Assassin’s Creed 2 EP26: Il Doge Ridicolo

By Shamus
on Nov 24, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning

145 comments

Check out at 5:34, when Josh reaches the cutscene just a fraction of a second before the guards flip out. (If they had been alerted, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have been able to go through the door.)


Link (YouTube)

Okay, so Ezio is notorious while wearing the golden mask that made no sense to obtain. On the other hand, it was impossible for him to become notorious when wearing a SMALLER mask, even though his hood hides both masks and later he’s incognito anyway because… I don’t know. I don’t even know what the rules are anymore.

This part of the game is like one of those, “How many things can you find wrong with this picture” deals. Except, this thing is fractally wrong: Every plot hole encompasses a number of smaller plot holes, which in turn contain more holes, all the way down.

I do get mad at sloppy writing, but it’s an inescapable truth that most people just don’t seem to care or even notice. I have never seen any Assassin’s Creed 2 review that even mentioned these issues in passing. This does not bode well.

I liked the story of Assassin’s Creed 1. I think Assassin’s Creed 2 is bigger and dumber. In a lot of ways this reminds me of the shift from Mass Effect 1 to Mass Effect 2, where the story was pounded into mush, but sales went up. It’s not just that developers think that stories don’t matter. They are looking at evidence that good storytelling is a liability, and that what you need is a button that makes awesome happen.

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Footnotes:



A Hundred!20205We've got 145 comments. But one more probably won't hurt.

From the Archives:

  1. Dante says:

    Ezio killed Dumbledore!

    edit: you guys missed a Star Wars reference…….

  2. Aanok says:

    Once, a friend of mine was reading a pop science magazine. Well, the authors actually managed to tell people with a straight face that, if you ever fell down a plane, you should try to land in soft places. They explicitly said to look for swamps and haystacks on your way down.

    • Mathias says:

      Clearly the authors were assassins.

    • Pete says:

      Well duh, no one has to clean up the mess if you land in a swamp.

    • anaphysik says:

      Well, a huge snowdrift on a steep slope would probably be better. Remember that it is actually possible for people to survive falls from planes – but they need a way to slowly decelerate. A small stack of hay will not do that; hundreds of meters of snow that you can roll through before coming to a stop might.

    • Xavin says:

      Obviously the correct thing to do is to cross your legs, cross your arms above your head, and land feet first.

      It won’t help you survive, but it’s easier to unscrew your body from the ground afterwards.

    • Tse says:

      No, the right thing to do is to land head first. It’s the quickest way to die. Only problem is, they will be burying you without a head and with a mangled torso.

    • dovius says:

      To be fair, people have survived several kilometer-long falls by landing in some bushes.
      Then again, it’s gonna be hard to control your trajectory after you’ve just fallen out of a plane.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I know of only one person who survived a fall from several kilometers.So yes,its not impossible,but I wouldnt count on it.

        • Xavin says:

          Well – there’s also Nicholas Alkemade (fell 5.5km onto pine-trees and snow, suffering nothing worse than a sprain), Alan Magee (fell 6.7km onto (or, possibly more accurately, through) the glass roof of Saint-Nazaire railway station – albeit with major injuries, but he lived another 60 years), and Ivan Chisov (fell 6.7km into a snow-filled ravine, fracturing his pelvis and concussing his spine – but was flying again in a matter of months).

          But still, as you say, it’s not exactly a reliable survival technique.

  3. Mathias says:

    This part did kill me during my original playthrough, as I remember. Bartholomeo just felt like the “arbitrary mercenary character” in Venice. He’s essentially just Venice’s counterpart to Mario.

  4. karln says:

    More random thoughts on game stories:

    I think I tend to automatically distinguish between ‘real’ story segments and ‘gameplay justification’ ones when I’m playing. I don’t worry about why we need to do this mask stuff, or about the ecology of the Malboro and Cactuar, or why a bunch of ancient traps still work or how the bad guys got in without triggering them, because I automatically read all that as ‘game stuff’ and don’t even really consider it canon except in very broad terms, like ‘and they fought some freakish wildlife in the mountains’ or ‘and Ezio had to compete in the carnevale games as part of a complex plot to reach his target’.

    Anybody else recognise this behaviour?

    • Sydney says:

      I do this with RPGs. I consider the mucking about doing nonsense sidequests ‘not part of the story’ – in the canon, the party just does the main quest, and I abstract the sidequests away as “game stuff”.

