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Archive for June, 2011

Another Let’s Play Idea

So I took in some constructive criticism for my Let’s Play. Then I looked through my entire Steam library to find a worthy title for your viewing pleasure. And I think I found one.

One criticism for the Unreal LP was that I didn’t really draw the audience in. Part of that is because of the game, since there just isn’t much to say about it. Ideally I would want a game with interesting gameplay for me to talk about, as well as a story for me to make fun of.

But another part of the problem is that my co-commentator, Galzzly, wasn’t involved. He was only able to watch through a low-quality Skype window that constantly lagged, and so he couldn’t really say anything about the game. So ideally the game’s campaign would be cooperative, so that Galzzly can be a part of the experience as well. This would also allow us to interact with one another in-game, which would make the experience more interesting for us and for the viewers.

And ideally we’d want a game that not only allows for cooperative gameplay, but also lets the players troll each other, so that our banter could be funny as well as insightful.

So, a game with interesting gameplay and story, as well as a cooperative campaign that allows the players to torment one another? Wait, I think I just described Magicka!

Honestly, Magicka is the perfect game for me to do a Let’s Play on, which makes me a bit disappointed in myself that it took me this long to think of it. It’s one of the many games that I thought about reviewing when I played, but didn’t actually get around to it because I had other things I felt like writing about at the time. It’s an interesting and funny game with unique gameplay and a fully cooperative campaign. It also recently got a free PvP update, so we could do that at some point as an intermission episode.

And this doesn’t even have to be limited to me and Galzzly. The other two people in our hypothetical podcast team have Magicka as well. RandomGuy couldn’t get the game to run on his computer the last time he tried, but they seem to have improved the optimization in the updates since then, so if we can get it to run on his computer then all four of us could be active in this at once.

I haven’t talked to my friends about this yet, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t be alright with this.

Brian BallsunStanton suggested Quest For Glory, and he’s been helping me out with getting it to work with dosbox. I haven’t gotten it to work yet, but if I do then I probably owe it to him to record some episodes of me playing that. I could alternate between the two. I could record sessions of QFG when I can’t get my friends together to play Magicka.

How is this sounding?

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Let’s Play… What, exactly?

Okay, I think it’s safe to assume that nobody’s watching my Let’s Play anymore. That’s fine. It’s my fault for not making it entertaining enough for people to watch. But I don’t want to give up the whole Let’s Play scene entirely, so I’m gonna see if the problem is with the game.

If you genuinely do want to continue watching me play through Unreal, let me know. Otherwise I’m going to try to find another game to do an LP of.

Current potential candidates include:

1: MDK 2. Like I mentioned in the last LP episode, I just got the game recently and I played through some of the first level. It seems fun, and it actually has a story so it’ll probably be less boring to watch. It seems to basically be a third person shooter/platformer. It’s pretty whimsical and goofy, and the story seems to play out in a sort of comic book style. Let me know if it interests you.

2: Minecraft. I’m given to understand that Minecraft is currently the most “watched” game on Youtube. Apparently people really like to watch other people mine and craft. And I can understand why. It ought to be interesting to see different people’s different motivations to play the game, as well as their building methods and architectural design. However, I’m not much of a builder, so I’ve got ideas other than building a great big monument or castle.

For example: With the guns mod I have installed, I’m tempted to start from scratch and see how long it takes to construct all the guns necessary to roleplay as an FPS protagonist. So, let’s say, a desert eagle, shotgun, AK47, sniper rifle and rocket launcher. This would mostly involve digging for piles and piles of iron, and a few other materials (like diamonds for the sniper scope). Alternatively, I could roleplay as Rico Rodriguez from Just Cause 2 by constructing a gun, a parachute and a grappling hook. Though the grappling hook in the Minecraft mod is not nearly as useful as the one in JC2.

3: Terraria. This game isn’t as popular as Minecraft, but I would say it’s certainly as interesting. It gives you about as much sense of direction as Minecraft, but there’s a lot more diversity in enemies, environments, items and abilities, so it might be interesting for both you and me if I make a new character and a new world, and record myself starting from scratch and building up a town of NPC salesmen.

