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“Assassin’s Creed: Comparisons” or “Sins of Video Game Predecessors”

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Ready for a rant? Here we go.

It happened with Gears of War 3. It recently happened with Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.

In of itself, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a great game. It certainly plays a lot better if you have the previous games at the back of your mind, the mechanics are easier to pick up, the button combinations are familiar and the complex story continues from where it left off. However, even if you never played another Assassin’s Creed game, Revelations is a fantastic title. It is well-designed, the graphics are top-notch, and iterations of the same formula implies that Ubisoft has improved the game over the last five odd years into a smooth, entertaining, unforgettable experience.

What irks me though, is that nearly every review of the game incessantly compares it to previous titles in the series, and complains about how there has been “too little improved”. The same reviews give the title fairly high scores and say how well it plays, but at the same time complain about how familiar it feels. What is wrong with feeling familiar I ask? Why is it that we as gamers, and critics alike, cannot see a game on its own merits, irrespective of previous iterations. Sure it must be difficult at times, especially if it is a continuous story arc (like Creed or Gears) as opposed to separate stories (like GTA), but if a game is good, why does it matter what its predecessor did or didn’t do right?

I don’t think that practice is fair. I don’t think tinting the review because of a previous title gives us an accurate idea of the merits of the title under review in an unbiased fashion. And I think we should collectively stop doing that. So say we all!

“Why I am Glad Diablo 3 is Delayed” or “EA Won’t Let Me Play SW:TOR”

September 25, 2011 6 comments

Why I am Glad Diablo 3 is Delayed

There are a lot of high-profile titles coming in the next few months that will keep me quite occupied. Dead Island and Gears of War 3, two titles that I’d like to play, are already out. I just haven’t had the time to play anything else, so I have not bothered purchasing these titles yet. I am still working through my second run through Deus Ex: Human Revolution, still leveling my scantily clad made in WoW, and tinkering with the stupidly cute Shakes and Fidget browser game.

Game of Thrones: Genesis also comes out in four days. But I am not sure about that one. I am a hardcore fan of the excellent series by George R.R. Martin, and from what I have seen in the trailers, I have a bad feeling about this in my gut. Over the course of time, I have learned to trust my gut.

October will bring id Software’s latest foray into first person shooters in the form of Rage, the much-anticipated and pre-ordered Battlefield 3, and Batman: Arkham City. Rage is exciting because the studio is finally going for a new IP after so long. Battlefield 3 just looks sick, and Batman: Arkham Asylum was too good to pass up City.

In addition, one of the MMOs that I have always wanted to play extensively but the monthly subscription cost kept me away was Fallen Earth. The MMO is going free-to-play on October 12, so I will definitely be checking it out.

November will be hell month. We have Modern Warfare 3, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim will release within the span of about a week. This, coupled with the releases in September and October (along with Champions Online, WoW and Fallen Earth) will keep me quite busy through the holiday season.

Hence, I am glad Diablo 3 has been delayed!

EA Won’t Let Me Play SW:TOR

“Hi EA, would you like my money?”

“No, we don’t like where you live.”

QQ, etc.

“Two Simple Questions” or “Of Weights and Subtitles”

July 1, 2011 1 comment

Question One: Is using zero-weight mods cheating?

I have been playing Witcher II for the last month or so. The game isn’t without a plethora of inherent flaws, but thus far it has been one of the most comprehensively enjoyable experiences I have had with a title.

One thing that really threw me off about Witcher II was the sheer amount of, well, stuff that you carry. You can only carry up to 300 ‘units’ of weight, and it fills up fast. There are all kinds of materials in the world to build all manner of armor, weaponry (read: swords), runes, crafting materials, traps, snares, bombs, potions and whatnot. To further exacerbate the problem, you never know what you might find around the bend that requires the one thing that you sold to the vendor, so you end up carrying insane volumes of materials. Soon I found myself making multiple trips from a questing area back to a vendor in town just to make room for me to pick up additional stuff.

I tried, valiantly I might add, to resist the urge, but it was too much in the end. I installed a zero-weight mod and the game was immediately and infinitely much more enjoyable. But the question remains: since this wasn’t a part of the original game mechanics, is it cheating?

Question Two: Why do we use the most cliched secondary titles for our video games?

Retribution. Absolution. Ascension. Revelation. Masturbation. Well maybe not that one. Revenge of the <insert character here>. Return of the <insert character here>.

Are we really that out of ideas for secondary titles? Personally I would rather have you call it <Insert Title Here> 2, than <Insert Title Here>: Revelations. There are a few that seem to have been able to break that pattern, such as Battlefield: Bad Company, and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (take that one with a grain of salt, the next one is called Assassin’s Creed: Revelations). Why must we succumb to this tepid practice?!?

