Back to Stabbing Mans

So, Assassin’s Creed came out for the 2007 holidays, I think I got it as a birthday or holiday gift sometime in 2008, finally played it in August of 2009.  For me, that’s actually almost being up-to-date with a series.

The PSP sequel came for the 2009 holidays, so a couple of months after I finished the original game. I got it as a Christmas gift, sat on it for 9 months, and finally played through it over the weekend.

I was quite happy with it, to be honest.  There were a few terribly frustrating moments revolving around timed sequences, but they represent a fairly small part of what the game has on offer – most of the game is, like the original, a fun romp around the rooftops while you go stabby on mans.

A word here, because it’s appropriate.  The guards in Assassin’s Creed  were terribly, terribly annoying.  They treated anyone moving around the city at any pace over a slight jog to be a criminal immediately in need of a cold steel infusion, and heaven forbid you climb a ladder in their presence.

In Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines, to give the game its full title, the guards are much more forgiving about you running around town at full speed, but they’re also about as dumb as a pillowcase full of doorknobs, and often completely deaf to their buddy’s dying gurgle, if that buddy happens to be standing slightly behind them.

On the other hand, it meant that I had to spend less time running away from guards while looking for a haystack, and could instead spend time walking up to rooftop archers and trying to stab them in the most amusing parts of their dialogue.

Obviously I can’t stab something in the dialogue, there’s some bad grammar in that last sentence, but I’m confident that you’ll be able to follow along.

Other good things: They did cut the game down a bit from its console incarnation, which eliminated many of the annoyances.  Instead of having a massive world with lots of empty space to cross between towns, the world is pretty small and the towns likewise.  This also makes things pretty linear – good for me since I like knowing what I’m supposed to be doing – but maybe not good for everyone.

The towns are also a bit depopulated compared to AC1, and this is again actually kind of nice.  The developers took out the annoying NPCs that would follow you around asking for money or occasionally attacking you, which was a big frustration for me while playing the original, so I’m happy with the change. The NPCs that ARE left feel no shame about making fun of your running around Cyprus and occasionally climbing buildings, so it kept that feel as well.

It didn’t really advance the AC1 story that much, though, so that’s a bit of a down point.  As far as expansion packs go, it was better than the 2008 Prince of Persia’s epilogue, but it also cost four times as much.

I’ll close this with something that got a laugh out of me, and something that was a personal revelation.

Laughter: Since you’re an assassin for the good guys, you hang out with a group of Cypriot resistance fighters.  At one point during the game, you have to go bust some resistance fighters out of prison.  The developers didn’t spend the time / money to make a new model for the resistance fighters as you were releasing them, and the normal model has the NPC wearing a sword at his belt, so the effect is that you bust open a locked cell and a bunch of heavily armed former prisoners rush out.

Revelation: I’ve seen a lot of frustrating things in gaming, from escort missions to timed fiddly platforming bits, but there’s nothing quite so painful as sitting through Ubisoft credits.  Seriously, I’m sure that the assistant to the director of EMEA marketing is a wonderful person, but they don’t need to appear in the credits and slow them down even more.  🙂

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