Archive for May 13, 2011

Climbing to tales

I finished Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood today and just a few thoughts. The game’s plot points are the addictions, we play to move the game forward, but doing this requires navigating a city openly hostile the most advantagous route. Rome becomes a surrogate for plot, a place that has to be traversed to get the film rolling. The problem is the fun outside of the movie is there.

As the new york times remarked, the real star of the game is Roma. The city is immersive, full of buildings, pot holes, followers of Romulus in sewers, horse back rides in the midnight hours, clammering over its rooves while avoiding the guards is rewarding in itself, so the film often takes back seat to the side missions, but the side missions add up. This is the fracture that the game can not quite put together: how to really marry plot points to an addictive open world. I want a game that surprises me, one where NPCs hunt me down to deliver plot points and not one where I have to trek huge distances for cinema scenes. The game in other words contains a perfectly sensible film inside what is a pretty awesome medevial parkour sim. I found myself actually driven to burn down all the borgia towers, to finish all of leonardo’s missions in stead of rushing to the next major plot point. Story is so dispersed in the game that one has to actively hunt it. The city becomes a space of mystery, primarily mundane, but occassionally revealing surprises.
Two girls are walking through the stables, sunlight passes over the vaticans bridge, exclamation mark the thieves are on the rooves, the enemy awaits in the castle the guard has noticed you a ministrel gets in your way a throng of prostitutes are on the bridge the guard is closing in you scale a building leonardo is waiting on a bench the countess needs your help, you are dying you need a doctor but the borgia still control this area in front of you are a lot of options the least of which is the countess, but that’s the problem the game lacks clock time, rather leonardo is in his own world physically not seperated, but rather like a quanta, he waits in potentiality for you as does the borgia captain you need to kill to open the medicine shop as is the meeting at headquarters as is thr romulus sanctuary you can invade. Time stands still for Ezio and so the city becomea a demented clock on which action paints progress and not entropy’s slow ticks to absolution. It is this conciet that makes the film less involving, not only are we not forced to linearity, but the game actively competes with the main plot for your attention. Film needs a lot to work and assassin’s creed works by never letting up in tone, we are always in the same setting as the main story, but the game has yet to figure out how to tell a story about a city rather it falls back on the same tried and true elements that made prince of persia work to chug the game along.

May 13, 2011 at 10:22 am Leave a comment


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