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Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia Launch Trailer Also Touts Three-Game Bundle

Ubisoft has wrapped up its 2D experimental Assassin’s Creed series with today’s launch of Chronicles: Russia. With the arc now complete, you can also purchase a retail bundle featuring all three games.

The series has taken us around the globe to new playable locations. You can journey through 1526 China with Shao Jun (featured in Assassin's Creed: Embers), 1841 India with Arbaaz Mir (the focus of Assassin's Creed: Brahman), and 1918 Russia with Nikolaï Orelov (star of the Assassin’s Creed: The Fall comic).

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You can read our review of the India installment for more. Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia is out today for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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The Assassin’s Creed Movie Has Wrapped Up Filming

The Assassin's Creed movie starring Michael Fassbender wrapped up filming yesterday. The head of content for the franchise, Azaïzia Aymar, snapped a picture of the crew together on set to celebrate the occasion:

The movie is entering post-production now. It's set for release on December 21st of this year.

Film adaptations of video games have a reputation for being…less than great but the talent for the film is pretty impressive: Fassbender, Marion Cotillard, and Jeremy Irons all have roles and Justin Kurzel, who directed a pretty solid version of Macbeth and the creepy drama The Snowtown Murders, is at the helm for it.

Source: [Twitter via Destrutoid]

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GI Show – Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India, Banner Saga, Video Game Music Favorites

This year's video game release schedule is starting slowly, surely get moving this week with a new entry in the side-scrolling Assassin's Creed Chronicles series. Javy has played AC Chronicles: India, and is here to report in on the good and the bad. Ben Reeves is also on board to remind everyone that Stoic's strategy game, The Banner Saga, is out on consoles now and is still absolutely worth your time. Jeff Marchiafava also joins us to discuss his time with the heartbreaking tale of one family's loss in That Dragon, Cancer.

The crew from the main segment stick around to answer some emails, which range from games that we were surprised we loved to the poor fashion choices of our younger selves. After emails Jeff M offers up his seat to Brian Shea as we discuss some of our favorite video game music. We each bring two of our most beloved songs to the table: one track from the classic era and one from more modern titles. The result is a laid-back, laymen's discussion about some wonderful video game music, from the upbeat to melancholy. 

You can listen to episode 282 below, listen on SoundCloud, or subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes. Also, be sure to send your emails to [email protected] for a chance to have them answered on the show and win a prize by becoming Email of the Week!

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To jump to a particular point in the discussion, check out the timestamps below…

1:57 – Assassin's Creed Chronicles: India

9:27 – The Banner Saga

14:52 – That Dragon Cancer

22:15 – Earthbound

24:55 – Dark Dreams Don't Die

27:38 – Darkest Dungeon

31:42 – TIS 100

37:58 – Bully

42:48 – Listener Emails

1:25:48 – Celebrating Video Game Music

 

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Watch creative director Patrice Desilets play Assassin’s Creed II

Watch the man who made his name on the Assassin’s Creed play the series’ second game, in conversation with Double Fine’s Greg Rice. …


Gamasutra News

Rumor: No Assassin’s Creed In 2016, Next Entry Set In Egypt

It’s been a number of years since Ubisoft has surprised fans with an Assassin’s Creed game announcement. No, we’re not talking about the game’s annual schedule. We’re referring to consistent leaks that pull the rug out from underneath the publisher.

Kotaku has a knack for uncovering details about upcoming titles in the series. Last year, the outlet revealed Assassin’s Creed syndicate with video to back up its claims, and that’s just the most recent instance.

A rumor suggests that the franchise is skipping this year. Those same rumblings indicate that a 2017 entry will be set in Egypt.

Kotaku reports that the information matches what it has heard about the franchise. The game is being developed under the codename “Empire,” according to the site. 

