Monday, June 23

Assassin's Creed

I finished Assassin's Creed for the PS3 last weekend and while I enjoyed quite a bit of it, the flaws in the game are problematic enough that I understand why it got such mixed reviews.

I liked the basics of the game; climbing things and jumping around rooftops, as well as stealth assassinations. But all the other missions seemed to be flawed. Picking someone's pocket feels like an awkward exercise in timing, instead of patience and skill. Combat is mostly a one button mashup affair, with the only skill being pressing a 'defend' button at the appropriate time. So anytime you have to fight someone, it becomes rather dreary with repetition. Since 2/3s of the missions are fighting based, it becomes a chore. Worse, since I am unable to dictate my moves, when I would defend then counter, I would end up punching someone instead of using my sword and I had no idea why. When surrounded by 5+ enemies this becomes an issue. It seemed like the game just decided for me; harder opponents will be ones you can only punch, weaker ones you can slice at.

Well, fuck that; give me a reward/penalty system or something, so I can decide which is best.

The stealth aspects are also implemented unevenly; all of the 'boss' missions require virtually no stealth, so it feels like I spent time learning how to behave stealthily, but there's no payoff for that. Once the boss mission is completed, you have to run for your life--there's no way to stealthily commit the deed, and then sneak away to get a head start. Exploring the city is fun but since the soldiers can follow me anywhere, it rarely feels like there is a payoff for exploring, beyond finding new missions to do and seeing the beautiful panoramics of the city.

One thing that really, really peeves me about games that encourage exploration is that the 'little bonuses' they reward you with are...well, a total pain in the ass without any payoff. Grand Theft Auto started this with the 'find 99 drug packages' thing in GTA3, and AC has a 'find the flags' and 'defeat the Templars' subgame. But there are 60 Templars, and 420 flags to find! On top of that, the map is not very helpful at letting you find those things. It should be, and there are 2 reasons why.

First, I only have so much time. Game developers, help me out! I want to play your games, but if you keep putting in things that must be stumbled upon at random, then I have no choice but to prioritize and say; Fuck that. I appreciate that some people have gone through the trouble to find all the flags and Templars and make a handy set of maps, but why should I have to go to a website to help me do something in the game like find flags? It breaks up the whole experience, and is just a pain in the ass. If I can't be a boss, or can't find my way into something, sure, I want to be able to get help. Who doesn't? But stumbling on random packages is...well, it's not fun, it's work, and that's not why I play games.

Second, if you're going to put in these little things, make it worthwhile! I climbed all the towers and got my viewpoints because it was fun to look around and then leap off. When I completed the game, I saw that I had a 'task done', so I went to look at it. All it told me was; all view points completed. Well, SHIT, I'm glad the act of doing it was fun to begin with, because I get nothing else out of the deal.

Finding a flag, or beating a Templar (when your combat system is weak), isn't inherently fun, and there doesn't seem to be a bonus for doing the thing that is fun, so what's my motivation? (Xbox owners can say; you get accomplishment
points, but what the hell are accomplishment points good for? It's just a trophy badge to let other people know you 'did' something, and at 36 just being able to finish a game is my accomplishment. I have, as a great friend of mine says, a host of responsibilities I'm trying to ignore, don't make me work to ignore them.)

So help me out; if I'm climbing the viewpoints, open up the map so I can find more stuff, which leads me to exploring more and learning more stealth stuff, and so on.

My final complaint is; the finale of the game involved the weakest parts of the game; combat. Sigh. All those hours learning cool stuff wasted.

Assassin's Creed developers; I enjoyed your game. I liked the story. I liked climbing around cities, and I liked figuring out how to be stealthy (even if it was frustrating occasionally) and although the random beggar bugged the hell out of me, I enjoyed the experience overall.

But please step it up for the next game, because I'm only willing to accept this game up to a point, and then I get worn out.

Thursday, June 19


Boy do I hate yardwork.

Tuesday, June 10


I'm depressed today. I'm not sure what admitting that publicly will do, aside from just let people know I'm depressed. Maybe that will be enough.

Monday, June 2

Austin is pretty cool

As a place to visit, that is. It's way too goddamn hot for human beings to seriously want to live there in massive numbers.

And; there's some good beer there too!

But, next time someone insists that Austin > Portland, and says, "Anything you can get up there, you can get down here," just say this: