I’ve been uninterested in the Assassin’s Creed franchise for a long time. I liked Asscreed 2 and Brotherhood quite a bit, but once it came time for Revelations I think I realized that I’d had just about enough climbing, jumping and stabbing my way around a big pseudo-historical playground full of shallow minigames and collectibles. AC2 became the codifier not just of Assassin’s Creed, but of all of Ubisoft’s major releases — big playgrounds full of shallow minigames and collectibles.
So imagine my surprise when I discover that the newest AC release, AC Chronicles: China, didn’t look like that at all, but instead looked like Mark of the Ninja with an Assassin’s Creed skin.
The HUD shows vision cones from guards and concentric circles appearing around all sounds. You climb on walls and ceilings, and can assassinate unaware enemies from above, below and behind, all using the context-sensitive X button. Environments are filled with Hiding Spots that you can sneak into and become invisible and wait until the right moment to hop back out. It has so many similarities to Mark of the Ninja that at a glance it looks like a clone.
So considering Mark of the Ninja is still my favorite game ever made, it probably makes sense that I was ready to play it and then eviscerate it afterward for being a hollow rip-off. But I was also ready to declare it a triumph if it proved itself — a game that takes inspiration from MotN, but differentiates itself and elevates the formula.
Now that I’ve played it all the way to the end credits, well, it isn’t really either of those. It’s a decent stealth game that’s cohesive and polished by Ubisoft standards, and messy and inconsistent by MotN standards.
Time for another stupid publisher response to a question about representation in gaming! So Ubisoft showed off Assassin’s Creed: Unity at this year’s E3, and people noticed that despite the arguably most prominent assassin during the French Revolution being a woman, all four of the French Revolution Asscreed centerfold characters are dudes. There will be cooperative multiplayer with customizable characters, but everybody will always play as a dude.
Source. Could you tell any of these people apart if not for costume color?
Alex Amancio, the creative director behind the game, explained that they originally intended to have female playable characters, and that the feature got dropped because of production costs.
“It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets. Especially because we have customizable assassins. It was really a lot of extra production work. Because of that, the common denominator was Arno [the protagonist]. It’s not like we could cut our main character, so the only logical option, the only option we had, was to cut the female avatar.”
Their priorities are kind of baffling. They make a huge virtual replica of a historical French city with exquisite attention to detail, but female playable characters? Nah, they can’t afford it. They add loads of customization options for the male characters. But female playable characters? Nah, not worth the costs. Women are an extra feature that they’ll work in if they have the time and money after everything else. If not, oh well, right?
I say that’s bullshit, and plenty of other people are saying the same. I propose that rather than including women being an extra feature, leaving women out is an omission. Ubisoft should be held accountable for this, and it’s very heartening to see tons of people call them out on that.