My incomplete journey into the 12th century

We are a Gamefly household.  While we don’t play a tremendous number of games each year, this has been a great investment, especially since has allowed us to try out games before buying them outright.  So what package of happiness came in the mail this week?  Assassin’s Creed Revelations.  My fiancé called dibs, so I won’t be playing it anytime soon. But that’s okay, as I’m still enjoying the crap out of Arkham City.  It’s also okay because I’m still holding a teensy weensy grudge against the original Assassin’s Creed.

Assassin’s Creed cover art © UbiSoft, probably Microsoft too (source)

Before moving on, I want to go on record saying that Assassin’s Creed is one of the most fantastic game series produced in recent times.  I highly recommend the games even though I’ve only played (most of) the first one.  Based on what I’ve read about other people’s experiences with the game, my results are not typical and are probably due to the fact that my gameplay abilities are usually akin to a bull in a china shop.  Unless that bull was actually there for registry purposes, in which case my analogy makes no sense.

Note: there’s probably at least one kind-of spoiler ahead, so to those who have not played the game, consider yourself warned.

Assassins Creed (AC) was released by UbiSoft in 2007. (Remember from my Mass Effect post that I mentioned a time when too many good games were release at once – well this was that very time.)  It’s a simple game with a rather complex/perplexing  story involving a technological collision between the ancient past and the present.  You play as a 12th century assassin named Altair who is brought to life in the past through a guy in the present named Desmond Miles.  There’s a good bit of science fiction involving “genetic memories” to explain Desmond’s current situation and, er, entrapment; but suffice to say, the majority of the game takes place with you as Altair.

Too real to be fake or too fake to be real? You decide. (source)

And what a beautiful game it is.  The environments of the 12th century Holy Land — made up of three cities, Acre, Damascus, and Jerusalem — are simply gorgeous.  Traveling over the landscapes and through the cities was great fun.  The character renderings, also beautiful.  Altair himself, in flowing robes and armor (to conceal his arsenal of deadly weapons, of course), moved gracefully and responsively.  His deep, gravely voice emanated from behind his always-partially cloaked visage, invoking a sense of mystery.  Altair was strangely enchanting, in that ne’er-do-well sorta way.

And they say we notice guys’ eyes first; but what about their “concealed weapon”? Amirite? (source)

Ahem.  Anyway……….

Yes, I liked the game. However, unlike Altair, I am not stealthy.  I am relentlessly impatient and impetuous with some games.  I played AC after Mass Effect, so going from balls-to-the-wall combat to steady-as-she-goes stealth was a challenge, to say the least.   Now there is combat in AC, but most of the main quests involved Altair secretly obtaining information or quietly killing evil-doers  (there are something like eight or nine main bosses that are Altair’s primary targets throughout, plus numerous others presented as challenges to raise XP, health, get achievements, etc.)  So I spent much of the game dying and being frustrated as a result of my impatience Altair’s clumsiness.  But I did eventually become very comfortable with the control scheme and the stealth.  I also took up Yoga and allowed calmness to permeate my days.  In retrospect, I shoulda started with the “serenity now” routine at that point.

Judges? A 9 for movement and a 10 for execution. *polite clap* (source)

AC was one of those games where everything could be going along so right, and then all of a sudden, BAM! everything, and I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, went wrong.  There were some quests that no matter how much effort I expended, I just couldn’t complete. Like something had completely sapped all the knowledge I had learned up to that point – I forgot how to be stealthy, how to escape, how to climb, where to fall.  In those moments were progression felt impossible, I calmly quit the game, put down the controller, and walked away, with the full intention to return later for a second (or ninth or sixteenth) attempt.

But there was one time when this didn’t happen.  The moment occurred as I neared the end of the game, during a long sequence where Altair has to chase down the final(?) assassination target.  I had attempted the sequence several times before and had not gotten as far as I had during this round of play.  I was doing well and was in full control of my faculties as well as Altair’s bird-like movements.  In one crucial and momentous swoop, I finally captured my target!   Victory at last! And it tasted so goddamned sweet!!

Victory…so sweet and so achieved! (source)

Only it wasn’t my target.

It was a decoy.  I had been chasing….a….(*huge inhale*) decoy.

And that’s when I lost my shit.

“NO MOTHERFUCKING GODDAMN WAY!  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!”

I don’t really remember what I screamed out, but that’s the jist.  I just remember being angry, so angry, as if the game had suddenly mocked all the hours I had spent learning to be the stealthiest damn player on the whole damn planet.  So all that “calm” that I had supposedly built up was released in a flashpoint of total and utter rage.  It was a bad, bad scene; one that was witnessed only by my cat who could have cared less about my predicament.

Here’s a pic of our cat not caring, except about the fact that I woke him up to take this picture, something he will surely make me regret around 3am. (© ME!)

Nothing was damaged that day except my vocal chords  and self-worth.  I put down the controller, returned the game to the shelf, and walked away, never to return to Altair and the 12th century.  Sometimes I think back that I should have at least tried to beat the game, that it was childish of me to quit the game in such a terrible fashion.  But then, I think, Altair and I were never meant to be.  I’m alright with that.  I probably won’t get to Revelations before it goes back in the mail, and I’m alright with that too.  I just opened up some new Catwoman stuff in Arkham City, so onward in the city of thieves!

4 thoughts on “My incomplete journey into the 12th century”

  1. I had difficulties with the first Assassin’s Creed as well. I’m not sure what it was about the gameplay or characters or story, but I just didn’t find myself engaged by it. I don’t think I even made it past the 2nd primary target. I like to think that I would have finished Assassin’s Creed had it not been for the fact that there were other games demanding my attention (like Mass Effect and The Orange Box). So yeah, I never finished it, but I think it still left an impact. I liked the core gameplay enough to get Assassin’s Creed 2 and that game turned me into a complete fan of the series.

    You got farther into Assassin’s Creed than I did so I think you’ll find the sequel to be loads of fun. If you do give it a shot, be sure to take on “The Truth”. For me, those puzzles were the highlight of AC II and Brotherhood.

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