Assassin’s Creed 2 EP24: Mario Murder Party

  By Shamus   Nov 22, 2011   167 comments


Link (YouTube)

Has our let’s play of Assassin’s Creed 2 seemed a little boring lately? I know we haven’t had a great deal to say, and our analysis has been spread a little thinner than usual. I’ll admit now that I’ve been holding back a lot of my commentary. For the last couple of months, I’ve been nursing a grudge, nurturing it and growing it until it matured into indignant rage. We’ve finally reached carnival, and the dam has broken. It’s finally time to begin enumerating faults and cataloging the failures.

This isn’t just the point where the game fell apart, this is the point where the series itself ended for me. I realized that the writers had abandoned the direction and tone of the original game. They had set aside the pseudo-historical setting, the philosophical ideas, and the conspiracy thriller, and instead were making a collection of crappy, ill-conceived mini-games. It pissed me off when they used Leonardo Da Vinci as a lever to elevate their risible Mary Sue protagonist. It exasperated me when they watered down the plot with nonsense and filler. But the unpardonable sin was when they took away the fun “parkour and murder” gameplay and replaced it with… whatever this is.

A Hundred!2020207Many comments. 167, if you're a stickler


  1. Robyrt says:

    For me, it took a little longer to come to that conclusion. About the time you get into a fistfight with the Pope, my immersion completely broke.

    Frankly, Ubisoft Montreal has never been good at endings. Prince of Persia: Sands of Time at least had the decency to make the gimmicky boss pitifully easy. Since then it’s all been downhill.

    • guy says:

      Wait, Ezio does what?

      I cannot decide whether that’s stupid or awesome. Probably both, but it depends on the implementation.

      I assume from the fact that you’re complaining about it that it’s not nearly hilariously over-the-top enough to make the stupid tolerable.

      • Raygereio says:

        It’s quite stupid.
        Especially if you’re like me and just throw him in the ground and kick him in the nuts for a 5 minutes, all the while Ezio and mister fatty exchange boss-banter.

        I recall saying this before in a SW commentary, but personally I thought it was just silly and not at all satisfying. Especially if you concider that the fight is Ezio – a man in the prime of his life – beating the crap out of an old, fat man who just learned that his life’s work was for nothing.

        • CruelCow says:

          Well to be fair that old man has magical powers. Also his health bar is bigger than all of the enemies you fight to get to him combined. My finger hurt after that fight :(

        • Aelyn says:

          Nolan Ryan told Robin Ventura that age shouldn’t stop him trying.

          Fist fight!

        • False Prophet says:

          More like a fight between a guy pushing 40 (Ezio ages something like 20 years over the course of this game) and a very healthy if obese sexagenarian (according to historical accounts), but otherwise a fair point. I didn’t care for it myself, but that’s because I don’t see why Assassin’s Creed needs to have boss fights. They don’t make any sense given how the rest of the game mechanics work.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        It is awesome for one reason:The apple that was used against you in 1,now is in your hands and you are using it against the boss.

        • acronix says:

          No magic/alien powers are involved during the fistfight. That´s on the pre-fistfight-fight, which ends with the evil boss snatching the apple from Ezio and sticking it on his staff to open the door to the secret crypt/tomb/flashdrive..

    • el_b says:

      do you battle on top of the popemobile while dodging through busy streets?

    • Johan says:

      Wait WHAT
      WHAT
      No really WHAT
      Yeah, that doesn’t sound Historical Fiction or Thriller to me either.

    • Eleion says:

      Yeah, that scene was horribly stupid. I would have preferred it if the first fight had been the last. Especially when Ezio spares his life, knowing full well he will continue to do evil and terrible things. … And then he does, and Ezio goes off to kill him in Brotherhood. >.< Really, I mean, what? Come on…

    • Soylent Dave says:

      It’s not TOO much of a stretch when you remember that the real version of him was a complete and total bastard who poisoned his enemies and endorsed slavery.

      (although I don’t really think he got into many fistfights)

      • Klay F. says:

        This was how it was for me, since I knew who the Borgias were before I ever played this game. Since I knew what a bastard he was in real life, it actually gave me a fair amount of satisfaction to beat the crap out of him, even if I already knew I wouldn’t be able to kill him.

        • False Prophet says:

          A bit less so for me. Yeah, the real Rodrigo was a bastard, but he was only slightly worse than most of the popes who preceded him, and a few after him as well. And there’s no convincing evidence Lucrezia was a willing participant in or even in the know of her father and brother’s schemes. I think the propaganda at the time took a harder line against the Borgias because they were foreigners and later English historians swallowed it wholesale. But a lot of historical fiction has this need to separate historical figures into black hats and white hats, I guess.

          • Dev Null says:

            Oh my yes; he was a rotten bastard, accused of bribery, hypocrisy, sleeping with prostitutes, and killing people for money and power. I can see why Ezio – oh, excuse me, I need to murder this guard for inconveniencing my trip across town – judged him so harshly.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      I preferred the fight with the dahaka in 2.Despite or because it was that hard.If only it was a bit easier to get(getting to some of those secret areas was frustrating as hell).

  2. ozmasis says:

    Now all I want are pictures of Batman wearing silly masks as disguises.

  3. Dragomok says:

    I know there is something not healthy about this, but I’m going to watch this one episode just because of your text.

  4. James says:

    this reminds me of the joke about Bono, that under Bono’s shades, is a smaller pair of shades. Ezio as a character is cool, but the story makes him seam so much stupider then it should, the same has to be said for Leonardo Da Vinci, the man who invented the Tank in the 15th century, oh and a Helicopter.

    • TheArtfulNudger says:

      Yes, it is quite weird that they seem to want you to see how brilliant and capable Ezio is, but it just undermines the character and the series to have a main character who is such a Mary Sue but at times couldn’t find his toes with a Magical Tome. This seems to be a running problem in games, but it usually manifests as a side character such as Miranda the Mary-Sue-Wannabe (Mass Effect 2), Theresa the plot exposition device(Fable series), and the list goes on.

