News: Next-Gen Starts Here!

I am the clown with the tear-away face, here in a flash and gone without a trace.

[Pictured]: The Halloween Face-Pack free DLC.

Assassin’s Creed Unity Is Even More Cinematic Than Initially Thought

Roughly a month ago an anonymous Ubisoft employee sent out a company email stressing the fact that Assassin’s Creed Unity would be the most optimised game thus far seen on eighth generation consoles, and that the graphical refinement of the title was much superior to the late September release of Shadow of Mordor:

By the amount of content and NPCs in the game, from someone who witnessed optimization for lots of Ubisoft games in the past, this is crazily optimized for such a young generation of consoles. This really is about to define a next gen like no other game before. Mordor has next gen system and gameplay, but not graphics like Unity does. The proof comes in that game being cross gen.”

With this week’s release of Assassin’s Creed Unity one is very happy to report that said Ubisoft employee has been completely vindicated in their claims, and that the game itself is a polished and innovative next-gen gem like no other!

Everyone knows that in terms of cinematic presentation the lower the framerate is, the more filmic the experience will be, and to this end the Assassin’s Creed Unity team has hit it out of the park. The developers initially indicated that they wished to avoid immersion-breaking 60fps gameplay by targeting a 30fps refresh-rate – a framerate which largely approximates the film medium’s 24 frames-per-second gold standard. Well, as it turns out Ubisoft were able to greatly exceed their initial framerate goals by managing to hit the 24fps cinematic sweet spot for the Xbox One version of Assassin’s Creed Unity, while the PS4 version of the game runs at an even more cinematic 20 frames of animation per second throughout much of the ordeal experience! This is actually quite ideal, as the more hectic the action surrounding the player grows, the more cinematic the framerate becomes, allowing plenty of time for players to react to the enemy’s attacks.

It is not only in terms of presentation that Ubisoft has managed to improve upon the Assassin’s Creed formula, as they have also been able to freshen the experience up in three significant ways, and in so doing have managed to fix three lingering flaws inherent to the Assassin’s Creed formula. One of the biggest longterm problems facing an annual series like Assassin’s Creed is that it becomes prohibitively difficult to overhaul gameplay systems in any significant way. Because of this gamers quickly become overly familiar with a list of gameplay beats and tropes which quickly become expected, and thus passe. Assassin’s Creed Unity solves this diabolic problem in genius fashion by adding invisible walls, teleporting NPCs, and random falling traps to the franchise, thus injecting the element of surprise and some much-needed mystery into otherwise familiar proceedings. Gamers will have to negotiate their way around buildings they cannot see, dodge NPCs which randomly appear in their path while escaping guards, and pre-empt the placement of randomly distributed falling traps which will send players plummeting down an otherworldly abyss.

The second problem faced by the Assassin’s Creed series is the advent of ‘let’s play’ Youtube videos, and the fact that it is not action-adventure sandbox titles which tend to play well on this kind of video format, but rather horror games. ‘Let’s play’ videos are a proven source of free advertising for video game software, and if any game publisher worth their salt wishes to have one of the masters of the genre like PewDiePie scream incoherently at their title in ten minute bursts, then they will have to provide some horror-themed content to engage their refined intellect. To this end Ubisoft has created the Halloween Face-Pack free DLC for early adopters who purchase the game in its first month of release. The Halloween Face-Pack initiates a random chance of transforming characters into hideous Lovecraftian beasts during cutscenes, thus giving the game plenty of mileage on the Youtubes!

Finally, a third persistent flaw which has bedeviled the Assassin’s Creed series since its initial conception [if one just completely ignores the existence of Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation] is its misogynistic lack of female assassin’s with which to smash the patriarchy. Assassin’s Creed Unity initially caught a lot of flack in this regard, yet it would appear that Ubisoft has once again gone above and beyond with their peerless gender representation by featuring the gaming world’s first completely gender-fluid NPCs. This is to say that women are able to randomly transform into men, and men into women. Ubisoft truly is a developer of the twenty-first century.

This is Halloween, this is Halloween, pumpkins scream in the dead of night.

Thank you, based Ubisoft!

Ubisoft Lead the Way With the World’s Best Ever Review Embargo

With such a special game as Assassin’s Creed Unity to surprise and delight the masses, many were perplexed as to why Ubisoft were reluctant to trumpet the game’s interesting features at their earliest possible convenience. While the game effectively went on sale at 00:01 of November 11 – the game’s day of release – Ubisoft’s review embargo agreements nevertheless stipulated that reviews were not to be published before 12:00 that day, some twelve hours after the game went on sale. In the wake of such speculation, Ubisoft’s initial explanation for this curiosity was rather unconvincing:

Having the online elements available and having populated worlds is essential to creating a representative and complete experience for reviewers. Achieving this prior to launch is incredibly complex, which is why some games are being reviewed much closer–or as was the case with Destiny, even after–the game launches.

It would seem passing strange to imagine for a moment that review embargo conditions which were required for Bungie’s always-online multiplayer shooter Destiny would also be required for Ubisoft’s predominantly single-player Assassin’s Creed game simply because it features a throwaway multiplayer mode. No, that cannot truly be what Ubisoft were really thinking.