I’m sure there are more potential games I have and can’t think of at the moment. (I have a ton of Steam games, many of which I’ve hardly played. I think I’m nearing 200 of them.) Anyway, let me know what you think! Also, any criticism on how I could run my Let’s Play better beyond what game to show off would be very much appreciated.


Apparently New Games Suck

If you frequent The Escapist then you’ve probably seen MovieBob’s show, The Big Picture. He had a “junk drawer” episode last week where he talked about a bunch of random things, and there’s one thing he mentioned in particular that caused me to make the face you see above. And the pose. And the fire. Here, let me just quote him.

I don’t mind that Super Mario 3D’s version of the Tanooki Suit doesn’t turn you into a statue anymore. You know why? Because the important thing is that Mario is wearing a pudgy animal costume that invests him with powers having zero relation to the animal in question. That’s why. This sort of crazy nonsense used to be the bread and butter of video games, and it’s been absent for way too long as far as I’m concerned. You know how much better Gears of War would be if Marcus would put on a koala costume that shot a freeze ray at people? A lot.

I really don’t want to turn this into a MovieBob hate post (although he’s certainly given me many reasons to make one) but that statement of his really sticks out in my mind. In a bad way. And I know he’s at least partially joking about it, but it infuriates me nonetheless.

Throughout the net I’ve heard about a million different renditions of the argument “_______ used to be EVERYWHERE in video games, and now it’s GONE, and that’s why new games SUCK.” The mental image it always gives me is that of an old man tensely gripping his walking stick and lecturing the youngin’s on all the things that are wrong with their generation.

I think what MovieBob said deserves special mention because it’s probably the most bullshitty example I’ve ever heard, but you’ll hear shit like this everywhere. Apparently video games suck now because they don’t make you so frustrated that you want to break your controller in half, and because they don’t have confusing, unintuitive and obnoxious level design (okay, I don’t actually think that a shooter should use one long corridor as its level design, but having played games like Thief and Unreal lately I can testify that those games would be far, far better if they simply gave you a decent map to look at).

But I think the most egregiously stupid argument I’ve heard against new games, the one that enrages me the most, is the “handholding” complaint. Whenever I hear someone say “it doesn’t hold your hand” in defense of a game I just want to slap that person in the face. I think the Extra Credits team put it very well: “Game designers are teachers. If you can’t design a good tutorial, you probably don’t have any business making a triple-A game.” And yet when I don’t know what to do in an old game, apparently that’s my fault because I was expecting the game to “hold my hand.”

Whenever I hear someone say “This is a ‘read the manual’ kind of game,” to me that’s equivocal to saying “This is a ‘crappy’ kind of game.”

I don’t think old games inherently suck. If I did I wouldn’t be doing my whole ongoing voyage into old classics. But I don’t think they’re inherently better than new games either. Yeah, some old games are absolutely fantastic. Deus Ex blew my mind. But that’s not because it was old. It’s because the designers had some really innovative design philosophy. If that game was made nowadays it would probably have smaller levels, but I’m willing to bet they could still do all that gameplay-story integration that I loved so much, even with all the current-gen graphics demands.

And I’ve got to say, as fun as some of these old games I’ve played are, they really don’t hold up to some of the newer games I’ve played lately. Half-Life was undoubtedly an awesome game, but I’d choose Portal 2 over it any day. Stealing riches in Thief is quite exciting indeed, but not nearly as much as sneaking into a cathedral and assassinating a target in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. In my opinion anyway.

It’s fine to like old games more than new games. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But I’m really getting fed up with this notion that new games are always, always crap when compared to old games, because that mentality just seems rooted in arrogance and nostalgia.


LP Unreal ep. 6: Doo dooga doo!

Brought to you in stunning standard quality:

So how about it? Should we continue on with Unreal, or should we say screw this endless succession of miniscule button puzzles and move on to MDK 2?

