Why Assassin's Creed III Is A Waste Of Time

It’s been a while since I’ve played a video game that was so blatantly disrespectful of my time.

As I type this, it is Monday. Here, roughly, is how I spent my weekend.

Saturday morning. I wake up; make breakfast, check my mail. Procrastinate on Facebook. I take a shower, clean the kitchen. I talk to my wife.

I play an hour of Assassin’s Creed III.

I exercise. I come home. I babysit my 19 month old nephew for a couple of hours. “He like lions,” says my wife. I load up Hakuna Matata on YouTube and he loves it. He looks at me. He says one of his few words: ‘more?’

So cute. I load up Circle of Life. He loves it. I’m on a roll. I search for ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight'. He loses interest. I move onto The Little Mermaid. 'Under the Sea'. It’s better down where it’s wetter. My nephew agrees. He might have peed himself.

‘More?’

My wife and her sister leave the house with the kid in tow, I have the house to myself for a couple of hours. I could cook, but time is sparse. I get take out; devour it. I do a quick clean of my apartment.

I play Assassin’s Creed III for three hours.

My wife comes home. We chat for 30 minutes. She’s tired and pregnant. We go to sleep.

———————-

Sunday is busier. We go to IKEA. Urgh. Two and half hours. I consider myself lucky. We come home. It takes me 30 minutes to cart the furniture we bought upstairs. We have lunch. I go out climbing; two hours. I get home. I have another shower. I turn on the Xbox. “You have to build the IKEA furniture,” says my wife.

Urgh.

I build IKEA furniture. I complain but feel manly. I then ‘unbuild’ the furniture being replaced. I move it downstairs to the garbage area.

We need to go grocery shopping. We head to Woolworths. We buy food. We come home. I put the food away. My wife potters, I cook dinner. I make mince empanadas. I like cooking.

We eat dinner, we clean up. I was planning to play Assassin’s Creed III, but my wife says, “I want to watch a movie.” Fine by me. We watch a movie. We brush our teeth. We go to bed. We sleep.

———————- I don’t consider myself a busy human being. I have a full-time job, I exercise regularly and I’m married. But I don’t have children (one on the way). I don’t work two jobs. I don’t have elderly relatives to look after. I just lead a normal life. I have responsibilities.

But if I could take any of the time back I spent over the weekend I would take back the four hours I spent playing Assassin’s Creed III.

I have never played a game with such a blatant disrespect for my time.

“Yeah, the first five to seven hours are a bit slow,” says a friend. “But then it really kicks in.”

At first I nod. ‘I’ll preservere,’ I say to myself. But then I stop. A realisation. Seven hours? Seven hours.

I have to wait seven hours? Life is too short to wait seven hours for a game to become engaging.

———————-

Don’t get me wrong: I like art that gives me space to breathe. I have no issue with pacing. My favourite movie of the last decade is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford — three hours plus of stilted dialogue, silence, sweeping shots of scenery. My favourite video game this generation is Red Dead Redemption: a game that indulges in the same sense of emptiness.

Assassin’s Creed III is different to those things. Assassin’s Creed III is just self-indulgent, and I simply won’t let it waste any more of my time. If you’re going to take my spare time for granted, and squander it on ill-designed missions, on a character I have no investment in, in an universe loaded with bugs and bad dialogue — you’re sure as hell going to have to give me a reason to keep playing. So far I haven’t seen one. And that simply isn't good enough.

I don’t consider myself a busy man. But I work hard, and my spare time is a valuable commodity. Assassin’s Creed III assumes your time has no value whatsoever. It treats your spare time with blatant disrespect. You can waste seven hours on poorly explained missions, ill-designed gameplay encounters, says the game. You don’t have anything better to do.

Actually, I do.

It’s a disrespect dripping in overblown self-importance. You’re invested in Assassin’s Creed III, it says — in the story, in the brand. You’ll suffer these five to seven hours because we say so, because you care about this game; because it’s important to you.

Actually it’s not. It’s really not.

———————- Assassin’s Creed III is a game bogged down and bloated by vanity, in an idea of video games as they no longer should be. Bullet points on the box; dull, narrative-driven design. An imagined past universe where games are collated and judged on the raw number of hours it took to consume it.

That world is dying a slow death and Assassin’s Creed III should be one of the first casualties.

I don't consider myself a busy man, but my time is valuable and so is yours. Assassin's Creed III simply wastes it.


