Assassin’s Crap.

One of the earliest PlayStation 3 games to jump out at me was, well, one of the earliest PlayStation 3 games to jump out at anyone.

Assassin’s Creed, from UbiSoft, appeared to be if not unique, at least polished to a mirror shine. The trailers showed an intensely stylish evolution of the recent Prince of Persia trilogy, starring the enigmatic Altair, an assassin bounding along the rooftops of third-crusade-era Jerusalem.

Today, I read in this month’s Electronic Gaming Monthly, what is perhaps the most ridiculous statement to ever emerge from a game producer.

Quoth producer-babe du jour, Jade Raymond: “We know that the controls take some getting used to for some players, but playtesting has shown that both casual and hardcore players get the hang of it quite quickly.”

Putting aside the fact that this team birthed the remarkably intuitive and functional Prince of Persia control scheme, writer Michael Donahoe goes on to remark how casual gamers will “most likely kill themselves more often than their targets.”

An aside, before I go on, I have a condition known as dysgraphia. It is classified as a learning disability, though that is somewhat of a misnomer. Simply put, it is poor hand-eye coordination to the point of disability. For instance, I cannot write longhand. It is almost impossible, my handwriting is illegible and I can’t write for more than ten seconds at a time before my hand seizes with pain. The improvements in hand-eye that I have enjoyed, come from avid gaming and computer use.

Still, there are limits. If a game has an obtuse control scheme, odds are I’ll never be able to master it. If a game relies heavily on twitch aiming in multiplayer, I can’t succeed in the multiplayer. I loved the Prince of Persia games for their blend of intuitive, accessible controls, and stylish action. The moves I was pulling off looked hot shit, but I was able to accomplish those moves fluidly.

Assassin’s Creed seems to be a deliberate obfuscation of the control scheme. Keep in mind I have not played it, but the signs all point to the bad place. They were too worried of being labeled “Prince of Persia in the Third Crusade”, so they decided to throw a wrench in the works to provide the illusion of being a deeper game.

I’m not a game designer, but I do know a thing or two about the trade. If you are having to make excuses for your control scheme, you have a bad control scheme. The philosophy for controls should always be; a minute to learn, a month to master, so to speak. I should be able to enter the game and do well from about a minute into the first level. If I want to take it upon myself to learn super-duper combos, it should understandably take longer.

There’s nothing wrong with being Prince of Persia. It’s a great game for a reason, and for me, that reason is controls. If the Ubisoft team doesn’t fix their brainless attitude in regards to controls, Assassin’s Creed is just a load of crap.

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