Sunday, January 29, 2012

AssBro is Pretty Fun

After my conquest of Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3 the other day, I decided to move on to Assassin's Creed:  Brotherhood (henceforth abbreviated as AssBro because it makes me giggle) which I got for Christmas and sort of wanted to play since I got it.  Kind of.  You see, I've had sort of mixed feelings for the Assassin's Creed franchise ever since getting to end-game of AC2 when I realized I just wasn't having fun with it thanks to the stupid tombs and the fact that I really just didn't like Ezio.  (And the ending did nothing to help that, by the by.)  Yet I'm assured that AssBro manages to refine things from AC2 to make it a genuinely good game, as well as the fact that the online mode is something that is both innovative and unique.

Now, my stance on online modes is....pretty well-documented I'd say.  So beyond a cursory interest (which is a compliment) I don't really care about AssBro's multiplayer whatsoever.  That just leaves the gameplay itself, it's not as refined as it is more of the same.  At least, towards the start it is.  Which is...about all I have to judge on, really.  This is a bit spoilery, and I apologize, but I don't enjoy being Super Metroided, game, no matter how stealthy you manage to make it.  Granted, it's not a complete reversion to basic which is very, very much appreciated (as I'm having a lot of fun with Ezio's wrist-gun), but it's -enough- that it bugs me.  Though I guess I'm going to be getting better things anyway, so I -guess- I can forgive it, though I would like a bit of a good faith gesture beforehand at least.

As far as the new mechanics go, I'm....a bit torn, really.  As you might've guessed, I was not a fan of the tombs from AC2, so now that they're back, more or less, in the Shrines of Romulus for AssBro I am not impressed in the least.  They really want you to use Eagle Vision to make sure you get through it the right way in the stupid time limit they impose on the majority of them, but Eagle Vision is so so very not something that is convenient enough to just switch to on the fly and then out of for the rare instances where there's red arrows on the wall showing you where to go.  Strangely enough, going the wrong way usually results in a pocketful of florins which, while largely unnecessary, is still something of a prize for doing the wrong thing and wasting time.  Really, timed platforming/maze-traversing in any form is generally awful and they're certainly not busting up a generalization with that.  They are also sewer levels which adds a whole new level of "urgh" on top of that.

Conversely, the new Borgia Towers are something of a real delight since they really capture everything that was good about the original Assassin's Creed (And, technically, AC2) without any of the additional fluff.  You know there is a guy you have to kill in this fortress-type thing.  You kind of know where he is.  You have to kill him in a spectacular fashion and then fight off the inevitable wave of lackeys who can't believe that you just showed up and assassinated their boss out of fucking nowhere.  My one small complaint about the system is their ability to run the hell away until the next guard change, since the first time that happened to me it took all of a minute for him to disappear and I had absolutely nothing else to do since at that moment, I just wanted to renovate things and this tower was preventing that.  My big complaint about the system is really more of a reflection on the, er, 'refined, smooth freerunning/parkour/climbing' that the game has to offer. 

In all reality, it's not really that refined, nor smooth, when compared to the games out there that do essentially the same thing and do it much, much better.  inFamous and Uncharted spring to mind, though I'm sure there are other competitors for the crown that don't quite meet standards either.  Don't get me wrong, it's not bad, but merely a few notches above 'serviceable' and only really shines when you're doing a fast-paced chase across the rooftops and the myriad of obstacles between them - provided you don't fall during that.  When it's a bit slower and focused on merely climbing something like, say, a Borgia tower, it drags and shows its real weaknesses.  Ezio simply does not go where you want him to sometimes and for very little reason other than the finicky nature of the grab points and how some of them are barely visible - so much so that the first time you get one, you see that same kind where there actually isn't one.  So rather than going around to another side of the building (which you really shouldn't have to do anyway) you spend a few minutes trying to figure out how to get to that obvious goddamn handhold only to realize that it's not obvious because it is, in fact, not somewhere you can grab.

The other place the game really shines, however, is the combat system which you know is a very, very key point of any game for me apparently.  With the addition of Execution Chains, Ezio feels like more of a murder machine than ever despite being a little older and a little ill-equipped.  If I were to judge the system on just how easy it was to walk into a fight scenario and look like a complete badass, it would earn pretty top notch marks, really.  I can walk up to a group of four guards with no weapon equipped, take one of them out with a friggin chokeslam before combat is initiated, take the weapon of the first guy that attacks me and kill him with it and then his buddies with the execution chain, then just drop the weapon and imagine that there is a "Fuck all y'all" emote that Ezio does.  Because that's really the only thing that's missing that would be the icing on the cake.  It's not perfect, not yet, but it's certainly the most fun I have with the game and I suspect that'll only improve as I actually begin to play it.

I'm still not completely sold on the game, really, despite my praises.  There's just something in my head that's preventing me from enjoying the franchise and I suspect that it very well might be the disconnect I have with Ezio.  I'm not playing -as- Ezio, but rather I'm playing around inside his puppet, and I'm not sure I have anything resembling a connection because of that.  I already don't like him because of his attitude/decisions in AC2, so that's another barrier against him, but, hey, maybe he'll get better.  There's a whole two stories worth of Ezio left after all, since I've got this and will assuredly pick up Revelations at some later date simply because, while a bit uneasy about the AC games, I really just can't stop buying them.  And I have fun with them, despite my misgivings, so that's really all that matters.

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