Thursday, November 3, 2011

Assassin's Creed II - DLC

Like always, before reading this you should probably read my general disclaimer on game analyses.

It's been quite awhile since I posted my last blog on Assassin's Creed II, and although I had a lot more to say on the subject, I think it may be best to move on.  However, there was one nagging thing that I wanted to discuss before I do, and that is the Downloadable Content (DLC).

During the story of Assassin's Creed II, once you are about to enter Sequence 12 of Ezio's memories
there is some kind of error with the animus and the player is forced to skip ahead to a future sequence.  The resulting missing sequences of 12 and 13 can be filled in with purchased DLC.  This approach to DLC has given me somewhat mixed feelings.

The designer in me admits it's clever way to sell the player on DLC.  The game's story makes a "sales pitch" within the universe of the game by telling the player there is something that they've been forced to skip over.  The player is left wondering what it is they missed in Sequences 12 and 13, and the only way for them to find out is to buy the DLC.  Without these sequences the game wraps up the story and the player isn't necessarily missing out on any relevant details, but there is still a sense of incompleteness since the player knows that something is missing.

It's this sense of incompleteness that gives me pause and as a player I feel a bit cheated.  In most other games, DLC is used to extend the experience.  If I, as a player, really enjoyed the game I can purchase additional content to extend the experience beyond the basic story.  One could argue that the DLC for Assassin's Creed II does the same thing, but it doesn't quite feel like an extension of the experience, it feels more like a completion.  This is simultaneously the thing that is most clever about it and the most fiendish.

This doesn't seem to be a fair way to sell the player on DLC, but I may just be making a big deal out of nothing.  There aren't many games that could pull off this type of DLC, since there aren't any other games that have the animus to explain it away.  Ubisoft didn't continue with this method in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood either, so it may just end up being an isolated experiment in DLC.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that the way it's explained is both cleaver and somewhat deceiving, but it really is just in wording and context. If the DLC was labeled the lost years between him fleeing the city and him coming back it would have less of an effect. My bigger issue with the DLC was that it really didn't do a whole lot to character development and story: it's the north american serial/sitcom issue: the story and characters are no different from before and after, which makes the entire exercise pointless.