Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood — Won!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been breaking several of my self-imposed rules. The result has been pretty good, actually.

As I said before, I beat Unwound Future a couple weeks ago. Last night I beat AC: Brotherhood. I’ll get to that in a minute. But right there I was breaking a rule: playing more than one game at a time. For a while there, I was playing Unwound Future, AC: B and Final Fantasy XIII-2. Now it’s FF XIII-2 and Professor Layton and the Last Specter. That’s not so bad — Layton games are really just puzzle games with a story wrapped around them, and it’s on a portable device. But after beating Brotherhood, I’m all fired up to play more Assassin’s Creed.

My wife picked me up AC III on Black Friday (for $35 — not bad) and I ordered AC: Revelations (got it free with Amazon points). That’s another broken rule — no new games. Still, I’m really enjoying the AC games, and Brotherhood ended on a cliffhanger, so I’m probably going to jump into Revelations.

Anyway, back to Brotherhood. I really, really enjoyed this game. I don’t remember why I stopped playing it in March 2012, but over Thanksgiving break I dove right back in. I was on Sequence 6, I think, which is very close to the end of the game (there are 9, and Sequence 9 went very quickly). I had already opened up most (but not all) of Rome. So I proceeded to mop things up. I finished Sequence 6, claimed the final Borgia Towers (which — long story — allows you to exert influence over a regain by reinvigorating its economy and also allows you to acquire more Assassin allies). I then went on to finish Sequence 7 and finished up most other missions. I actually finished every single side mission in the game except for the Mercenary Challenges. One mission, “Young at Heart” frustrated me to no end. So I skipped it. I don’t know if I’ll go back and try to finish it. I also don’t think I’ll try to finish each mission with 100% synch, which basically means I’m not going to redo old missions, keeping with certain goals or restrictions in order to get full credit. There is some DLC (Da Vinci Disappearance, I think) that I may play; not sure yet.

Anyway, Sequence 9 went fast and was surprisingly easy. I remember the end of the first Assassin’s Creed being more difficult (and frustrating). It was very entertaining, though.

SPOILERS follow.

I really did not see the last couple minutes of the ending coming. My wife and I suspected that Lucy Stillman might actually be a Templar (and at this point that hasn’t been ruled out), but I did not see the Final Fantasy VII-esque Desmond-being-possessed and murdering (or maybe just wounding? It’s not made clear, but she appears to bleed out) Lucy thing coming at all. The fade to black surprised me too. Nice cliffhanger.

One worry I have is that the game makers are dangling a lot of little hints, strange references, etc. that I’m not sure will pan out. For example, “Subject 16” babbles a lot of things to Desmond that make no sense out of whatever context they should exist in.

It bugs me when storytellers do this kind of thing without a substantial, meaningful payoff — Lost and Battlestar Galactica were guilty of this. It’s ok to leave some ambiguity, but it’s not okay to string an audience along with promises of an explanation just to leave them with mystical half-explanations.

I’m not saying that will happen in the AC series, but it has some of the hallmarks of a story that ends up like that. So we’ll see.

Still, Brotherhood was a fantastic game. I loved the Assassin recruits. It adds a whole new strategy to the game. I loved the Project Legacy tie-in. Legacy doesn’t work reliably anymore, but I got all the rewards available from it early on.

I don’t think I really mastered combat — kill streaks in particular did not come easy for me. At least not beyond 2 or 3. I also never tried the multiplayer mode. Multiplayer doesn’t appeal to me much for whatever reason.

Looking forward to AC: Revelations!

Thanksgiving Break Games

Just a quick update, since I beat a game! A couple days ago I finished Professor Layton and the Unwound Future. I’ll get to that momentarily.

During the break I also played a bit of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I’m completely breaking my “one game at a time” rule, but I wanted to mix things up a bit. I’m pretty close to the end, I think, and I may go for it. I’m going to try to throw some FF XIII-2 in here and there so it stays fresh.

Oh, and I also started Professor Layton and the Last Specter.

See? I can’t just stick with one game.

Anyway, here’s a quick commentary on Unwound Future. SPOILERS follow.

I liked the ending better than Diabolical Box. The explanation for the “time travel” wasn’t completely bonkers. London had been re-created deep underground and the time machine was actually a large elevator. It’s financially and possibly physically improbable, but it’s within the realm of belief. Less believable to me is how they made a convincing sky — or maybe the London sky really is that dull?

Anyway, this Truman Show-esque ending wasn’t bad. What I’ve liked about the Layton series is that (so far) it hasn’t given supernatural explanations for things. Even if the explanation is insane and improbable (Diabolical Mask), they still give something resembling a scientific explanation. They come close to violating this in Unwound — Layton’s old girlfriend, who had died 10 years ago in a time machine accident, had been propelled 10 years into the future. That’s cool — time travel to the future is definitely possible, given enough speed. What was less cool was that her (ahem) molecules wanted to return to her own time. Then she started glowing, walked around a corner and then presumably went back to when her homesick molecules wanted to be. Then, of course, she was vaporized by the time machine explosion, since they never found her body.

Also, the bad guys “came to [their] senses” remarkably fast at the end of the game. I’m pretty sure that’s not how things work.

Still, all that weirdness didn’t ruin it by any stretch. The puzzles were lots of fun, and the story (while somewhat silly) was entertaining.

Back from Vacation

I got back a couple days ago from a visit with the in-laws. It was in St. Louis, so of course we all melted.

I figure that a vacation allows for a few broken rules, so I broke a few. I played a lot of Fez, getting (I’m guessing) about half-way through. Fez is a ton of fun. My only gripe is that traveling to any particular level can take a while.

I also played and beat Contre Jour HD for iPad. It’s a pretty clever game, in some ways resembling Cut the Rope, also from the same publisher. The idea is to maneuver a weird circular eyeball thing around, optionally collecting clusters of light, to a large blob of light, thereby completing the level. I managed to collect all lights from every level except for all three from level 5–19. I resorted to trying to cheat for that level, but there’s no info online for it, oddly.

I also purchased a couple games. I found Professor Layton and the Last Specter on clearance for $20, so I grabbed that. I also bought a used copy of Dissidia Final Fantasy and I’m already regretting it. I don’t think I’m going to buy used games from Game Stop in the future — I didn’t get a manual. Just the box and game. And there was no “Hey, just so you know, there’s no manual included; is that okay?” or anything like that. They just assumed I didn’t care. Plus the box was a little beat up. Not a big deal, I guess, but it’s a weird assumption to make.

I also played some more of Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, which I’ve been playing on and off for a while now. There’s not much to say about it, other than I’m a little worried about the plot. The explanation given at the end of Diabolical Box for all the strangeness in the game was a little weak, I thought. Not that it matters much — the enjoyment from Layton games comes from the puzzles and not the plot, but I really did groan at the end of Diabolical Box.

So I bought two games, played some of two others and beat yet another. That breaks two rules, but hey: I was on vacation.

Now that I’m back, I’ll set aside Fez and Unwound Future to finish Final Fantasy XIII-2. Then I’ll probably finish Fez. I also might make an exception to the “one game at a time” rule to occasionally play Unwound Future. I mean, I’ve certainly played games like Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies since the creation of this blog. The idea is to not play more involved games like FFXIII-2 and Dragon Age at the same time.