Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
(Well, will you look at that.) What we have here, dear readers, is
a collection of e and r sounds a game that's actually relevant to something. OK, so nobody's really talking about Revelations anymore (as I understand it, it's all Saints Row: The Third and Corpse Party, apparently), but it came out recently enough that I can bitch about Brotherhood without you guys running off to watch a mediocre Sonic Generations review or whatever. Of course, by "bitch", I mean "tell you how bitching this game is."
Which makes it odd that I'm gonna start with one of the weaker aspects of the game (and probably the blog): the plot. The story begins with the first two Assassin's Creed games (I'm being literal) before remembering that the ending to the previous game introduced a major plot hole. No, not the weird-ass ending, but the fact that there was an ending. How could things be resolved? Borgia was still alive, and I doubt the Vatican took that fistfight rather well. Wars were to be fought, and that's what Brotherhood is about: Ezio fighting and politicking his way around Italy until the Borgias finally decide to go fuck themselves. Now remember the beginning of this paragraph, when I said that this was one of the weaker aspects? (If you honestly don't, what the hell are you doing on this sentence? Just go back and read the first line.) Turns out that I still think the story is OK. I can't really say why without looking like a dumbass, but rest assured, I think it's a good story. So why the comment from earlier? It's mainly because it kind of moved back to Assassin Creed 1 territory. The story can be a bit slow, since a lot of it is Ezio politicking around before deciding that it's more expedient to stab a guy in the neck, and Desmond doesn't play as large a role in the game. He really only shows up a couple of times in the middle of the story before wrapping things up in the (traditionally) fucked up ending. Granted, you can switch to him whenever you want, but why the hell would you? Playing as him is pretty much like playing as Ezio, only more Uncharted-y or Tomb Raider-y. So, obviously, there's no reason to play as the guy.
Which obviously means that you'll spend the entire game playing as Ezio, and Ezio is totally effing badass. Just look at all the shit he's carrying: regular blades, poison blades, gunblades, larger gun blades, and even some stuff that isn't a blade of some type. That last category is actually more important than it seems, since they can actually contribute a lot to the strategy in some missions, like who to shoot or when to haul ass. Compare this to the regular combat, which lacks any type of strategy whatsoever. It's just "mash one button until the game wants you to mash another button." The only time when you have to pay attention to combat is when you need to counter a dude, but even then, you don't have to pay too much attention, since the game does everything in its power to tell you that this guy's intent on hitting you. Now don't mistake that as a bad thing; it may be utterly stupid, but the combat is still a lot of fun. What's not to like about wailing on a dude until he dies, and then killing his buddy in one hit because you can apparently do that now? Go ahead, think of something. Now while you're doing that, I'll mention what Brotherhood introduces to this formula: pretty much just extra assassins. You can train them and send them on missions, but really, they're just money generators that double as a special attack you won't use too often. So, yea, they're not as big a part of the game as they want to be, but they're good enough not to get in the way of all the other good parts, like the combat.
Or the platforming. Now remember my Mirror's Edge blog, where I ended up comparing the game to Assassin's Creed? Well, that turned out to be a huge mistake, because the platforming is really effing easy. You pretty much just hold a button and then point to where you want to go, letting Ezio take care of the rest. Sometimes, you can manually tell Ezio to go somewhere he doesn't want to go, but that requires an upgrade, so don't expect it a lot in the actual level design. Oh, and speaking of the level design, that's actually the better part of the platforming. I guess Ubisoft realized that holding a stick isn't very compelling on its own (that's why Atari failed, right?), so they decided to make the levels a bit puzzle-y in nature. Imagine Prince of Persia, only with way too convenient architecture failures as checkpoints. It can be a bit too dark in the beginning (even if you crank the brightness up to "sun" levels), but it's still a lot of fun to puzzle out how exactly to get through a level. Obviously, I'm only talking about the completely optional Lairs of Romulus that I mostly ignored throughout the game. But don't think that I'm gonna say mean things about the open world platforming stuff.
