I have been playing the Assassin's Creed games ever since the first one. With 4 games in 4 years, many would have been bored of the series already.
Sure, the core game-play has pretty much been the same. Combating is still about Counter, Parry, Disarm, Assassinate.. But the inclusion of the Tomahawk has been a masterpiece. Combat with the Tomahawk has been so stylish that it almost entirely replaced the Hidden Blade for me. The Bow and Arrow is another handy weapon to remain stealthy in long-range situations. Finally the Rope Dart which I can swear I heard, "Get over here!" each time I use it. Pulling mid-range opponents closer to you or breaking a rifleman's aim were some of the very memorable combat moments I had in AC3. Personally I felt combat has become easier now or maybe my Assassin skills are at their peak now..
It's still about running over obstacles and rooftops but free-running seems a lot more smoother now. With the frontier now a huge part of the environment, it's not always about jumping from building to building.
I didn't particularly enjoy the hunting missions and I felt AC3 was trying too much to be an open-world game. Too much Red Dead Redemption similarities here... In fact I didn't do any side hunting missions apart from the ones in the main storyline. But in my quest for 100% and hopefully a plat, I will be doing them in my 2nd play-through and maybe I might be a bit more convinced then.
However the naval missions were a master class! I didn't particularly enjoy most of the extra gameplay that the Assassin's Creed games have offered and I was dreading these extra missions. I was wrong, but that's a good thing. Again, I didn't try many side missions as I was focusing on the main story in my first play-through. The ones I tried in the main story were excellent. There wasn't too much sailing around to make it feel boring. Any sailing was about navigating through rocky waters and everything else was about action, action and more action. Blasting and firing at other ships and watching them sink to their doom were very satisfying..
Multiplayer is also pretty much the same. If you never liked the previous games' Multiplayer, you still wouldn't like. It is something different from the regular FPS and TPS Multiplayer games so it's definitely worth trying out if you haven't. I have to give credit to Ubisoft for sticking to their style of Multiplayer which is rather unique.
What got me thinking was the Wolfpack mode. Human allies versus AI targets. The game-play is simple. Kill all AI targets within a time limit. The faster you kill, the more time you have for the next level. Could this be a test on Assassin's Creed co-op in a future game?
We have already seen Assassins engaging the help of other AI allies and recruited Assassins since AC Brotherhood.These AI allies can be called to take out unsuspecting guards or provide help when there are too many guards on you. This was in Single Player.
Online, you team up with others to take out other human opponents. Of course sometimes, it becomes a game of cat-and-mouse with attackers and targets running all over the place. With the latest entry, it's human vs AI in the wolf-pack mode. There is even a private lobby where you can just invite friends. Coincidence much? Read on..
What if all these were small tests on the gaming community to see how we enjoy and react to the different modes? What if we replace the AI allies in Singleplayer with Human allies? What if you co-ordinate attacks with your friends? Friend A and B can distract the guards while Friend C goes for the kill. Yes, that can already be done with AI but wouldn't it be more satisfying doing it with friends?
There is a vast difference between playing alongside AI and playing with real human buddies. Working on timing, co-ordination to get the perfect kill.. Think about it, you just might see it in the next Assassin's Creed game..
I wanted to write about thought on the franchise as a whole but this post got rather long, so I'll leave it for another day on another post..