I guess this could be taken as a sort of open letter to the Ubisoft Montreal developers. Doubt they’ll read it, but I can at least vent my spleen on “Assassin’s Creed 2” and “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood”. On the bright side, they might do something to fix the problem before “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” hits in November.
I’m not generally a big fan of third-person games, but a few things combined to get me playing in this franchise. First the opportunity to go roaming around in the medieval period, even if only as it exists in the minds of game developers, was a major attraction. Second, and probably most importantly, Steam had a sale on “Assassin’s Creed” and “Assassin’s Creed 2”. The big draw was “Assassin’s Creed 2”. Roaming around in Renaissance Italy was much more attractive than Crusades-era Jerusalem. On the whole, I found AC2 to be much more polished than the original, which is to be expected if a developer is doing their job well. Then, lo and behold, Steam had a sale on “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood”, so I picked that up after completing about half or two-thirds of AC2 and found it to be even more polished than AC2.
Overall, I would not put these among the “must play games” (hate that term – I’ll do penance for using it later), but if you like third-person stealth shooters, a lot of running, jumping, special moves, cool gear, and a good mission-oriented story, then you’ll definitely enjoy these. The games are available for Windows, xBox360 and PS3 (Brotherhood is also available for Mac). Unless you’re a real franchise “gotta have it now” fanboy, catch them on sale somewhere. Careful, though. They’re pretty good games and might well turn you into a franchise fanboy.
All games have their quirks and oddities. They’re what makes an Ubisoft game different from, say, an Eidos game. But when those quirks and oddities get in the way of gameplay, then something needs to change. My biggest gripe about AC2 and AC Brotherhood revolves around camera control. In normal gameplay, this isn’t a problem. In certain parts of the game, however, the camera controls lock, essentially changing the third-person game into a platformer.
These changes happen without warning and at points where falling necessitates either a checkpoint reload (because you died and neither game does saved games) or a long climb back to try again (assuming you survived the fall). When this happens, the normal movement controls also change. Forward, back and strafing are not what they normally appear to be because you’re not in a third-person environment. This probably accounts for the falling, dying, reloading and general frustration: the controls don’t work the way you expected because the game changed.
Short version, Ubisoft? Don’t change genres. If you’re going to be a third-person game, stay third-person. If you can’t do that, then either give warning or give some on-screen help showing the new control orientation.