      Who else can you name in videogames for this list of overcompensated caricatures?

  5. Nessad says:

    The gun sucks, yeah. But then in brotherhood, they fix all the problems Josh listed on the crossbow – It’s silent, aims fast, the ammunition comes from the very guards you kill and for multiple targets you also have throwing knives. Killstreaks doesn’t even have a chance to be OP compared to the crossbow.

  6. Eleion says:

    In movies and books I tend to be very nitpicky about the plot, but for whatever reason there are a few games where I’m too busy having a good time to care. Assassin’s Creed 2 and Mass Effect 2 are both games that did this for me. Until you did the Spoiler Warning of Mass Effect 2 I didn’t even realize how ridiculous the plot was, I just knew it was kinda boring and short compared to the rest of the game (which I thought was brilliantly entertaining). Same thing with Assassin’s Creed. I don’t think I spent even a second thinking about the plot or why I was doing things, I just went and did them, too distracted by jumping over rooftops in Italy to care.

    I’m not saying the stories don’t deserve criticism, the definitely do. I just think it’s interesting that I don’t think about them in these games, when I focus on them in other games and other media.

    • Shamus says:

      Strangely enough, I did the same thing for The Phantom Menace. I thought the plot was sort of forgettable, and I couldn’t stand Jar-Jar, but I didn’t notice how the whole thing was silly gibberish until the Red Letter Media review. I’ve had other games that I got caught up in, and didn’t think about the plot until someone else mentioned it. (Although I can’t remember which game, now.)

      • ps238principal says:

        It’s worse when a movie is otherwise cool except for one major nagging plot point. Like, why didn’t Gandalf just have a giant eagle drop Frodo and the ring right into the volcano and be done with it? :)

        • Rax says:

          Probably because Mordor is full of orcs with bows and a giant bird is a pretty easy target?

          • acronix says:

            Don´t forget the nazgul on fellbeasts.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Which didnt happen before their steeds were killed.

              And those orcs with bows dont have that great of an eyesight.Eagles can fly pretty high,then just swoop in when near the volcano.Youd have to be prepared and expecting it in order to stop that.

              • acronix says:

                Maybe Sauron used that big eye of his to take radar-like sweeps on the sky every now and then.

                Alternatively, the “because then there would be no story” argument works for me, too.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  That works for me as well.I laughed at that plot hole when Ive first came across it,but I still dont mind it.However,the thing that they did in the movie with nazguls afraid to jump a few meters while on horse-back,I mind a lot.Dont know why,but that one made me notice everything bad in the movies,and enjoy them far,far less than the books.

                  • Christopher M. says:

                    What, the jumping onto the boat? It’s based on the idea that nazgul and water are not best of friends. And any horseman who jumps on a boat is going in the drink.

                    As for their fellbeasts, while they started riding them only after they lost their horses (their undercover steeds) in the movies, they certainly had them in reserve for when needed – as evidenced by Smeagol’s knowledge of them in the Dead Marshes, from his last visit there years back. Furthermore, Gandalf really only finalized his plan once at Rivendell, with the thoughts of Elrond (who was aware of the ring’s weakness) added to his own (he may or may not have known; I think that at the least it had slipped his mind)

                    So in sum: The ringwraiths (who would at the point of any eagle assault still have been led by the vastly powerful Witch King, mounted on fellbeasts, and backed by Sauron’s influence and army of archers)) were more than capable of mounting an air defense at any point Gandalf might have chosen to chance the journey.

                    And when (not if) such a thing failed, Sauron would have gained instant victory.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      “What, the jumping onto the boat? It’s based on the idea that nazgul and water are not best of friends. And any horseman who jumps on a boat is going in the drink.”

                      Except that this was not established in the movie before,but the rings importance has.And since these guys are immortal,risking a quick swim in order to get the ring seems reasonable.

                      And even if we go by the book,and see that it was established how nazguls dont like water(arent mortally terrified of it,just dont like it,plus it was no ordinary stream that made them weary of stepping in),it would still be worth the risk.

                      As for the fellbeasts,sure those were in mordor.But again,if we go by the movie,the eagles have tackled with them while nazguls were present.Attacking a few of them when nazguls are on the opposite side of the continent would be worth the risk in order to destroy the ring.At least this would give them better chances than trying it on foot.

              • swenson says:

                Yeah, but the Fell Beasts still existed before the Nazgul started riding on them. So let’s say the eagles DID go into Mordor while the Nazgul and their horses were off chasing through the Shire (or otherwise indisposed during the Council of Elrond). You really think Sauron wouldn’t have sent out the Fell Beasts alone after the eagles? And I know those eagles are big and tough, but still, I doubt they’d be a match for a Fell Beast.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          Because Tolkien didn’t write it so?

        • Newbie says:

          BECAUSE THE EAGLES ARE NOT GANDALF’S PETS!!!

          I hate this point that people keep making.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Still the war was affecting them as well.

          • ps238principal says:

            “Hey, Eagle. Would you fly down and rescue two hobbits in Mordor on the slopes of an active volcano?”
            “I guess so, sure.”
            “Then you wouldn’t mind doing something safer like taking this hobbit who’s carrying a ring that if it falls into Sauron’s hands will basically doom the world and just drop him in from a couple hundred feet, right?”

            • krellen says:

              When the ring was destroyed, Sauron’s power was broken and thus it was much safer for them to enter Mordor. While the ring existed, Sauron was immensely powerful; if the Eagles entered Mordor, they would not escape His notice (while the Hobbits, small and on foot, could), and would quickly be subsumed to His will (another reason it had to be a Hobbit taking the ring in, as their simplicity made them resistant to the call of the ring.)

            • Pete says:

              “carry an artifact of unimaginable power that the enemy desires more than anything else in the world right through his domain” SAFER THAN “carry two guys after said enemy has perished”

              Yeah something doesnt quite add up here.