Also: Does anybody still watch these?


FEAR 2

I know, I’m talking about another game that’s years old by now. I’m sorry. I wish I could get my hands on all these new games that are coming out, but I can’t, at least not most of them. Bear with me.

I think it was last year that I played FEAR 1, and I wasn’t terribly impressed. It left a really good first impression, but as I got further and further I felt like it was swiftly running out of ideas and leaving me to wander through a long, dreary corridor of repetition. I found it pretty atmospheric and unsettling at first, but by the end it had really fallen flat for me.

I’d explain why, but since I’m about to talk about my problems with its sequel, FEAR 2: Project Origin, doing so for the first game too would feel really redundant.

Anyway, yeah, I got FEAR 2 on a Steam sale, as usual, and I’ve been playing through it lately. I feel inclined to like it, because it’s a first person shooter that’s going for immersion and atmosphere, and to a degree it does that pretty decently. But it’s also very clearly going for horror, and in that regard it completely fails.

The main reason why is because it’s trying to be two games at once — an action thriller game and a psychological horror game. I’m not saying that genres can never be combined, but Monolith doesn’t seem to understand how to blend different elements and concepts together. The result is that you end up switching constantly between “action segments” and “horror segments” and the transitions between the two are irritating at best and comical at worst.

This is a problem we see in most (if not all) mainstream “horror” games nowadays, from Resident Evil 4 to Dead Space. Dumping legions of easily killable mooks is not going to frighten the player. It’s probably going to either tire or entertain the player, and you don’t want either of those emotions to get in the way of the tension and the atmosphere of your horror game.

This is especially blatant in FEAR, since there’s hardly any variety between the different enemies that you fight from corridor to corridor to warehouse room to corridor. Eventually you realize that you’re not playing a horror game; you’re playing DOOM.

Every once in awhile the game remembers that it wants to be scary, so you’ll start to experience weird, trippy hallucinations. These are supposed to make you feel scared and vulnerable, but I don’t see how you can possibly feel genuinely scared when you just single-handedly mowed through several dozen super-soldiers in the last 5 minutes. And this sense of power is only made more prominent by the completely needless Bullet-Time feature (or “reflexes,” or whatever Monolith is calling it) which gives you constant dominance over the enemies.

I guess the only fair thing to do is to judge it both as a horror game and as an action game. So as a horror game it fails on very basic and fundamental levels, and as an action game it functions fairly well but is repetitive as all hell and brings virtually nothing new to the table.

So basically, it’s FEAR 1 but with better graphics.

To be fair, the game does have some interesting set pieces, but like the rest of the game’s features, those tend to repeat themselves a lot throughout the game, to the point where they’re no longer interesting. Oh, and like FEAR 1, this game lets you interact with environment objects, allowing me to continue my proud tradition of breaking every single computer I come across:

What can I say? Breaking stuff, it’s what I do.

There are differences between the two games…

1. There was one section where I got to pilot a giant robot suit and gun down enemies as trivially as a child would squish bugs with his mighty shoe. And the funny thing is, immediately after that section ended the game tried to hit me with another hallucination sequence. Honestly, sometimes it seems like Monolith totally forgot that they were making a horror game.

2. FEAR 2 now has quick time events.

OH GOD! SHE’S GOING TO… Oh… Press V? Okay, guess I’m safe then.

Something tells me this was them trying to make the horror seem more scary by making the surprise jump-out scares actually potentially lethal. Adding QTEs doesn’t make them scarier, Monolith. That just makes them more annoying.

3. In FEAR 1 you could carry up to 10 medkits. In FEAR 2 you can only carry up to 3. I guess I can see why they did this. Having 10 medkits can make some otherwise challenging areas very easy if you can just spam the heal button throughout them. Still makes me kind of sad, though. I’m a bit of a hoarder in games like this.

