Year in Review 2012 update
It’s almost time for the 2013 year in review, but first I have an important addendum to the 2012 edition.
Last year I called Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation the most disappointing game of the year. Now I can say I was definitely wrong: the most disappointing game of 2012 was its big sister, Assassin’s Creed III. My god, what a nightmare. Every problem that Liberation had is magnified in the mainline title with the sole exception of there not being enough to do in the world. There’s plenty of things to do in Assassin’s Creed III, but nearly none of it is actually worth your time to do.
Whatever in-game rewards they provide can be safely ignored, and there’s precious little fun to be had in them besides filling experience bars and checking things off lists. One obvious example: the ability to call in assassin reinforcements, which made you feel like a badass during the Ezio trilogy but requires far too much work to prepare this time around for little apparent benefit; I called my assassins in exactly once, solely to make sure I kept underneath a “kill only X number of soldiers” optional objective.
Boston and New York are swarming with guards, and being sighted by one of them leads to tens of them rushing to your position to attack you one by one like a bad kung fu movie. This makes the rooftop-leaping antics of the previous games essentially unworkable if you want to maintain any sort of cover. And even if you don’t care about stealth, many missions are nigh impossible without being incognito, which is fantastic because the game doesn’t bother to reset your notoriety whenever you start a mission. You basically have no choice.
Forget the ludonarrative dissonance of being a stealthy assassin who nevertheless murders literally hundreds of British redcoats throughout the game just to walk through the city unharmed. (I don’t even really like the word ludonarrative much.) Nearly everything in the game feels half-baked. The traversal seems especially bad this time around; it might have something to do with one of the final chase sequences in the game, which basically asks you to fight the controls and the bad level design and checkpointing for a good two or three minutes while giving you ridiculously tight constraints and every obstacle under the sun. Whoever designed that sequence hates you, hates games, and hates fun.
And on top of all of that, Assassin’s Creed III ends the trilogy (so to speak) with the worst ending I’ve seen in video games since Killzone 3—and Killzone 3 was god awful. There’s basically no reward, no payoff. Just the fresh memories of the grueling chase sequence you just finished to remind you of all the game’s faults and precious few of the game’s successes. Assassin’s Creed III should have been the worst game of 2012 for me, but because I didn’t play the bulk of it until this year, it will have to settle for the title of the worst game I played this year.