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

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I actually enjoyed the modern day plot up until the end of three, although I do admit that the solar flare thing came out of left field. I'm one of those people who devour little bits of information that hint at something bigger, and the solar flare was not mentioned. Originally at the end of AC II (I believe) Juno warns only that "He" is coming, and that he must be stopped. The sun was referenced, but it was never stated as a solar flare. I simply took that to mean that the sun god of these beings--you know, since they all borrow their names from ancient gods--was going to be coming back to earth and he would destroy it.
Apparently they dropped the "He" bit and just changed it straight up to a solar flare.

I won't be picking up Assassin's Creed IV. I'll borrow it, but every AC game I've played has let me down. They keep building to this epic conclusion, and they always trip at the finish line for their story in the game. And now, to hear that they do nothing with Juno escaping, I just can't be bothered to be interested in it. This series has suffered the same fate as Killzone to me.

The problem isn't so much that the overarching story doesn't have an end in sight, it's that it's not very interesting and distracts from the more engaging historical settings.

Johnny Novgorod:
This is exactly while I will never truly become a comic book fan, no matter how much I try. At least with these games you get a sense of completion by beating them. Try reading a DC issue picked out of the blue, see how much sense it makes or how satisfying it is when it ends in a cliffhanger of a cliffhanger of a cliffhanger.

My feelings exactly, I will never understand people who can sit through a plot that obviously isn't going anywhere. There are good graphic novels, as I'm finding, but I won't bother with something that isn't already completed. Most comics and television shows are more concerned with keeping themselves alive then actually telling a good story. This is the reason I couldn't stomach Game of Thrones anymore. I could skip ENTIRE CHAPTERS, even entire CHARACTER ARCS, and miss literally nothing. Brianne does literally nothing of consequence in the entire fourth book. I'll never understand the people who make Assassins Creed. I could maybe forgive them for their terrible writing, but the creators are so bloody arrogant, its nauseating.

I didn't even make it through the first Assassin's Creed before I got bored of it. I bet if you didn't get paid to play then you would never be bothered to finish them. They're just so generic and dull.

Not gonna lie, I fucking love this franchise and pretty much every game (Revelations was quite average though) so this is gonna be an opinion that may be completely wrong for some, but I think those whom got sick of the games got sick of them for:

a)Each game (for lack of a better term) de-powering the player and forcing them to build back up their armour/weapons/skills.

b)Frequent re-learning of the Creed.

c)The addition of bonus objectives.

I know personally the bonus objectives started to become extremely unlikable when it came to forcing me to assassinate people a certain way, and I think everyone can agree that Revelations really was grasping at ideas that had been discarded for AC2 and Brotherhood. I liked 3, I thought Connor was a great protagonist, I understood why he was moody and I let it go when his teenage/young adult bravado crossed into arrogance. However the game was just TOO scripted and had too many ideas playing around. I'll agree that AC3 felt overly convoluted.

While AC4 is guilty of a and b, it actually keeps the whole teachings of the creed to Edward fairly limited. He's told maybe once or twice how the Assassin's work, but no one ever sits him down for a long talk. Also, instead of buying armour and upgrades you craft them, thus encouraging exploration. The bonus objectives now actually seem like a bonus instead of instructions on how to play the missions. You can completely ignore them and instead of getting a huge red x the game simply passes it by.

Future story has always been weird, stories set in the past however have been very interesting (Revelations and 3 probably being the weakest, sure), but in the end what should count most is gameplay, and for most of the series the gameplay has been quite fun.

As boring as Desmond was, he was a character. Desmond was where the series would've ended, in the future, playing as him. The whole series felt like that's what it was building up to.

And now that the blandest sentient life-form in the universe is dead, there's no end in sight (funny how killing Desmond made the series and it's story more boring). Assassin's Creed as a video game franchise has become a sort of purgatory in video game format... Much like how Desmond the living brain must feel.

What if this is actually a brilliant stroke of genius on the writer's part in some sort of twisted reflection of working for Ubisoft?

Honestly, I found Assassins Creed 2 far too easy and got bored of the game for reasons that had nothing to do with the plot. It's like the side quests became like an MMO quest grinder... in a single player game. =(

After that I pretty much gave up on the series and just watched it from afar.

The Almighty Aardvark:
This is also the reason why I don't watch most western tv series with an ongoing story anymore. There are almost no shows that have some sort of definite conclusion, they're all about trying to milk the series for as long as they can make money off of it. Then they leave you with a unsatisfying ending that should have came ages earlier.

While I don't like most anime either, at least series exist that are short, sweet and end when they clearly intended to. Western shows that do this? Sherlock, and that's all I can come up with.