        • Entropy says:

          The answer I’ve always heard is that the Eagle will be tempted by the ring, so would try to make the rider fall off, so it can claim the Ring.

          • ps238principal says:

            An eagle being corrupted by the ring would have been hilarious, especially if it then kept passing from animal to animal. Perhaps this is where the Killer Rabbit from Holy Grail came from.

            • 4th Dimension says:

              Those big Eagles are not simple animals, but sentient beings.

              • ps238principal says:

                Is this where we argue whether or not a fantasy world with walking trees and brainy eagles can contain rabbits capable of being affected by a magical artifact?

                Let me know, because I’m going to need a lot more adult beverages if I’m going to even remotely take it seriously.

        • Dovius says:

          Well, it’s mentioned in the books that the Eagles flat-out refuse to fly into Mordor because, well, there’s an evil overlord with millions of troops and a dozen nigh-immortal wraiths on demonic bird-things there.
          I’m also pretty sure that the Nazgul’s flying mounts were some ancient species that the Eagles knew about, but that they originally used horses to maintain a somewhat low profile.

      • rayen says:

        the red letter media review was utter gibberish… that guy is the worst kind of nerd. and i still have to hear a reasonable answer to why IV-VI was so much better.

        • drlemaster says:

          Two words: Han Solo

        • Aelyn says:

          Because I-III contained Jar Jar.

        • Shamus says:

          I’m not sure how far you watched, but a lot of his points were really, really sound. This is particularly true in the Episode 3 review, where he almost drops the “crazyman” act for ten minutes and talks about the language of cinema. He talks about how the dialog scenes were shot, compares them to the originals, and throws Citizen Kane in there to show what he’s talking about.

          Also: The love story in ep 2 compared to the love story in ep 5. The love story between Anakin and Padme was some of the worst dialog I’ve ever heard in a movie. That is not hyperbole. Those scenes are agonizing to watch.

          • Aldowyn says:

            older Anakin in general just sucked. His entire motivations were… iffy, to say the least. Him falling to the dark side did not seem realistic at all.

            I really liked Obi-Wan, though…

            Also, the best thing the prequels did is bring the clone army into the world. Otherwise, no Battlefront series and no Republic Commando.

          • rayen says:

            i’ve never bought into the prequels being better or worse. And someone as strongly opinionated as plinkett taking double helpings from the bile bucket just didn’t make much sense to me. And as many plot holes are in I-III just as many are in IV-VI. Yes some of his points are sound and he does have an eye for detail but Some of his statements are flat out wrong.

            I’m not generation zero though. Fanboys have made me very much aware that that mean my opinions are invalid. I will always take the stance that the only problems I-III had were they weren’t made when you were between 8 and 16 years old.

            Although i will concede that the love scenes were terrible. But Lucas even in IV-VI doesn’t have the best way with dialogue.

            • Zukhramm says:

              Even if they have the same number or plot holes (have you counted them?) there’s more to being a good movie than having as few plot holes as possible.

              Well, I was between 8 and 16 years old when the prequels were made so, maybe you’re right, maybe that’s why I don’t like them. The movies are confusing, boring and everything interesting happens between the movies rather than in them.

              • Rutskarn says:

                Exactly. Whether the movies had plot holes is not the point. The point is that the storylines of the new three films are:

                1.) Convoluted
                2.) Dull
                3.) Have no emotional hooks
                4.) Have no relatable, sympathetic characters
                5.) Have no engaging character arcs

                • krellen says:

                  6) Have no main characters at all.

                  4-6 are about Luke. 1-3 can’t be said to be about Anakin – the first half of 1 doesn’t even have Anakin, and there’s a lot of mix up between Anakin, Padme, and Kenobi throughout.

                  • Soylent Dave says:

                    They’re about Palpatine, Anakin and Obi-wan.

                    I wouldn’t say they do it well, but those are the characters who we focus on throughout, and who evolve (inasmuch as any Star Wars character evolves) as the films progress.

                    4-6 have an ensemble cast as well (Luke, Han and Leia)

                    • krellen says:

                      Han and Leia incorporate a B-arc throughout the films. Luke is clearly the central character.

                      The prequels have no clear central character, though I suppose one could argue that it’s Obi-Wan for the first half, and Anakin for the second.

                    • ps238principal says:

                      It’s been noted that if you watch all of the movies together, the main character appears to be R2D2.

                    • Soylent Dave says:

                      krellen – I don’t think there’s too much difference between the prequels and original films in this regard (main character focus)

                      1 – Focus on Obi Wan, introduction of Palpy and Anakin
                      2 – Absolutely nothing happens in the entire film, whatsoever.
                      3 – Focus on Anakin and his relationship with Obi Wan and Palp. Obi Wan should get some development time here, but doesn’t.

                      4 – Focus on Luke, introduction of Han and Leia
                      5 – Evenly split between Luke’s story and Han/ Leia story
                      6 – Wanders all over the place for a bit (giving each character 2.7 minutes on screen), before remembering that Luke is the main character when they get to Endor. Oh, and finishes Anakin’s story, if you still care about him (you don’t).

                      What 4-6 do a lot better is have ‘5’ in the middle, in which every character gets to have some proper development (including the bad guys).

                      Now that I’ve written them out I note that actually 4-6 are more coherent – each one tells a specific story (even Empire, which starts and ends in medias res) – I’ve always looked at that as more of a plot thing than a character thing, but I guess Luke pulls his weight there.