“Ezio, Altair; Altair, Ezio” or “Assassin’s Creed Revelations is Full of Multigenerational Madness”

May 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Well there you have it. Less than 48 hours after I put up a post predicting that Ezio and Altair will both be in the next game, that it will have something to do with Constantinople in the early-16th century and the story will jump in time a lot, we have the official announcement.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations will conclude the Ezio trilogy. A trilogy within a trilogy? You don’t say! I do say. And this latest venture takes Ezio to Constantinople (modern day Istanbul in Turkey) during the rise of the Ottoman Empire. You will get to play as Altair in the 12th century, Ezio in the 16th century and Desmond in modern times, bringing together the three heroes in the same title for the first time since the prolific franchise launched.

Nintendo Tim, a commenter on the reveal story over at Joystiq perfectly phrased my thoughts on what one cool aspect of intersecting timeslines may be:

Imagine that, as Desmond, you’re in a desolate, nearly destroyed building that houses an artifact (Codex page, perhaps?) that was placed there before Ezio’s time, but after Altaïr; you can’t make hide-nor-head of what goes where in the building. Ezio’s version of the puzzle has the building in near-perfect condition, but a runic puzzle to access the artifact has been vandalized, possibly by the Templars who couldn’t solve it. Go back as Altaïr, find the runes and make note of them, come back as Ezio, solve the puzzle, locate the artiact, add it to the collection, and Desmond has his information.

It’s like a dual-world idea without the terrible dark/light aspect, just “old” and “older” versions of the same place.

Aaaaaaaand goosebumps!

“Ottoman’s Creed” or “A Little Detective Work”

May 4, 2011 2 comments

The latest trailer on the teaser Facebook page for the upcoming Assassin’s Creed game is short and sweet. Before we talk about anything else, watch the trailer below. It’s fairly short, only 10 seconds or so.

There are three interesting pieces of information in this video.

1. The Hagia Sofia

The first is the Hagia Sofia. Construction on the building first started in 562 A.D., it’s original purpose was to be an Eastern Orthodox Cathedral, which it remained (with a little break in between to be a Roman Catholic Church for about 57 years in-between) till 1453 A.D. It was converted to an Imperial Mosque by the Ottomans in 1493, and it served this function until 1931. It now stands as a museum.

2. The Numbers – 24061459

At first I though this would be a reference to the future of some sort, the year 2406, and something to do with Constantinople/Istanbul in 1459. But then I thought what it the numbers were actually 24.06.1459? June 24, 1459.

A quick search on Google revealed that to be the birthday of our favorite protagonist Ezio Audotore di Firenze.

Ezio was thus born a good six years after the Hagia Sofia was converted into an Imperial Mosque. This also implies that the Assassins had time to explore and uncover the secrets of the Templars buried inside Hagia Sofia for the near millennium it was a church. All of this transpired immediately before the birth of the chosen Assassin who would eventually speak to Minerva.

3. The Tughra

The Tughra is an calligraphic Ottoman seal, one made for each Ottoman ruler. Each king had one. Each seal had identical features called the

Straight from Wikipedia: “The tughra has a characteristic form, two loops on the left side, three vertical lines in the middle, stacked writing on the bottom and two extensions to the right. Each of these elements has a specific meaning, and together they make up the form that is easily recognizable as a tughra.”

  • Sere (name): Name of the Sultan, written on the bottom.
  • Beyze (egg): Two left loops, the outer larger loop signifying the Mediterranean and the inner, smaller loop signifying the Black Sea.
  • Tuğ: (flagstaff):  Three vertical lines up top.
  • Zülfe: The S-shaped lines crossing the tuğ.
  • Hançer: Lines on the right-side, signifying power.

This is where things get interesting. In 1459, the Ottoman ruler was Mehmud the second. The following is a list of Ottoman rulers from the 15th through the early 17th centuries. Mehmud II is marked in red, as the Hagia Sofia was converted to an Imperial Mosque in his reign, as well as the birth and upbringing of Ezio. Ezio would be 22 years old when Mehmud II’s reign ended.

  • Interregnum
  • Mehmud I – 1413 – 1421
  • Murad II – 1421 – 1444
  • Mehmud II – 1444–1446
  • Murad II – 1446 – 1451
  • Mehmud II – 1451 – 1481
  • Bayezid II – 1481 – 1512
  • Selim I – 1512 – 1520
  • Suleiman I – 1520 – 1566
  • Selim II – 1566-1574
  • Murad III – 1574 – 1595
  • Mehmud III – 1595 – 1603

Like all other Ottoman rulers, his has a Tughra, but his Tughra looks nothing like the one depicted above. I have pasted it below, take a look:

A little more investigation revealed a Tughra that was closer in shape and structure to the one depicted in the video above. This Tughra belonged to Suleiman the Magnificient, the fifth successor after Mehmood II, who ruled between 1520 and 1566. His Tughra is below:

See the similarity?

Conclusion

  1. The next installment of the Assassin’s Creed will feature Ezio in some capacity.
  2. Some of the game’s timeline will occur between 1520 and 1566.
  3. Suleiman the Magnificent will have something to do with it.
  4. The Assassins will have uncovered something of significance from Hagia Sofia, perhaps another Piece of Eden or something even more powerful. But the Hagia Sofia plays into it somehow.

Your thoughts?

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