Babylon 5 did that, and it's the best scifi series (and general best series) I've ever seen, love the show from start to finish. That and the Battlestar Galactica remake, it also had the story flushed out and planned before the first episode was filmed.
But yes in general their the exemption rather than the rule.

RicoADF:

Babylon 5 did that, and it's the best scifi series (and general best series) I've ever seen, love the show from start to finish. That and the Battlestar Galactica remake, it also had the story flushed out and planned before the first episode was filmed.
But yes in general their the exemption rather than the rule.

I've wanted to give Babylon 5 a look for quite a while now, although I heard that the first season is very dry since there's a lot of exposition they need to set up. Regardless, I have heard some very good things about it.

Battlestar Galactica I've heard mixed things on, although given that it's only 4 seasons it doesn't seem like too much of a time commitment to check out. Hearing that they both have focused plots makes me a lot more receptive to watching them though

RicoADF:

Babylon 5 did that, and it's the best scifi series (and general best series) I've ever seen, love the show from start to finish. That and the Battlestar Galactica remake, it also had the story flushed out and planned before the first episode was filmed.
But yes in general their the exemption rather than the rule.

Can't speak for B5, but while I liked Battlestar, it started to become pretty clear towards the end they didn't really plan it out. Especially the whole final 5 thing and how the 2nd half of season 3 felt really boring.

I completely agree with you Croshaw.

In any TV show, comic book series or game series I enjoy well written story arcs that conclude in satisfying ways even while keeping a few back doors open for new stories and plot advancements, but Assassins Creed wasn't really one of those, as are most of the Comic books I simply don't have the life times to explore. Too little trickled in to players mouths, for my personal taste (cue the what-is-he-tasting jokes).

I stopped playing AC after the third game, titled by some as AC 2.5 (Brotherhood). The reviews for every subsequent game never praised the stories or mentioned whats-next moments you just had to find and miss work for the next day.

So now I may pick up AC4 when its a bargain for the naval combat, though I might not because it's likely there are better open world games around I enjoy more, maybe even by Ubisoft.

After shooting someone 30 meters away with that 'fucking gun' as Ben called it, the AC games didn't exactly go places in terms of story. I simply played to see places I hadn't (and still haven't really) seen before. I love stealth games, so I always preferred to skulk about, though being dressed like an Assassin, it was felt left-bell-curve in terms of being an actual assassin. At least Garret could disappear in to shadows.

Mahoshonen:
There really is a lot that you can read out of the modern-day stuff in AC4. It feels like a Dilbert strip at times (like when they mention that the little statues you get are in lieu of bonuses).

Hacking all of the computers in the Abstergo offices really adds to the story, and gives you an idea of where the series may go next.

Dalisclock:

RicoADF:

Babylon 5 did that, and it's the best scifi series (and general best series) I've ever seen, love the show from start to finish. That and the Battlestar Galactica remake, it also had the story flushed out and planned before the first episode was filmed.
But yes in general their the exemption rather than the rule.

Can't speak for B5, but while I liked Battlestar, it started to become pretty clear towards the end they didn't really plan it out. Especially the whole final 5 thing and how the 2nd half of season 3 felt really boring.

Very few serialised shows plan out more than a season of material plus some arcs on the horizon, plus an end-game for the heavily serialised shows. By most standards, BG does it well.

As for the final 5 - there's the outline of 5 shadowed figures that Baltar sees in the cathedral at the end of season 1.

I found the story in Ac3:Liberation one of the most thoughtful and engaging I have played in a while. And the way they mixed it with the game mechanics (you blend in with the slaves when you don the slave gear, you can charm guards as the lady) was pretty good game design, no?

But then that is the first AC game I played and none of the others really tempt me. I'm funny that way.

The problem with the "future" plot of AC games is that it only went on because the devs felt it would be jarring if it suddenly vanished. After it was used as a framing device in the first game they didn't have any idea what to do with it. They kept it going because it would have been weird if there were sequels with the same general gameplay, but suddenly everyone forgot about the future plot. So they kept it going in order to maintain consistency.

Further problems arose when it became evident that they had to do SOMETHING with the future plot. They couldn't keep it standing in place forever, players would start bitching if Desmond was in the same cell doing absolutely nothing for 4-5 games. However, it all started to fall apart when they failed to bring forth any decent narrative for the future plot.

So now they're stuck with it, since if they dropped it now and focused on the historical periods alone (which would be vastly better), people would bitch about its removal. Though they should probably just bite the bullet, do it and weather the shitstorm for one game while people adjust to the new way of doing things...

I suppose having no ending can work as long as the "story" is broken into several self-contained independent episodes that don't rely too heavily on continuity.

The problem with these games that we've kept falling for is that developers give the impression that they've got a story arc planned out for a trilogy.

