Another game another horse – Assassins Creed III

I spent 6 hours the other night playing the news Assassins Creed III game. There is of course much more to do but I thought I would share a little of the experience, whilst trying not to produce any spoilers. The original Assassins Creed was something that looked like a great leap forward (no pun intended on the fact it is free running across rooftops) with some stunning animation, huge backdrops and crowds of people wandering around to add to the atmosphere. I remember it particularly at the time as there were a few colleagues in my corporate world who had not come across games of this type before and who were also coming to terms with virtual worlds. Our virtual worlds looked nothing like AC. Equally I had to point out the millions of pounds and person years of effort that had gone into making things that stunning. Also I often had to point out that the narrative and story is the point in AC and that just because we have things that look like games they are not, they served a different purpose.
Anyway, here we at at AC III, which has had more than 2 other games since the original but this is apparently the main plot line.
It is interesting in that the first 45 mins or so is really a tutorial, a lead into the story before any starting titles. Just like a Bond film usually does. However you get so immersed in what you are doing, enjoying the visuals and the story that it is a shock when you are suddenly faced withe some starting titles so late in.
I had also seen that we had a new character and time to exist in and explore. It was supposed to be a native american, a sort of outdoors hunting ninja style. So it was a little bit weird to spend the first 5 hours of the game as a completely different character. (yes 5 hours more of what is in effect a preamble). This had a plot point and one that I think worked, once you accept the time and effort you need to put in. Eventually though you are set free to roam the American Wilderness, free-running from tree to tree hunting animals. It gets very Red Dead Redemption though once you start riding around on horses.
Another game another horse
After 6 hours the game is opening up, but it is also seemingly following a lot of other plots of films. The main one that stuck in my mind was Star Wars. A lot of “I am your father” and also you go off to be trained by a wise old man. As a native american he decided you need to blend in more so changes your native name to Connor (You still dress like a native american but apparently people are not bothered about that in Boston). Connor, is of course, the surname of John in the terminator films 🙂
It is an interesting historical setting, attempting to blend with the American War of Independence. You meet the main protagonists in the uprising. I got to wander tunnels with Sam Adams and hunt papers for Benjamin Franklin.
In Boston itself it is good to see all the original buildings like Fanueil Hall in place. It has a great atmosphere, just as the previous cities in previous games.
I have seen that the main game is about 20 hours long, which does make me wonder why the first 6 hours have been spent doing the setup up for the next 14. I am sure the pace could have been sharpened a little. However, free roaming games have a certain feel to them where you are quite happy to not advance the story but just hang out. it might be driving in GTA listening to music, sitting playing cards in Read Dead Redemption etc. There seem plenty of self setting challenges in AC III too. The scalability of buildings, the need vast distances you are able to cover in the frontier that pull you away from playing it too quickly and missing something.
It is with out doubt a great achievement in AAA development. In a world where small cartoon birds or fields of slow growing corn has been attracting all the attention we still do have room for blockbusters like this.
I will go explore some more, I hope I get a light sabre soon 🙂

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