If a core Assassin’s Creed title does skip 2016, you won’t be wanting for the franchise. The two remaining entries of the 2D, sidescrolling Chronicles branch are slated for release early this year. Ubisoft reported on its last earnings call that early sales of Syndicate were down, likely because of consumer reaction to Unity's problematic release.

Additionally, the long-awaited Assassin’s Creed film starring Michael Fassbender is planned for release in theaters on December 21. We contacted Ubisoft for comment, which provided this statement in response. “We can’t comment on rumor or speculation," the publisher says. "We’re always happy when players are excited about our games, past, present and future. In the meantime, we hope that the latest images from the Assassin’s Creed movie set will keep fans of the franchise happy and eager to find out more!”

[Source: Kotaku]

 

Our Take
As with any rumor, we urge that you keep things in perspective. However, Kotaku’s track record with regard to Assassin’s Creed suggests that there might be something to this.

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Michael Fassbender Hadn’t Played Assassin’s Creed Before Signing On To The Film

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Michael Fassbender revealed that he had not played any of the Assassin's Creed games before signing on as the starring role in the upcoming film.

In that interview, Fassbender goes on to say that he's played the game since accepting the job, "mainly to get an idea of the physicality of the character."

The Assassin's Creed film is set to release on December 21st, 2016.

[Source: Entertainment Weekly]

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Latest Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate DLC Trailer Introduces Jack The Ripper

Ubisoft released a new DLC trailer for Assassin's Creed: Syndicate today. Later this month, players will be able to hunt down the city's most infamous murderer, Jack the Ripper, as Assassin Evie Frye.

In 1888, an unidentified serial killer going by the name Jack the Ripper carved out a reign of terror in the Whitechapel district of London. Taking place 20 years after the events of Assassin's Creed: Syndicate, the DLC will release December 15 for consoles and December 22 for PC. 

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Players can purchase the add-on for $ 14.99, or invest $ 29.99 in a Season Pass that includes Jack the Ripper campaign, The Last Maharaja mission pack, A Long Night exclusive mission, Streets of London gameplay pack, two top-tier sets of gear and weapons, and an XP boost. Season pass users will be able to download the campaign December 15.

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Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India And Russia Arrive Early Next Year

Ubisoft first announced the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles series as a trilogy of 2.5 D side-scrolling spin-offs, each set in unique locations and eras. The first chapter, China, released April of this year, and the elusive remaining parts have finally gotten dates for next year.

Coming first is Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: India. Set in 1841, players control Arbaar Mir (first introduced in the Assassin’s Creed: Brahman graphic novel) who must recover an Assassin artifact from a Master Templar in the midst of the Sikh Empire/East India Company conflict. India launches January 12.

Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: Russia launches February 9. Taking place in 1918, Assassin Nikolaï Orelov (of the Assassin’s Creed: The Fall and The Chain comics) must complete his final mission for the Order by stealing an artifact from the Tsar’s family home, currently held by the Bolsheviks. While unable to save the captive royal family, Orelov is able to rescue Princess Anastasia and must protect her from the Templars. 

Each game is priced at $ 9.99. Ubisoft is also planning to release the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles Trilogy Pack. This bundle of all three Chronicles games hits PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on February 9 and for Vita on April 5 for $ 29.99. Check out screenshots of both titles in the gallery below. Be sure to also check out our review of Assassin's Creed Chronicles: China

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Ranking The Entire Assassin’s Creed Series

The Assassin’s Creed series has been around for eight years – not a lot of time when compared to industry veterans like Super Mario and Metal Gear. In that relatively short timespan, the series has become an annual fixture, reliably hitting store shelves with one new title (at least) every holiday season. As a result, we certainly have no shortage of Assassin’s Creed games, but how do they stack up against each other?

Ubisoft’s stealth/action juggernaut has some excellent entries, but the levels of quality and polish can vary from one year to the next. That’s why we ranked our favorite installments, highlighting the best moments and critical flaws in each.