                      Whereas watching 1-3 it becomes increasingly clear that Lucas only has enough plot for 1 film and he’s trying to stretch it to 3, because he wrote ‘Episode 4′ at the top of that crawl all those years ago…

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Shitty movie is a shitty movie,no matter when you are watching it.I have watched some of the classics(shawshank redemption,godfather,apocalypse now) pretty recently(about 2,3 years ago),and I find them to be far superior to many modern movies(remakes especially).Heck,when I was a kid I didnt even like starwars that much,and neither do I like much it now(though I love the kotor games),but I still think the prequels suck big time.Or lets use two movies that Ive watched as a kid,one of which I still think is good(despite all the flaws),and the other Ive thought even then is just bad:Conan the barbarian and conan the destroyer.

              Sure,you can switch off your brain and still enjoy a shitty movie,or a mindless action shlock,but that wouldnt mean the movie is any good.I love the room,but Id never say its a good movie.Ive also enjoyed gamer because michael hall(dexter) is in it,but its just a way worse movie than surrogates.

            • False Prophet says:

              What cinched it for me was Plinkett’s review of Episode III, when he shows the actual behind-the-scenes making of footage of Lucas & co. making the prequels. There’s the one bit where Lucas is looking over all the concept art for the characters, locations, vehicles, props, etc. Then he says, “it all looks great, I guess I have to start writing the script.”

              My jaw hit the floor at that point. Basically, Lucas stated that whipping up new action figures and playsets was his first priority. To me, that’s the absolute backwards way of going about it, because now you’re going to force yourself to include these toys in your movie whether it makes sense for the film or not.

        • Tizzy says:

          The Jedi were a lot more interesting in IV-VI. Yes, I get it, part of the point is that the pre-Empire Jedi is that they’re a bunch of people who have lost their way. Still, they don’t work at all for me in the prequels.

        • ps238principal says:

          A quick run down of just the cursory reasons:

          – Darth Vader was an actual villain. He killed people. He was shown doing evil things. Darth Maul was just plunked in and we were TOLD he was a bad guy. He never actually did anything to make us want to see him get his just desserts.
          – Ep I-III couldn’t make up its mind who it was for. The dialog, the bad acting, the cheesy aliens, etc. were all firmly targeted at toy-craving kids. This was in stark contrast to the death and dismemberment going on.
          – Ep I-III had a lot of things that just made no sense. From invasions that don’t land near their targets to Jedi who can apparently “sense fear” but not a galaxy-wide conspiracy to “I have the high ground!”
          – In Ep IV-VI, people could tell George that he was doing something wrong/stupid, and he’d change it. After becoming a gazillionaire, he took little to no advice and we got the trainwreck of Ep I-III, complete with dialog that makes anime dubs sound well-written and a “romance” that somehow manages to be creepier than the one in “Twilight.”
          Edit: As stated above, Midichlorians. He turned the Force into a disease. I don’t remember the URL, but somewhere on the net is an archive of the first several drafts of the original “Star Wars” script. His concept for the source of Jedi powers was sometimes so similar to “The Spice” that it was nixed by those reading the thing because they feared a lawsuit from Frank Herbert.
          – He named a character “Kit Fisto.”

          I second watching the RedLetterMedia review of Episode III, if only for the comparisons between Episode IV George Lucas interviews and Episode III George Lucas interviews. He went from saying that your story was of utmost importance to basically creating a giant visual space-orgasm with tatters of plot taped to it.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Just one example is when he asks people to describe certain characters from the movies,without using their names and professions as a description.And really,try doing that and see how long of a list you can make for them,and youll see why the originals were better.

        • krellen says:

          4-6 have a constant arc; it’s the story of Luke, and how his love defeats the Dark Side – it’s basically a story about how the Jedi had it wrong all along, and how one boy and his love for his father can change the galaxy.

          I have no idea what 1-3 are about. I think they tried to show the dark side of love, but there was no real constancy to it (had this been a consistent theme, for instance, Qui-Gonn would have been highly emotionally involved and this would be why he died, just as a single for-instance.)

    • Mathias says:

      I second this. As I mentioned in one of the first episodes, this is one of my favorite games ever, yet I cannot find any way to nitpick this analysis, I just didn’t notice.

      Though in my defense, when I played this, I was 14 <.<'

      • Pete says:

        So far spoiler warning has done a brilliant job at crushing the image of a brilliant game that I build AC2 up to in my mind. Truth hurts I suppose, but then again, I did play through the thing three times already so I guess thats okay.

        • Aldowyn says:

          I would love to see a relatively modern game that DOESN’T get completely smashed under the hammer of Spoiler Warning. It’s getting ridiculous at this point.

          • Kdansky says:

            Go back and watch the episodes on HL2. While there is criticism, there is outright gushing at how great it is. And Witcher 2, DXHR or Skyrim are not nearly as full of holes as “win a carnival championsship to acquire a golden mask so you can be incognito”.

    • ps238principal says:

      It follows the “Laugh-In” principle: Did you think that last joke sucked? No problem. A thousand more will show up right behind it and you’re bound to like one of them, forgetting the offending one.

      Side quests are there to wash the taste of bad main plot out of our brains.

    • Tizzy says:

      I don’t mind ignoring the story’s nonsense if the game is entertaining; just as well, or I wouldn’t have played any game at all!

      But I hate it when fans of a game are vehemently denying the existence of gaping plot holes: just admit that they don’t spoil your fun, that’s fine, but don’t pretend that the story is airtight when it’s a joke!

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Mass effect 2 pissed me off so much,especially when Ive reached ashley.That dialogue was so horrendous.Lots of other stuff Ive excused about the game,but that one….Ugh!!

      Asscreed 2 never did though.Firstly,because I was never that involved in the story of 1,secondly because I was so much more interested in what 16 hid than what was going on in the main plot.

    • False Prophet says:

      Same here. In my case, I was just so deliriously happy to be playing an Italian PC in a video game who wasn’t a mobster or a plumber. And in one of my favourite (and rarely seen in games) historical periods at that.

      It was also a huge improvement, gameplay-wise, from the first game. It’s rare to see a sequel fix almost every mistake its predecessor did. I probably gave it extra points for that.