    • zob says:

      I think it’s called gameplay and story segregation.

    • Alex says:

      I kind of see what you mean. I switch into different “modes” depending on whether it’s immediate gameplay or a story moment, which probably makes me more forgiving if something doesn’t make a whole lot of sense contextually.

      In RPG’s, I see a lot of things as being non-literal. Turn-based battles for example, to me seem more representative of conflict than a straight transcription of what happened. Just there to give the player something to do in between cutscenes and dialogue.

      Although that whole Golden Mask thing here… I don’t think I’d be able to overlook that. I think the Spoiler Warning crew are too hard on modern games sometimes, but I have to admit that looked brutal.

      Maybe if AC were an RPG?

  5. Adalore says:

    Ahwell, letsee if Captain Roflmao will be ab le to save the day.

  6. Drexer says:

    Bianca… that seems to be the Italian version of the Portuguese word ‘branca’, which means ‘White’.

    Is there anything related to the color white with that Dwarf’s weapon?

  7. Phoenix says:

    I wonder what you would think about ac2 brotherhood. I noticed the difference between ME2 and ME1, but not between AC2 and AC1… but I like the hidden cospiracy story didn’t put so much attention on the plain story.

    Anyway I think that isn’t about the flaws of the games, but the good things. If there’s something that you really like usually you don’t put much attention to the flaws. People have different tastes so notice different things. Expect masterpieces that are almost without flaws.

  8. webrunner says:

    Okay so

    Ezio presumably did very specific things.

    But, um, your Animus friends tell Desmond of the position of something so he can get more cash?

    Did Ezio get that or not? Why are they appealing to Desmond’s greed for imaginary past bucks?

    • swimon1 says:

      Well if he puts the imaginary past money in a bank he can get interest on the loan. Imagine 400 years of compounded interest Desmond will have so much imaginary cash he can buy his dreams… in his dreams.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Genetic memory seems to be working in a very wibbly-wobbly-geneticy-weneticy stuffy way.It provides the back story,but you are still moving through it freely.The memory is there simply to give you the setting,not restrict your actions.Except when it does.Which is not always,just sometimes.When its important….

      • Gale says:

        Yeah, they don’t get too specific about it, but it does seem like Desmond’s experience in the Animus is literally playing Assassin’s Creed like you are, with the “translation software glitches” and the camera being explicitly acknowledged on more than one occasion. I’m not really sure how I feel about it.

  9. Eric says:

    I saw that video months ago and thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. Thanks for reminding me of it.

    Honestly, I think you’re overreacting about Assassin’s Creed II a bit. Yes, the story is dumber, but you know what? At least the gameplay is actually fun. Assassin’s Creed was great until about 1/3 of the way through, where instead of coming up with new and interesting challenges for the player, instead they decided to start trolling by increasing the spawn counts of the beggars and crazy people, and making it so that guards would yell “assassin!” and attack every time you did so much as walk at more than a snail’s pace. It was a tedious and awkward experience, and while the second game has its share of problems, at least it is consistently fun throughout (okay, with a few rough spots), whereas the original was an exercise in frustration. Sometimes gameplay really does trump story – I’d love to have both, of course, but I’m willing to forgive in the case of good gameplay and bad writing more so than the other way around.

    • krellen says:

      For me (and I think largely for Shamus), it doesn’t matter how “fun” the “gameplay” is – if the story makes no sense at all, with obvious holes an army could march through, the fun is gone. The story can, in fact, rob the gameplay of its enjoyment if it’s retarded enough.

      • Shamus says:

        Yes. Terrible writing is like a slap in the face. It’s a note from the author saying, “I don’t care, and I don’t think you’re smart enough to tell the difference anyway.”

        Again, this doesn’t mean that all games need great stories. It simply means that that if you ARE going to have a story, it should be worth listening to. Don’t write a bunch of childish incoherent drivel, make me sit through it in cutscene form, and then have the audacity to call it “historical fiction”.

        Like I said, if they had played it for laughs, this wouldn’t have been a big deal. Saint’s Row 2 had a ridiculous story, but it was done with a wink and it was entirely optional. I wasn’t forced to watch it, and I wasn’t expected to take it seriously. This creates very different expectations.

