Friday, March 4, 2016

It's time to stretch the bitching muscles...

Beware, incoming rant on a bad game. Not bad because it is hard, bad because it is bad.

On Tuesday I vented a bit about the final Assassin's Creed Chronicles eschewing  the more laid back difficulty of the first two for a less forgiving, less amusing level. That was before the true bullshit kicked in, bullshit not based on my lack of skill but on what I deem to be poor design.

Everyone knows what a monster closet is, yes? In some games, like Doom, they make sense. Monsters appear without warning for effect - a door opens, you jump, there is a shot gun, and nature takes it course. I will go so far as to forgive Nazi closets in games like Wolfenstein because, really, where else would you store surplus Nazis. And the game is a shooter so there is an answer in hand to deal with unexpected anti-semites.

But in a stealth game with as little margin for error as this last Chronicles having enemies walk out of doors unexpectedly is infuriating. I had spent quite some time mapping out a very difficult section involving enemies that you cannot kill (because if they do not check in when they are called on the radio the mission instantly fails), enemies that are wearing gas masks and are therefore immune to smoke grenades (what?) and land mines that require a magnetic key to pass, the keying being held by one the enemies that you cannot kill. The plan was complete and, for once, was going smoothly.

And then a door opens that has never opened before and I am instantly caught. On my next attempt I found a hiding place and stared down that fucking door, waiting for it to open so I could add that little bit of timing to the plan. It never opened. The monster closet was triggered not on a schedule but by walking in front of it and passing a specific point on the floor. There was no way to predict this or react to it.

Killing the player for not having information that the game hasn't bothered to provide is bullshit.

The final level is a timed chase with a tank. No, you cannot backstab the tank, all you can do it run from it. The margin for error on this section is so small that I do not know what I did differently, if anything, the one time out of thirty that I made it. There is no learned happening for the player, no improving, no building of skill. I lucked into getting up a ladder before the tank crushed it and I have no idea why.

Setting a game during the Bolshevik revolution was an excellent idea and I hope Assassin's Creed comes back to it. Playing as Anastasia Nikolaevna possessed by the spirit of a long dead Chinese assassin could be cool it a better game. It was wasted here, as was much of my time and a good portion of my remaining loyalty to the series.

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