Assassin’s Creed 2 EP18: I’m Better off Without You!

By Shamus
on Nov 10, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

I found the gondola escort to be very unsatisfying. It kind of reminded of a GTA mission, where your goals aren’t always clear and deviation results in failure, even when it shouldn’t. The dock ends pointing directly at the boat, which struck me as a giant, “THIS WAY, PLAYER”. So I was pretty miffed when jumping on board launched all of them into the drink. (Having said that, it’s pretty hilarious ito see it happen.) Later, I failed (or nearly, I don’t remember) because I got too far AHEAD of the boat, thus getting punished for being overly thorough and efficient. Then when the gondola pulled into the tunnel, I continued to follow the platforming, and once again got too far from my target. I failed, even though the characters were now safely in their hideout and I had done my job. All of this, and the entire setup of psychic guards assaulting the gondola on sight feels sort of odd.

Like a lot of GTA missions, it’s something that’s piss-easy once you know what the pitfalls are. When I fail, I feel like my goals or challenges weren’t properly explained, and when I win I don’t feel like I’ve really done anything impressive. I just failed until I did exactly as I was told.

Yeah, yeah. I know: Animus.

As an aside, I really, really can’t stand Rosa. Reckless, bossy, short-sighted, irrational, unreasonable, arrogant. Gah. She’s like Miranda, only louder. I got mad when Ezio entertained her flirting. What are you doing, man? Show some self-respect!

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From the Archives:

  1. webrunner says:

    Ezio is also the inventor of a few other things. I don’t know if they cover it in this game or the next, but he gives up Assassinating temporarily in order to use his villa money to build a stage for him to inform the public about the Templar threat.

    And from then on, whenever someone has a space specifically to talk to people, they call it an auditorium.

  2. Joel D says:

    Spoiler Warning: accentuate the negative, focus on the absurd, ignore the positive!

  3. Deadpool says:

    Men in games have almost as little self respect as women in games do…

  4. Jakale says:

    Not to mention the fact that the guards aren’t assaulting the gondola at all. You can see in the vid where it gets ahead of Josh, they just stand there waiting to see you to trigger their normal guard actions.
    I’ve only played the game once, so I don’t know if you can kill that first guard, then hop along the roof out of site of the guards.

  5. jdaubenb says:

    Swimming and people drowning once they hit the water:

    Being able to swin was actually seen as a negative thing in the middle ages (and not much had changed in the Renaissance): Learning to swim would require you to strip down which was obviously a big no no. Furthermore it was seen as bringing bad fortune to know how to swim and get onto a boat. By being able to swim people thought you were tempting fate for your ship/boat to go belly up.

    Of course there were people who learned to swim, but they were relatively far and few between and the activity had a very low regard. It wasn’t forbidden to indulge yourself, it was just more unlikely.

    Basically: If you fell into a body of water you couldn’t stand in you were supposed to pray for rescue or a quick death.

    • SolkaTruesilver says:

      In Shogun, there was a quick conversation between Pilots. One knew how to swim, the other told him that he didn’t, because if he went overboard he didn’t wanted to survive too long.

      I guess I could kinda understand that depressing reasoning.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      That makes sense most of the time.But this is venice.Youre telling me that all these people grew up here,and none of them ended up in the canal even once,not even as a child.Sorry,but if it was any other town Id buy that as an explanation for the super drowning skills of everyone in the game,but not here.

  6. rrgg says:

    Do the different weapons in assassin’s creed actually have different uses? The fighting looks sort of the same whether you’re using a sword, your daggers or fisticuffs.

    • burningdragoon says:

      I think they have different timing for countering. Also, I don’t remember exactly with 2, but in Brotherhood different weapons are more effective against different enemies. There is a bit of rock-paper-scissors thing for counters.

      • Raygereio says:

        Brotherhood different weapons are more effective against different enemies.

        If there was such a system, I never noticed it. As for counter timing: that doesn’t change.