Note: This list focuses on the titles we consider part of the main series. This means that various spin-off experiments (like Assassin’s Creed Chronicles) and expanded fiction (like the comic books) are intentionally excluded.

10. Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (2012)
Even as the lowest entry on our list, we can’t say Liberation is a “bad” game. However, it was originally created for Vita (though an HD port was eventually made), and the system’s limitations are apparent in the design and gameplay. Apart from its gimmicky features and restricted scope, Liberation still feels like an AC game at its core. The combat is a fun balance of offense and defense, and the story does a good job exploring the gray area between Assassins and Templars. Heroine Aveline’s ability to use different personas to navigate New Orleans doesn’t pay off, but Liberation delivers solid action even if it doesn’t take the series into exciting new territory.

9. Assassin’s Creed III (2012)
Ezio would be a hard act for any hero to follow, and AC III’s Connor struggles to live up to his predecessor’s legacy. Without much initiative of his own, he mainly does chores for important historical figures – and is coincidentally at the heart of every noteworthy event of the American Revolution. Narrative plausibility aside, this entry introduces some important and interesting elements, like naval combat and homestead-building. The colonial cities and vast wilderness aren’t as fun to explore as Renaissance Europe, but this ambitious installment tries to provide a wealth of content and and tell a complex, generation-spanning story. It may not succeed at every turn, but you can’t accuse AC III of not trying.

8. Assassin's Creed Unity (2014)
You’ve probably heard the horror stories about Unity, or even experienced them yourself. There’s no diplomatic way to say it: This game was a disaster at launch. Fans playing in the first few weeks encountered so many problems that Ubisoft issued a formal apology. The damage was already done in terms of public perception, but here’s the surprising part: Unity actually got pretty good once the holes were patched up. Today, players can absorb a relatively hassle-free vision of the French Revolution, with fun co-op missions, an interesting levelling mechanic, and an uncharacteristically challenging approach to combat. Plus, the relationship between Arno and Elise is well done, adding a personal touch to the story.

7. Assassin's Creed Revelations (2011)
Up to this point in AC’s lineage, each entry in the series felt like a significant step forward. However, Revelations isn’t much different from Ezio’s other adventures; it has fun gameplay, cool missions, and a cinematic presentation. On one hand, it’s hard to complain about more of a good thing. On the other, that’s how franchise fatigue settles in. A tower-defense minigame is the only noteworthy addition – but it’s terrible and interferes with your enjoyment of the rest of the game, which makes the whole experience feel like a step down. Plus, even though Revelations brings closure to the Ezio/Altair storyline, Desmond’s modern-day arc stalls completely, so it doesn’t convey a larger sense of progress.

6. Assassin's Creed Rogue (2014)
Did you like Black Flag? Then you’ll probably like Rogue, because it is basically the exact same game with different characters and cutscenes. The biggest improvements are removals, not additions; the aggravating tailing and eavesdropping missions from Black Flag are nowhere to be found. Otherwise, the experience is a familiar one – except this time you’re a Templar hunting Assassins. Beyond that twist, Rogue leans heavily on the proven and entertaining parts of the AC formula. You sail around on a ship, deploy your fleet, capture territory, hunt for collectibles, and (of course) perform assassinations. While this stuff is always fun, Rogue plays it too safe to be truly impressive.

Next: Our picks for the top five Assassin's Creed titles.


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Afterwords – Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

Assassin's Creed Syndicate is a step in the right direction for Ubisoft's annual series – especially considering the disastrous release of Assassin's Creed Unity in 2014. However, Syndicate isn't only good because it avoids the pitfalls of its predecessor; it combines some fun elements of older entries while adding its own spin on the formula (read our review). We spoke to game director Scott Phillips about the process of creating Syndicate and the decisions the team had to make along the way. 

Note: Some of the following answers include story spoilers.

