02.126 Problems with Assassin’s Creed And Some Possible Solutions, pt. 2
4. Achievement For Beating Up Women
Speaking of the annoying beggar women and the limited means available for handling them, as I was yesterday – throw them to the ground enough times in the 360 version, and you unlock one of the game’s special achievements worth a handful of gamerpoints. Really, Ubisoft? Rewarding players for disregarding all that muck at the beginning about the assassin’s guild being brave an honorable and beating up old ladies?
5. One Look For Every Occasion
While this builds upon problems mentioned in points one and two from yesterday, I felt like it deserved to make the list all on its own. Another defense I’ve heard for the twitchy behavior of the guards is Altair himself – he’s dressed like an assassin, so of course he’s going to stand out a bit. Which sounds fine and all, right up until you think about it: if he’s supposed to be so incredible at killing people in sneaky ways, why does he a), wear an outfit that makes him stick out like a sore thumb, and b), carry all of his weapons in plain sight?
The one in-game advantage of his all-white ensemble is looking enough like the robes worn by the flocks of Scholars drifting around town so as to blend in with them by standing close and holding the “Hide” button. Like so many aspects of Assassin’s Creed, it’s an interesting idea with loads of potential the designer’s either didn’t have time to implement or opted to ignore.
For instance, why not create disguises to be purchased (hi there, simple economy from yesterday!), or create missions where Altair must kill a guard and steal his outfit, allowing him to get closer to his intended target? For balance, wearing a costume like beggar robes or a merchant’s outfit could mean giving up your more powerful weapons (after all, what sort of hobo walks around with a broadsword strapped to his back?), leaving you with just the hidden wrist blade, throwing knives, and no hope of surviving direct combat if found out. In addition to offering some much needed variety in gameplay, it would create a whole new way of playing through the game for those wanting a sneakier experience.
6. Unskippable Cutscenes
It’s not just the story in Assassin’s Creed being kind of horrible, though it is – the whole thing reeks of Dan Brown-level cleverness, and even having Kristin Bell in as one of the character voices never manages to dispel the faint odor of airport novel that follows it around. No, the biggest problem with the story is not being able to skip any of it. Someone at developer Ubisoft Montreal has decided you need to sit through every last tedious, exposition-filled cutscene whether you like it or not.
Instead, you have the ability to switch camera angles and move Altair around while another character talks at you. It’s a meaningless gesture, one that feels like a stab at the interactive methods of storytelling found in Half-Life 2′s and Bioshock’s take-them-or-leave-them methods of moving the story forward without the smarts to realized why those worked so well. It wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t everywhere – every mission begins and ends with your clearly suspicious master expounding on why it’s important for you to kill these people, and actually getting to kill your target at long last is bookended by yet more speechifying by the soon to be deceased. This has the added benefit of forcing you to approach your target from one specific spot so as to trigger the first cut scene. So much for that whole “open-world” thing, huh?
The solution here is simple, but demands a bit of humility on the part of the developers. Games are an interactive medium, and as such the way the player chooses to interact with them is as important as what the designers have put in place for them to be played with. No story – especially one told through obtrusive cutscenes – is more important than the way the player chooses to enjoy your game. If the player wants to skip the scripted exchange you think is pure genius, then they should be able to. If you can’t see your way to letting them, if you feel like your story is too important to be passed by in favor of getting back to actually playing the game, then you’re working in the wrong medium. Period.