        If I’m going to do a fifteen minute mission where I shadow the evil bad guys and listen to their machinations, then I’m going to be giving a LOT of thought to what I’m seeing. I’m going to be thinking about what I’m doing, and why. If they spend those fifteen minutes twirling their mustaches, then we get SHHAEMUS RAEG!

        • Eric says:

          I’m not saying I disagree with you on any of this. I just think it’s worth considering that Assassin’s Creed 2 is, overall, a much better game than the first and generally a lot of fun throughout. Is it stupid, almost insultingly so at times? Yes. Do I get upset at the fact that it expects me not to notice this? Yes. Does it actually stop the gameplay itself from being fun? Nope, and that’s what I care about above all else.

          I’m just as sensitive to flaws in design and narrative as anyone else (actually, probably significantly more so), but you also have to try to look at the whole picture. Deconstructing the individual elements of a game is important, but it’s important not to lose sight of the success of the overall vision; in this respect I think games with many individual flaws, such as Assassin’s Creed, can be more than the sum of their parts.

          Just about any game breaks down under such micro-analysis, and the real question we need to ask is if these smaller flaws ruin the entire experience. That’s ultimately a subjective question, and everyone is entitled to their opinions, but I can’t help but think it’s pretty silly to dismiss an entire 20+ hour game on a single and relatively short gameplay sequence. Maybe I’m taking your RAEGMODE for more than what it is, of course, but I do think the point’s worth making all the same.

          • JPH says:

            I’m not bothered by Shamus scrutinizing the plots of games like Assassin’s Creed 2 and Mass Effect 2. What I’m bothered by is when he laments the fact that people like these games and that they sell well. It really seems like he’s being condescending towards all the people who like those games, which is unfair.

            I’m sorry I don’t consider story more important than every other aspect of a game combined, but I’m not stupid, and I don’t just want a button that makes awesome happen.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Thats true.I was pissed of by me2,as much as Shamus,but I still recognize it as a game with good elements in it.Asscreed 2 is the same.The only reason I didnt hate its story is because I wasnt as invested in it as with mass effect 1.And gameplay in asscreed 2 was pretty good for its time.Actually,the whole series has excellent gameplay that only improves with every sequel,which is admirable.

              So yes,they arent doing much to improve the story,thats regrettable,and I dont like it.But at least they arent stagnating like numerous other games(fifa,modern warfare,etc),and that is a good thing.

            • krellen says:

              I know the reason I complain about games with stories this stupid being highly popular is because, simply by virtue of being highly popular, they push games with good story out of the market. If we allow games with these horrible stories to be excused on other virtues, we end up with a market completely devoid of story.

              As a corollary, games with good story not being highly popular, especially in contrast to similar titles in the same genre or, worse, series (Mass Effect 2, Fallout 3), also contributes to this problem.

              This is why I get so defensive when people bash Obsidian. When you do so, you are actively discouraging good story being part of the video game market.

              • Eric says:

                The flip-side of that is that Obsidian often make games with good to great stories, lots of choice and consequence, but very little gameplay of any real value. Fallout: New Vegas? Great world and decent characters, but it’s full of annoying fetch quests and 90% of the game is padding, with wandering from place to place and fighting the same old respawning enemies. Alpha Protocol? Lots of reactivity in the plot, but it’s a C-grade third-person cover-based shooter. Knights of the Old Republic II? Fantastic story and genre commentary, but is full of mediocre combat and has lengthy, boring stretches that go on for hours, like Peragus.

                Point is, I’m more than happy to bash Obsidian, even though I love a lot of their games, because they often have lots of flaws that I’m willing to overlook – and most players who bash Obsidian, if it’s not out of blind fanboyism, do so because, frankly, as games, a lot of their stuff really isn’t that good. Even going back to Black Isle and Planescape: Torment, those complaints existed, and they’re just as relevant today (perhaps even more so, as Dungeon Siege III demonstrates what happens when you take away the focus on story and choice & consequence). Before you get upset at people attacking Obsidian, you might want to take a look at precisely why many of them are doing so.

                • krellen says:

                  It’s because they don’t care about story as part of video game design. Plain and simple.

                  • Raygereio says:

                    I’m actually willing to put good money down on the bet that most people that bash Obsidian haven’t even ever played a OEI game.
                    They just bash it because it has become “something that you just do” on the Internet.

                    Also @Erik, while I’ll admit that gameplay in OEI games in general isn’t the world’s greatest, I’ll fight anyone who says it’s bad.

