By Video_Game_King 16 Comments
Assassin's Creed II ( I don't have high expectations for this portion of the blog.) I'm not saying it's bad, but that it's not going to be as good as it can be. Why do I say this? Well, I have this odd feeling that I will be making a lot of comparisons to the original Assassin's Creed. (I say "I will" because I never proof-read this crap. (What a surprise.) Who said that!? *stabs at that person* There.) Not only does it break one of my major rules on a game's quality (IE it should be good on its own), but it's probably going to give the false impression that AC2 needs the first game to be good at all.
That's obviously not the case; right at the beginning, it wraps up the first game's 40 hours of story in about 12 seconds. Then you run away with a fish-woman so you can fight the Templars. But first, you need to train as an assassin, and rather than go through a six-week course or something, you zap your mind to the past because you're incredibly lazy. Rewind about 500 years to Ezio Auditore, an assassin like Altair. No, wait, he's not like Altair, for several good reasons. First one is because he has greater character development; instead of being an assassin because everything else wasn't as badass, Ezio decides to kill people because his dad died as part of a conspiracy theory. Also, rather than kill people because Jafar-with-a-beard is telling him to, Ezio's offing people for personal reasons/because they're assholes. I guess what I'm saying is that Assassin's Creed II fleshes out a lot of what the original was going for. Want proof? Let's take a line from my AC1 blog:
Me from September of 09 said:
Holy fucking shit, that is EERILY on the nose. In fact, * changes music*. Everything I listed there has come true, like Ubisoft...read my mind. Plus there's more to be had from this currency system. You can buy maps that reveal where the treasure in the city is. Wait, why don't the merchants selling these maps use them to grab the treasure? Why is there so much treasure in Italy, did an extremely clumsy pirate run through there or something? More importantly, why am I bitching about this, as I so often complain of in my blogs? It's a decent way to make money and a good motivator for exploring the cities around you. Not that you especially need it; there are already a billion reasons to explore Italy. There are glyphs and codex pages for those who want to feel like they're in an episode of The Venture Bros., feathers in place of flag (historically odd), towers to scale, a bunch of locations that give you a history lesson or two, a couple of new mission types, etc. But even after you've raided Italy for all its feathers and conspiracy theories, you still have plenty of motivation to explore, and I'm not talking about the various pickpockets and hookers.
Then you go back to the mission guy, never to be paid for your assassination. What I'm saying with that is why isn't there currency in this game? It could have opened up so many doors left closed in this game: I could have bought different clothes to blend in better, bought better weapons/upgraded my current ones, pickpocket citizens for their meager cash, bribed guards for hints/amnesty, hell, maybe even paid those beggar women.
No, it's because the cities are so well constructed. What do you get when you combine people interacting with their environment with real life locations, less depressing colors, and a wider variety of ways to move around? Surprisingly, less cities. Oddly enough, this is the one area where the original Assassin's Creed beats its direct sequel. Sure, you get much larger environments in which to poison minstrels, but you only get a handful of them in all. To make things worse, most of the second half of Assassins' Creed II takes place in Venice, probably because the developers lost their map of Italy halfway through the game and had to stuff all the missions in one place. To (presumably) make things better, you get your own villa in the countryside. You can customize it to your pleasing, filling it with paintings and weapons from all across The Land of the Boot. But here's the major flaw: it feels less like a customizable pad and more like you're checking off boxes on a list. So why do it? Well, you get money and some neat unlockables, so that's always a plus.
As are the missions in this game. So, after four paragraphs and a quotation, we've finally come to the crux of the game: the missions. Crux is an odd choice of word, though, since it implies a sense of urgency, something the missions in the game don't seem to have. That's not an insult; I actually like the laid back approach the game has with missions. Instead of grabbing flags for info before chasing down an opportunity to weigh the pros and cons of lighting babies on fire, you tackle a series of ancillary missions to build up to the awesome assassination. Again, it's all about variety and a rounder experience. So you've finally prepared for the assassination; how do you go about doing it? Scaling the building's always a nice choice, especially in this game. More complex structures, lots of opportunities to do so, and it fits your stealth motif. Speaking of stealth, what do you do when you're up there? Hell, what do you do when you didn't even decide to climb the buildings in the first place?
This is Ezio's second strength: stealth. Unlike Altair, whose only tricks were "pray your way to your victims" and "allow praying monk guys to pray your way to your victims", Ezio has an entire arsenal of sneaky tricks. He can throw smoke bombs and become David Blaine; he can throw money around; but my personal favorite is that he can hire people to distract the ADD-afflicted guards. Again, this isn't like Assassin's Creed 1, where Altair either followed the crowd or went his own way; no, in this game, if you join a group of people, you can follow them as far as you want. Unless, of course, if you hired them. There's a wide variety of factions you can hire throughout Italy, ranging from whores who can distract the men with their sexiness to thieves who probably resort to the same tactics. Best of all, though, is that this works, and works well; sending a group of thieves to play tag with the guards is far more rewarding than just walking up to each one and giving them a few extra nostrils.
Oh, but it seems you screwed things up a bit! One of the guards doesn't seem to like Renaissance prostitutes, and the only thing he hates more than women is thieves trying to sneak past him! What do you do? You could run away, and again, it's a strong point. Hiding has become a more complex affair, in that you aren't limited to hay and rooftop hiding spots (what else could they be), and enemies aren't stupid enough to skip over the hay entirely. But you didn't know that, did you? You just had to jump into the hay, and now you're paying for it. What now? No more running, you're a man! You're going to fight them off, and you have many options? Do you outright sword fight them? Do you go in unarmed, lull them into a false sense of security, and then steal their weapon right before their very faces? Or do you wait 12 years to shoot them in the face? Any of these can boil down to a button mash-a-thon quickly, but there are subtle hints of strategy in the battle system, as I've stated before. So you've killed about half the Itali-holy shit! There's the guy you were supposed to kill! Guess you have to run o-WOW, I CAN KILL HIM FROM OVER HERE!? This video! Finally, the actual assassinations are as open-ended as the game itself! Oh, and there's some other stuff, like killing them actually affects the story and they don't spend 93 minutes talking, blah blah blah...
