Bonjour friends! American gaming's Franco-friends Ubisoft had quite the year, releasing or showing off games for what seemed like all of their major franchises, and revealing a new one to boot. Other than the pretty fun Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, the beginning of their 2012 was defined by arcade and mobile titles like the dangerously addictive Trials Evolution, mobile hit Babel Rising 3D, and oft-delayed I Am Alive. From June on, however, Ubisoft was in overdrive.
Starting with their press conference at E3, Ubi basically went on a screed of big releases and reveals. While we already knew about Assassin's Creed III and Far Cry 3, at E3 we got the new new with ZombiU and of course Watch_Dogs, possibly the biggest surprise of the whole convention. The rest of the year has seen them shipping out heaps of games.
ZombiU With the Wii U launch worryingly sparse for true third-party exclusives (making something an Armored Edition doesn't count), the fledgling console really needed a developer to step up and grab that GamePad by the sticks. It was Ubisoft that came to the rescue with the excellent ZombiU, a game that was not only very fun on its own merits, but also showcased both the advantages of the GamePad and Nintendo's newfound willingness to run with more mature, hardcore titles. A deep experience with good replay value, ZombiU will be carrying a lot of Wii U owners until they get some of next year's bigger releases.
No Internet? No (DRM) Problem! Watching Ubisoft herp-derp their way through implementing DRM over the past few years (From Dust, anyone?) would have been a pleasant exercise in schadenfreude had the victims of said "piracy prevention" not been us. Starting with their uPlay service (which launched several years ago and regrettably lives on), Ubisoft has raised hell and high-water to curb its supposed "95 per cent piracy rate". Thankfully, they came to their senses earlier this year, conceding that policies like limiting activations/installations (which were sometimes erroneously expended on things like graphics card updates) and the dreaded always-connected online DRM were misguided, freeing us up to play ACIII offline to our heart's content. And also pirate the hell out of it. (Just kidding.)
Far Cry 3's Story Damn that silly tatau! There's been a lot of talk about Far Cry 3's story since the game's release earlier this month, and much of it has been critical. The complaints range from the tale of Jason Brody & bros being cliche, to boring, or even downright racist. I didn't hate the story, but I don't think it was excellent by any means, nor did it really confront some of the more interesting ideas it purported to. Considering how interesting, smart, and novel the campaign of Far Cry 2 was, taking a step forward mechanics wise and two steps back in story with the third entry was, unfortunately, quite dumb. I'm gonna go hunt some more Komodo dragons.
Buggin' Out In American History There's been debate on Kotaku about the eighth (!) entry in Ubisoft's crowd simulator series, but one thing we all mostly agreed on was that Assassin's Creed III was buggy as hell. Certainly not the first massive game to be stricken with this problem, but not something we should let slide. While many were "small" errors like unpredictable movement, disappearing objects, stuck NPCs, screen tear and the like, some were mission- and/or game-breaking. This resulted in a massive patch on day one, another huge one on Thanksgiving, and one more big patch just this morning. Those aren't the principles this country was founded on.
What do you make of Ubisoft's decisions in 2012?
All games were published, distributed or developed by Ubisoft. I Am Alive - March 7 Shoot Many Robots - March 13 Trials Evolution - April 18 Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Future Soldier - May 22 Babel Rising 3D - June 14 Just Dance 4 - October 9 Assassin's Creed III - October 30 Assassin's Creed: Liberation - October 30 Marvel Avengers: Battle For Earth - October 30 Rabbids Rumble - November 13 Rabbids Land - November 18 ZombiU - November 18 Far Cry 3 - December 4
For these Year In Review segments, we'll be taking a look at what major gaming companies did in 2012, with summaries of their biggest news and releases, best and worst decisions, and complete lists of the games they were a part of. Check back later in the week for another company.