I finished Assassin’s Creed the other day. The more observant and pedantic amongst you will note that I said ‘finished’ and not ‘completed’, and you would be well within your rights to raise such a point, and I would give you a look of sheepishness in response, because I have merely uninstalled the game and placed it on the shelf of ‘games that I pretend I might play again some time but secretly just leave out on display because they give me gamer cred’.
As the name suggests, it’s a long shelf.
I have to confess that I didn’t complete the game, as far as the official version of completing a game goes anyway, which is generally accepted as seeing some sort of preposterous feel-good cut scene followed by half an hour’s worth of credits, unless the game is Portal, in which case, as we all know, the credits are the best part simply because of that song. What I did do was complete the same set of missions – in slightly different areas of a couple of cities – about one hundred times, which generally involved seeking out information on an assassination target through my being a sneaky assassin sort of fellow, and then once I had the details down, I would toodle off and assassinate said target by, again, being quite the sneaky stealthy assassin. So it came somewhat as a surprise to me that the final missions (and readers should turn away for the rest of this post if they don’t want to learn of any spoilers) involve a full frontal assault on the entire first division of the army of King Richard I of England, aka the Lionheart, aka Coeur de Lion, aka that Giant Nutter Who Conquered Half the Holy Lands With His Army of Crusaders. It was at this point that I had to go back and have a quick look at the game box, and yes, there on the cover were quite clearly the words ‘assassin’ and ‘creed’, and unless I am very much mistaken, there are not many known assassins who have decided to ‘bugger all this stealth and intrigue nonsense’ and instead whipped out their long sword, which has up until now been mainly for show, and charged headlong into the front of the enemy, Braveheart style. Now there’s a reason that there aren’t many assassins known for this tactic, and that is because all of the ones who have tried it have been turned into a bloody pulp in the time it takes to say “I’m wearing the armour equivalent of pyjamas!”.
I thought I was missing the big developer’s joke, and that somewhere along the mountain path where I was fighting tooth and nail (mainly my character’s teeth against the soldiers’ bloody great six foot steel nails) there was a secret route that I needed to find, one that would allow me to stealth around the back of the army, almost like an assassin you might say, and that I merely wasn’t thinking like a ninja, or an insurgent, or a small seven year old child with enough common sense to not wade in to the pack of fourteen year old bullies blocking the path ahead. But no, apparently after having spent tens of hours as the elite parkour champion of the middle east, leaping from rooftop to rooftop with the lissom grace of an alley cat in its prime, I was suddenly unable to scale even the tiniest boulder; I mean, these boulders were so tiny there were seven year old children hopping over them and thumbing their noses at me as they escaped away from the inevitable beating that was barrelling its way up the Tedious Railroading Path of Lazy Level Design. It was more through attrition than anything else that I finally found King Richard and the man I had been sent to assassinate, and instead of just jumping the bastard the first chance he got and stabbing him squarely in the face, my character decided at this point it was best to have a little heart-to-heart with the Conqueror King. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, keep reading and I’ll tell you.
Despite believing that the story you’ve told him about his traitorous right-hand-man could well be true, the king doesn’t decide to lock-up the traitor and yourself, do some investigation of his own in order to find out the truth of the matter, and once he realises you were right, release you with a full pardon and a huge reward of gold, ale and whores. No, instead he decides to let God decide. Fair enough, we’re in the middle of the crusades after all, and God will apparently decide through a trial by combat. Sigh. Ok, I’m an assassin, and although I’m trained in the sneaky-sneaky stabby-stabby school of combat, I can probably take this over-armoured meathead, even if I am only wearing pyjamas. But wait, apparently God has decided that before I can face the traitor in one-on-one combat, I get to fight fifteen of his best heavily armoured mates first. All at the same time.
There will now be a short interval in this post as we are experiencing some Melmoth-related technical difficulties.
Melmoth:OH. FUCK. OFF. YOU ALMIGHTY BUGGERING ARSE PORRIDGE FLANNEL PANTY VITAMIN BEARDED PERCOLATED BADGERGING COCK.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post.
Suffice it to say that I decided, after about ten attempts, that I was decidedly bored with these shenanigans and I went and had a quick look at a FAQ to see if I was missing anything obvious. Apparently, I was missing the fact that:
a) There’s one specific move that you should spam over and over in order to try to win, but even then it will be difficult.
b) There’s no other way, be it using stealth, subterfuge or suspenders, to circumvent the fight.
c) The developers are related to small developmentally backwards marmosets.
Having read the FAQ and decided that I wasn’t going to play their version of Heavily Inebriated Streetfighter, I read on further to see how much of the game I was going to miss by throwing my arms up in the air, shouting ‘Why God, why?!’ and then launching the DVD across the room at the cat in a final attempt at bringing the game back to its assassination roots. As it turns out I was quite near the end, and the only bit left should I have decided to bang my head against the brick wall of the token pre-boss combat smack down, was to fight my former master, who it turns out can use ancient Christian relics to turn himself into a super-powered being of celestial might.
There was a phrase I uttered at that point, involving porridge, percolation and panties, but I think we’ve already reached an understanding of my feelings in this regard so I won’t repeat it.
And so, as I mentioned at the start of the post, I’ve finished Assassin’s Creed and have now moved on to Gears of War, which I may talk about at some point, but if you want to know the short version: I find it very hard to play games which involve a group of over-doped American wrestlers trying to act hard whilst grunting sounds no longer than a syllable, all of which is being presented in the nausea inducing wonder that is sHakkky CaMMmmm.
Lol Melmoth, I have my own guilty secret shelf of “almost finished games”. That said end game bosses seem to be getting easier rather than harder. I still remember the insanely difficult final level of Doom2.
Bear with Gears, I found it a really enjoyable game. If you are playing it on the PC then check out internet co-op mode. It’s a blast. Since most missions in the game can be soloed it really doesn’t matter how good or bad the random partner you pick up over the internet is.
I’ve added Jade Empire to the secret shelf now, just couldn’t get on with the combat system in that one, and I think I’d been a bit spoiled by Mass Effect.
And Gears, didn’t get very far in that one either, Shaky Cam[TM] actually gives me motion sickness after a short while, so I had to give up but it wasn’t for want of trying (and being rather ill for a while after)!