Recently, I finally got a chance to play Assassin’s Creed II. It sold millions of copies, gained widespread critical acclaim, and… I found myself wondering why.
Not that it’s a bad game, necessarily, but if there’s one thing that defines this game, it’s the fact that the game is constantly inflicting arbitrary limits on you from the first frame. You can’t start the actual game proper until you talk to everybody in the room before entering the Animus. You can’t just climb up the towers to get to certain viewpoints, you have to follow a specific path laid out by the development team (or worse, unlock a mechanic to use). You have an open world but it’s deliberately limited until you finish certain memories, because God forbid we could unlock chunks of the map.
For me, the breaking point was an Assassin’s Tomb where you had to chase after a Templar who, of course, beat you to the goal. So you climb up to get into the room and fight the group. At this point I had throwing knives and a pistol.
And they were disabled. I couldn’t use two weapons to fight because the game had decided I wasn’t allowed to for no reason whatsoever except the game felt like it. This was immediately followed by a platforming section where you not only had to deal with the game’s imprecise controls but had to use an entirely new mechanic the game hadn’t introduced before this point.
The worst part is that this was hardly the only open-world action game that hit that year. inFamous and Prototype both were far less restrictive and frankly more fluid in getting around the world, and had better controls.
Again, it’s not a bad game, but it’s so unnecessarily restricted that I found myself wondering where the praise came from.
What about you? What game have you played and found maybe not bad, but baffled at the praise?