Assassin’s Creed III may just be what the series needs to get it back on track. I was utterly disappointed with Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, as it was clearly a cheap cash-in by Ubisoft to milk the series like the cash cow they turned it into. However, Assassin’s Creed III hopes to turn around the misfortunes of the franchise and bring Assassin’s Creed back to the upper echelon of interactive entertainment. Meanwhile, Capcom is throwing their hat back into the RPG ring with Dragon’s Dogma, an ambitious RPG of an immense scale that promises to give Xbox 360 owners early access to a Resident Evil 6 demo. Will this marketing ploy be the only reason why people bother with Dragon’s Dogma? And finally, we’ll take a look at one of the Vita’s most promising exclusives, with Gravity Rush. Gravity Rush has already made waves in Japan, earning an impressive 38/40 from Famitsu.
We’ll start this edition of Looking Forward with the headliner…Assassin’s Creed III!
Featuring an all-new protagonist and location, Assassin’s Creed III just may be able to put the series back on track. The history of the Assassin’s Creed franchise has been all over the place. The original game debuted to much press, but it failed to strike a chord with many gamers due to its repetitive gameplay. Then Assassin’s Creed II was released, and it blew the naysayers of the original away. ACII was everything that the first game should have been and so much more. Fans were surprised when Ubisoft announced that the next game in the series, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, would be released only a year later.
This was disappointing to many, as franchise fatigue has been known to completely tarnish game franchises with annual releases. Once strong franchises such as Tony Hawk and Guitar Hero were completely ruined thanks to the schedule of an annual release series, which really only should apply to sports games. Brotherhood was still good enough to not be a complete waste, even if it didn’t reach the heights that its predecessor did. And then Ubisoft released Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, a travesty for the series. Revelations was such a colossal disappointment for many that it made everyone completely sour on Assassin’s Creed.
But then Ubisoft announced Assassin’s Creed III. At first, I was worried that the game was going to release in 2012, continuing the annual release schedule, but then Ubisoft revealed that Assassin’s Creed III had been in development since ACII was completed, and that Brotherhood and Revelations were merely side projects to capitalize on the success of the Assassin’s Creed series. So, what sets ACIII apart from its predecessors, and why may it just be Game of the Year for 2012?
For one, the setting is completely different than the last few games. Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood, and Revelations, were all set during the same general period in history. The culture of the cities were largely the same, with the environments in Brotherhood and ACII being practically identical. ACIII leaps the series forward by centuries, using the backdrop of the American Revolution to tell the new story. Players will spend a lot of time in American Revolution-era New York and Boston, and in the surrounding countrysides and wilderness. Imagine Assassin’s Creed with a Red Dead Redemption flair.
The main character has changed as well, obviously. Players will still play as Desmond, more so than in any other games in the series by a considerable margin (according to Ubisoft), but they will also play as a new assassin in the past, as is the series norm. Instead of playing as Altair or Ezio, players will now take control of a person that is half Native American and half English named Connor. His Native American name is Rahtohnhake:ton. His Native American heritage is that of the Mohawk tribe.
The plot will take place over a 30 year period, with the environments changing to reflect the changes as history rolls forward. The plot will show Connor’s childhood, and take players through American winters, summers, springs, falls, all over the course of three decades that are needed to completely tell Connor’s story and expand on his role in the Assassin’s Creed universe.
Having a new setting and character isn’t enough to revitalize the series. Ubisoft is going all out to ensure that ACIII will truly feel like the next step for the Assassin’s Creed franchise. The game will feature a brand new take on the combat system. Instead of being a defensive-based combat system like the one featured in the previous games, in which players often had to wait for enemies attack and then counter, ACIII will have a much larger focus on offensive-based combat. The combat is promised to be faster as well, so players won’t have to wait around for enemies to strike to get the battle over with.