Assassins Creed, Mass Effect and the Half Life 2 episodes were all promoted as if they were intended to be trilogies which gave everyone the idea that that the writers had already outlined the basic story. Even if they didn't have a completed script, you assumed they'd already planned all this stuff in advance and that any changes they'd make would be minimal. As it's turned out these writers didn't have a clue what they were doing and so they just made it up at the last minute. At least next time something like this comes along, I'll know not to trust them.

I couldn't agree more on dissing off the future segments. I was having fun at the start of AC4. Sailing, swashbuckling, climbing, stealthing and stabby fun! Then this bitch shows up and tells me to look up and down like I hadn't known how to do that. Then she talks my ear off as I plead to PLEASE just send me back. The future segments just do nothing more than disrupt the pacing.
I'd like to think of the AC series like the Zelda series. It consists of blokes from different time periods doing well.. pretty much the same thing and wearing pretty much the same but in different settings with a some changed mechanics and stories.

I was interested in the series because of the modern day/future elements!

The first game looked great and was fun to play... for a while. The gameplay felt really same-y after a couple of missions. It needed that extra hook that the future sections provided. When I finished it, I was more interested in seeing where the story would go, now that Desmond's genetic memory was starting to leak through into present day ability.

AC2 was fun, and I learned a fair bit of Italian, but again, it was the foreshadowing of Desmond's importance that made me interested in playing the next game. Again, gameplay starts out great, and it has an excellent setting... but by the end it feels fairly routine. It isn't about discovery anymore, you know how to do what you need too... no it is about checking boxes off a list.

Then they did the AC2.5 thing and I gave up on it. I was interested in seeing how the story would progress and end, but if they were going to start doling out unnumbered filler games just to squeeze more money out of me, they could go f#ck themselves up the animus.

Watched some lets play of Revelations, didn't feel a burning need to buy it. Watched some video of AC3, and decided I would probably buy it at some point, eventually.

For me, the perfect payoff for the series would have been a fully realized modern day section where Desmond uses his genetic heritage to destroy Abstergo in such a fashion so that someone in a suit (with a secret templar decoder pinky ring) realizes how badly they screwed up by trying to pull data out of his head.

When I heard the spoiler drop in the AC4 review that Desmond died at the end of AC3, it naturally killed my interest in that game as well as the current one. At this point, the only AC installment I'm looking forward to would be the (hopefully) inevitable Old Western one - and that has more to do with the setting than with the IP at this point.

Evonisia:
That was a question I had in my head watching the AssCreed IV review, what was the point of keeping Desmond alive in the first place?

I think we were supposed to relate to him. Like, I doubt anyone planned out the DNA thing for IV, because that implies they had a plan that they worked out before they already started working on the next game, but I think he was supposed to be like the Doctor's companion.

On the Desmond front, I just assumed I didn't know most of the future/present/past plot because the segments involving it were so boring and unengaging. They were obstacles for me to get back to running around skylines and stabbing people, so I tuned them out and rushed through them. Were they really that poorly explained, as Yahtzee indicates?

moggett88:
So what you're saying is that Assassins Creed is basically a Shonen Jump anime? Like Bleach, for example?

You meet the characters, their powers are introduced, but look out! The Big Bad is coming! Cue filler episodes (Revelations), they fight the Big Bad and win, but wait! He was only a henchman for an even Bigger Bad! And so on.

That's unfair. Bleach is at least comically bad.

Thunderous Cacophony:
I don't even remember the solar flare being an issue in any game up until 3; maybe I'm remembering it wrong, but I thought until then it was all about the Templars and Assassins trying to control magic artifacts (a plot I'm fine with; it worked for Indiana Jones). The random bullshit about the flare, and how the barely-characterized goddesses (honestly couldn't tell the two apart) were both accusing the other of being evil while doing jack squat to prove it either way angered me to no end.

If I recall correctly, the overarching plot was set up like this:
Assassin's Creed & Bloodlines: The Templars are launching a POE into space, and will control us all! Scary!
Assassin's Creed II & Brotherhood: When the planets align, a solar flare will cook the surface of Earth!
Assassin's Creed: Revelations: Ezio is too marketable to give up so soon, but proper play testing is expensive!
Assassin's Creed 3: Desmond has to choose between letting the flare hit and becoming the next Jesus Christ, or saving the world and hoping someone else will do grunt work that he was being trained for. Also, the Templars canceled the satellite launch.

I will admit I didn't mind some of the present-day stuff in AC3, because up until then all of Desmond's bleeding effect training was utterly pointless. Also, being able to kill Warren Vidic and Daniel Cross in one shot was satisfying.

