Tag Archives: assassin’s creed

Ass arse in screed.

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.


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.

The tongue of the slanderer is brother to the dagger of the assassin.

I finished playing Mass Effect the other night, it’s a good game but quite short if you fail to undertake all the side quests that it throws at you, so I was rather surprised when the end credits started rolling. Still, not a huge problem because I have Assassin’s Creed and Gears of War sitting on the back burner waiting for me. I decided to go with Assassin’s Creed first, just because I thought a bit of fantasy would be a nice break, having sci-fi’d myself out a bit for the time being with Mass Effect.

So, Assassin’s Creed it is. I’ve only just started playing the game, so here are some brief first impressions.

The game is gorgeous with a capital ‘oh I think I need to change my underwear’. The cities in the game are beautifully realised, detailed and utterly believable; the immersion factor from the scenery is approaching ‘total’ on the enthrall-o-meter. However, the game-play elements quickly whip out a silent deadly blade, stick one hand around the graphic’s mouth and stab it squarely in the back. There’re the Convenient Monks of Convenience and their incredible ability to turn up and have a bit of an aimless wander around just at the point where you might need to get into a guarded building. For those of you unfamiliar with the game, you have the ability to blend with these white robed monks, which essentially translates to you standing in the centre of a diamond formation of four monks, after which guards will ignore you. First problem: it’s the same four monks, in the same formation every time; the blending feature is a fantastic idea, but would it really have been that tricky to vary the size of the group of monks, and perhaps make the group more than four large, because that leads us on to the second problem: these must be the most stupid guards in the world if they can’t spot the odd one out, here you try:

You are a guard in front of the keep of your master, who is very wary of assassins attempting to approach him and introduce his pancreas to the wrong end of a short sharp blade. You have been tasked with guarding the entrance at all costs, and thus you examine the crowds as they wander past. You see a group of monks approaching. You inspect them more closely.

You see five monks, the first monk is wearing a white robe. The second monk is wearing a white robe. The third monk is wearing a white robe. The fourth monk is wearing a white robe. The fifth monk is wearing a white robe; he also appears to have a longsword hanging by his left leg, a small short blade strapped across his back, five throwing knives strapped to the back of his right shoulder and leather arm bracers that look suspiciously as though they might conceal blades.

Do you:

a) Ask the fifth monk if he’s an assassin and trying to kill your master.
a) Raise the alarm and prepare for the fight of your life as you try to apprehend an assassin.
a) Ask your fellow guard mates to just confirm that that bloke in the middle of the four monks is clearly an assassin and that you should all probably hit him with sharp metal sticks.


b) Ignore the group of monks, clearly they’re just wandering into your master’s keep because they enjoy sight-seeing around the military garrisons of the old world.

If you answered ‘a’, well done, reward yourself with a small chocolate coated biscuit. If you answered ‘b’, oh dear, punish yourself with a small chocolate coated brisket.

The other stand-out farcical element is the journey on horseback between cities. Again the animation and scenery is breathtaking, and then you ride past a set of guards at anything faster than a gentle canter and all hell breaks loose and they attempt to chase you down and kill you. I just didn’t realise that they had such speed limits in place in the medieval Middle East. Each time you ride out is like an episode of Smokey and the Bandit in the Middle Ages, with you trying to make your way as quickly as possible to the next city before you die of boredom, all the while trying to avoid the speed traps set by old smokey, and when you inevitably set one off, a chase sequence that makes Cannonball Run look like Bullet.

I guess it’s amusing in its own way, and I now make a “Breaker, breaker for the Bandit.” “Come on back, breaker.” “Well, what’s your handle son and what’s your 20?” “My handle is Smokey Bear and I’m tail grabbin’ your ass right now!” commentary as I ride along, which brightens things up a little, if nothing else.

Other than that I haven’t really experienced enough of the game to say whether I like it sufficiently to recommend it to others (unless you happen to like cheesy ’80s comedy police chases, in which case by all means grab it, breaker breaker) but I will say that the combat feels pretty clunky at the moment, with nice ideas in the special moves available, but with the implementation leaving something to be desired. Maybe I just need more practice.

Or maybe I need to stop air-guitaring Battle Without Honor or Humanity and concentrate more on the fight at hand instead.