Along with the new combat system will be new weapons, obviously, and new abilities. The bow and arrow will be one of Connor’s major weapons, true to his Native American heritage. Thanks to the single-shot rifles many possessed during the American Revolution era, the bow and arrow will prove to be a formidable weapon for Connor. Furthermore, the game will introduce dual-wielding and make it a major focus of the game. Connor will almost always have two weapons in his hands. Tomahawks will be available to use, as well as a variety of other weapons true to the setting.
Ubisoft is determined to make Assassin’s Creed III a seventh generation video game that feels like an eighth generation video game. In fact, it is sort of an eighth generation game as well, considering it is a planned release for Nintendo’s Wii U system. ACIII features a vastly improved engine that will increase the graphical presentation of the series dramatically. Since the other games are already very impressive graphics-wise, expect ACIII to be one of the best looking video games to date when it launches later this year.
With improved graphics comes other areas of improvement. Back in the day, it was impressive when Dead Rising featured over 800 zombies on screen at one time. Well, ACIII promises to allow for over 2,000 characters on screen at once. This jaw-dropping visual display is going to be used during epic battles between the Americans and the Red Coats. On top of that, entirely new animations have been made for the game to make Connor feel considerably different from those that came before him. The crowds are promised to be even more detailed and varied than in the other games. Furthermore, the free-running aspect that has been a centerpiece of the series since its inception will be more dynamic and natural than ever before.
In the past, the Assassin’s Creed games have painstakingly reproduced historical events with incredible accuracy. ACIII looks to continue that tradition, with the usual Templars vs. Assassins plotline inserted into the mix. Ubisoft will feature important historical figures in the game such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Charles Lee. Assassin’s Creed III will also feature many historical events, such as the New York City fire, and important battles that defined Colonial America.
Assassin’s Creed III is looking to have the largest map out of any other game in the series. Along with towns and cities scattered across the environment, there will be a vast frontier to explore. Besides tackling the main storyline and completing side-objectives, Assassin’s Creed III will allow players to hunt wildlife, join specialty clubs, and more. There are a lot of returning features for Assassin’s Creed III as well.
A lot of these returning features have been completely revamped. The lively economic system from the previous games return with various improvements, real estate will be a side-objective focus once again, and the Animus’s insight will make a return. If players opt to play the game on the Wii U, the information from the Animus will be featured on the Wii U’s tablet controller. Multiplayer will also be making a return for ACIII, but Ubisoft has yet to reveal any concrete details regarding the multiplayer. Expect it to be similar to the multiplayer featured in the other games. Platforming levels such as the Romulus Tombs will make a return, and the “synchronization” levels in the game will be much more dynamic. Instead of having 0%, 50%, and 100% synchronization levels, players will be able to earn a variety of scores based on their performances in each of the strands. Other returning features include factions, fast-traveling, and the ability to upgrade yourself. ACIII may or may not also include the ability to recruit and send assassins out on missions. Ubisoft has confirmed that the tower defense mechanics introduced in Revelations won’t be making a return for ACIII.
Assassin’s Creed III will release October 30th, 2012 for multiple platforms, including the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and the eighth generation console, the Wii U.
Assassin’s Creed lost me with Revelations. If you couldn’t tell by my introduction, I finished Revelations with a seriously sour taste in my mouth. I felt like Ubisoft had completely bastardized the Assassin’s Creed franchise by milking it with rehashed gameplay mechanics. I often label games with having “Call of Duty syndrome” when they force annual releases and just constantly milk the hell out of a franchise, but perhaps I should change that moniker to “Assassin’s Creed syndrome”. Call of Duty has yet to outright offend me so far with its recycling and inability to innovate.
However, ACIII has won me back. The game looks absolutely phenomenal. Ubisoft may have made a few mistakes by churning out Brotherhood and Revelations, as they have likely turned quite a few consumers against the series, but those that actually look into ACIII will be happy to learn that it has been in development for years and is truly the next evolution of the series. The graphics look amazing, the gameplay looks incredibly fun, and all around, ACIII seems like it can’t miss.
