The Assassin’s Creed Series

You see folks, this why I can never ever run a serious, as in, “professional” gaming blog. I’m just never current on anything that isn’t World of Warcraft, The Sims or the one or two other games that I am interested in enough to pre-order and actually post about before they go out of style (I also never post, but that is a different issue :P). But that aside:

Assassin’s Creed was a good game, not great by any measure, but good; It just failed to live up to the massive amount of hype constantly being pushed out at the time. I think the most disappointing aspect of the game wasn’t necessarily the repetition (though the repetition was pretty bad, I had to force myself to complete the game), but that it felt half-assed. Most people compare it too a tech demo, demonstrating the crowd reaction engine and I think that is for the most part an accurate assesment.

The overarching plot of the series is if anything, predictable if not somewhat ludicrous but I like the premise. Even though I know that the whole Animus deal is a plot gimmick, I feel that it works within the context of the game. I also like the duality between Desmond and his ancestor(s). I kind of wish that Assassin’s Creed 2 had more out-of-Animus scenes, they provided a pacing break in the gameplay (I know that am probably the only one who feels that way….).

Assassin’s Creed 2 plays out like a fluid narrative rather than a sequence of grind quests stapled together. Oh and by narrative I mean a nice variety of tasks to complete. There is a cohesive though somewhat ludicrous plot, there are characters and there are cinematics. If nothing else, it is very polished in both presentation and appearance. The bloom is way overdone, but the environments are vibrant and well designed. Unlike the first game, this game is more like what one would expect from the Playstation 3 in terms of quality.

Anyway, Assassin’s Creed 2: It is to say the least, a lot more fun than the first game. It’s more polished and rounded off with Prince of Persia style platforming mixed in with Grand Theft Auto style opendedness and side quests. The free running works a lot better than the first game in my opinion; The cities are constructed with to allow you to jump around more naturally.

No singular element in Assassin’s Creed 2 really stands out or shines. The combat system, though a little bit better than the first game still suffers from the same downfalls. You can now stab people in a couple more ways but ultimately it still boils down to just hitting the square or the circle button at the appropriate moment. Too many things on too few buttons. The side quests don’t vary too much from stabbing things or collecting things. Also, social camouflaging is great in theory but somewhat poor in execution: I really love the idea of crowd blending and being able to play in a more organic environment, but the way that it is implemented and the way the AI reacts in the game is very limiting. In practice it still feels like a game.

But you know what? I had a lot of fun playing this game. It’s not often that I play a game through completion nowadays; In fact sadly, I can probably name the games that I have actually finished this year on one hand. No single element in this game is particularly great but together all of the elements sum up to a very attractive package.

This is just a personal gripe/tangent, but: I know that the 6 assassin’s tombs are 100% optional side quests, but did those for the most part, annoy the hell out of anyone else? Jumping puzzles suck enough on the PC with full control over a mouse and keyboard. They suck to an entirely new degree when you have little to no control over where the camera pans.

By the way: The official assassin’s hand sign thing that Lucy flashes you in the first game is totally The Shocker isn’t it? 😛

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