  7. Amnestic says:

    Josh (Around 2:10-2:25)”God help us if we actually go through a Star Wars game.”

    I think you’d actually like Republic Commando. Wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty solid.

    Mumbles (Around 3:20) “I’m still convinced that they think they’re smarter than Leonardo.”

    At least they actually had him building stuff of his own in Brotherhood. He was still weak-willed and easily taken advantage of, mind, but at least they gave him some smarts.

    Josh (On the subject of the pistol) “It kinda sucks.”

    It really, really does. Especially when you compare it to the crossbow in Brotherhood which takes less time to aim, is silent and can hold 25(?) bolts before you need to replenish your stock.

    Shamus (on the subject of the mask, around 5:30) “Not only do you have to be stupid to buy it. Everyone in this world has to be very stupid in a very specific way.”

    If the plot and writing in this game were better, I’d consider referencing Shakespeare here, how extremely well known characters could fool others with less than a mask as a disguise. How, in comparison, Ezio’s disguise is positively genius.

    I’d also reference Clark Kent’s notorious glasses, since we had a Batman reference.

    So there is a long standing literary basis for such things. I just don’t think the game did a good enough job of earning our suspension of disbelief here. It’d be damn near perfect if the game were set in Elizabethan England though. I’d be the first person to step up to defend this sequence if I thought it was a legitimate reference to the absurdities of Shakespearean disguises.

    Josh (8:50) “[The Carnevale] sequence seems totally unnecessary.”

    Storywise? It is entirely unnecessary. You do the games, you get cheated out of the mask and then steal the mask back. Couldn’t you have just stolen the mask in the first place? Yes. Yes you could. Now shut up and go play CTF.

    “Someone killed a hooker”

    Don’t forget to pick that guy’s safe to find his snuff tapes, then pick up the thermite from the other guy to destroy the Omerta’s weapon stocks!

    “What person is going to win all of that stuff?”

    Batman.

    “Are there party favours?”

    There’s hookers. We could’ve had this sequence where Ezio poses as a male hooker. He’s basically a manwhore anyway. He wouldn’t even need to act.

    • Your weak link here is with Clark Kent, they can see the glasses, and he isn’t wearing his superman outfit at the same time. The mask is practically invisible, especially at night, and his face isn’t even how people recognize him. I mean, there’s no way that’s precedented and if it is, it shouldn’t be.

  8. Raygereio says:

    One of the common complaints against AC1 was the monotonous gameplay. It wasn’t bad – don’t get me wrong; the gameplay was good, but it stayed the same throughout pretty much most of the game.
    You didn’t get new abilities to move around or for combat and to gather info for your targets you had to do the exact same missions (eavesdrop on conversation, pickpocket letter, etc) over and over again.

    I think carnivalle is part of the overraction to this. Just like the carriage-chase was for example. They probably had a meeting at some point with “Come up with radically new gameplay sections we can shoehorn in” on the agenda.

  9. Mathias says:

    What really annoys me about the transition from AC to AC2 isn’t so much the gimmicky minigames, it’s that a lot of the symbolism that the first one built up as well as the whole central moral of the whole thing (kill one man to save a thousand and preserve personal liberty vs. robbing people of free will for the sake of peace) goes right out the window and the Templars basically become Chaotic Stupid levels of evil and dickish.

    Admittedly, some of them were in Assassin’s Creed as well, though there were a few of them that in their death-monologue actually came across as reasonably intelligent.

    For a second here, let’s compare Robert de Sable (the main villain of the first game, except for Al-Mualim ) to the Fat Spaniard. Robert de Sable was an intelligent figure, a popular figure amongst the Crusaders, a gentleman to all except his enemies, and a personal friend of Richard II. The Fat Pope has the same problem Ezio has: Running around in a flamboyant suit with a cowl talking to shady people on the street in board daylight and attempting to become Pope so he can obtain the Apple of Eden and…Rule the world for himself? Where’s the moral gone?

    The only place where you see any sort of really interesting bits of symbolism and mythology-building is the optional “dick around on a rooftop until you find the right puzzle” side-mission with Subject 16, which I actually thought was really cool. Of course, nothing ever bloody happens with that subplot until the end of each game, and it never ever gets resolved.

    • Shamus says:

      “What really annoys me about the transition from AC to AC2 isn’t so much the gimmicky minigames, it’s that a lot of the symbolism that the first one built up as well as the whole central moral of the whole thing (kill one man to save a thousand and preserve personal liberty vs. robbing people of free will for the sake of peace) goes right out the window and the Templars basically become Chaotic Stupid levels of evil and dickish.”

      YES. Man, I LOVE this sort of thing, and I was so disappointed that AC2 dropped it, when I’d been hoping they would expand on it.

      • Mathias says:

        They did expand on the Pieces of Eden quite significantly in AC2, though, if you do the Subject 16 minigame, but it is kind of annoying that you have to play a minigame in order to understand what’s going on in the endgame when Pope Rodrigo the Lard swings the Papal staff around and it’s revealed to be another relic of Those Who Came Before

        And I also love that sort of thing, and it really was the saving grace of the first Assassin’s Creed for me. I’m really hoping they revisit it at some point, maybe even tie the next ancestor into an organisation that had largely the same MO as the fictional Hashashin in Assassin’s Creed (the historical Hashashin almost exclusively sold their favors to the muslims and were generally only a pain in the ass towards the Crusaders), with the whole “kill one person to save a thousand” gig.

        • False Prophet says:

          The historical Assassins during the time of the Crusades weren’t for sale. They were members of a Shia minority sect within Islam, who practiced guerilla warfare and assassination against the Sunni majority who surrounded and outnumbered them. Only much later did they become killers-for-hire for Muslim nobles.

          Where the Assassins tangled with the Crusaders, there was likely some complex political motivation behind it. The Crusades weren’t just a simple Christians vs. Muslims conflict: both Muslim and Christian lords cut deals with members of the other faith against their own co-religionists several times.

