Originally Posted by number1laing
I don't agree with your assessment on AC3 vs. AC2, considering I've often said that AC2 was one of the easiest and most brain-dead games I've ever played. Worst of all, I also felt like I was fighting the mechanics every time the game tried to stretch things out a bit, like exploring those tombs with that awful control and animation system.
AC2 is only slightly better than AC3 IMO, so that's a bad point of comparison. AC1, ACB, and ACR are the real "heart" of the series where the dev team nailed story, mechanics, setting, and system design. As far as challenge goes, it's all about how you measure it. For me, the challenge in the AC series lies in how you put the various systems to use to complete your missions. Combat, stealth, emergent events, and environment all work together and can be put to a variety of uses. It's a real strategic playground. AC3, in contrast, forces you to play just one way using just one or two basic mechanics. The sense of variety and experimentation and exploration is almost completely gone in AC3. That was the challenge of the prior games. In AC3, you just connect the dots until you reach the end. AC2 had a similar structural problem, but at least you could
open it up if you wanted. AC3 never "opens up" in the same way.
Smaller games from smaller teams sounds like a regression to me. We're getting to the point where developers are enabling people to explore stunning alternative worlds and carve out their own experience, but now it is time to go back to 16-bit 2D? I hope not. The big-budget games we get today are the type I dreamed out about as a kid.
This year saw a lot more coming from small teams than just 2D retro platformers. Journey, Dyad, and The Walking Dead are just a few of the awesome "small" games that came out this year. Big games are becoming too expensive for companies to take risks on. This gen, some of the most talented people in the industry got frustrated with all of the bloat and watered-down financially-motivated creative decisions, so they've all started up a ton of much smaller dev studios doing all kinds of awesome work. Double Fine is the poster child for that trend, and I don't think they've done a single "16-bit 2D" style game (yet).
This year we got some truly interesting huge games, not just this one, but titles like Far Cry 3 and Dishonored. I know a lot of companies are trying to figure out a way to not make games like this anymore, but that doesn't sound very good to me.
I've yet to play Dishonored. I started it and lost interest. I don't see anything especially "new" going on. I'm also not sure how big its team was, but I don't think it was all that big by today's standards (maybe right around 100?). And even though I'm enjoying Far Cry 3, it's no Far Cry 2. I'm still fiddling with it and trying to "fix" it by introducing artificial constraints and rules. It's a broken game as is. Many of its design issues are the same issues in Ubi Montreal's other big game from 2012.
Big games are pretty, yes. But they're not interesting or smart. I hope the next generation brings some fresh ideas at the AAA level (Watch Dogs looks promising), but I'm not confident about the rest of the current gen's AAA prospects. AC3 was the nail in the coffin for my experience with big games.