4. FEAR 1 had checkpoints and quicksaving. FEAR 2 only has the former. Fuck you, Monolith.

I think this game could have taken one of two directions in order to be less mediocre and more engaging. The first option would be to ditch the pretensions to horror and focus on the intense action, which would involve scrapping the hallucination crap and instead focusing on more enemy variety and interesting set pieces. Alternatively they could go for broke on the horror, which would involve tweaking the game quite a bit.

I still think that the best kind of horror involves no combat at all (like Amnesia: The Dark Descent) since the whole sense of vulnerability and oppression generally falls apart once you realize you can blow the enemies to bits, but I do think that you can make a first person shooter genuinely, persistently scary.

Firstly you would need very good pacing, which the FEAR series completely lacks. FEAR is pretty much the same few gunfights over and over and over again, with only marginally increasing difficulty, but if you were to constantly change the appearance and increase the perceived threat of the enemies throughout the game it would prevent the player from “getting used to it,” so to speak. It would be like a difficulty curve, but with scariness.

Secondly, you would just need less gunfights in general. The same has been said about both of the Dead Space games, and that’s because it’s true. Sometimes less is more. With each enemy the player kills the player will feel more confident and powerful, so cool it down with the mook spamming.

Thirdly, you’d need to change the way the enemies are portrayed. The enemy AI is really good, and it’s cool that you can hear the soldiers converse with one another, but the things they say constantly make it sound like you’re the killing machine, not them. When they say things like “Oh God, what do I do?!” and “He’s too fast!” it completely undermines the concept of horror. (Also, sometimes it seems really incongruous. Sometimes they shout that I’m too fast while I’m standing completely still, my head poking out from behind a crate.)

Fourthly, throw out that insidious slow-motion mechanic. As far as I’m concerned, getting rid of that would improve FEAR as an action game and as a horror game.

When I play FEAR 2 I see the potential for a really good game, but as it stands it’s just decent. Mediocre. Competent but bland.

Of course FEAR 3 is out, but it’s by a different studio that I know nothing about and I’ve got other games to consider spending $50 on.


Postcards from Modded Minecraft: The Big Boom

So I mentioned earlier that my friends and I have a private Minecraft server. (No, I’m not giving out the address. Sorry.) We all installed a bunch of mods to give us access to guns, planes, nukes, grappling hooks, parachutes, and a pile of other stuff. And when I say guns, I don’t just mean there’s a “gun” item. I mean M16s, AK47s, desert eagles, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, etc. A lot of guns.

In my Terraria review I said that I never got too sucked into Minecraft because I’ve never really felt inclined to build big monuments or cities or whatever. But I gotta say, the prospect of crafting my very own guns makes me feel much more motivated to hunt for resources.

Anyway, I figured I might as well take some pictures for your viewing pleasure. (And if anyone is curious, yeah, this is what we were talking about in yesterday’s LP episode.)

Firstly, here’s me after I finally got all the iron, gunpowder, and other miscellaneous crap I needed to craft my very own Desert Eagle:

Ninja with a gun. Fuck yeah.

Here’s my friends doing their own crap:

Galzzly standing atop his floating city. (Note: The glasses are an equippable item, not a part of his skin. Although Link with blue shades does look pretty funny.)
Rayzn examining the trap door for his underground headquarters. (RISE AND SHINE, MISTER FREEMAN.)
Nemesis building a landing zone for his planes. (Pikachu! I choose you!)

Huh. Everyone is an iconic video game character except me. Unless you count, I dunno, Ryu from Ninja Gaiden?

Anyway, I actually did build a little establishment of my own. Check it out:

My own little “hanging garden.” Yeah, it’s not as big as the real one, but meh. Blame my attention span.
…And here’s Nemesis’s giant floating castle, within perfect view of my garden. He just couldn’t leave me in peace.

Anyway, that’s all nifty, but that’s not our feature presentation. Today I want to tell you about the day we decided to blow up the world.

A nuke, you see, causes an explosion four times the size of one from TNT. And we discover it’s a lot of fun to stick nukes in caves and set them off. It’s also a lot harder to make than TNT. But luckily for us, we have the admin on our side. So we get the crazy idea to find a big cave, and completely stuff it with nukes. And then watch the fireworks.