Comments

    Oh no you didn't...

      I bought the game last week. Played it for the first time today. Not really interested after 3hrs of play. Still no Assassin outfit? Double You Tee Eff???

    Same reason FFXiii-2 is left on my floor, hopefully broken

    I made this decision after they made Assassins Creed Brotherhood. I don't want to play the same game more than three times to get the whole story. A trilogy works. A quinology(?) is a bit too much to handle.

      brotherhood and reveltions should be seen as more "expansion packs"

        But they play directly on from the AC2. Would there be a significant gap in the story if I didn't play them?

          yeah..that is a sticking point...you could get by fine just be reading the wiki....for a few major plot points

          that is if they dont put them in DLC only for you to find out later *grumble*

          yes. Revelations wraps up Ezio and Altairs stories, so it is a required chapter of the series.

        And is the story concluded at the end of AC3?

          Brohood adds absolutely nothing to the overarcing storyline, it adds more on the Ezio side, but even then it's negligible.

          If you want to get the main points of the story in the least amount of time, then you only need play Revelations.

            While this is definitely true, I still had the most fun playing Brotherhood. It never bogged to a grind for me, it was always exciting and fun. I cannot say the same for Revelations, which DID pick up and become great, after a while... but it still took a few hours. Not seven though... not seven...

            False. You know what the big event at the end is. And technically you could get the main points just by watching the terrible intro to AC3 as narrated by William. Technically you could get the main points reading a Wiki.. but that's not valid.

          Not by a long shot. I played 1+2 and missed both Brotherhood and Revelations. Took me several hours and perusing of timelines etc on the net to get up to speed - only to lose everything again after the supposed ending of AC3, which is utter nonsense and only serves to hook you on a successor. Sorry.

    I have been getting the same feeling from WoW recently, Perhaps time to quit again.

    +1 for Red Dead being the best game this generation.

      I havnt played in 2 weeks. Was having heaps of fun..then it hit me.

        I know that feel. I was really loving mists, but shortly after I hit 90 I lost interest and I'm not really sure why.

          I hit 90 3 days after release. When PvP gear was released fully Honor gear capped 3 days after aswell. Needed something more intense like a FPS...but was tired of hackers in CS:GO and COD!!

            TF2
            SC2
            LoL
            HoN
            Minecraft

            ^_^

              Sadly!! Tired of all of them. Might be late and buy Borderlands2

                How could you get tired of SC2 and MC?? Are you Grand Master in SC2 also?? :P horses for courses, GL finding your niche! :)

                Maybe check out fighting games. SSFIV, SFxTEK and UMVC3 are really visceral, deep and engaging.

                  Well never got into SC2, and MC never gets old...just want something different.

              Not the same. Those games are designed to be replayed, have no actual "ending", and you almost never play for the story (except maybe SC2 campaign). You know hat you're getting yourself into...

              AC3 on the other hand...

    I actually like the slow build-up.....

      Same here... I thought it did a great job of getting you invested in Connor and Haytham's backstory... And really, when you're looking at a 40-50 hour game, getting you invested through that backstory really helps.

        its not a 40-50 hour game thats the main problem with a 6 hr bloody intro. The side stuff does not count because really the main story is the key bit and why this thing is so so bad

          "The side stuff does not count"... Then let's just agree to disagree. If you want to rush through a game without trying to experience everything it has to offer, and then complain about pacing (in a sandbox game, of all things), the we differ in the most base of opinions on how this game should be played, and will never agree on any points derived thereof. Personally, I'm about 35 hrs in, so saying the side stuff doesn't count would mean I've wasted about 15 hours, and I don't feel that I have.

          I actually liked the intro's pace. Especially since I knew next to nothing about this time period. I felt the boat trip to the new world establishes Haythams attitude well and how boring the trips to america actually were. Personally I quite liked the slow gradual intro into a world I never new, explaining mechanics I was unfamiliar with, with characters that I have to follow for the next 50 hrs.

          All previous AC titles never made me understand or care about the people I was assassinating (could be cos i got confused with all the Italian names), but here I feel the intro established much of the characters, their attitude, personalities, and the world itself at a natrual pace.

          Yes it wasn't stabby-stabby from the get-go, but to be honest my Haytham left a very bloody trail in Boston when he arrived. So it got quite stabby for me early on. I know lots of people are complaining about it, but I like the first 3 sequences and feel it was a million times more exciting an intro then something like RedDead. Anyways, thats my 2 cents.

