Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks
Miscalibrated Internet Receptor Stalks

On a whim, I picked up Assassins Creed IV for the PS4, hoping that it'd be a better game on a next-gen platform. Despite some graphical enhancements, it doesn't look or feel all that different from an Xbox 360 or PS3 title. And on the whole, it's really not that good, despite high ratings on Metacritic. Play-wise, it's a game whose core fundamentals haven't evolved significantly since ACII, released nearly five years ago. Movement is ridiculously imprecise. Stealth, which is supposedly a major component of gameplay, is a total fucking joke and utterly inconsistent. (Your enemies will not be able to see more than five feet in front of themselves at ground level, but if they're on a higher platform they can see for miles around.) The control scheme is still horribly over-designed and uncomfortable, requiring you to hold down the right trigger 90% of the time if you want to move faster than a snail's pace. Combat is a baffling ordeal, and the save point system is totally arbitrary, worthy of a bad 1990s PC game. Despite being out for over seven months, there are still tons of bugs that haven't been patched. Finally, the storyline is risible, sub-Dan Brown horseshit that only a Robert Orci would find profound or stimulating. (And the interstitial segments set in the modern-day office building are maybe the most fuck-all boring thing since, well, the segments in all the other AC titles.)


And yet. And yet. I've probably put 9-10 hours into this thing already. I could have done any number of other things with my free time — watched Her, caught up on Craig Ferguson or Silicon Valley, read Saga or Kate Atkinson or Saul Bellow or Jack Vance — but I chose to spend it with Pirate Guy (I really can't even remember the character's name right now), wandering the Caribbean in search of plunder and adventure, seeking out treasure maps, raiding ships and forts, and cursing like, well, a sailor when things go badly, which is often. It's not a very good game, but the world and all the little oddments you can find scattered throughout the world make it interesting. And while I don't know if I'll finish ACIV — face it, I bought this to kill time before Watch Dogs comes out — I'll probably put another dozen hours or so in before I become too exasperated to continue, though it's likely that thanks to all my perambulations I've barely scratched the surface of the main campaign. I mean, Pirate Guy hasn't even cottoned to the fact that Pirate Boy is secretly a Pretteh Pirate Ladeh in Disguise yet.

What's your favorite awful game, the one that you keep delving into despite lousy design or limited returns on your investment of time and effort?

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