Friday, 8 July 2011

Jumping into Haystacks

More commonly known as the game series "Assassin's Creed", the player is put into the shoes of said assassins Altair, Ezio and Desmond - who is actually the main hero of the story but who you spend the least time playing (so far anyway). In the games I've played (the original AC, AC2, and AC Brotherhood) there is a lot of killing, a lot of violence, and a fair number of cleverly positioned haystacks.

Each game features an "open world" which lets the character run, climb and jump around pretty much wherever he feels like - and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous! This combined with a pretty engaging story line ensures that you will probably stop playing each session at least 30 minutes to 1 hour later than intended! :P Ubisoft really milk the open world mechanic too by having side missions galore, some of which tie in strongly to the story while others are more non-sensical, like collecting flags and feathers or beating up evil jesters... but hey, this is a world where you can cut people's throats with brooms, buy various murdering tools from Da Vinci, and survive a drop of any height as long as there is a haystack to catch you where you fall.

While this cuts into the realism a little bit (which is funny since most of it is essentially a Virtual Reality simulator), it doesn't make it any less fun. Combat is fast and wonderfully animated, and there are enough various guards to keep you "slightly" on your toes. This is perhaps my only gripe about the game. Your character, even at his weakest, is way too damn strong. There is not one fight or opponent who really poses any challenge and while there is an "incognito" mechanic in place, its really not necessary as you can walk about with your sword drawn and openly asking for the guards to come die at your hands. This also makes the missions where you must "sneak and not be detected" somewhat more frustrating than they should be as while logically the objective seems sound, in your head you are wondering why you need to sneak past 10 guys when you just killed 500 effortlessly while strolling up here?

In the Thief series, Garrett had the potential to be very deadly if you played him that way - but the tension was there because you knew that if it came down to sword play, you would often lose. In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Bats is a very dangerous close quarters/sneak attack specialist but when you come across the crazies with the guns you knew you had to be careful or meet a sudden loud and lead-filled end. That sort of tension doesn't exist in Assassin's Creed which is a shame, but it more than makes up for it with the sheer fun it offers.

Multiplayer on the otherhand, is extremely tense and fun! Though I think I only killed one guy once and got murdered 10 times in my last round, the idea that you can only kill one target of whom you have a -vague- idea of their location while trying to elude an unknown amount of pursuers is awesome. Hiding in plain sight has never been executed so well in a pvp environment I think, and given that I don't really like PvP but I like this should speak volumes. :)

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As an aside, no silly pictures for this posting as I'm planning to get another flash thing up and running and am saving all my skills for that. I'll let you know how that turns out. :P

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