                    • JPH says:

                      I haven’t played KOTOR 2 and I’ve only played a bit of Neverwinter Nights 2. But Alpha Protocol’s gameplay was bad, New Vegas’s gameplay was mediocre at best, and don’t get me started on the Dungeon Siege 3 demo.

                    • krellen says:

                      New Vegas’s gameplay was Fallout 3’s gameplay. Was Fallout 3 mediocre?

                    • JPH says:

                      Yeah, Fallout 3’s gameplay wasn’t great either. It’s hard to pinpoint why I liked Fallout 3 more. I liked it because I enjoyed exploring its environments, and New Vegas’s environments are all mazes. I’m sure that’s part of it.

                      Whatever the case may be, it’s certainly not because I have some irrational hatred toward Obsidian and their products. New Vegas was the first Obsidian game I’d ever played, and I hadn’t even heard much about them before I played it.

                      EDIT: Having said that, I do have an irrational hatred toward Obsidian, but that’s because they’re tangentially related to Fallout 1.

                  • Pete says:

                    Well that sure is convenient for you, isn’t it, that everyone happens to fit in neat boxes for you to categorize into that fit your pre existing worldview.

                    For the record I did play alpha protocol, I did like the game, and no, I wont hesitate to call the gameplay anything short of abysmal. The ridiculous computer hacking minigame controls, the tranquilizer ammo that cost 20000 dollars a box, the boss fights ripped straight from an entirely different, not stealth oriented game (seriously, Brayko, just GO AWAY), tube list goes on… I do care about a good story, and having a real good story can make a game, but its not the ONLY thing that can and if thinking that makes me stupid then I don’t want to be smart.

                  • Eric says:

                    And yet an overt focus on too much story is bad for game design. Writing in games works differently in other forms of media, and oftentimes the best storytelling is storytelling done through mechanics and not overtly through a script with actors. Moreover, building good stories in certain types of games can be impossible based on the game’s direction and overall design.

                    I don’t think you’ll find designers who don’t care at all about story, and certainly not entire development teams. However, game development is about constant negotiation between hundreds of people, it’s about taking dozens of disciplines and talents and putting them together into something coherent. It’s also about keeping a budget, releasing on schedule, and making money. Often, these are all at odds with one another, and what do you think wins out most of the time – a game that’s fun to play and mechanically sound, but has problems with its story, or a game that has great story but is a chore to play and is half-broken?

                    Please don’t make these blanket statements about “what game designers care about” because I have never seen any evidence suggesting that they don’t care. Game designers are not stupid and they are not ignorant of certain aspects of design on personal whims alone. The problems are structural and economic, not “nobody cares about X.”

                  • MelTorefas says:

                    @krellen: That is so completely wrong I am fairly convinced you are trolling. On the off chance you are not: I love stories, in games or otherwise. I run D&D games for my friends. I read books. Story is very important to me. And I intensely dislike Obsidian. Not because they can’t do a story, and not because I don’t care about story; exactly the opposite in fact.

                    It is because I care about the story, and because Obsidian does make stories I like, that their grievous sins against gameplay bother me so much. I loved KOTOR, and I was really liking the story in KOTOR2, but I was never able to see how it ended because the ridiculous buggy mess that was that game made it so completely unbearable to play that I gave up.

                    I have never been able to enjoy a game Obsidian put out (admittedly I never tried the Fallout games, but yes). I have enjoyed the stories, but never been able to see them through due to dull, repetitive, uninspired, and often incredibly buggy and incomplete gameplay experiences.

                    So yes, I DO care about stories. And yes, I WILL bash Obsidian. And yes, I agree wholeheartedly with the person who said that good gameplay saves a bad story better than bad gameplay can be saved by a good one. The ratio of one to the other required for success will obviously vary with Genre.

                    But even in Dragon Age Origins, a story focused game, with a story I actually liked, I never would have been able to beat it if I hadn’t enjoyed the gameplay enough. And I just barely did.

                    • krellen says:

                      Did you play Mask of the Betrayer? Nothing buggy or incomplete about that.

                      Incidentally, I also found Lonesome Road to be completely bug-free.

                      I have never found any Obsidian (or Black Isle) title to be any more buggy or repetitive than any other game by other developers in the industry. Obsidian has a reputation, but I really cannot fathom why – their work is no worse than anyone else’s.