For the most part. There are rumblings a few mechanics I liked about the previous games won’t be making return appearances. For one, the real estate system,while Ubisoft has said it remains in ACIII, there have been rumblings that it won’t be as deep as it was in the older games. This will greatly disappoint me, as rebuilding Rome was one of the most engrossing aspects of Brotherhood. The recruitment system for new assassins and sending them out on missions was also a blast, but it is likely it will receive much less attention in ACIII. That was another reason that I thought Brotherhood was still pretty good, even when compared to ACII. One mechanic introduced in Revelations that I thought was really cool was the tower defense mini-games. Unfortunately, the one thing that really stood out and impressed me in Revelations has been axed, due to most people disagreeing with me and disliking it.
Other aspects of ACIII seem to be inspired by Red Dead Redemption, but the wildlife hunting and frontier setting was implemented in the game’s development a couple years before Red Dead Redemption hit the shelves. Ubisoft plans on using Red Dead to improve upon those mechanics, so hopefully these mechanics will be more fleshed out and even better than when they were presented in Rockstar’s amazing Wild West adventure.
I have faith in Assassin’s Creed III. It may wind up being just another redundant Assassin’s Creed game, but it may also revitalize the franchise. ACIII will definitely be a game to watch this year.
+Has been in development for longer than a year
-May suffer from feeling a bit repetitive thanks to Brotherhood and Revelations
-May be abandoning mechanics I enjoyed from Brotherhood and Revelations
If Capcom isn’t careful, their new RPG Dragon’s Dogma may come to be known only as “the game with the Resident Evil 6 demo.” Hopefully this preview will shed some light for you on what exactly Dragon’s Dogma is, what you can expect from it, and my opinion about whether it will make waves in the RPG community, or be a colossal failure from Capcom. Dragon’s Dogma may be kind of difficult to convey, but try to stay with me on this one.
In the game, a dragon tears out the heart of the main character. Somehow the character survives and their new goal in life? Kill the dragon and get their heart back of course! It’s a little nonsensical and crazy, but it is also ripe fodder to provide a very interesting and unique storyline. Role-playing games have suffered from weak plots that have felt largely recycled and overused. Dragon’s Dogma is looking to break that mold with its fantastical tale.
The game takes place in a place called Gran Soren in a place called Gransys. Gran Soren is the main hub city that players can explore to prepare before going out on quests and all that jazz. The typical shops are there, with a blacksmith to buy new weapons, a potions shop, and even a barber to customize the appearance of your character. Gran Soren is populated by over 200 NPCs all with their own set of dialogue and reasons to interact with them. These NPCs often give out side quests to complete. Capcom claims that the game is a 30 hour adventure if one just plays through the main story, but when it comes to 100% completion, they say the game becomes a 100 hour long affair.
Like many RPGs, players will have the opportunity to create and customize their character. Besides the aforementioned ways to customize your character’s physical appearance, you choose a “Vocation” for your character to major in. These “Vocations” essentially translate into different classes. The three primary ones are Fighter, Mage, and Strider (that last one can translate into “rogue”). As you earn experience points and level up, new Vocations will become available to expand upon the skillset of your character even further.
Of course, we’ve seen all of this before in role-playing games. Dragon’s Dogma has a focus on forming parties and working with NPC partners. These partners are called Pawns. In the universe of Dragon’s Dogma, Pawns are nomads from other worlds that lack free will. There will be a Main Pawn that is consistently with you throughout the entire adventure that can be customized. Players will have a chance to recruit two other Pawns, and while they can’t be customized like the Main Pawn, they can be sent through the “Rift” to your friends’ games to gain XP, and then return to your game more powerful than ever.
Capcom is also trying to make Dragon’s Dogma stand out with its combat system. According to Capcom, it will be possible for players to simply stand back and watch their Pawns do battle if they are powerful enough, instead of engaging in fights themselves. The combat of Dragon’s Dogma will have a focus on grappling; the example that has been commonly used by Capcom is that when you grapple a larger enemy, you can choose to climb up their bodies and stab at their head, or simply stay at their legs and hack and slash away if you so please. A lot of RPGs have very linear quests, but yet another way Capcom is trying to make Dragon’s Dogma feel different is by offering many different ways to complete quests.