Our team talked to you several years back when we did a cover story on Saints Row: The Third. Even though that’s a much goofier series, what were some lessons you learned from it that you applied to Syndicate?
Making sure that the player has fun and focusing on the player experience first was stuff that I brought forward from Saints Row. I tried to remind everyone – game design, level design, art, audio – to make sure to celebrate the players and make sure they’re enjoying their time with the game. Leave a lot of opportunities for them to express themselves and try new things – and to surprise us as developers. I think that comes through in Syndicate.

The perks are especially reminiscent of Saints Row, giving passive bonuses for things like destroying objects or performing assassinations.
That idea is in a lot of games, but taking the actions the player would normally do and providing rewards for them is key. Reminding the player that, “Hey, keep doing what you’re doing! We’re going to reward you constantly!” That’s key to making sure the player is having fun and the experience is positive.

Unity’s issues dominated the conversation about Assassin's Creed last fall. Did those problems impact the culture around development of Syndicate?
We knew, coming from Unity, that we needed to focus and make sure we delivered a polished and high-quality product. We made decisions like not supporting co-op and not supporting a companion app to focus our efforts and make the best Assassin’s Creed we could. [Unity] affected us, for sure. We had to make decisions based on the reception, just as any game would on a previous game. I think we made the right decisions, and I think that shows in the quality of the game we delivered.

A series with as many entries as Assassin’s Creed has dabbled in too many features to include in a single game. How did you identify which old elements to focus on and refine, and which ones to leave behind?
With Assassin’s Creed, it’s really helpful that the series is all about time travel. Because you’re in a new location and a new time period, with new protagonists and antagonists, it allows us to focus our efforts on what we think will deliver that experience the best. If we don’t feel like a feature from a past Assassin’s Creed fits for our setting, then it’s easy to say “No, we’re not going to carry that forward.” On the other side, we also have features that we need to add, so I think things like the rope launcher really speak to our time period and setting. We add and subtract based on the setting, and it keeps it fresh for each entry in the franchise.

Yeah, you couldn’t really implement sailing down the Thames, right?
We considered how we would do the Thames, and when you look at what it was like historically, it was packed full of ships – as we have it represented. It was constantly moving ships, so yeah, it would not have been an enjoyable boat experience.

The rope launcher is a great tool. During development, did you have any reservations about de-emphasizing the climbing elements that have been a pillar of the series for so long?
There were concerns, sure. As you said, a core of the franchise has been the parkour. But it’s one of those things where, once you start playing with it, it’s a completely different experience than hearing about it. Trying to play without the rope launcher, I think, is a more challenging experience. To what I mentioned earlier, it’s less fun to just have the parkour; we felt like the rope launch added a lot to the player experience of London 1868.

Do you have to do any coordination with the team making the next Assassin’s Creed game when implementing formula-changing ideas? Or is that managed from a broader brand perspective?
There’s definitely a team that shepherds the Assassin’s Creed brand. They take all aspects of the franchise and look at where it’s going and what it should be. To what I had said earlier, the setting of any game determines the feature set and what is available, so whatever location we’re doing is going to drive what gets in the game.

Carriages, by their nature, aren’t going to be as exciting or control as well as the cars that players are used to driving in open-world games. Was that a point of concern for the team?
We aimed for the controls to be fun, intuitive, and easy-to-use, and I think we delivered on that. In terms of how they move, the carriages are being pulled by living animals. They have their own A.I., so if you jump on top and start fighting, the carriage is going to continue moving, which you can’t really say with a car. So, there are differences in how they function. We wanted to make sure that you could jump right into it…we balanced it toward the “fun” side.

The World War I sequence shows up on the map without much fanfare. Many games would specifically direct players to a sequence like that; why did you decide to have players discover it on their own?
A lot of discussions went on about how exactly to introduce the World War I setting. How you would get in the portal? Would it be a mission? Would it be in the open world? Would we inform you about it? The way we ended up doing it is allowing players to find it. We give you an icon; it’s not necessarily hidden. Not everyone is going to find it immediately, but I think that’s good – it’s good to have things that people can chat about around the water cooler.

