Sunday, February 21, 2010

Assassin's Creed 2 - Hot Tag!

Scientists' Stats -
Time Played: 8hrs 45min
Last Achievement Earned: The Conspirators
Last Significant Event: Solved Glyph 6


Jeff last signed off with "The real question is: do you think it's an accurate depiction of what 15th century Florence would look like? And another question for you Rachel...what part of the game is unchanged that definitely should have been fixed?

I'm pretty sure the first question is rhetorical as Jeff knows full well I am no expert on 15th Century Florence but I certainly agree that it's very cool to go running around with Ezio and recognize parts of the city. As for the second question, boy howdy(!) do I ever have an answer!!!!

Assassins should act like fucking assassins! Just as Altair in ACI, Ezio goes about killing targets with as much attention getting prowess as a whore in church. It really makes no sense whatsoever that the game punishes you for not walking down the damn street like a sneaky bastard but barely puts you out at all if you attract the attention of every city guard whilst making a kill. Dumb, dumb, dumb! The game should encourage and reward you for being sneaky (to review, you're a fucking assassin!); it would make the game more interesting and realistic. (Ubisoft, please refer to Hitman if you need help with this.)

Ok, with that out of the way let's talk awesome. Climbing about buildings like a juiced monkey goes without saying but one thing I've found surprisingly fun is building up the country villa. This appears to be just a fancy way of making bank but it's still fun. There are a few game events there and it's where your mom and sister are living. Sis actually keeps the books and runs things while you go about pissing off guards and shoving obnoxious guitar players around.

Also, the outfit, while conspicuous as all get-out, rocks! The added assassin's blade just makes things double cool and I don't even mind the arm cape. That's right, apparently Ezio can't spring for a full cape and he goes round with this less-than-halfsy thing that covers his left arm. He must like it a lot though as he's always pulling it over his arm during the game. And since I'm talking personal looks I'm also going to mention that I like Ezio's video game lack of 5 o'clock shadow which I saw a lot of in the trailers.

The guards are quite gentlemanly in this game and do their damnedest to not attack Ezio all at once. At most you might have two guards attack together but the rest hover about and wait for their turn to die. This led to the best quote by a scientist so far: What's with the gentleman fighting, Ezio? I just want to stab him in the fucking back!

And now we punt... So Jeff, how do you find travel in the game altered from ACI? Better, worse? And do please explain the efficacy of the wanted poster locales. Also, I complained a bit about the non-cohesiveness of Ezio's life as an assassin. I get the impression this doesn't bother you as much. Do you feel like Ezio is working towards some definable goal? And how do you feel about your side job as a grave robber?


Okay, travel. In AC1, every mission starts with you in a secret assassin base in a remote town far away from the action. So you have to run down a mountain, grab a horse, ride for what feels like forever, infiltrate the city in which your next target resides, sneak through town to find him, and then lay his ass to rest. To review, the fun part (the assassination) is preceded by a bunch of long, dull schlepping from one locale to another. Not good.

In AC2, you don't have to return to your home base unless you want to do so. Thus, no running down a mountain. There's fast travel between cities you've visited, so no grabbing a horse and riding forever (or at least, just once per city). Also, Ubisoft realized that sneaking into town every time was dumb so they got rid of it. Now you can just walk right in through the nearest gate. Sneaking through town? That's still there. But if you're counting, of the five barriers I listed that blocked you from making with the stabby-time in AC1, four have been eliminated in the sequel. Not too shabby!

The wanted posters...these are strange. The game has a "notoriety" meter, such that committing illegal acts in front of witnesses increases your notoriety and makes it more likely that guards will recognize and attack you. The easiest way to reduce notoriety is to tear down wanted posters. It's a simple enough mechanic and I endorse it. However, the locations of the posters are really bizarre. You'll often find them on the side of a building, three stories up, facing a blank, windowless wall. Who exactly would see that poster and subsequently recognize you?

"Grave Robbing" is actually a fun little side quest where you hunt down the tombs of famous assassin's from history by working your way through Prince of Persia style obstacles. Once you get to the tomb, you get treasure and a seal. Collect all six seals and you get access to Altair's assassin cloak from the original AC. Sweet!

We had our first real "assassin" experience last night. Some nefarious conspirator was holed up in a tower with archers guarding his position. He was trying to rouse the rabble into revolting against the city leaders. But I was able to outsmart him by climbing up to where his guards were patrolling and taking them out one by one. By the time I was done, the poor bastard had no idea that he was hanging out by himself in his tower. He never even saw me as I crept up from behind and silenced his heresy forever.

And back to Rachel. It seems like the story is still too nebulous for you (I don't disagree). Maybe it's missing a character to give it some cohesion. What character would help? A sidekick? Love interest? A better defined villain?

Also, let's say Ubisoft greenlights Assassin's Creed 3 (pretty much a lock). They come to you and say, "Rachel, you're our biggest fan. It's your pick - where and when is AC3 set?" What's your choice. Bear in mind that the general parameters of the game (running around a few cities, climbing buildings, assassinating targets) will be the same. A place or time that works well with conspiracy theories would also be a plus.

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