Friday, January 22, 2010

Assassin's Creed 2-Game of the Year 2009

A little reflection on 2009…

So by far my favorite game of last year was Assassin’s Creed 2 (Arkham Asylum was a close second). Halfway into the game I passionately declared it my favorite game of all time, but reflecting back on the experience, I would probably say it was just ‘one of’ my all time favorites. I do need to confess at this point that I am a complete and utter AC fan girl. I was a staunch defender of the first one, exhaustive repetitive warts and all. For me the systematic process of each city was a thrilling checklist of OCD madness. And Altair, oh Altair. I haven’t loved a main character so much since I first set eyes on Sephiroth in FFVII. My minor complaints about the first one had less to do with the repetition and more to do with some of the game mechanics. In some instances it was really difficult for me to ‘stealth’ assassinate anyone and I usually ended up brawling away at the dozens of guards who would pour in from the surrounding areas until finally striking my target in some sort of heart racing, back straining, button mashing coincidence. I also hated the never-ending chases that would ensue if you were caught strolling through the streets in any sort of wanted mode which only ended after you ran for what seemed like miles along rooftops, waiting for the little red circle on the map to fade away ala GTA. If only I could have stolen a car.

But AC2 fixed all of those problems. Your stealth attacks were more simple (maybe too simple-sometimes it seemed like X was a magical button of wrist killing even if you were already sparring with a guard who was VERY aware of you), the wall climbing was deliciously more fluid. The world was BEAUTIFUL, fully capturing the architecture of Renaissance Italy and inserting all sorts of historical snippets about the buildings you could choose to read if you were so inclined. The characters were well-fleshed out and the forced repetition was reduced significantly. Not gone altogether (treasure chests for days!), but it wouldn’t be the same game without some of the systematic elements. They added a sort of mythical conspiracy-steeped puzzle story that ends up being part of the end transition for Desmond into the next game (…I have to assume considering it’s all Vault related). Solving those puzzles made you feel wicked smart-but I confess I sometimes had to consult my online friends (FAQs) for the solutions. The doctors all wore the classic plague masks with the beaked fronts and there is a whole chapter devoted to Carnivale.

Okay, so it wasn’t all sparkles and wonder. I had a hard time mastering the counter attacks in this game-which I didn’t have a problem with in the first game. I hated the platforming in the tombs. Save me from epic platforming in Action Adventure games. And the uber-political storyline was extremely hard to follow at times, mixing between historical events and fictional ones while blending indecipherable Italian names in between. I didn’t love Ezio as much as I did Altair-although his clothes were obviously snappier-his story was so well told that it lost the mystery of the ‘assassin’ that was in the first game. I know-wah wah, right? I am sure others would rather him be a well explained character (we saw him as a baby!), but I loved the enigmatic elements of Altair.

So 2011 will bring us AC3, which, if the rumors are correct, will be a WWII reincarnation and the lead assassin might be female this time (booooo). There will be a multi-player? It’s hard to decipher the rumor mill at this point but it seems pretty clear that it will be set in the early 1900s. Since they are now pouring money into this franchise I am just going to assume it will be amazing.

First DLC for AC2 on January 28th!

Today’s blog was brought to you by the symbol Ankh and Freezepop’s ‘Tenisu No Boifurendo’.

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