        You have 3 main weapon groups:
        -Small weapons (knives and such) are fast with low damage.
        -Medium weapons (longswords, maces) are… err.. medium in characteristics. Blunt weapons are supposed to be better at breaking an enemy’s gueard, but I honestly have never noticed that big a difference.
        -Heavy weapons (in AC2 can only be picked up from guards) are slow and do a lot of damage. Counters with a heavy weapon will always kill, but will leave the weapon in question almost always embedded in the weapon.
        Each group has it’s own timing for counters in theory, but either that timing is really forgiving or they’re just all the same.

        Now each individual weapon also has some stats. Here’s how those are supposed to work:
        Damage; should be self-explenatory.
        Speed; allows Ezio to swing the weapon faster.
        Deflect; the higher it is, the longer an enemy’s recovery time is after a succusfully blocked attack.

        In practice however both the difference between the weapon groups and – besides the fact that I’ve never even noticed any changes with these stats – the speed and deflect stats are pretty much meaningless.
        Combat in AC2 mostly revolves around counterkills and if that isn’t an insta-kill the damage it does is determined by the damage stat (in Brotherhood the focus lies on the execution mechanic which is nothing but insta-kills).
        The same is true if you decide to be fancy and start wailing on a dude with that silly fear-my-nerf-stick!-animation.

        In short: Just grab a weapon with animations you like, or one you find pretty. If you do feel the need to upgrade just pay attention to the damage stat.

        • Shamus says:

          With regards to timing:

          I find counter-kills to be easy with sword, and hard with hidden blade. I don’t know why, but until I read the above I’d always assumed that the hidden blade was less forgiving.

          • Raygereio says:

            I’d always assumed that the hidden blade was less forgiving.

            Oh, I did not include the hidden blade in my previous post. You are correct, the hidden blade’s timing for the counter is less forgiving then that of any other weapon.
            I meant that the timing for the counter timing for knives, longwords, maces, spears, etc, etc, is all the same.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            It does seem to be wonky with the hidden blade,as can be seen in the video when Josh tries to kill that heavy and ends up just playing with his blades.I hate when ezio does that.Leave them out,you idiot!

          • Josh says:

            The counter-kill for the hidden blade has the shortest time interval because it always kills, whereas by the midpoint of the game, even mooks will intercept most of your sword counter-kills.

            • Simulated Knave says:

              Which is why you should be sheathing your sword, taking their swords, and RAMMING THEM THROUGH THEIR SPLEENS!!!!!!!!!!

              It’s good clean fun, less finicky than the hidden blade, an easy way to take down heavies, and entertaining as hell.

          • Gamer says:

            The hidden blade’s timing is more precise, but always results in an instant kill. That’s why it is usually more advisable to disarm the heavy guards. They are slower and thus require different timing, meaning you’ll probably screw up (So to a degree, taking 5 axes hits to the faces wasn’t Josh’s fault). Plus, they’re weapons are super effective at killing nameless mooks.

        • silver Harloe says:

          “Counters with a heavy weapon will always kill, but will leave the weapon in question almost always embedded in the weapon.” I see you were a fan of the “using peasants as weapons” concept from the beginning of ep 16.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      They differ mostly in speed of attack, reach and counter attack timing. Also while hidden blades are more potent, they arte a bit hit or miss because mostly you need to be in attacker’s face for Eyio to actually pull them out.

      Also I found hidden blades significantly reduced in effectivness in Brotherhood. They now require locking on a target most of the time.

    • MrWhales says:

      It would help if Josh used anything other than the hidden blades for combat. I’m sure he could argue about it giving the cool assassinations, but they are so easy for the enemy to deflect that you might as well use the knives like I do, Ezio holds them with the blade down, so it makes it cooler.

  7. Michael says:

    Helping Leonardo get his inventions to work, giving advice on how to improve a new drink… Suddenly all I can think of is how much better this game would be if it was Terranigma.

    Quick, run outside and see if there’s a dude in a top hat who can tell you the economic growth index of Venice!

  8. Peter H. Coffin says:

    Yeah, yeah. I know: Animus.