We each get an inventory packed with nukes (plus some torches and golden apples, to make sure we don’t get murdered by skeletons and creepers) and find a cave to work in.

Lock and load, boys.

We’re getting there.

Sadly we weren’t able to fill the entire cave. Eventually one of us (it wasn’t me, I swear) accidentally slipped and set one of them off. And… yeah. KABOOM!

Also sadly I wasn’t able to take any screenshots of the resulting explosion. It froze all of our games, and it nearly crashed the server. But we did get to see the resulting crater.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what nukes can do:

Yeah.

We actually wrecked part of Rayzn’s underground base, and it even damaged some of my floating garden. Like, in the sky. That’s how big this explosion was. It was awesome.

Anyway, I actually haven’t been getting on Minecraft much lately. Shortly after I made my desert eagle I realized I don’t have much use for it. Yeah, it helps when fighting monsters, but ammo can eat up a lot of gunpowder, which isn’t exactly easy to get your hands on in the first place. Planes are incredibly buggy, and most of the other tools in the mods just don’t function properly. (The grappling hook can only lower you, not raise you, and it actually damages you as you slide down. Go figure.) I’ve run into the same problem I had before, in that I just don’t know what I’d want to do next.


LP Unreal: Episode 5 (HD! …sort of)

If you’re wondering what took me so long to finally get this video up, well, so am I.

On Wednesday we finally got around to recording new episodes for the LP, and I realized that Livestream Procaster has a High Quality setting. I set it to that and we started recording the episode. It took over 80% of my CPU to record in HD, and as such the framerate got choppy at times. But I was still able to play and get it done.

After I stopped recording, that’s when the fun started. Normally it takes just a few seconds for Procaster to process the video once I hit the Stop button, but this time it started processing and hit a brick wall. We waited and waited for it to finish processing with the game paused, and after about ten minutes it was at 9%. We decided to just drop the call and do our own stuff until it finished. After all, maybe closing Skype and Unreal would give more CPU to Procaster and help it finish faster. So Galzzly went off to play Minecraft or whatever and I beat my head against my keyboard until it finally finished. Which, by the way, took a little over half an hour.

Let me repeat that. It took over 30 minutes to process a 12 minute long video.

But that’s not the best part. When I opened up the video on Windows Media Player, it said the video is 13 hours long. I tried to skip forward but it wouldn’t let me. It’d only let me skip to around 13 minutes ahead, because that’s when the actual video stops. Once it reaches the point when we stopped recording, the video stops and goes back to the beginning. So it’s 13 hours long, but it also isn’t.

I would have fixed that, but for whatever reason the video is uneditable. I tried putting it into Movie Maker and it gave me an error message. So what I got is what I’m stuck with.

I was able to upload it to Youtube with no fuss. I guess Youtube is smarter than Windows Movie Maker, because it could tell how long the video actually is. So here you go, an unedited copy of Episode 5. I’m aware that the video is really choppy at first, but it gets better, I swear.

Oh, and just to put the cherry on top, the video is still a blocky, pixellated mess. It’s just a marginally bigger mess.

The other episodes we recorded are in normal quality, so expect the usual next time. Shame on me for trying to make the video more bearable to watch.

EDIT: Video removed. I’ll explain later.

EDIT 2: Video returned. I know I said I’d explain later, but I don’t really want to, so yeah, I’m terribly sorry about that. Feel free to watch it now.


Personal Preference vs. Bad Design

So as you all know by now, I didn’t have a pleasant experience with Fallout 1. In one post about it I said:

Some people call that “not handholding.” I call it “bad design.” Yeah, some people might like it, but most people don’t, and if most gamers don’t like your game, you’ve failed as a designer.

Then one guy responded with:

Does this mean that anything unpopular is therefore bad? Is Grindcore, for example, a failure of music and artistry because most people don’t like it?