You don't care about that, do you? You want me to complain about the game, right? People are funnier when they're mad, aren't they? Screw you, this game rocks! There's no way I'm going to point out this game's flaws. Flaws like the manual decreasing in quality 39000%, or how it can be glitchier than the original at times, or how the final level emphasizes a skill that barely (if ever) came up before it; I just can't bring myself to do it. It just improves far too much on the original concepts for me to point out the flaws I noticed! Besides, it's one of those few games (in fact, probably the only game) that has a chance at getting my the coveted S rank. Keep in mind that I don't give two shits about achievements; I don't even give the single shit. Instead, I give this game the Slightly Unoriginal Ending Award. No, this isn't like the original Assassin's Creed, where a guest appearance by Robin Williams wouldn't have suspended my belief; no, this time, it doesn't even rip off a Disney movie of any kind. Instead, it rips off another game that scored above a 9 in my book: Panzer Dragoon Saga. Don't believe me? Check it out for yourselves, here and here. See anything similar? Admittedly, though, it did choose a great source to plagiarize; the only thing that could've made it better would be the inclusion of dragons.
- Everything, from the combat to the stealth, is more open-ended and well-rounded.
- Imagine Assassin's Creed 1, set in Italy, starring a lady's man in a badass cloak, featuring enough conspiracy theories to make Dale Gribble's head explode in 20 different directions. That's Assassin's Creed II, in terms of story.
- Overall, it's exactly what a sequel should be. Hey, game industry, you takin' notes on this?
I demand that this video replace every instance of "tl;dr." In fact, post this whenever you inevitably complain about how long my blogs are.
Mortal Kombat ( Sorry, but I have to do it.) MORTAL KOMBAAAAAAATTTT!!!!! *pulls out glow sticks, turns on strobe lights* Isn't this fun? Yea, it is, isn't it? Almost makes me wish that the actual game was this fun. Before you guys decide to choke me with my own spine or chuck pointy ropes at my face, let me elaborate: I don't hate the Mortal Kombat series. I've only played this and Mortal Kombat II, and loved the latter. The former, however, is a poorly aged turd with four arms and a shitload of blood........no pun intended.
Of course, the one defining feature of this game is also the one that's aged the worst: the story. Long ago, in modern day ancient China, a stereotypical pile of robes and hair organized a "tournament " to find the best fighter in al-what's that? Nobody gave two shits about the story? Oh, right, they were in it for the blood. Well, imagine my disappointment when I found out there wasn't any. You see, I was playing the SNES version, making me a sort of old school Yahtzee circa whenever he did the Left 4 Dead 2 thing. So instead of watching Johnny Cage rip somebody's heart out, I'd see him shove his fist in somebody's chest, pull out absolutely fuck all, inexplicably making his opponent collapse to the ground. Needless to say, it's a major disappointment that shows what shaky ground the original premise is standing on.
But things only get shakier when we move to the second thing this game stands on: digitized graphics. Remember the 90s, where there was a 50% chance that the video game you purchased had poorly animated, barely enthusiastic actors strutting about while you waited for an opportunity to press buttons? Mortal Kombat isn't one of those games, as the quality of the animation in this game is pretty decent. Sure, they're a bit dated and there aren't enough colors to cover everything it's trying to cover, but there's a wide variety of smooth animations, and the actual actors are of high quality (IE they don't look like paper cut outs of actual people, but like video game characters interacting with their video game world).
Unfortunately, that's the best this game can hope for. What do you get when you strip away the blood and clay figurines, but a bleak, clunky fighter with less variety than 80% of video game genres. I think we all remember how Mortal Kombat controlled: not that well. I've heard a lot about it being stiff, wooden, pre-determined, but I don't get that vibe; instead, I get the vibe that moves kinda work whenever the hell they want to. You can shoot fireballs at your enemy and uppercut them to the Moon (where I shall uppercut them back to Earth), but unless the game wants them to work, you're in for an ass kicking at the hands of the computer. Trust me, it's not something naturally bad about the moves themselves; they're mostly simple maneuvers that require little more than pressing one direction twice or maybe performing a half-assed circle forward.
Besides, it's easy to remember all the moves, given how little of them there actually are. Each character has only three to four moves, and that's including their one fatality. To make things worse, each character has THE EXACT SAME MOVESET. A fatality, a projectile, and something that turns you into a projectile. From this, I can derive that the multiplayer must be really fucking boring. Seriously, what point does the multiplayer serve? To see who's the cheapest between Scorpion and Blue Scorpion? Yes, I'm calling them cheap. What else do you call a character who can stop another dead in their tracks, making them an unwilling sex toy in their ass play? Well, you call that character Sub Zero, or, if you're me, Blue Scorpion. And what award do you give a game that's aged so poorly that I can't think of a good enough joke for it? Well, I give it the Second Best Shapeshifter Award. Who's the best? I'll give you a hint. Here's the answer.
- The graphics have aged poorly. No comparison because of that last paragraph.
- Wow, the controls aged much worse than the graphics!
- And so has the cast. All one of them.