    Honestly, I don’t think Animus can salvage “obvious answer leads to instant failure” kinds of problems. Reasonable answers may thwart you, or block progress, or just plain Be Wrong, but actual failure’s a different kind of thing, and it shouldn’t bring you out of the game. That should be reserved for Screwing Up, not for going where the game leads.

    • Mike says:

      Except the Animus isn’t about what would make sense, it’s about what Ezio did. If he was a dolt, and you’re trying to not be one, then you desynchronize with what he did and get kicked out of the memory.

      Its poor game design, but this is about the only game I’ve seen where it makes sense in-universe for stupid things like “you deviated from the pre-approved path” to actually cause you to “die”.

  9. Torsten says:

    Rosa already appears to be the mandatory tomboy latina love interest, I am sure TV tropes has her as an example.
    – tomboy figure
    – Italian/Spanish/ any other Latin ethnicity
    – curses like a drunken sailor on her native tongue
    – is hinted to be able to do something awesome the hero cannot, though we never get to see her doing it.
    – needs the hero to rescue her

    It is not a bad character archetype, but she seems to be yet another example of how a supposedly strong woman who gets handled poorly by the game developer. I am not much further in the game than the serie is, so maybe she’ll be an exception though.

  10. JPH says:

    Dressing like a fancy girly girl is my favorite part of any game! And I’m man enough to admit it.

  11. Kyte says:

    Damnit Josh you can BUY MORE THAT ONE ITEM AT ONCE. Aaaaargh!

    Ok, that’s my rant for today.

    Oh, and I’d be more sympathetic at the “can’t stray too far” if it weren’t true for every single escort mission AND they give plenty of warning. If you’re ignoring the warnings, well, it’s your own damn fault.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Later, I failed (or nearly, I don’t remember) because I got too far AHEAD of the boat, thus getting punished for being overly thorough and efficient.”

    Sorry,but when people complain how they went ahead of their objectives in asscreed and failed,it irks me.You are reliving these memories,this has all already happened.So your objective is never “Go ahead and do this thing youll have to do later to save time”,its rather “Stick as close as you can to how these things actually played out”.

    That said,however,the mission is pretty stupid,due to all the other things youve mentioned(everyone jumping out of the gondola like you stink,not clear objectives,etc).

    • Raygereio says:

      You are reliving these memories,this has all already happened.So your objective is never “Go ahead and do this thing youll have to do later to save time”,its rather “Stick as close as you can to how these things actually played out”.

      That’s a really weak excuse for a horrible gameplay decision.
      Now I do get what the designers were thinking. By forcing you to remain close to the boat they’re trying to force a tense moment as the boat will always be in danger of a guard.

      However in practice it’s a bad design decision because it ends up being frustrating to the player. This isn’t a case where the player is trying to sequence break. You see the guard standing right there, just a short distance away. You know he’s going to attack the boat. But no you can’t kill him before he becomes a threat. You just have to wait and watch a boat move really slowly before your allowed to act.

      This isn’t the only example of this either. I recall various intances in the side missions where I had to follow someone and suddenly desynched without warning because I supposedly lost them, while the game meant: “Oh, you’re to far away from your target”. This even though I had the target right in the middle of my view.

      • Kyte says:

        If you really, really wanna kill’im from far away, you’ve got throwing knives, you know.

        And there’s warnings for every single one of the desynch conditions. (Timer when you’re supposed to follow and you lose sight of’em, screen flicker when you’re too far) If you fail anyways, your game is bugged or you don’t know how to follow directions.

        • Ragyereio says:

          If the screen starts to flicker you’re generally screwed anyway. A jump from one rooftop to another at the wrong moment will have the game already go from “screen flickering” to “you failed!” in mere seconds.

          • 4th Dimension says:

            It shouldn’t. Unless the target is actively running away.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Nah,it can happen.You follow the target from the rooftops,the screen starts shaking,you try to catch up,but then ezio simply jumps in the wrong direction,and you lose.It happened to me loads of times,but it was always due to awful camera pointing the wrong way,so the controls get messed up.

