Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Partial Review: Assassins Creed Brotherhood: in a word: WOW...

... and now some more words... :P

So I ran out last fall and picked up my copy of Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, and proceeded to play it fora grand total of about 4 hours before shamefully putting it back on my game shelf to collect dust. 5 months later, I happen to have a little time on my hands that I was required to sit on a couch or a bed and relax (ie: play games) so I start cutting through what I shall affectionately call my "guilt pile" of games. First up wsa Arcania: Gothic 4. If you were able to understand my drug and pain riddled contridiction of a blog post the other day, you'll know that while the game is HEAVILY flawed, I did enjoy it enough to sink 30 hours into it (nearly to the minute actually) and finish it with 75% of the achievements (even the jack rabbit achievement, to my eternal shame).

So great, I got through that one easily enough. What's next I asked. AC:B, of course. I stopped playing this one, I think, because I had just finished Assassins Creed 2, which is essentially the same game just smaller, and I was a little "creeded-out". Also, it was the fall of "cheesy cash-in sequels", with Fallout New Vegas, Spider-man Shattered Dimensions, etc coming out all around it, so it felt like this was one of those as well and held a little less favor because of it. So anyway, I stuck it in and I remember what Assassin's Creed was for me to begin with.

First and foremost: All other games with open worlds take note. Assassin's Creed sets the standard. Not GTA, not  Dragon Age. Assassins Creed does. The world is not only spectacular and immersive looking, it literally is alive. The streets are filled with hundreds of people, some just out for a walk, some doing their daily chores, some are guards. The world is ALIVE with a community of NPC's and make the gamer truly feel like he is a part of the environment. Everything not only feels alive, but it even LOOKS alive. When you bump into someone, they swear at you. They don't just graphically clip around you. You, as a character, put your hands up to shield yourself if you walk to close to someone or something. Everything has a very natural, organic feel to it.

Last post I referred to many open world games seemingly sacrificing something to allow them to be so big. Well take note, euro game developers. Ubisoft Montreal (yay Canada!) has put together a world that holds together well, but a premise that also covers it up legitimately if something screws up. A "game within a game", so to speak. But truthfully, it rarely, if ever, happens. Nothing looks out of place in this game. The incredible amount of polish is uncontested, even by games such as Dragon Age (which doesn't hold a candle) or Halo Reach (which in it's own right looks amazing). I'm a graphics guy. It's my life, it's what I do. The themes, the colour palettes, the sheer skill used to create this game are literally incredible. The world of 14th century Rome is alive in this game, and should be experienced by anyone who claims to be a gamer.

Click for larger.
The people who create the Spider-man games should really REALLY consider just buying this game engine and using it to make Spidey games. The crap they usually put out often times feels clunky and un-natural. This game takes the enjoyment of wall climbing, jumping, racing, swinging, dangling from mind numbingly high towers and escalates it to a degree that no single Spider-man game, nor any game really, has EVER done. When you jump and you don't quite make it, you grab on for dear life and cry in pain as the edge of a roof digs into your chest and underarms. Like Wallnuts?(thats a wall climbing gym for you non-St. John's readers) This game takes that feeling you get from jumping from small handhold to small foothold and puts it in the game. Having wallclimbed a few times myself, this game really has an authentic feel to climbing up a guard tower. You look for that tiny handhold and grab on for dear life! When you finally do reach the top, you actually feel like you've achieved something.

In game shot. Click this for a better look.
Speaking of climbing towers, one of the things you do in all the AC games is climb the highest towers so you can get and eagle eye view of the land. (In gamers terms, you open up the map). when you get to the top of the tower and "syncronize", basically look around, you are treated to a birds eye view of this unimaginably authentic Roman world. Fields of flowers and corn, buildings of clay brick and mortar, cathedrals and churches, EVEN THE COLISEUM! All the while, people mill about below you like ants. After you are done you get the joy of a swandive, a leap of faith as it were, to a straw cart or pile below you. 

Now, onto the gamey bits. You are an Assassin. I won't deal with story here, just gameplay. The story itself is functional enough and gets you through and a brisk pace if you want to. I've spent 15 hours with the game thus far, and I have only "synched" about 35 percent of the game. I'm just running around, doing assassination missions, recruiting other assassins, climbing towers, ambushing couriers. You know, assassin stuff. The ways in which you kill the dastardly "Borgia" range from comical to downright torturous. All are animated in vivid, lifelike detail. Just another way that this game depicts the brutal life these people may have lived back in that time. The control is easy once you get the hang of it, although you could say there is a bit of  learning curve to it. Once down though, even the most difficult of moves becomes basic, almost skillful in its delivery. You can stalk your prey methodically, you can go full frontal assault, all of which is generally permissible. (some missions do require stealth) Either way, you can cut a bloody path through the game until you reach the ultimate goal of freeing Rome from tyranny.

I haven't touched multiplayer yet, as I'm sure many of you who read this won't. The only comment I shall make on it is this: I actually WILL try it. Unlike most "capture the flag, frag fest" shooters, this game creates a world of either co-operation or competition. It's all about the kill. It's remarkably different and now award winning. It must have something to it.

With that, I shall leave you with this final thought. When I see a game like Assassin's Creed, it makes me wonder: Why don't other games who try to do similar things, just not do it as good? Look at how Spider-man games have fared and how they handle, look at the visual worlds of Dragon Age or Divinity 2 or Oblivion. When you pit one against the other, it's amazing that these games even manage to sell. I'm not speaking as a fanboy here, I've played them all and likely will continue to do so. I am just looking at one compared to the other, and for lack of anything else to say, I am in awe.

No score as I haven't finished  the game, but definately check this one out, as well as the first Assassins Creed and it's sequel. Take a lesson on how to build a game.


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