      • Soylent Dave says:

        I think part of the problem is that they use Rodrigo Borgia as a villain. In the real world he was a corrupt, megalomaniacal loon, who didn’t really bother to hide what he was doing because he was the most powerful man in the world.

        It’s probably quite hard to make a game version of him look like anything other than a caricature – he was basically Dr Evil in a pope hat to begin with.

        (doesn’t excuse them for not trying, of course)

    • CruelCow says:

      Yes, which also (at least for me) leads to the complete loss of feeling like an assassin. In AC1 I felt like an assassin, trying to get to these select few powerful people, while trying to murder as few innocents as possible. (Even though gameplay didn’t back that up 100%). In AC2 and following, it felt more like kill everybody who is not on my side.
      And that stupid mechanic of being able to reduce notoriety! It completely removed the feeling of being hated by the entire city. Heck, in AC2 pretty early in the game you save a banker (?) from assassination in front of a huge crowd. At the moment I really said to myself: “Am I an assassin or batman?”

      *sigh* and yet I still love the series.

      • Khizan says:

        What ruined the assassin feeling for me wasn’t anything to do with the plot or the story or anything like that.

        It’s the fact that I can just walk into a massive group of guards and win a straight up fight.

        • Gamer says:

          To be fair, you could do that in the first game too.

          • Josh says:

            Still, it wasn’t quite as easy or clear-cut. In AC1, you had to be good with counter moves if you wanted to take out whole groups of guards without dying, if you began to lose health, you needed to book it and become anonymous or you’d be screwed.

            In AC2, the whole combat system breaks utterly as soon as you get medicine; it turns into, at best, a timesink because you can instantly heal ten-ish squares of health at the push of a button, and it costs next to nothing to buy and absolutely nothing to loot from the guards you killed because you didn’t have to worry about damage.

            Brotherhood’s only improvement to the system was to give you ways to shorten the time sink and kill guards in a more interesting and spectacular fashion. You still can’t die from combat if you have even an inkling of what you’re doing.

            • Simulated Knave says:

              Not to mention counters are a LOT easier.

            • Gamer says:

              This was true until I learned about Hidden Blade counters in the first game. They were just as deadly as they were in the sequel if you get the timing down (which wasn’t very hard). You couldn’t block with it, but you could very quickly and easily slaughter 20 or so guards with it. And health regened slowly even while you were fighting, so all I had to do was dodge a little until I had about 3-4 health bars.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      I never played Assassins Creed 1, but for me one of the major flaws in AC2 is that there are no sympathetic understandable people that oppose you. I mean this is supposed to be a fight between conservative/order and liberal/anarchist sides. Both of them want greater good for society, but both of them are such extremists in their views. One side is supposed to want to make rules and make a perfect hierarchy, where everyone has his own place and is respected for it, but stepping out of it is a crime. Other side on the other hands embraces liberty, but go WAY too far saying that there is no morality or rules, everything goes, AND ANY kind of law is a draconian law stiffling the people. Both want good, but both have SERIOUS FAILING.

      But what we get are meek assassins, and chaotic evil templars. Not a single one Templar has ANY redeeming quality who on top of it all aren’t simply corrupted by power (which could have been a reasonable way to explain their evilnes) but were not good people from the start and are in it purely for POWER, while ALL assassins are pure whiteness of GOOD. It could have been much more but it is not.

      Still I liked the game and it’s game play (even more in Brotherhood where combat is more polished (allthough it has it’s own failings)), and especially the glyphs (hearing 16 descend more and more into insanity).

  10. Zukhramm says:

    You’re making this up right?

  11. Mathias says:

    Okay, so one thing about the “to the man who wins all the Carnevale games”, it does tie in -somewhat- to the very common theory of the “Renaissance Man” and the philosophy centered around people at that time. The reason why Leonardo Da Vinci is held up as the pinnacle of the philosophy isn’t just because he was brillaint, it’s that no matter what he did, he was brilliant at it. If the four carnival games had been different enough in terms of what they required (physical exercise, dexterity, intelligence and artistic sensibility), it -might- have worked.

    …I realized I may have entered a period of denial here.

    • Hitch says:

      Maybe it’d be a bit easier to swallow if there were points for each game and the highest point total would win the mask. Then Ezio just goes ahead and wins every event, anyway. It would at least sound like a feasible plan, and Ezio’s just that badass.

  12. Hitch says:

    I’m pretty sure I’ve seen a silver-age comic, with Superman in full costume but wearing the Clark Kent glasses, trying to explain to Lois or Jimmy that he is in fact Superman, and they’re just telling him, “Oh, Clark, you look silly in that costume.”

    Now, it can’t be Ezio’s eyes that give him away when someone looks under his hood, because those still show with the mask on. Ezio has the most distinctive EYEBROWS in Italy. That’s it. (Although they look pretty ordinary to me.)

  13. ps238principal says:

    Josh? Is it any surprise that Boba Fett became popular by having only a few lines? If I said as few things written by George Lucas as possible, I’d look really good by comparison, too.

    I also can’t believe how Lucas had Boba fire his missile-backpack in Episode II. Apparently it’s designers didn’t have the ability to make a rocket change course and home in on its target; you had to climb a wall and point your entire body at whatever it is you wanted to blow up. If there were no walls, I assume you’d have to lie down first.

    • Sumanai says:

      From what I’ve understood Han Solo didn’t say many things written by Lucas either.

      But he’s popular too, so I think I’ll have to concede with your hypothesis.

  14. Gamer says:

    Now, I’m never a huge stickler for plot on my first playthrough of a game. But even when I played through this section, I had similar grievances. The thing with the mask and with the carnival games broke my immersion with the story. Thankfully, the glyph puzzles brought me back in.

    Also, I was about to contest the pistol’s effectiveness, and then Josh reminded me that most of my pistol memories are from Brotherhood. Although the pistol does come in handy on a few assassinations (like the one you guys are about to do).