              • 4th Dimension says:

                I have to admit, it didn’t happen to me. Oh shure I lost my target couple of times while following them on rooftops (I followed ALL targets from rooftop), but mostly it was my bad. I couldn’t find my way around some square fast enough and I got desynced, but that was my bad.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Josh has finally repaired that armour.My ocd was ever growing at the sight of that red bar.Though it was unnecessary since he immediately bought a new armour piece.And why not go with metal?Its better.

    How did she got shot in the leg from the front when she was facing the wall?

    That jog at 8:28 is hilarious.

    Breaking the arrow before you pull it out actually makes sense,since arrows(usually)do have broad parts on both ends,and theres no need to widen the wound.

    He simply couldnt kill all those traitors himself.Hes a thief,and thats a job for an assassin.He cant just break the rules,you know.That would make him a criminal.

    • Eärlindor says:

      Indeed, pushing the arrow through does less damage to the flesh. And in addition, you break off the feathered end because, well, they’re bird feathers–they’re dirty–helps prevent infection.

      • Actually, pushing an arrow through is a big medical no-no. Almost always, the best thing to do is to cut the arrowhead out.

        Now, Rosa’s situation was different because the arrow actually WAS all the way through already, so you wouldn’t be creating a new injury or potentially slicing up tendons/arteries inside the leg. But if you run across someone who has been arrow-shot in real life, don’t try shoving the arrow through. Just don’t.

  14. Jakale says:

    You know you’ve cemented that almost everyone has super upper bodies when the skill for getting more vertical distance on your climb is to pull yourself up with one arm so hard that you’re flung more than any foot or two-armed push could ever hope to accomplish.
    I’ll grant that maybe some ability is provided by swing momentum, but still.

    • Bryan says:

      Yeah, as an amateur rock climber (top-roping mostly), the moves being made here are … shall we say … *utterly impossible* in this planet’s gravity.

      • NihilCredo says:

        My favourite one is “jump AWAY from the wall at about a 120° angle to grab an outstretched pole or platform above your head”. (You can see it at around 12:10 in this episode.) Momentum? Never heard of such a thing.

  15. Rasha says:

    Don’t worry shamus that girl was just a rogue cell…

    Also you’re now imagining the implications of relatives sharing characteristics. That whole genetically engineered by cerberus thing? LIES!

  16. noahpocalypse says:

    Rutskarn, you’re missing so many quotes and other funny stuff!

    8:20- Josh goes “Hey, I have this woman.”
    What you should’ve said: How much for the woman? We want your woman; how about your wife? Or the little girl, eh? (From the Blues Brothers)

    11:36- Shamus: “And four, four would just be outrageous…”
    What you should’ve said: “And five… Is right out!” (Monty Python & Holy Grail (for shame on missing this one, Ruts…))

    14:14- Did no one notice that it looks(and sounds) like she’s giving birth?

  17. Johan says:

    They probably made the girl who got shot through the leg limp as fast as Ezio runs because playtesters probably complained that she was slowing them down.

    STOP SAYING GODDAMN ARCHERS, WE GET IT, THEY ARE DICKS, THANK YOU [/annoyance]

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Patrolling the rooftops of venice almost makes you wish for a nuclear winter.

    • Hitch says:

      I actually prefer escort quest NPCs who run ahead to ones that barely move. I’d rather have the challenge of keeping up than standing aroud waiting for them.

      C’mon, he hasn’t said “Goddamn archers!” nearly as much as “Stop shooting me!” during Fallout 3.

  18. Eddie says:

    Josh, you are my Nakama for having exactly the same reaction to me when people demand milk and sugar in their coffee, seconds after I thought of it, right down to to word “Pansy”.