Here’s the thing. Yeah, I know that sometimes it boils down to personal preference. I know that when I don’t like something in a game it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad game. I’ve known this for years, and I definitely knew it when I criticized the hell out of Fallout. But here’s the other thing: There is also such a thing as good design and bad design in games. I know this because the same can be said for music, film, literature, and pretty much any form of art and entertainment.

So I ask you this: Where do you draw the line? When does it stop being a matter of taste, and start being a matter of bad design philosophy?

This is not a trivial question, and it’s something that’s been bugging me for awhile. You could say that as long as there’s an audience who likes it that means it isn’t bad design, but you have to remember that there’s quite a large audience who thinks Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is “like, totally fucking awesome.” Yet it’s still a bad movie.

There are people who like it when games kick them all the way back to the start of the level (or in the case of some people, to the start of the game) for screwing up once. It doesn’t matter how bad a particular design choice is; there will always be people who like it. That doesn’t mean it’s good.

See, I remember playing The Sims 3 somewhat recently, and while I didn’t really enjoy it much, I do have to say that it’s quite a well-designed game. It really stands out from most other games, because it’s all about player-driven story. When you create a character you choose a goal for her and work toward it using all the different parts of the great big sandbox city. Your character has a job and has needs and she will age overtime, so you have to use time management skills to work toward whatever goal you’ve set while also making sure your character lives a happy life. And as you make these choices, those choices define the life your character lives. Will she be an artist, an accountant, an actress, what? Will she get a part-time job at a fast food joint or will she make money on the side by painting and selling portraits? Will she be a party animal or a hermit? When the trailer says “infinite possibilities,” it really isn’t kidding.

This is something we rarely see in games. Most games have one predetermined story, and while a lot of RPGs give you some leeway in terms of how events will unfold, it’s pretty much set in stone where you’ll be going and what will happen. In The Sims 3, everything is up to you. The reason I didn’t enjoy it much is because while it is a glorious triumph of player-driven story, said story will inevitably have a rather slow pace as you work your way toward your goal, and the gameplay just got too repetitive for me to stick with it.

But I can still acknowledge that it’s a very well-designed and creative game. See, guys? I don’t think everything that bores me is an inherently bad game!

So why did I give Fallout such a hard time? Because I do think that the beginning of Fallout was objectively bad. (I’m not going to say the whole game is bad, since I didn’t play it all the way through. That would be ignorant of me.) In that little first impressions review I wrote I think I pointed out some genuinely bad design.

You may ask why I’m bringing this Fallout business up now. Well, there’s two reasons for that. Firstly, because I got into a very long, drawn-out argument with some friends about this very topic yesterday and it really got me thinking. Secondly, because to this day I still get frustrated when I think of how some people responded to my Fallout review way back when. It’s fine to disagree with me, but some people seemed to assume that I know nothing about game design and criticism. It probably sounds petty, and that’s probably because it is petty, but damn it, I want some closure.

The question I asked remains unanswered: Where do you draw the line?


Assassin’s Creed: The Story So Far

Lately I’ve been thinking about the different things I like to see in a game. The four things I’ve thought up that I really love to do in games are platforming, stealthing, freeroaming and leveling up.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present JPH’s Four Elements of Gaming Awesomeness:

Say, doesn’t this look familiar? No. No it doesn’t. SHUT UP.

I feel the need to clarify that when I say “freeroaming” I do not mean “sandbox.” I’m talking about games that drop you in big sprawling areas and let you explore them yourself, not games that let you choose your missions in a nonlinear order (though there’s certainly nothing wrong with that).

Anyway, to this day I’ve only played two games that fit in that yummy, chewy sweet spot in the center: Assassin’s Creed 2, and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.

Assassin’s Creed is definitely my favorite game series. Now that I’m playing through Brotherhood I’m not sure if Deus Ex is still my favorite game anymore. Brotherhood has such a brilliant combination of sneaking, parkour and murdering that puts me right into the mindset of a ninja, and I can’t think of any other game that’s ever mixed stealth with platforming, with the exception of a browser game I played like a bajillion years ago.