If one considers all available information then the real explanation for Ubisoft’s intentions is actually laughably simple and infinitely more consumer-friendly. For months now gamers have been locked in existential struggle with a corrupt gaming press. It has been revealed that the majority of game blogs are wont to collude with one another in their coverage, hold game coverage ransom to lewd sexual favours, and are on a constant look-out to punish games which feature sexy female protagonists or no female protagonists at all. Ubisoft were not looking to pull a fast one over on gamers by disallowing critical coverage until midday of the game’s release, instead they were indicating that they have heard gamers loud and clear, and fully intend to stand in Unity with us in not supporting the corrupt game journalists either!

I, Jack, the Pumpkin King, have grown so tired of the same old thing

Kingdom Hearts: The victim of one man’s mental infirmity?

Nomura Is Losing It

When attempting to get to the bottom of just what happened to the gameplay of Final Fantasy XV, or discerning quite why the Kingdom Hearts series has devolved into such meandering dreck, one name that is almost certain to crop up is that of Square Enix visual kei mascot, Tetsuya Nomura. Nomura found his way to prominence initially by creating character and monster designs for the Final Fantasy series on the Super Nintendo, and would then go on to garner much in the way of celebrity by creating the now famous anime-inspired character designs for Squaresoft’s landmark title, Final Fantasy VII. Nomura quickly compounded that success with the commercially successful launch of the Kingdom Hearts series, with which his name has become synonymous – somewhere along the way however there is the sense that something went wrong for the guy. The original Kingdom Hearts game [for all its many flaws] presented a story and atmosphere which was charming and magical. It also happened to be simplicity itself. The gaming world can probably thank Disney for this initial success, as Nomura has noted with frustration on many occasions that they would knock back brilliant ideas of his, such as Sora being a chainsaw-wielding furry. Much like an oriental George Lucas, it would seem that success was able to cement Nomura’s creative control over the franchise, and the series has been suffering ever since.

That being the case, one may well ask what has driven the man to steer the Kingdom Hearts series increasingly off-course, and what served as his initial kernel of inspiration when drawing up the plans for the game that would become Final Fantasy XV? His answer: burning anger!

I am a person more on the dark side like Xehanort and co., I harness the burning anger in my heart into what I create. Kingdom Hearts III’s current development explodes very much in this sense. When I think about it, I had an explosive mindset when I made the first Kingdom Hearts as well.

Quite whether this anger has always been a factor in his game design, or whether he is just impotently smouldering with rage since being turfed from the directorship of Final Fantasy XV is something we will likely never know. What does seem apparent however, is the fact that Nomura does not seem at all well, which may explain why several of the projects under his supervision have been allowed to drift without firm direction, not least of which is Final Fantasy XV. As for the Kingdom Hearts series, the complete lack of any kind of narrative resolution which has contributed to increasingly muddy storytelling can likely be attributed to the way that Nomura views himself in relation to Sora:

Each time, it’s a battle with Sora and co. who are the exact opposite of myself, it’s been over 10 years and yet we haven’t reached a conclusion. In Kingdom Hearts III as well, I am scheming many challenges that Sora and his friends must overcome, because I myself cannot lose either. And in preparation for the great battle that lies ahead, we have this one book that looks back on their entire journey. Thus when I look back at all the material, I feel that fever again. Fans who will continue the journey so far alongside Sora and his friends will also recall their own feverish enthusiasm. With that passion, we will not lose to darkness, and Sora’s journey will continue onwards.

I am scheming many challenges that Sora and his friends must overcome, because I myself cannot lose either.“; “Sora’s journey will continue onwards.” – it sounds as if Nomura’s approach to the Kingdom Hearts series is to simply keep the narrative in a static holding pattern to perpetuate the series, while at the same time adding in buckets of additional story-threads with each installment in order to churn out more content. Then again, Nomura’s failures as a director may simply be due to the fact that by his own admission he does not really play games, and so this baffling interview may just be so much explosive verbal diarrhea.

6 comments on “News: Next-Gen Starts Here!”

  1. “I am a person more on the dark side like Xehanort and co., I harness the burning anger in my heart into what I create.”

    Estuans interius ira vehementi.

    “it’s been over 10 years and yet we haven’t reached a conclusion.”

    Sors immanis et inanis.

    “I am scheming many challenges that Sora and his friends must overcome, because I myself cannot lose either.”

    Veni, veni, venias. Ne me mori facias.

    “And in preparation for the great battle that lies ahead, we have this one book that looks back on their entire journey.”

    SEPHIROTH!

  2. I just had a thought: this game would be great fun if it had a camera mode like The Last of Us and Infamous: Second Son!

    Also, this is fantastic:

  3. “It is there they could read up on Paris’ floating people and long battle with pop-in.”

    I lost my shit.

  4. Ubisoft is fulfilling its namesake of being quite ubiquitous, but probably not for the thing they intended. The game was made by like ten teams, so there’s no possible way they could coordinate this effort. And they didn’t. People have found typos in the credits, for fuck sake.

    This isn’t game design, it’s become something more akin to an assembly line. A shitty one.

  5. Not much to add other than nice work, but before I even clicked the article the headline paired with the image had me laughing.

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