I just played about 45 minutes of Assassin’s Creed 2 and found it to be a shockingly poor production.
Being hard of hearing, subtitles and preferably full closed captioning are very important to me. Right off the bat I knew something wasn’t right when the opening cinematic is not even subtitled, despite my having turned on the subtitle option from the main menu. Unfortunately, this is kind of common in video games, but it’s even more disappointing and surprising this time because Ubisoft has publicly pledged to subtitle ALL their games in house. This initiative was announced well before Assassin’s Creed 2 was released.
Consider me unimpressed and very disappointed. My trust in Ubisoft making their games for the hard of hearing and deaf is non-existent right now. Only way I will play another of their games is if someone else, preferably the fine folks at DeafGamers.com can confirm an Ubisoft is properly subtitled.
The other faults of the game are numerous.
Who, Where, Why, When and What the Fuck is Going On Here?
Having not played the first Assassin’s Creed, I was thoroughly confused with the beginning and was not a fan of that feeling. I could not connect with the main character, Desmond, who was also confused, but had more knowledge about the world and events than I did. Let Heavy Rain be a great recent example of situating the player in the world and introducing who all the characters are without putting the player under duress.
The production quality in the graphics, animation and art style was really lacking and at times jarringly poor. The way Desmond would turn his upper body stiffly, waist to head along with arms, to face the woman snapped me right out of the game. The home base where I jacked into the chair was really uninspired. Looked like some hipster’s NY loft rather than an underground operation doing… whatever it was they were doing. What was it?
UI Made Me Ask Questions More Than Answer Them
I spent the first mission mashing buttons without ever really feeling like I knew what I was doing and why. First, the game asks if I want to accept the missions, but, I can only choose to accept them. Why even bother asking me? It tried to explain certain combat moves to me, but 1) the text was extremely small on my standard def TV. BTW: Why the fuck won’t game developers make UI and text look proper on SD TVs? It really fucking pisses me off. The subtitle text is also ridiculously small. At least it had a tinted black background. 2) there were so many enemies on screen that when I tried to look at the UI to learn how to different moves, an AI enemy would attack me and I have to go back to attacking.
While attacking, I got absolutely no kinetic feeling of intensity or flow. It was lackluster. Transitioning from enemy to enemy to chain attacks was slow and clunky looking. The same animation would repeat over and over. I would punch someone in front of me, and see someone behind me was attacking and would attempt to turn to punch them, but the response was sluggish. I was often hit in the back of the head before my character would turn. Not fun.
First Free Running Race Mission
I don’t think I need to talk about this. It is universally reviled as a horrible mission for very good reason. Right after that I had to climb another building. One side of it is unclimbable so I would push my stick to the left to climb to the other side, but every time I did that my character would jump for unknown reasons and fall to its death.
Fight the Good Fight
A friend on twitter replied to my comments on the game, “Aaah! Don’t give up! One of the best game’s of the year.” Unfortunately, the first 45 minutes tell me it’s definitely not worth my time and there’s absolutely no reason why I should continue to give it a shot. That’s what the first 45 minutes are for.
I know the guys and gals that work on the game put a lot of effort into it, but this reeks of rushed development under very tight deadlines with a lot of overtime without proper rest. It screams of, “Fuck it, just ship it.” All of these problems are things developers can see early on in development and they need to fight for them to get fixed.
© 2010, Reid Bryant Kimball. All rights reserved.