Assassin’s Creed 2 was easily my favorite game of 2009, and Brotherhood is looking to be my favorite game from 2010. But the weird thing is, I didn’t always love Assassin’s Creed. The first game in the franchise I sort of almost despised.

If you weren’t paying much attention to the gaming community when AC1 came around, it was a very flawed game. It had a solid concept (sneaking and freerunning in a big sandbox replica of an ancient historical city) but it was let down by heavy repetition of a few painfully tedious missions. Some people were forgiving enough to look past all that and consider it a good game regardless. I was not one of those people.

Oh, sure, I liked it quite a bit at first, but by the time I reached the end credits I was ready to throw the game disc out the window. It’s hard to remember exactly why, but just thinking of AC1 makes me kind of annoyed. I think most of that was due to the lack of variety in the game, but there were a lot of other reasons.

Part of it was because I pretty much hated the main character. Altair certainly looked like a badass, but his voice actor had a strangely Midwestern accent, which seemed rather glaringly out of place in the world of Assassin’s Creed where virtually everyone and everything else seemed very historically and culturally accurate (that in and of itself  impressed me in a world where most games (including Ubisoft’s very own Prince of Persia: Sands of Time) assume “foreign” means “British”). And from the very first scene in the game, Altair always just struck me as an arrogant prick. I could never bring myself to like him.

Part of it was because the game had one of the most egregious examples of “[insert support character] was evil all along!” I’ve ever seen in a game. It definitely isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen (that medal goes to Fable 1 for Maze) but it seemed to have been pulled right out of the writer’s ass.

So yeah, I do not have fond memories of that game. But then Assassin’s Creed 2 rolled around. I wasn’t expecting it to be that good, though I was hearing from virtually everyone that it was much better than its predecessor. Once I got my hands on it and started playing I practically couldn’t stop. I beat the game, collected all the feathers, did all the side-quests (even though they served me no purpose since I’d already bought every item in the game) and reached 100% completion, and I was even tempted to start the game over and do it all again because I just wanted to play the game more.

Some people consider AC1 to be just as good as AC2 if not better, but those people are very much in the minority from what I’ve seen. It’s pretty much common knowledge to most that the second one was superior. When I try to compare the two games side-by-side it often seems to me like the second one was developed by a completely different team; one that looked at the basic concept behind the first game and said “Okay, so how can we make that fun?”

Obviously that’s not the case. What really happened was that Ubisoft listened to all the criticisms and adjusted the content accordingly. The #1 complaint for the first game was its lack of variety, so for AC2 they added in a huge multitude of varying missions involving stealth, platforming and cleverness. The #2 complaint was that there weren’t enough assassinations, so this game had plenty of assassinations throughout the main story and a pile of optional assassination contracts on the side. People found Altair to be fairly unlikable, so they gave us more time to get to know AC2’s protagonist Ezio. And thank goodness Ezio actually sounded Italian.

I could go on for hours listing all the ways I found 2 to be much, much better than 1, but to sum things up, AC1 was a huge disappointment for me, while AC2 became one of my favorite games.

Recently I’ve gotten my hands on Brotherhood and have been playing through it. This is another game I’ve heard mixed things about. Some people say it’s an awesome game that has a lot to offer, while some people say it’s basically Assassin’s Creed 2.5 with nothing to offer that couldn’t have just been DLC. Frankly, I’m of the former.

This game is fucking fantastic. I’m going to have to devote multiple posts to the different aspects of the game, but let me just say that while Assassin’s Creed 1 had a lot of obvious flaws that 2 easily fixed, Brotherhood also improved upon the second game in ways that I didn’t even think of.

It seems like with each step this franchise takes it gets closer and closer to perfection. Maybe with Revelations we’ll finally have the Best Game Evarr.


LP Unreal Sandwich 4

Finally, an episode that ends properly. Though I had to cut out some parts in the middle to make it fit.