    I will say that AC1’s story will probably always be my favorite in the series. It brought up complex philosophical questions and made you sympathize with the enemies. Both sides want peace, yet disagree on how to obtain it. The Templars became pure evil in AC2.

    • silentStatic says:

      Both sides want peace, yet disagree on how to obtain it. The Templars became pure evil in AC2.

      Don’t forget that in AC1 the game gave you a far better introduction to the Templars you were assassinating, where in AC2, you sometimes were at the mercy of the 4th wall breaking archive to figure out just why this or that Templar was scum – well, besides guilt by association of course.

      • Gamer says:

        Definitely. While the investigation stuff did get a little boring, I liked that it gave you insight into exactly why you were supposed to kill your target and how. They could have kept doing that if they used different and more varied investigation missions. Then, their confessions at the end turned them from monsters into believable people (with one or two exceptions). I loved how the first game told its story and it will always be the best at that imo.

        The story quests in AC2 feel like they were supposed to show you why these men should die, yet they seem to forget to do that and shoehorn in some kick the dog moment at the last minute. They establish a motive for Ezio to kill these guys (they’re vying for world domination and act like dicks the whole time), but no reason why they are such dicks to EVERYBODY. They are never humanized and made to look like believable people like their predecessors in AC1 were. I’ll always be an AC fanboy and continue to buy the games, but it irritates me how the Templars fell victim to character derailment.

        • Thomas says:

          I’ll be honest those minute ‘this guy is evil’ videos and the awful awful character building where they just randomly beat up merchants (which the doge who is good and we try to save just ignores?) drove me through the other side and I’m now convinced the Assassins are evil douches mindwashing Desmond and the population with a captured piece of Eden into convincing them they’re the good guys.

          I mean think about it, we have the Templars who are lawful and a bit overcontrolling and then we have Ezio, as played by Josh. Case closed

        • False Prophet says:

          With that in mind, here’s my pitch for Assassin’s Creed 3:

          Set it in Revolutionary France, because that’s my favourite of the rumours I’ve heard so far. The Committee of Public Safety and the Directory were controlled by Assassins who overthrew the Templar-controlled Bourbon dynasty, but went too far and caused the Terror. So Desmond’s late-18th century French ancestor works to allow the Templar-influenced Napoleon to come in and restore order to France. Maybe that would sufficiently grey up the Assassins somewhat while restoring some respect for the Templars’ goals, if not their methods.

  15. Rax says:

    This has probably come up by now, but.. wouldn’t whoever wins the first game have no competition at all in the following three? Why would I even try to win the second one if I already lost the first and had to win all four?

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Grab 25 butts in less than 3 minutes!

  17. silentStatic says:

    It pissed me off when they used Leonardo Da Vinci as a lever to elevate their risible Mary Sue protagonist.

    I had a similar experience when doing one of the Subject 16 puzzles, where it dawned on me that in the world of Assassin’s Creed, history was not made by chance, the masses or strong leaders.

    No, in the world of AC history is mostly decided by who is in command of a Piece of Eden. And 90% of these were, surprise surprise, Templars, even when they seemingly worked against each other. The rich taperstry of history and conflict reduced to a question of ownership of a piece of precursor tech.

    That broke my suspension of disbelief.

    At least it ties in with their backstory. As incongruous as it is to everything else that takes place.

    • False Prophet says:

      I played White Wolf’s World of Darkness pen-and-paper RPGs (and LARP) for many years, where every single human event and achievement involved a secret conspiracy of vampires, mages, werewolves or faeries pulling strings behind the scenes. So this was basically along the same lines. It still bothered me, but I guess the concept was familiar to me.

      I find the idea applied to real-life horrendous, e.g. ancient astronaut theories and the world of AC basically revolves around an ancient astronauts plot, but at least it’s mostly consistent with the Templars vs. Assassins conflict. I generally reject conspiracy theories in real-life too, but I love them in fiction for some reason.

  18. Rasha says:

    Don’t worry Shamus that carnival was just a rogue cell. Also Ezio just invented elevators to troll you. Also you get no renegade option to punch him in the face.

  19. Spammy says:

    To me it seems like you shouldn’t even be able to get into those Carny games. Just from watching the video it seemed like a bone the Doge threw to the minor rich people/nobles, let them have some fun and give them a chance to feel important and party with the really important people in the city. Everyone who’s there should have an idea of who everyone else is and where they fit into the social structure of the city, not just some random guy in a hood.

    Just beating a dead Italian horse, aren’t I?

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Shamus you really shouldnt give up on the series.Brotherhood is much more enjoyable,and does away with plenty of things that were wrong in asscreed 2.Plus,they finally do something meaningful with desmond.

  21. Thomas says:

    This is probably the best time to give a critique on Spoiler Warning, because on the one hand, you did not spend enough time explaining whats going, why you were doing what you were doing and talking about what was actually happening this episode. The bit with the dude murdering prostitutes was worth talking about, dwelling on and even the bit about the nun explaining who faith was worth a comment about the developers putting something like that in the game, because it was bold and meaningful.

    This means you’re going to run out of things to talk about sooner than you should have again and talking about masks is going to get boring quickly.

    On the other hand, the talk about these miniquests was really interesting, just in the wrong place and showed me why i feel such a disconnect with the AC story, as you pointed out, just where the game should be more focussed and ramping it up, it dallies in something pointless. AC in general swaps the side activities and the story. So I found this commentary brilliant and it showed me something about the game I felt but didn’t understand

  22. Kdansky says:

    One of two or three of this series that I watched. I still claim that you should do less of a single game, and switch games every few weeks. Four episodes, and skip some game in between each so we get a look at more than just the tutorial and beginning. This one was highly entertaining, but they just drag on when the games are long and repetitive.

  23. zob says:

    I don’t understand the criticism about Leonardo Da Vinci. This is a game where biblical Adam and Eve are actual persons who escaped from aliens. It just doesn’t seem that important to me.