          Yes the side missions definitely do count only a hater says they don't count and the game is as long as you want it to be there's no one length for any game i played ac3 for weeks straight

    After the fan outrage at Final Fantasy 13, I'm happy to see more people calling out games that do this. It's really disappointing when any medium takes a long time to become worthwhile.

    At least with TV shows, you can skip the initial episodes if they're not so great (Dollhouse is a good example here, although the show itself never becomes great). With books, movies and video games, you have to endure the bad bits to get to the good and that's just not a great experience.

    Assassin's Creed is a weird series. The first game was a tech demo with a convoluted plot that didn't win me over. The second game saw what was wrong with the first and addressed it, before creating a new game by splintering into expansion pack sequels that could have just as easily been handled in the main game if Ubisoft had been willing to wait before releasing the game.

    Now we're onto the "third" instalment of the series and I have simply no interest in playing it.

      I liked Dollhouse and thought it did get great.

      Totally don't care about AC though. Picked up the second one because it was cheap and I heard a lot of good about it, but after completing it I had no desire to follow up on it at all.

    Ouch.
    I've been holding off on AC3 (and Halo 4) till after exams, but this has definitely dimmed my enthusiasm. I remember AC2 had the same problem to some extent, but it was definitely more noticeable in ACB and ACR, and I was really hoping the shitty "introduction" part of the design philosophy wouldn't carry over. I'll definitely still get the game, but after the tedium of ACR, the devs went a long way to promise that AC3 would be as big a step up as AC2 was over AC1, and it's a shame that doesn't seem to be the case.

      its not a big deal......its just slow build up, some might dislike it but for others it adds somthing

        Actually, this is why i like the appeal of a game like just Cause 2 or infamous where you can pick it up and do 1 or 2 short missions that have an impact on the game or in just Cause's case, are just dam fun and quick to do. I don't have the time in between classes to play full on RPG's or Open world games like red dead redemption. So i stick to my little quick one mission/level at a time games that are still good enough when you complete all the missions, not just a waist of time.

          Absolutely. Even AC2 and Brotherhood let you do this to a degree (revelations not so much).

    I am trying to play through Revelations before embarking on this and am having a very similar reaction... :(

      Revelations at least throws you straight into the action at the start. Not very good action (that goddamn carriage racing crap) but at least you're doing stuff immediately.

    True, for some reason i felt the game is like AC1. Amazingly repetitive sidequest. I've been trying to play the game after work and I end up playing until 3am everyday and continue work at 9am. Tiring the shit out of me now I'm stuck at sequence 7 too tired to continue

    This is kind of how I feel about Dark Souls.

      Not me! I have an infant and a long-hours job but Dark Souls is possibly the mot engaging rewarding game I've ever played. Obviously not for everyone, but I absolutely love it. AC3 sounds just irritating and badly designed.

        Agreed. Its much more satisfying when you have to work for every inch of gains. AC3 is new school design, which is fine but its definately not "smash your controller" difficult.

      Dark Souls has one cutscene at the start of the game to introduce lore, which goes for less then 10mins & then you are on your own. There isn't hours of backstory or teaching you game mechanics.

      Last edited 06/11/12 2:31 pm

    A movie has less then 30 mins for you to like it (on average!). A book a couple of chapters. all under the 7 hours a game needs.

    As a father of one child, i only get a couple hours here and there a week to play games myself. I want them all to be exciting. Not 7 hours of "boring" followed by 2 hours of "ok", then 1 hour of "totally awesome", spread out over 1-2 weeks of spare time playing.

    And as Zico said.... 1 problem the final fantasy games wont ever get me back playing them unless they shift completely.

    What an awesome read - with 3 kids now, my gaming time is much less available and I spend more time playing games I can pick up and put down (Trials, Rock Band Blitz, DOA, Forza etc) than games I have to spend hours "getting into the world". I can't do 50 hours on Skyrim or dark souls, as much as I am sure they would be great, so I guess my only RPG's for the next few years will be Skylanders (Train the kids to play games early....)

      I find Dark Souls works the best in short, one hour stints then anything more (because I'd suffer the mads to much).

    IF YOU THINK AC3 IS BORING, you should try AC3: Liberation on the Vita, yikes is that a bland take on the AC universe...

      I disagree, I was engrossed in the story until the end.