Dragon’s Dogma will also allow early access to the Resident Evil 6 demo. If you purchase Dragon’s Dogma for Xbox 360 (no pre-order required), the game will come with a code that allows you to download the Resident Evil 6 demo on July 3rd. Everyone else has to wait until September 4th to get access to the Resident Evil 6 demo.
Dragon’s Dogma is due out next month on May 22nd. The game is a console exclusive, with releases planned for both the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360.
Dragon’s Dogma is going to be a love it or hate it kind of game. From the looks of the gameplay footage released so far, the game doesn’t look all that remarkable when compared to other RPGs. It seems to me like a story-focused version of Skyrim, albeit locked in a third-person view.
Still, the game is doing interesting things. The complex grapple system has me intrigued, and the promise of 100 hours of gameplay is always a plus. Now, the real challenge will be for Capcom to actually make those 100 hours compelling, otherwise it’s just meaningless. The game also looks great, with awesome monsters that look absolutely fantastic, and highly detailed environments.
Will I be buying Dragon’s Dogma? Almost absolutely. And there is a reason for that. That reason is Resident Evil 6. I have an Xbox 360, and I am a pretty big fan of Capcom (their games, not their horrendous business practices), so Dragon’s Dogma seems like a game I’d wind up playing regardless. But having access to a demo to the next installment to one of my favorite game franchises MONTHS in advance is all too enticing.
We’ve seen how demos can affect sales in the past. When Konami added the demo for Metal Gear Solid 2 to Zone of the Enders, it sold a ton of copies. But people didn’t really care about Zone of the Enders, and many of those sales were people simply wanting access to the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo. People then started joking “the Metal Gear Solid 2 demo is $50, but hey, at least you get a free game with it!”
Microsoft has used similar practices to get new IP over. It’s actually a smart idea, if people bother to play the game that’s attached to the demo. In exchange for access to the Halo 3 beta, players had to purchase Microsoft’s new Crackdown game, which was actually a really fun game (though Crackdown 2 probably killed the series). This practice was followed to get Epic’s multi-platform shooter Bulletstorm recognition, and to get it purchased mainly for the 360. Bulletstorm came with early access to the Gears of War 3 beta.
So, the question is, will people joke, “Hey, the Resident Evil 6 demo is $60, but it comes with a free game!” or will Dragon’s Dogma pull a Crackdown and actually suck in new fans with this marketing ploy? Dragon’s Dogma may flop, or it may surprise everyone and be a mega-hit. Time will tell, but we won’t have to wait long. Dragon’s Dogma is out next month, remember, so check back to Cheat Masters for the latest coverage on Capcom’s ambitious RPG.
+Resident Evil 6 demo
-Maybe too similar to other games
Having just recently purchased a PlayStation Vita (which means I can finally cover the PSP, as well as the Vita!), I am very excited for Gravity Rush. Gravity Rush is one of the Vita’s first major exclusive games, and it also has the potential to be one of the best. Early reception for the game by foreign sources has been extremely positive, with not a single negative review yet. Western reviewers are a bit unpredictable when it comes to how they’ll receive a game, especially one developed overseas, but Gravity Rush appears to have all the tools to break down the boundaries and become the Vita’s killer app.
Gravity Rush operates under a strange premise. Players control the amnesiac main character named Kat. Yes, there are a lot of video games out there featuring amnesiac protagonists, but Kat sets herself apart by having the ability to…talk to cats. It sounds absurd. But it also sounds awesome. One particular black cat gives Kat the ability to control gravity, which she can use to help the residents of the floating city of Hekseville from impending threats.
