Saturday, September 29, 2012

Week 1: Assassin's Creed

     Part of me wants to provide a brief review of why it has taken my five years to play through this game. In the interest of brevity, it boils down to lost progress and a slew of other games that I found much easier to get into. I wasn't super excited for AssCree when it came out, and couldn't find it in me to give it a chance.

It didn't help that those other games forced me to start AC from the beginning four or five times, having lost sight of what the f*ck was going on. Having to play through the tutorial mission, and work my way back from demotion got old around the first time I had to do it, so imagine my attitude towards the second, third, fourth and fifth tries...

I'd like to say I made a lot of progress with AssCree (Yes, I fully intend to call it that throughout my playthrough), but I didn't. I only made it through one of the main assassinations, Tamir, and halfway through the Acre. 

Maybe I'm wasting my time, but my approach to the game is fairly simple, if a bit compulsvie. The memory sync bar is my primary goal, which means hitting all the view points, saving the citizens in need and completing the pre-assassination missions (pickpocketing, eavesdropping, etc.).

It requires time, but I prefer seeing the synchronization bar full.

With my renewed desire to complete this game, I have more of an appreciation for it. Assassin's Creed is a beautiful game, intelligently designed, with great gameplay. The whole view point thing feels an awful lot like the developers forcing players to take a look around, which I respect.

I admit there have been times when I have ignored my surroundings just to get through a game, and that is hardly fair to those who spent so much time putting minute details into everything.

The cities feel alive, making it easy to ignore the duplicated models and voices of the cityfolk.

The obvious appeal to the game is darting through the streets, climbing any and all structures, leaping across rooftops and descending on an unsuspecting foe. The process of reclaiming rank, and thus your equipment, is tedious, but doesn't last long.

Once you get your arm blade early on, it is easy to take a break from the mission and prowl the rooftops looking for guards to pounce on and jab your blade into....

... And then walking away like a badass.

Also, it may be because I have not made it that far in the game yet, but the travel between cities feels unnecessary. You gain a sort of fast travel ability eventually from what I recall, making the overworld a waste of space.

For completionists, there are viewpoints and flags, and such, but it doesn't add to the game from what I've seen. My two cents, I guess.

I hope to make more progress in the next week, though I make no promises to myself or anyone who may be reading this with some level of interest.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Man and His Backlog: A Hate Story

     I bought my XBox 360 at GameStop in the Spring of 2007 after my PS2, for whatever reason, stopped playing newer games. Since the 360 was refurbished, it had its quirks, but I was fine with it as long as it worked. In the five years since then, I bought, beat, and traded a great number of games, having plenty of free time neglecting a solid chunk of my college workload.

     From day one, the console made an intense whirring sound, which I chalked up to it being a bulky console requiring a bit of a wind-up before running smoothly. Where the average console would purr like a kitten, my XBox purred like a tiger, drowning out sound from the game.

Over time, there was overheating, discs scratched and ruined, and that damn sound. How can I immerse myself in an atmosphere like BioShock if I can't hear anything over the cooling fan?

     Still, I made due, reaching a point where I would limit the continuous play to an hour or two tops. In spite of my best efforts to provide ample space around the console, it overheated, and soon developed a knack for misreading, or failing to read discs.

     Three months ago, I had enough of having to curb my desire to play through my library because of the flaws of the original XBox 360. I took the unit, controller and hard drive to GameStop, fully prepared to trade it in, take what I could get and put it towards a new slim model.

In all the excitement of purchasing a fresh-out-of-the-box console, the first brand new console I had bought since Gamecube was released, I skipped a very important step in continuing my gaming unhindered.

My hard drive, gamertag and every achievement, progress and completed game was lost to me in the trade.

     I'm sure I could have recovered my gamertag to bring back all of the achievements I had amassed. A gamerscore of roughly 16,000 may not be overly impressive, but I was proud of it. I'm not an achievement hunter, but what I do, I like that I get rewarded for it.

     What I had now was a need to run through my library once again, to reclaim the progress I had put so much time and effort into in the last six years. Unfortunately, between old games and new games, my library had ballooned to roughly 40 games, requiring upwards of one month of actual playing time.

Between work, sleep and whatever other responsibilities or engagements arise at any given time, it is more than likely that it is going to take a substantial amount of time to work my way through my backlog.

Then there are the new releases I fully intend to purchase, which only add to the backlog and put that much more time between me and my goal of beating every game in my possession.

     However daunting the task may be, I have every intention of beating, not 100-percenting, every game in my library. To keep it simple, I have decided to take an alphabetical approach to my gaming, starting with Assassin's Creed, a game I have tried to play through on several occasions before getting distracted by other games.

     If I have it my way, I will provide weekly updates of my progress, noting difficulties I have with the endeavor, providing my personal thoughts on the game and hoping against hope that I do not tear my hair out in the coming months as I journey through my backlog.

I hope you'll join me.