                    • JPH says:

                      “I have never found any Obsidian (or Black Isle) title to be any more buggy or repetitive than any other game by other developers in the industry.”

                      You haven’t played many games, have you?

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      @krellen
                      Yes,and I can beat civilization 4 at deity,so clearly everyone can do it,and it having the status of the highest difficulty is unfathomable to me.

                      Ive played alpha protocol with very few bugs,and I picked the right combat skills from the very beginning(pistols ftw).That still doesnt mean the skills in this game werent broken,since I did try two more replays with other weapons/skills,and my god was it a completely different game.

                      Obsidians work is buggier than anyone elses*.You didnt have much problems with it,and more power to you,but that does not invalidate bugs that others have found.

                      *Well,not really anyone,since bethesda seems to have the same reputation,though I cant judge them as fairly since Ive played only morrowind,started oblivion and fallout 3,and played through skyrim.

                    • krellen says:

                      Daemian: citation needed.

                      I think what happens is, because Obsidian has this reputation for bugs and because story is so unimportant to most gamers, Obsidian’s bugs are reported more frequently than other designers’.

                      You see a bug in a Bethesda game (or even a Valve game), you laugh and think it’s funny. You see bugs in an Obsidian game and you rage at Obsidian’s sloppy designers.

                      I was testing SWTOR this weekend and it crashed to desktop at least every 3 or 4 hours – far more frequently than I’ve ever had problems with New Vegas. But because it’s a BioWare game and not an Obsidian game, no one will report that.

                    • JPH says:

                      “You see a bug in a Bethesda game (or even a Valve game), you laugh and think it’s funny. You see bugs in an Obsidian game and you rage at Obsidian’s sloppy designers.”

                      Are you sure about that, Krellen? I’ve heard a lot of raging about Bethesda’s buggy products over the years. I’d say they’re even more infamous than Obsidian in that regard.

                    • JPH says:

                      Those are two very different scenarios. The Obsidian article is talking about game-breaking bugs. The Bethesda article is talking about quirky little bugs that make you laugh. There is a definite distinction between the two.

                      I haven’t encountered one game-breaking bug in Skyrim in my 45 hours of play time, but that’s just me.

                    • krellen says:

                      And I haven’t encountered any game-breaking bugs in 380 hours of New Vegas.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      @krellen

                      Actually Ive said myself how surprisingly bug free new vegas is.It crashed a few times on me,sure,but it never made it impossible for me to continue like kotor 2.And we dont laugh about bethesdas bugs.Heck,one of the main reasons I was so fearful new vegas would be a bug fest was because it wasnt only made by obsidian,it was playtested by bethesda.Heck,just check Shamus’ article on how buggy oblivion was.

                      As for valve,sure they had their share of bugs.Every company does.However,valves bugs are rarely game breaking ones,which are fixed with due speed.And Id rather wait for an extra (few) year(s) for a game to ship in a stable form than for it to ship early and then crash every 30 minutes.

                      Also no,people dont rage about obsidians bugs more than about other companies.Despite being disappointed numerous times by what happened to the might and magic series,I still am following the community,and the rage about hommv and mmhvi being so broken was extreme(and justified).Were those games as broken as,for example,alpha protocol?Yup.Was the outrage less?Nope.

                      Granted,the reviewers probably* have different standards for different companies,and what you are saying may be true about reviews,but I dont follow those.I prefer finding out from the players what a game is like.And while there are few idiots who bash on obsidian just because they heard/read something,most people do have legitimate reasons for their rage.

                      *I say probably because there still are a few of those guys that have some integrity left.

                    • JPH says:

                      Once again, Krellen, I’m not saying Obsidian is worse than Bethesda in that regard. I’m just pointing out that the two articles you cited are completely different scenarios. The former involved Bethesda talking about the smaller bugs, while the latter was in response to one horrible game-breaking bug. Of course the tone of the article is different.

                      I remember countless people raging out against Fallout 3 because it was horribly buggy, and I also remember hearing a lot of people defend New Vegas by saying it wasn’t any buggier than Fallout 3. I really don’t think people are as biased against Obsidian as you think they are.

                    • taellosse says:

                      I’m finding this debate days late, so my point will probably get lost in the ether, but I’m going to make it anyway.