Using cel-shaded anime-inspired art style, Gravity Rush is a visual treat. It’s unique, and really nothing else looks like it. This will greatly help the game carve out its own identity. A lot of people are turned off by cel-shaded visuals, but Vita owners shouldn’t make that mistake when Gravity Rush releases. The game is, like I said, a visual treat. You can take a look for yourself in the trailer posted towards the bottom of this preview, and by the screenshots I’ve posted here as well.
The creator of Gravity Rush wanted to make the game like this to reflect Japanese culture. By the way, Gravity Rush has quite the impressive pedigree. The people working on the game previously worked on the original Silent Hill for Konami, as well as the Sony-exclusive survival-horror franchise Siren. I shouldn’t have to tell you that I’m a survival-horror nut, and while Gravity Rush isn’t survival-horror, with legendary survival-horror developers working on it, it almost has to be good. An interesting piece of trivia about Gravity Rush is that the game was conceptualized even before Silent Hill was created way back in 1999.
Of course, all the gameplay centers around the ability to control gravity by Kat. Gravity manipulation will be used for combat, as well as puzzle-solving and death-defying platforming segments. This gravity manipulation is the gameplay hook that, like its art style, hopes to set Gravity Rush apart and become of the stand-out Vita games of its early life cycle.
Gravity Rush isn’t just going to rest on its gimmick, though. The game will also use the PlayStation Vita’s motion controls for some of the combat. I dislike when developers make a game for the 3DS or the Vita and they don’t capitalize on the unique functions of the system. When Nintendo created New Super Mario Bros. for the DS, it would have been unwise to shoehorn a bunch of touch-screen and microphone mechanics into the game. So do you know what they did? They created a bunch of really fun mini-games to go along with it. Gravity Rush uses the Vita’s unique capabilities to create a gameplay experience that will feel truly eighth generation; it will be one that simply could not have existed on the PSP.
Gravity Rush will also feature heavy RPG elements. Kat will be able to level up, complete side quests, and even free roam! The game is ambitious as hell, but according to reviews from publications such as Eurogamer and Famitsu, the game is great, and I can’t wait for it to come to North America so I can try it out for myself and let all the Cheat Masters readers know if it truly is as good as they say!
Gravity Rush will release on June 12th, EXCLUSIVELY for the PlayStation Vita!
Gravity Rush looks great. I think I made that point repeatedly in the preview. The game looks incredibly ambitious and unique. Whether or not it will be able to live up to the hype is another story, though. The gameplay, while very interesting and original, sometimes looks like it’s too chaotic. The visuals, while fantastic, will not appeal to everybody, unfortunately.
However, Gravity Rush is very important. It’s releasing in the early months of the Vita’s lifespan, and will undoubtedly make an impression. Whether that will be a positive one (which I believe it will be) or a negative one remains to be seen.
It’s not secret that the Vita is struggling; in Japan, the Vita is often outsold by its competition tenfold. When the Vita sells 10,000 units in a week, the 3DS is selling 100,000, and while Sony brought these problems upon themselves, it’s undeniable that the PlayStation Vita is a high quality piece of gaming hardware. It’s still somewhat surprising that the system isn’t selling well in Japan, though, since the Japanese have traditionally been quite loyal to Sony. Gravity Rush is a major game with a ton of Japanese culture implications that may just turn the Vita misfortunes for Sony.
Gravity Rush could be the game that makes the Vita a must-have system.
+Interesting art design
+Original game mechanics that take advantage of the Vita’s capabilities
+Good reviews overseas
-Gameplay sometimes looks too complicated
Assassin’s Creed III, Dragon’s Dogma, and Gravity Rush all have their respective audiences. Will the games be hits? Will they fail to meet consumer interest, or will they break down boundaries and take the gaming world by storm? We don’t have to wait long for any of these games. Cheat Masters will be there on day one to provide coverage.
NEXT MONTH: Next month, Cheat Masters is shifting gears from the American Revolution to the sci-fi extravaganza Halo 4! Check back in May for all the latest coverage on Halo 4, courtesy of Cheat Masters and Looking Forward!