    As an aside, nobody in Italy (well, all of Europe) really drinks milk and sugar in their coffee, and if you order Coffee you will get an espresso. In fact if you want a weak, milky, sugary coffee in Italy you have to order a Caffè Americana. This is so called because it’s how the American GI’s used to ask for it, watering down espresso shots with hot water and adding milk and sugar to match what they were used to back home.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “As an aside, nobody in Italy (well, all of Europe) really drinks milk and sugar in their coffee, and if you order Coffee you will get an espresso.”

      Plenty of people here in the balkans do,and I have no idea why.I get the sugar,but milk?

    • Mephane says:

      As an aside, nobody in Italy (well, all of Europe) really drinks milk and sugar in their coffee, and if you order Coffee you will get an espresso.As an aside, nobody in Italy (well, all of Europe) really drinks milk and sugar in their coffee, and if you order Coffee you will get an espresso.

      As a European (though not Italian) myself I can say that this might be true in Italy, but not in all of Europe. In Germany there is a distinction between a normal coffee and an espresso, they are not interchangeable. And plenty of people put milk and/or sugar in their coffee.

    • Ragyereio says:

      European talking here. While I prefer my coffee black, it’s not uncommon for people to put milk and/or sugar in their coffee in the Netherlands.

    • Aanok says:

      Yeah. The coffee we usually drink is dark, short and strong. If you buy it at a shop, it’s made with an espresso machine, while, at home, you would generally use a moka, which is cheaper and doesn’t produce any cream at all (Google up “Bialetti” or “caffettiera napoletana“). In the past, people just used to pour hot water over pulverized coffee in a pot.

      Sugar is an optional, really, and there are as many people who prefer their coffee “amaro come il fiele” (damn bitter), as there are those who like it pretty sweet.

      Milk is also an optional, though not a very popular one. Something which is very common is “caffellatte”, that is adding quite a bit of coffe to a cup of milk, but it’s strictly meant for breakfast.

      Finally, just as you said, a “caffè all’americana” is an espresso diluted with hot water. I believe it to be an abomination and many people share my opinion: a coffee is meant to taste like coffee, otherwise it is no more than a “ciofeca”. Americanos are a somewhat more popular drink amongst women, though.

      Generally speaking, just as it happens with politics, it is quite rare to find as much as two Italians who share the same view towards their coffee :)

    • Grudgeal says:

      Being vaguely European I know of plenty of people who put milk in their coffee around here. Not so much sugar, but we usually serve it with sugar cubes as an option for those who do.

      Mind you, me and those in my closest circle all drink tea and take no part in this ‘coffee’ malarkey so I’m hardly the most qualified to comment. And, incidentally, if you told us you wanted milk or sugar in your tea (with the honourable exception of Lapsang tea, to which milk is an acceptable/mandatory addition) we’d burn you as a witch. Or at least as an effigy. A slice of lemon is acceptable, however.

  19. BeamSplashX says:

    “Here is a new, lightweight saber for you, Ezio.”
    “You say that, but something’s missing. What if instead of being lightweight, it was made of light? Also, put a specialized magnifying glass atop my gun to help me shoot people from afar. And a powder version of fruit that could turn water into a delicious flavored drink would be great.”

  20. acronix says:

    Curiously, Ezio flirting with Rosa gets nowhere. I´m quite sure they dropped A Bridge On Her on Brotherhood since I don´t recall seeing her even once.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      You don’t see her anywhere because brotherhood happens in Rome, not in Venice.

      Although even to me Rosa seemed like a big deal about nothing. Probably additional her’s content got dropped because of time constraints, so what we are seeing is a bit disjointed.

  21. 4th Dimension says:

    Did Alfredo? (Alberto?) seem to you a bit . . . effeminate or . . . girly? I’m not sure if it’s only me, and if it’s not, why did they do it?

    Maybe originally Venice section was supposed to be longer, and feature more Rosa and Antonio (possibly making Antonio Leonardo’s “friend?”), but later it got cut.

    • Aitch says:

      No, it wasn’t just you thinking that. Something in his animations gives it away instantly. At that cutscene I remember thinking “Oh christcrackers, are we really going to have to go through some awkward scene where you meet his boyfriend and Ezio gets all flustered?”