                      While I’ve seen no small amount of complaints about Obsidian shipping buggy games, I can’t say they’ve gotten any more flack for it than other developers with similar reputations (others have cited Bethesda as a good example of this). The charge I see leveled at Obsidian more than other developers, and, in my opinion, with complete justification, is a tendency to ship games that aren’t finished. Not just in the sense of they have a higher-than-reasonable number of game-breaking bugs, but far more significantly in that essential elements have been visibly removed or dramatically downsized. The most telling example of this is KotOR II, in which a major side plot that has been showing up throughout the game never sees resolution, because they decided to cut the entire planet on which it occurs from the game due to running out of time (I speak of the HK-50 droids’ repeated attempts on the Exile’s life, and HK-47’s intentions to wipe the newer models out). As if that were not enough, the entire resolution of the game, following your defeat of the final boss, is conveyed in the form of text on a loading screen because, again, they ran out of time to incorporate it properly. Similarly, NWN2 literally concludes with rocks falling and everybody dying! Yes, this was retconned in the expansion, but it is still an unforgivable sin in endings, and I am deeply suspicious that it was tossed in at the last minute because, again, they could not complete the ending properly by shipping time.

                      Yes, Obsidian writes good stories (they’ve certainly got better writers than Bioware, and I say this as a fan of Bioware games). And after their games have been out for 6 months or so, they’ve even done enough post-launch QA in the form of patches to make their games generally playable by most people. But their inability in past releases to finish making the game before shipping it is the reason why I think they deserve all the historical criticism they’ve received.

                    • krellen says:

                      Everyone brings up KotOR2 and blames Obsidian, instead of blaming LucasArts for making them release the game a year early (after only a single year of development). Considering the tiny timespan they had to work with, KotOR2 was incredible.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      @krellen

                      Well why did they accept the job then?And its not like they are the only developers who have been the victim of such a shitty business practice.Furthermore,that argument fails completely when you bring alpha protocol on the table,because no one forced them to release that one early.And to further beat that argument to the ground,they made new vegas without such problems,so you cant say that they arent capable of better.

                    • krellen says:

                      As far as I can tell from playing it, Alpha Protocol has an ending. The only game of Obsidian’s that doesn’t have a really proper ending is KotOR2*, which was their first game (that’s why they took the job), and we all know the reason for that (LucasArts said release it now, and then did not allow Obsidian to patch it later.)

                      Also, more evidence that bugs are okay if it’s not Obsidian (Bethesda, in this case.)

                      *NWN2’s ending did cost extra, though if you buy it now, you get the complete story.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      @krellen
                      I wasnt talking just about the endings alone.Games can be broken in numerous ways,and alpha protocol was broken(Ive already listed in what ways).Kotor 2 had more problems with it long before the ending.

                      As for people saying skyrims glitches are ok,that has nothing to do with the game not being from obsidian.People were ok with new vegas’ bugs as well,and were pissed of by oblivions bugs.Its simple:
                      If bugs are game breaking(constant crashes,corrupt saves,memory leaks,framerate drops,etc),they cause rage.But if the bugs are not game breaking(floating objects,missing textures,wonky animations,etc),they dont cause rage,and can even cause laughter if they are amusing(like moving corpses and floating mammoths).

                      And look,you are doing the same thing you are accusing other people for:You are ignoring oblivion and numerous other games that have caused plethora of rage due to their bugs just because skyrim is a stable game,and you are also ignoring how new vegas was praised as the most stable obsidian game just because people were enraged about their other buggy releases.

                    • krellen says:

                      I never heard any raging at Oblivion.

                      And Russ Pitts’s editorial I linked earlier was in response to New Vegas.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      @krellen

                      Ah,again with the “I never had,therefore no one else has”.So you also never read how Shamus complains about having to install shit ton of fan mods before he could have a stable game?Yeah,he does that basically every time he mentions the game.But I guess because that doesnt reflect bad on obsidian,its inconsequential.

              • Someone says:

                Who needs good storytelling when you can have a button that makes awesome happen.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Frankly I think its better to have more games that focus on gameplay than story.Dont get me wrong,I love good stories,I still think planescape:torment is at the very top(after starcraft.What can I say,that was the best game Ive played back then),and I can overlook bad gameplay and bugs.Ive enjoyed alpha protocol a lot,but Id still play asscreed 2 over alpha protocol.The one thing I dont like is the games that are the same,only with more face lift being the most popular.Which is why Ive always hated ea.I mean sure,the company did make some very good breakthroughs,but they still are responsible for making the series(plural)that are the same few games,only with updated graphics and a few tweaks(the games from their sports division).