And so we come to the best part of the game: just exploring the world. Man, there's just so much to do in Brotherhood. Like in the previous two games, there are flags and viewpoints and other random shit, but there's so much more here. There are shops that you repair because you're near them and glyphs that offer cool puzzles and Borgia captains that need a good killing because you're in the neighborhood and DO YOU SEE HOW MUCH THIS GAME HAS TO OFFER!? And it's all pulled off so well that I can't really think of any major criticisms against them. What's that? You have something to say about flying around in a flying machine and blowing shit up? No, you don't; there is nothing to say about a medieval Batman.At this point, it should be obvious that I had trouble completing the missions, not because they were difficult (they were OK in that sense), but because Ezio had a serious combination of ADHD and OCD. I'm guessing that's why the game goes on auto-pilot in its last few moments; that's its way of making the "hurry up" motion with its digital hands. And that's ignoring just how fun exploring the world really is. I don't know why, but I just really loved climbing buildings and jumping from rooftop to rooftop, even if it was the slowest possible option in the game. Wait, why was I saying those bad things about this game before?
Oh, and there's multiplayer. That's a thing, I guess.
- The combat's easy, but fun.
- The platforming's easy, but fun.
- Exploring the world is just effing awesome.
OK, before you watch this video, let me tell you the name: Nipples the Enchilada. Now watch this video and after doing so, tell me what the fuck that title has to do with anything in the video. This has been driving me crazy for a while.
Mobile Light Force
(And things get even more confusing.) Who thought that would be possible? Before we even get into the game itself, just look at the title. What the hell is that supposed to mean? I can't even really think of anything clever to say about it. (As usual. *ba dum tish*). But is the actual game this weird? No, not at all. It's a standard shooter. That's it. That's really all I can say about it.
But I'll continue blogging about it, for some reason. Now back to the things that aren't the game itself. (I'm going somewhere with this.) Look at the box art (here). Notice how it looks like a girl band escaping explosions? That's actually nowhere to be found in the game. In fact, it's sort of an all anime thing. Turns out that the publishers thought anime wouldn't sell, so they fixed that by making the box art so utterly generic that...what were they trying to accomplish? Because the game really isn't as generic as they're making it out to be. In fact, let's walk through the game step by step to see how ungeneric it is. First, this. It's never explained and has no relevance to anything in the game. After that, you choose your difficulty, where half the options can't be selected and one of the difficulties is called "monkey". At this point, you may have noticed that the game has a strictly vertical resolution, and there's a go...well, there's a reason for that:
It's an arcade-ass arcade shooter. You get five seconds to choose which anime girl to pilot (this is the game's (oddly OK) way of making up for the utter lack of power-ups), and then get right to shooting things. Or, to be more accurate, getting shot by things, because there are can be a ton of bullets on screen at once. Remember what I said before? About it being an arcade game? This is how it gets you to shove coins into your Playstation. Oh, and one-hit kills. Not that I have a major problem with any of this; once you get used to the tight bullet patterns, it can be pretty satisfying to weave through them and shoot stuff at the same time. Like sewing, but with more bullet wounds. Of course, this is assuming that the game is difficult, something that Mobile Light Force fails at. How? Oddly enough, the arcade part. You know how in arcades, you have as many continues as you do quarters? Well, the PS1 version assumes you're Scrooge McDuck, because you get infinite continues. How difficult can a game be when you can just brute force your way through everything? Granted, you have to go back to the beginning of the level with each continue, but the levels aren't that long, and the bosses can be pretty easy (especially if you spam bombs to make the bullets completely meaningless), so it's not too much of a loss. Speaking of losses, see how much the game loses when you take away the difficulty? So, yea, not a terribly notable shooter.
- The box art is a dirty liar.
- It can be an oddly cool bullet hell shooter...
- ...except when it forgets to be one.