you had to pay the right to use. Splintering communities with pay walls is one of the worst things you could do in multiplayer.


If developers want to charge for something, then they should actually take a note from Batman: Arkham Origins and charge for new gear, or better yet, Battlefield 4's shortcuts. I know what you're thinking "but that stuff is the worst!" except, it really isn't. Think about it.


Consider a world where all content updates are free, so you continually have more and more game to play. Except, since publishers will still want to make something off of the game, they offer new players the ability to catch up in the progression system. They'll still be new to the game and unsure of what gear to use, meaning balance is maintained. All the meanwhile, you've got a consistent stream of new modes and maps to play on.


As compromises go, this one pays off way more for the core player base than the current model. It'd be awesome if we could just get the content for free, but not all publishers and developers will go for that approach. Still, anything that takes us out of the age of Sanctum and Call of Duty-style paid for DLC is a welcome move towards benefiting the player base.




Local Co-op


Yes, this is still a thing, contrary to so many games dropping support for it. Whether it's a desperate bid to optimize (like Halo 5: Guardians) or just cut due to rushed schedule (like Killzone: Shadow Fall), local co-op has been getting the short end of the stick between now and the end years of last-gen. That needs to stop.


We need local co-op games, and not just 2D games and indie titles. Halo was born on local multiplayer matches, and Star Wars: Battlefront let console gamers play together online without a hitch. Friends could play games together both online and offline, but more and more that feature is excluded, and it hurts consoles in general.


The more games you can play alongside a friend and enjoy, the more you'd want to have them on your own. It's just not the same experience, swapping the controller back and forth. Yes, you might have over a hundred players on a massive battlefield with AI opponents and amazing scripted moments, but you're failing the oldest mode of multiplayer in existence. Give us a reason to buy a second Xbox One or PlayStation 4 controller.


Multiplayer has gone from the only means of play, to a standby feature, and somehow made a huge jump back into "novelty" territory before finally getting its footing again. In the modern gaming era, multiplayer is a huge money maker across consoles, mobile, and PC. Yet, despite years of innovations and experience, the industry seems to have forgotten or failed to realize several things multiplayer gaming needs to really do well.