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Assassin's Creed Doesn't Have Much of a Story, Does It?

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 19 Nov 2013 17:00
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I have dutifully played the Assassin's Creed games as they've come out, and while it has wobbled a fair bit on the line of quality, it's basically a solid series. At least it doesn't churn out exactly the same tired thing every time. Just mostly the same tired thing every time, with some new ideas dipped into like a cowardly schoolchild dipping a toe into a frozen pool. Some of the new ideas it introduces mysteriously disappear in future instalments, never to be seen again, like bomb crafting and tower defence in Revelations, or all that sofa manufacturing business in 3. While other, less shit ideas grow and gain confidence. I wouldn't be surprised if sailing was only in AC3 in that vestigial and ancillary way as some kind of proof of concept for AC4, in which case, fuck you, Ubisoft, for making us pay to be your focus testers.

But if there's one thing about Assassin's Creed that continues to wear upon the patience, it's the connecting narrative set in the future with Future Desmond (although actually now set in the recent past, that's what happens when you start off with a future date too close to the present). It seems like the series could just be about exploring various historical settings without having to bring us back to the future every now and again. I say this because it's pretty clear at this point that the future narrative isn't really going anywhere.

Now, despite having played every Assassin's Creed I should mention at this point that I only have a loose grasp on what the ongoing future plot has been about, broadly speaking, perhaps owing to some overestimation on Ubisoft's part of the human mind's capacity for contrived bullshit. But I'm fairly sure that at one point the big overarching threat was a solar flare that was going to kill everyone, and which could only be prevented by the use of the super magic technology left behind by a fairly standard ancient highly advanced civilization.

So by the time of Assassin's Creed 3 this whole subplot was coming dangerously close to needing a payoff, because you can't just hang the solar flare over our heads for eternity, saying "Ooh watch out it's going to come ANY SECOND NOW." That has never worked for the Jehovah's Witnesses and it's not going to work for you, not after 5 games. So the solar flare problem gets wrapped up at the end of 3 in the blandest possible way - perhaps we shouldn't have expected anything else of Future Desmond, blandest sentient life-form in the history of civilization - by pressing a magic button.

A magic button which came with the proviso that Future Desmond immediately dropped dead and it would release some magic godlike lady ghost thing. One functionally identical to the magic godlike lady ghost thing we saw at the end of AC2 but not actually the same magic godlike lady ghost thing because this one's evil. Or something like that. And she's totally planning to do something evil now somewhere where we can't see or perceive it in any way.

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