Good Grief: Flag Collecting in Assassin’s Creed
I cannot think of a game in recent history that was as polarizing as Assassin’s Creed. People either loved it or hated it; there was very little middle ground.
I for one fell on the side of loving it. Assassin’s Creed was a unique game in a world where games can be much too similar. The controls were excellent, and I spent hours wandering around the various cities trying to kill as many guards as possible without being spotted. I also am very proud of getting the “Blade in the Crowd” achievement for assassinating a target without being spotted. By the time I was done playing, I had most of the achievements.
But there was one set of achievements I knew I was never going to get: those for collecting all of the flags.
Hey, this is really fun!
It did not take me long to start appreciating just what set Assassin’s Creed apart. The first time Altiar dove off a high point making one of the infamous “Leaps of Faith,” I was hooked. Ubisoft had done a great job of making the free running controls work, realizing that making gamers hit a button every time they tried to move was not going to work. The controls were very intuitive, and in no time I was jumping from rooftops and through merchant stands with ease.
Leaps of faith never get old
It was while exploring the Assassin Order’s base town of Masyaf that I ran across my first flag. Now I can be a bit of a sucker for a challenge, so I started looking for the other flags. After all, there were only 20 and Masyaf wasn’t that big, so how hard could it be?
Well, as it turns out, it was harder than I thought. The flags were well hidden, and I ended up having to turn to an online guide to find them all. Still, it wasn’t that bad. Gave me a chance to really explore just what Altiar could do.
Wait, there are how many flags here?
So here I was on the road between Masyaf and the other cities. I saw a high point that needed exploring and subsequently diving off into the nearest haystack. Somewhere near there, I ran across another flag. I figured there had to be more, so I grabbed it….
1 of 100? What? Are you kidding me?
There are really 100 flags to find in the area between the cities? That’s a little extreme, especially when you consider the fact that, once you make it to a city for the first time, you can skip this area and go just straight to the next target.Still, it is a pretty large area, and I was looking forward to trying to find all the high spots, so I guess I could let this slide.
Flag collecting, on the other hand…. Was that flag 14 or 40?
100 more? Are you insane?
Imagine my surprise when I found out EACH CITY OUTSIDE OF MASYAF HAD 100 FLAGS TO COLLECT! That is with the exception of Acre, which made you find 33 flags in each section (34 in the rich area) for a measly 10 points per completed set?
I was seriously not happy. When I first found the flags, I though it would be fun to try and track at least some of the down. Even after finding out how many flags were out there, I still tried to find some, hoping that maybe I could get excited about them again. It didn’t last, however. I got to where I would grab a flag if I stumbled across one, but I was not about to go out of my way to find them.
You want the flags so badly, you find them.
This is a great example of a good idea gone horribly wrong. Why couldn’t Ubisoft learn from Realtime Worlds, who rewarded you for finding orbs both with achievement points and skill points in Crackdown. Heck, even Epic learned its lesson after the first Gears of War, trading in the senseless tracking of Cog tags for finding items that helped fill in the back story of Gears 2.
Item collecting in games can be a good thing. Making gamers find insane amounts of totally useless items, however….not so much.
And that is why Flag Collecting in Assassin’s Creed has made our Good Grief feature.