    "I talk to my wife." that there is your problem, prioritise.

    Seriously though, this is the exact same reason I stopped AC1 after 2hrs, it was far too slow to get going.

    It is also the same reason I find myself always going back to BF3, or Bad Co 2, before it. If you only have an hour or so at a time over a week, it is just easier and better to have games you can jump straight into.

    RDR is one I do need and actually want to go back to and actually finish, yes I know how it ends.

      Yep. This is me too. I love games, but having 2 kids it's just not worth the time investment on most games these days.

      So I've gravitated to BF3 and fighting games. In 20mins you can get a good hit of gaming. I just don't have time for RPGs or even adventure games anymore.

    Good article. But given I've just finished school forever, I've got a good eight weeks of absolutely nothing to do, so it sounds fantastic to me.

      But it's not a "slow burn". It's just crap!*

      *I haven't played it. But I hear things.

        You hear things? Like voices whispering in your head? :P

        You've heard the correct things McGarnical...

        MCGARNICAL?
        MAGCARNICALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!

        Im sorry I just saw that Simpsons episode :)

    You know... I think this is the same problem I have.

    Over the past 12 months I've bought many PS3 games but barely played more than 3 or 4 hours of each. They just don't draw me in and make me want to keep playing any more.

    To be fair, within that 12month period I have bought my first home and my wife and I have had our first child.

    Like you, I don't consider myself overly busy - but my time is better spent elsewhere right now.

    Maybe I'm buying the wrong games?

    While I haven't played AC3 (yet), I think this applies to a lot of games, but it's just been overlooked. I firmly believe the first act of a game is by far the most important. It's the selling point, you need to rope me in, to make me believe the game is a worthy investment of my time, and you've only got an hour to do it. Otherwise, I'll become bored and turn off my console. Next time I go to play a game, I look at said game with a feeling of boredom and disappointment, and I'll opt for something else. I won't buy your DLC, and I won't buy your sequels.

    This is why I don't understand when games come along and force you to sit through hours of tedium for some fun. Give me some of your best bits straight away, then once you've got my faith, commence the slower build up to something bigger. A perfect example is God of War. I rented that, not knowing anything about it, and really not expecting to like it. After playing the first act, I became an instant fan, and not only did I buy the game, I bought every game that followed. That's the power a good opening act can have, yet so many developers are still getting it wrong!
    /rant

    Haha, "more". Kids love that word. Learn to love it, because you'll be hearing a lot more of that two years from now!

    On topic though, I agree that modern time-wasting-for-the-sake-of-it games are downright rude. One of my biggest problems with Skyward Sword too.

    Whines about ACIII "wasting time" & being "Self indulgent", spends 1/2 a post prattling on about his F'ing weekend; hour by hour. Self indulgent Hypocrite.

      Hahaha. I'm surprised it took so long for someone to make this comment.

      That's a bit harsh don't you think? His job is to get people talking. Seems to be working. I identified with everything he said.

      I'm a gamer, but I'm becoming very selective about how I spend my time gaming. Because there are a lot of titles out there that just aren't worth my time.

    This is why I still have not really got into AC2 despite getting it twice. With AC3 in the mail as we speak I'll still play it, but Agree that time is valuable. I happily played 50+ hours of borderlands and about 100 on Trials Evolution, but that was because they were engaging so I would make sacrafices. I have a job/wife/kid so the thing that gets sacraficed is sleep. Not Ideal but I can't dip into the other aspects of my life. If a game is good I'll sneak in a little more before bed.. if it takes 7 hours to start, I'd just rather sleep.

      Yeah sleep is the thing that gets sacrificed for this hobby when faced with 40+ hour epics. Also when faced with fucking stupid motorbike games where you need to cut 0.2s off your time to beat a platinum time/rival.

    Ubisoft launches ACIII around HSC and university holidays

    married men complaining about waste of time

    my time is not valuable

    Obviously, this is all relative. If you have a busy life, perhaps any form of long video game is going to be judged harder due to time constraints. I would have killed for games like skyrim back when I was in my late school years. Now, looking down the barrel of my thirties, life demands further effort that doesn't necessarily include videogames.

      Its not that games are more demanding, it is that life happens. You either make time for gaming or great games will pass you by.

    Also, admit it Mark - it's obvious that you're just biased against non-wild-West based media. If Connor was wearing a cowboy hat then you'd be lapping it up.

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