    • Shamus says:

      Leonardo is a historical hero. It feels unseemly to take him down a peg just so we can elevate the protagonist.

      Imagine a story where Ghandi wasn’t a martyr, but just some mook who was following orders as part of a grand conspiracy, and he was actually kind of a dick. That would be okay if treated properly, but if it was done just to show how pure and noble the protagonist is, it comes off as cheap and maybe even offensive.

      • zob says:

        Just to clear out one thing. I always thought of Ezio as a naive idiot who is way over his head. So I don’t see the noble pure marty sue when I look at him. That guy can’t even read the codex pages without Leo’s help. If it’s Altair that we are speaking about while significantly better than Ezio, he wasn’t a genius either.

        In AC universe every technological invention is based on precursor tech. Every religion is a lie. Leonardo pictured as less of a genius (still genius nonetheless) should be lower on the totem pole :)

      • Fnord says:

        By “the protagonist”, you mean Altair? Because Ezio didn’t write the codex pages.

        And I think you’re selling the game’s Leonardo short (and perhaps exaggerating the genius of Leonardo as a revolutionary inventor). The flying machine is all him, no codex page involved. The historical Leonardo never took that beyond the drawing board.

        Even the codex stuff. He makes a gun that’s (possibly beyond) state of the art for the time. Yeah, he’s working from blueprints, but it’s not like assembling parts from a kit; he’s making this marvel of engineering in his workshop with materials and tools that are just lying around. And he presumably does it all rather quickly, since it’s all done while Ezio waits (and not even a cutscence of Ezio napping this time).

        • taellosse says:

          That scene made me laugh and groan at the same time. Reminded me very strongly of when, in the original 60s comic, Peter Parker invents the revolutionary compound he puts in his webshooters in a few hours in his bedroom with his home chemistry set. And then just magically creates the webshooters themselves, apparently from his dirty socks or something, since he certainly had no metalworking tools or machining equipment in there.

  24. Phil says:

    The great thing about the “Robin Hood” setup was that they even hinted at it with the reaction of Dante and what’s-his-face after Ezio keeps winning games. But then yoink! that bit just like the mask.

  25. CrushU says:

    Oh crap.

    You need to do Knights of the Old Republic now, due to the start of this one. :D

  26. Ira says:

    Of all the things to complain about in this episode, I’m surprised the gratuitous ‘sexy nun’ didn’t get a mention. To be honest, that character offended me far more than the gratuitous nature of the Carnevale missions.

    …this may have been partly because during that scene I pretended I was in Tavernel, in that scene from ‘A Song for Arbonne’.

    Which makes a point I have been meaning to say at some point: people take the Assassin’s Creed story seriously? AC2 is the only game of the series I have played, but in all honesty the story is downright comedic. I find the Templars not to be complex or villains or even one-dimensional villains. I find them *hilarious* villains.

    Once you go through the glyphs and discover that, for instance, Hitler, Stalin, and Churchill were all Templars and conspired to cause World War II, the whole thing loses all credibility; hell, Henry Ford was a Templar and sent a Piece of Eden to Hitler. Once you get the full scope of it, there is no reaction but to laugh. Seriously? With the supposed influence the Templars have had, they don’t even need the Pieces of Eden. Then you learn the Templars made NASA go to the moon to retrieve a Piece of Eden from up there. The Templars masterminded the assassination of Gandhi. Thomas Edison was a Templar and he had Nikola Tesla killed, because Tesla had invented broadcast power. Turing was going to invent working domestic robots, but he was killed to stop it. The Templars assassinated JFK. Joan of Arc had the Sword of Eden – apparently an uber-killy sword, even though Joan by her own public admission at her trial never killed another human being – and the Templars had her burned at the stake so they could take it. (Yet if the Sword of Eden is so awesome, how did they capture her in the first place?) And so on.

    So, you fistfight the Pope. Sure. This is Assassin’s Creed. It is stupid, but the entire *premise* of the series is stupid.

    I enjoyed AC2, but frankly it is a good world design and a great set of gameplay mechanics desperate for a competent writer.

    My theory is that Vidic is just a rich, crazy lunatic who has invented complex VR simulations that he uses to play fictional stories to people. He puts in all this ‘genetic memory’ nonsense because, hey, crazy. (And, after all, genetic memory is a concept that doesn’t make any scientific sense.) Desmond and the other modern assassions are simply incredibly gullible and stupid. The entire histories of Altair and Ezio that Desmond sees are fiction, as are the Pieces of Eden and the messages from Subject 16. It’s all invented by one rich madman.

    • Viktor says:

      The first game had a decent story. It’s not perfect, but it generally makes sense and ties together. AC2 is a horrible step down.

    • 10Kan says:

      This is definitely my favorite explanation of AC’s plot.

      Stories with “Ancient Conspiracy” plotlines seem to have a lot of trouble with the need to up the ante in sequels, even when they’re already teetering on the brink of self-parody.

      What they need to do make a plot that starts out in utterly bug-nuts Nazi-UFOs-from-the-hollow-earth territory and gradually gets pared down into something more reasonable, like Scooby-Doo but with more stabbings.

      • False Prophet says:

        Good point. I love ancient conspiracies in fiction, but they get really silly when held up to too much scrutiny. Which is probably a big reason they don’t exist in real life.

  27. zob says:

    I don’t know if this matters for anyone. It’s about the guy who slices the whores and runs away. When he first took a hostage and says “Don’t come any closer” You can shoot him with the gun.

  28. Tizzy says:

    Small technology detail: when you finally see the mask in the Antonio cutscene, there is no mask!! It looks like his face, just with a different color.

    Yes, I know there is a visible seam to show it’s a mask, but it hardly looks like a real Venetian mask. In particular, every feature of Ezio’s face is perfectly reproduced in the mask.

    What a stunning disguise!

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