Monday, January 2, 2012

Assassin's Creed II: A Treatise in Nine* Parts, Written While Watching Assassin's Creed II

*actually one.

So I'm finally jumping on this Ass Creed bandwagon and actually playing one of these games. I played the first a bit on my brother's computer, and it seemed dreadfully fun but simultaneously incredibly boring. I grabbed Assassin's Creed II during the recent Steam sale, and I'm hunkering down, dropping the graphics settings to something I can manage, and playing this bad boy. Here will follow some choice remarks written down in the copious free time I have while waiting for things to occur.

0) Is it just me, or is it painfully unpolished when a game on Steam requires you to copy and paste a multiplayer CD key into the game? That really seems like something that should be taken care of by, you know, the whole 'Steam' thing. And while we're on that page, can we just excise once and for all the entire phenomenon of developers wanting you to sign up for their proprietary service? No, Ubisoft, I do not care about "UPlay". I will never think about it again.
1) That was a nice pan down to Lucy's breasts. You know, when he's saying how he met her and befriended her, and the camera lingers for half a second on her face and for three seconds on her boobs? Subtle, guys.
2) Let's talk a little bit more about Lucy's character design. I can guarantee you (as of five minutes in) that she will also fit all the Good Girl tropes. You can tell from her appearance, on top of everything else - it's so nice how instead of actually showing us that a character has traits, they can just make her blonde, blue-eyed, fair-skinned, with her hair up in a ponytail, dressed in tight-fitting white clothes which obscure her cleavage with a high neckline... And we know everything we need to know. I bet that at some point, Desmond will want to do something and she'll say it's too reckless. She's also a total sidekick through and through, in painfully obvious fashion.
3) And now I write something I have never before written: This is the most awkwardly long birthing scene I can remember being a part of. I'm just glad they didn't go for a first-person camera view while the main character is born - playing my way out of my apparent mother's birthing canal was not what I was expecting when I signed up for Templar-stabbing action.
4) That's not a very useful movement tutorial when the instructions ("move legs" "move empty hand" "move armed hand") both don't make sense *on a baby* and seem to have little correspondence to what they will actually do when running around as a full-fledged human being, renaissance Italian or not. While we're on the subject, can you please tell me what the buttons are? Your color codings do not correspond to my mouse buttons.
5) I appreciate that you've got a respected and well-loved storyline, but... You're telling it in a painfully boring manner. I get that we're escaping from this huge sprawling techno-industrial complex, but... I just sprinted through this cubicle farm full of Animus-plurals, and no one spotted me - while my chaperone was tensely ducking around corners and crawling her way through.
6) I am rapidly finding myself not caring what Lucy is talking about.
7) "Apple" is the best synonym I've heard yet for "McGuffin".
8) Oh, look! It's a punky, hackerish girl with headphones and a low neckline. I wonder if she'll be a counterpoint for Lucy, possibly by any slim chance? Also, their visual designs seem identical to two women in Uncharted 2 and 3. I'm not sure if that's just me... but seriously. Can we get some more interesting female character designs in the video game industry? Desmond's not much better.
9) A British librarian? WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT
10) I am Desmond. Watch me SWAGGER.
11) ... Where did Headphones Punk stick that connector below my chest? ... I am concerned about how the Animus works.
12) Okay, I'm only going to say this once, because this would be boring as fuck otherwise: THAT IS NOT HOW BRAINS WORK. THAT IS NOT HOW GENETIC MEMORIES WORK. Okay.
13) While we're on the topic of things Not Working Like That, I don't know that Italian actually sounds like a bad imitation of Italian. Not sure about that.
14) Okay, this fight scene is terribly entertaining. I half expected these two gangs to start snapping their fingers and singing at each other, but no - I have to say, the combat engine in this game is really nicely tuned. It suffers a bit for my hardware, but it's satisfying to try to balance between a large number of attackers... Even if it is a bit easy; one man should not reasonably be able to take on five attackers. A little more difficulty would be well appreciated in terms of setting up your fights. That's a thing that old-school stealth games did much, much better than modern times - in Thief, you pretty much never wanted to go into combat against even one person, and instead you had to carefully plan your approach to everything. It's interesting that even though these games have such intricate AI and movement systems, they fall prey to being too easy - they never force you to really *use* those strengths.
15) Mmmm, delicious free running! Harder than Infamous, more vertically mobile than Doom. I really like it, from my tiny experience thus far - it's tinged with a little confusion because the game still won't tell me what buttons to press unless I go into the kinda-clunky menu. Clunky's the wrong word - it's incredibly smooth and pretty, it's just... bad at being a menu.
16) I'm pretty sure doctors mostly wore plague masks during the black plague.
17) Bet you five bucks that this zero-dimensional brother of mine is going to die. He cares about you... in a BROTHERLY kind of way! Brotherly love is so beautiful.
18) No but seriously? This is awesome. Climbing onto these towers and then jumping off is so much fun! These games are awesome. I rib because I'm having fun. I can't take this game seriously, but it *is* fun.
19) Quicktime events for sex! Haven't seen that since God of War. I want to see more of what happens when you miss it - don't click fast enough and you kind of awkwardly fumble with her bra, press the wrong button and your teeth click together when you kiss, miss a spinner and you both forget to take your glasses off, don't hit the buttons in the right sequence and you don't communicate right and no one really gets what they want from the night...
20) Picking pockets is HELLA easy. I had no idea you just had to punch someone in the gut, and their florins would magically appear in your hand!
21) Ahhh, renaissance architecture. Flying buttresses, peaked roofs, and buildings inspired by porcupines in placement of lampposts and other replacements for the gymnast's high bar.
22) Honestly I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing. It's just too much fun to go to the highest point I can see, find new highest point, and go there! It makes me wonder if it'd be fun to structure an entire game or a sequence of levels in some larger game around it - maybe you're stranded somewhere and need to find the way out, so you need to find the highest point to see farther... Seems cool.
23) Races! It's just like my favorite parts of Infamous! Except, with a slightly higher tendency to leap off a building into an alleyway.
24) I still have no idea what I'm supposed to do. I guess I could be paying attention, but I'm too busy writing. With that in mind, I might just wrap this up without having even gotten to the stabby bits. I'm kind of tired of this game already, actually. Eh, decreased stamina in my old age, you know how it is.

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