Monday, April 18, 2011

On My Mind/Post Play: Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy (Facebook)

For all the hype Facebook games have been getting in the press recently, especially the Zynga "ville" games, I've stayed cleared of many of them. I considered sampling some of them before, but they just don't seem to grab me enough for me to care. A lot of them seem to go for the cheap route of appealing to people's hoarding sensibilities: give people enough carrots at the start, and dangle it in front of them and make them beg fore more. Then I started playing Assassin's Creed: Project Legacy.

So, why Assassins Creed? For one, it's tie-in to the console game Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood (AC:B); it's also not a true Facebook game, lacking in both monetizing and socializing features that exists in most Facebook games. But let's start from the beginning...

...during a play session of AC:B, I noticed one of the uPlay points (UbiSoft's own internal award system, clever, I must add) references an event that needs to be unlocked via the Facebook game. Being the completion-ist that I am (or try to be), I decided to check it out. At the very least, I'd get an extra mission or two, I hoped.

Like most Facebook games, it starts out slow and simple, with relatively quick progression and "high rewards" to start. At first I wrote it off as a simple Mafia Wars knockoff, with a relatively menu driven gameplay based on clicking through events. It was interesting to notice that even with a different skin, it doesn't stray too far from the formula of capping Action Points to slow down play progression, with a simple XP and leveling system encouraging players to move forward. The idea of earning items outside of currency isn't new either, but the secondary and tertiary economy systems work well enough and support different ways of tackling progression. While the game itself wasn't terribly interesting, I as still relatively far away from unlocking the two things I wanted into AC:B, so I kept on coming back daily, almost being trained by the game in a pavlovian way.

I think I really started taking interest in the game right before the "content" unlocked. I started messing around with the other timelines, and I realized that the game actually extends the side stories revolving around the world of AC1, AC:B and to a certain extent AC2. My desire to play was no longer driven by the need for leveling up (nor was it by the unlocks or loot, while that's cool to unlock things in AC:B), but rather to find out more with the story, the characters, and how they impact the main game. In this sense, AC: Project Legacy has succeeded in adding to the overall experience of the franchise.

It's interesting to note that while this game exists on Facebook, it lacks the hallmarks of a Facebook game: monetization and socialization. There was nowhere in the game to exchange real money for ingame XP, AP, currency or items; there was also no interactions between friends who are playing the game save the potential recruit links. Maybe the lack of these things were what appealed me to the game.

Outside of habit or boredom, I'm done with the game now until new missions are added. I've exhausted all playable events now, seen all the story has to offer for now, and hit a game breaking glitch that gave me 400 billion dollars. Overall, it's was pretty interesting, and at least from a story perspective, added quite a bit of "substance" to the AC universe.

I have to say I like what UbiSoft has done here in trying to tie in a Facebook game with a "core" franchise. It's a slow rising trend, and I really do believe that companies who are willing to experiment with such integration in the near future will come out ahead. I don't want to sound too pompous, but I saw this trend coming for a long time, and there are plenty of games that stands to benefit from this sort of integration. In the past few years, we've seen web leaderboards (Need For Speed), Twitter integration (Uncharted 2), Facebook integration (DSi, Blur), Youtube integration (PixelJunk Eden), but I look at this AC Facebook game, and have to say this maybe the most realized version yet, and I can't wait to see what's next.

No comments:

Post a Comment