Is this article trying to imply that theres actually people who believe AC has an actual history???
XD

I like the Assassin's Creed story. The future plot is really interesting. Granted, I've only played up to (and including) Assassin's creed 2, but I don't think that it was a mistake to include it in the series.

I was only ever interested in the overall plot of the series, and not the individual game plots in their fake historical settings. Which is why I jumped ship after AC2 when I realized that they weren't going to be taking that anywhere anytime soon if ever.

The Almighty Aardvark:
This is also the reason why I don't watch most western tv series with an ongoing story anymore. There are almost no shows that have some sort of definite conclusion, they're all about trying to milk the series for as long as they can make money off of it. Then they leave you with a unsatisfying ending that should have came ages earlier.

While I don't like most anime either, at least series exist that are short, sweet and end when they clearly intended to. Western shows that do this? Sherlock, and that's all I can come up with.

Breaking Bad man. One of the best shows ever made and it had a clear beginning middle and end across 62 episodes with the ending being IMO the perfect conclusion to the narrative.

ImSkeletor:

Breaking Bad man. One of the best shows ever made and it had a clear beginning middle and end across 62 episodes with the ending being IMO the perfect conclusion to the narrative.

Breaking bad lost me when he killed the guy in the basement in season 1. The character arch was over right there. Everything after it felt like the milking mentioned above. I would agree that there are very few shows that aren't guilty of it in some shape or form. Walking Dead (more), Sons of Anarchy (less), even Damages in a way.

But what would interest me. whats the alternative? Eastern TV?

Assassin's Creed is a series badly in need of a reboot. Just start again. Drop all the future Desmond and pre-human civilisation crap and just make a series of games about Assassins running around historical settings. Either that or reboot it as a series of four games: 1 and 2 more or less as they are now, 3 in WWII Nazi-occupied Europe so Desmond learns about firearms and other more modern technology, then 4 is the payoff with Desmond taking down the evil whatever.

Yes, and that's why I don't have any interest in it anymore. It's become a cash grab. I will not be surprised if it doesn't stop at Ass Creed 10 and beyond. All so people can find out about Desmond and such.

Yuck.

As much as I want to say that the focus was kind of on "The Ones Who Came Before" (i.e., the "ghost-lady" things you mention in this article) became the focus as soon as they were introduced in Assassins Creed II, (with the whole "solar flare" thing just a disaster both they and the rest of humanity wanted to see fixed) and that long-running franchises aren't inherently bad, I do agree that there's decidedly little developing in the "modern" world in comparison to all that goes on within the historical sections of the Animus. But I think the real problem isn't that franchises are designed with no end in mind - the stories in comic books issues, TV episodes, and video game franchises usually have self-contained beginnings, middles, and ends, even if it IS just part of a beginning, part of a middle, or part of an end for the overall story. The problem with the modern Assassins era is that it's relying too much on the self-contained stories of the historical settings, and doesn't put in enough effort to give self-contained stories for the modern era, stretching it out too much over the game series.

At the very least, some definitive action would be appreciated, and the few Desmond levels in Assassins Creed III were one of the few right steps for the game, giving our protagonist something to do other than simply see what his ancestors did, and doing some things of his own - even if it's doing them blandly, but it's DOING SOMETHING!!!

As for the whole bit with "look what happened when they 'ended' the Mass Effect series", it wasn't an issue of it coming to an end so much as it was having the original ending so full of plot holes and cliffhangers that it wasn't an ending at all, but a big fat neon sign saying " SEE THE REAL ENDING BY BUYING OUR DLC!!!" Even when the Director's Cut tied off most of the plotholes, it still seems to be setting up some other story beyond the events of Mass Effect 3. The only hope I have is that they at least advance time in the ME-verse far enough that changes are readily abundant, and that a new saga can be somewhat separated from the first three Mass Effect games.

Edit:
As for your opinions of franchises being bad because they don't wrap a story up in one, go, I think it would be best for you to see you fellow Escapist journalist Movie Bob's "Intermission: Franchise Movie DOs and DON'Ts" - even though it's about franchise movies instead of franchise games, I still think many of the lessons apply, such as "DO: Lay the groundwork for sequels. DON'T: Screw up the current movie (game) to do so." and "DO: Save some stuff for later. DON'T: Save EVERYTHING for later." The "Modern Era" of the AssCreed-verse definitely suffers from relying too much on the historical eras to set up sequels (rather than set up what's going on in it's own time), and also saving too many things in the Modern Era for some vague final showdown with the evil "Those Who Came Before"/ghost people, and leaving too much of the action that does happen completely offscreen. Assuming the series starts to give more development for the Modern Era, and also give a lot more for the player to do during that time, hopefully it'll mean the AssCreed story will be getting on track again.

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