Why is Sequence 8 an option from the beginning?
We wanted to allow the player to engage with the open world right away. Because of the narrative setting – Maxwell Roth is the Templar gang leader – the focus of the open world was about destroying the Templar control of the city, so it made sense to allow the player to destroy that control at any point within the experience. And we didn’t necessarily want to say, “You’ve taken over the entirety of London, but there’s still a gang leader Templar out there that you need to wait until this specific point in the story in order to fight him.” We wanted it to be more organic because, for that character, it made a whole lot of sense for him to be available.

But don’t you need to conquer a certain number of boroughs before you can even engage with that sequence?
Yeah, the narrative set-up was that, to even be considered for talking to Maxwell Roth, you needed to show up as a threat. So you needed to take over three neighborhoods to show that the Frye twins were a real threat to the Templar and Blighter control of the city…Having it as “Sequence 8” can lead to some players thinking they should play in a certain order, but we wanted to open it up and let them experiment more with the open world.

Syndicate features more fluid multi-enemy combat than Unity. Was that a specific goal for the game?
One of the pillars of that experience we wanted was crowd control. We wanted you to be able to bounce quickly back and forth between targets. We wanted to move away from the focus on defense and waiting and parrying. We wanted the player to always be on the offensive. To get the best outcome – to earn the most experience and get the most impressive kills – the way to do it is to bring multiple enemies down to near-death and then finish them all off at once. It’s a unique experience with a lot of great finishing moments.

During some of those finishers, enemies just stand around and watch. How do you balance the sense of fighting a group with the desire to let players feel powerful?
Like you said, it’s all about balance, and we want that balance to be in the player’s favor. [Enemies] are not going to attack as much in a frustrating manner. They’re not going to deny you your attacks super-often. It’s a player-focused experience about crowd control and about being really brutal and visceral and violent in close-quarters with the combat. The balance was about making sure the player was always on the offensive, so that was the desired experience.

Previous Assassin’s Creed titles have taken different approaches to weapons, from giving players lots of choices to practically none. How did you land on the three weapon categories in Syndicate?
I think they were iconic weapons in terms of representing London at the time. The brass knuckles are very close-quarters, very violent and brutish. The cane sword is more stylish, maybe more elegant. And then you’ve got the kukri, which brings a little of the Indian culture – the Henry Green style – into the world. So, we felt like those were three relevant aspects to the setting.

Microtransactions are a business need, not necessarily a thing everyone dreams of putting in their games. How did you approach their implementation in Syndicate?
It’s tricky. We try to get the interface early so we get a sense of how it feels in the experience. We want to make sure that it’s visible but not too visible; it’s always a balancing act. I think some of the stuff we did – you get Helix credits by picking up collectibles – we tried to entice players to use some of it if they wanted to, but they didn’t really have to engage with it any further if they didn’t want to.

In the past, different entries have had close connections – from the Ezio trilogy to the those involving the Kenways. Is Jacob and Evie’s story a standalone tale, or is it the beginning of a new connected thread?
That one I can’t really answer, since Assassin’s Creed has a brand team running it. For me, my focus was solely on Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

We’ve had several games setting up various modern story elements, too. How do you focus on an interesting story in the past while still advancing the present-day arc for the the devoted fans?
It’s a lot of discussion and a lot of back-and-forth. The amount that each Assassin’s Creed game is different; what we did with the WWI time anomaly was, I think, good with allowing players to engage with the Juno storyline and learn more about that. It’s about finding the right balance for new players, for fans of the franchise – which I would consider myself. I love the present-day; I think it’s core to what the series is about, so we’ll always find interesting ways to make sure it’s within Assassin’s Creed.

For more on Assassin's Creed Syndicate, read about how it differs from Unity and check out our beginner's guide.

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