      Considering this guy is introduced with Rosa, I’m guessing it’s more unfinished content. Or it got nixed as being too racy to bring up in a game where a guy goes around in an ostentatiously fabulous getup with a blazing red half-cape embracing every man he sees and who’s best friend is Leonardo DaVinci.

      Not that it would bother me on a moral or religious level, because I have very little of either, but on the level of gameplay… there’s a time and place for that sort of content, and what’s supposed to be an action-platformer doesn’t feel quite a good fit.

      Though I’m sure I’d laugh my ass off for eons to see Ezio get hit on by that guy and not understand why he could ever be suspect of anything except being the manliest of men, notorious amongst the courtesans for splitting his many women in twain and whatnot.

      And just to make sure, I really hope I didn’t offend anyone with this post. It just struck me as funny.

  22. Shawn P says:

    This is pretty much where I stopped playing this game, because I didn’t want to be subjected to more quests like that. I hope from watching you play I don’t see any more remnants of such gameplay so I can go back in and enjoy myself.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      If I recall correctly,there arent any more quests like this.There is one about tailing some people across the open though.And there is the capture the flag at the carnivale,which is a bit annoying.

      But the ending battle is quite satisfying,I hope spoiler warning will cover that one.

      • 4th Dimension says:

        Yeah tailing those templars is annoying. Mainly because they go straight diagonally across St Marco square and you can’t follow them on rooftops which are on sides of square, because you will desynhronize (too far away even tough you can see them, but then again point of that mission was to listen in anyway).

        Belive it or not I only lost one flag in CTF, and had not much of a problem. And I’m the guy that hasn’t worked out counters until just before final mission.

      • Raygereio says:

        But the ending battle is quite satisfying

        I had really mixed feelings on the end battle. Spoiler Warning, I guess.

        Sure on the one hand it’s Ezio beating the crap out of the man who messed his life up in a nice brawl.
        On the other hand the fight ended up as Ezio – a man in the prime of his life – beating the ever loving crap out of an old, fat man. Or more specifically in my case: Ezio stomping on the groin of an old, fat man for 5 minutes straight while Ezio and fat man threw boss-battle-banter at eachother. It had a certain level of sillyness to it.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          “On the other hand the fight ended up as Ezio – a man in the prime of his life – beating the ever loving crap out of an old, fat man.”

          On the other hand?Wait,that is a bad thing?

          You forgot the plus,using the apple.

          • Otters34 says:

            Well, it’s a bad thing if you want the have the last fight in the game be memorable or challenging in any way. Beating up Borgia is just a plain old anti-climax.

            The fight does nothing more than provide catharsis that the player has most likely ALREADY worked out on the over-long trip to the showdown. Odds are the cheap shots that they suffered along the way for the sake of the story will anger them far more than anything that wretch did.

  23. Aanok says:

    I’m not so shocked about Rosa’s miraculous recovery. I mean, they do instantly heal Ezio’s wounds with garlic and herbs, in this game, don’t they?

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Also, It’s Animus. In real life Rosa probably took a week or so to recover partialy, but Animus is placing her there so you can replay that memory now, and not have to wait for recovery.

      After all, Ezio reportedly stays a full year in Venezia (or more?), but we are shown only couple of days. Apart from the parts we play, Animus thinks those other memories are unimportant.

  24. RTBones says:

    Completely and totally unrelated –

    Is Skyrim installed and running yet, Shamus?

  25. guy says:

    I declare that the black-haired thief girl with immunity to blood loss is Vin from Mistborn. Both because I am a huge Mistborn fan and because they both are black-haired tiny girls who steal things, run unnaturally fast, jump like they’re in a Mario game, knock over armored dudes twice their size, and don’t bleed out.

    Seriously, it’s uncanny. The only problem with this theory is that she requires outside help to deal with the guards.

    EDIT: The resemblance just keeps getting more uncanny. It looks like they even have the same haircut. Except Rosa is kind of an idiot and has poor taste in friends. And talks more. But seriously, that’s like the only difference

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