            • Shamus says:

              I don’t consider it MORE important. See my wall of text elsewhere in this thread. Short version: You don’t need a story, but if you HAVE a story, it needs to be good.

              And yeah, I do get a bit bitter that I’m in the minority in this regard. The same way I get mad when I think about the fact that CSI: Crime Show got countless spinoff titles and Firefly was canceled in the first season. Being in a consumer minority sucks.

              • Phoenix says:

                I think the same about firefly :)

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  If we are lucky,it may be picked up by some other network like futurama was.If we are unlucky,it will be syfy.

                  • Ravens Cry says:

                    Better than picking up syfy.

                  • taellosse says:

                    That ship has sailed, guys. I’m sorry, but it won’t be happening. Firefly has been off the air for nine years now, and Serenity was 6 years ago. Joss has moved on–he’s started and wrapped another whole TV series (which was also cancelled prematurely, but at least got more time on-air than Firefly), and has done, and is doing, multiple movie projects. He’s said repeatedly in interviews that he doesn’t really want to revisit that universe again now. Hell, a third of the core cast were killed off in the movie, anyway. Not to mention the fact that everyone on that show has moved on to other stages of their careers, to various degrees.

                    It was a beautiful dream, full of potential that it never properly realized. It is a tragedy that it died too soon, and a crime that Fox killed it prematurely. But it isn’t coming back. Make whatever peace with that you can and move on.

              • MelTorefas says:

                @Shamus: I feel your pain. I may not be in the minority who needs an great story to enjoy a game, but I am in the minority for a lot of other things I love (ahh turn based strategy games).

                Also, when a ridiculous story starts interfering with the gameplay, I can definitely see being aggrieved.

        • ACman says:

          No doubt the carnival is the worst part of the game.

          For me the game really suffers because Ezio never really feels like an assassin (Codename 47 is an assassin. Ezio is just a parkour mass-murderer.) and the whole thing feels like a Renaissance faire instead of the actual Renaissance. A fake McDonalds version that makes a mockery of actual history.

          It’s really disappointing to have a game set in an interesting period of history and then to see that period of history butchered for gameplay decisions that make no kind of sense.

          If I was making this game I would have designed it to be “Hitman: Renaissance Edition.”

          • Phoenix says:

            “Luckily” I got videocard problems and never finished AC2, I skipped good part of venice and rome. I watched the ending on youtube -_- I wish to say more but I really don’t remember much too, too much time has passed. I remember AC2 brotherhood. It had some absurdities but it was fun.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            “(Codename 47 is an assassin. Ezio is just a parkour mass-murderer.)”

            Youve never watched Rutskarn play hitman,have you?

      • Irridium says:

        Another factor (for me, at least), is what level of reality the game is set in. If it’s set in the real world, fake world, alternate universe, ect.

        Basically, if it’s set in the real world, I expect real-world physics, systems, ect. All that stuff. Anytime one of those breaks, which can happen a lot since mimicking reality in games is REALLY hard, then it all comes crashing down for me.

        But if the game is set in an alternate reality, or completely different world or whatever, I’m much more forgiving for ridiculous things.

        A game’s art style could also help/hurt in the same way. Or at least accentuate the above problems.

        • Zukhramm says:

          Yes. As they keep bringing up in the show as something out of a Mario Party game I’ll say if this was a mission in one of the Mario games, I’d accept without any objections at all.

        • Kana says:

          I think another thing that’s really important is just how well the world holds itself together, rather than just how realistic it is. You could have the most fantastical elements of a game out there, but unless it abided by some rule-set it all wind up being pretty disjointed and not making much in the way of sense.

          It’d be like setting something in an alternate 1960’s city where steam technology took off and is the only established source of energy, only some of the things that run on electric power are still running on electric while no explanation is ever given, or worse attempted to shoe-horn it in to the story with some contrived explanation.

          I think that’s the worst part of the Animus, it just gives the writers too much leeway to cover holes. It’s been established that the Animus lets you relive the memories of your ancestors… then cuts off to a movie like shot? With no explanation? It’d have made more sense if it showed Ezio looking towards them as they conspired, possibly muttering about how ‘this doesn’t look good.’

          Instead it just feels like a total break in the established logic of the universe, futuristic/historic or not.

          That or everyone in the creed universe remembers life details like a movie. In which case they must find action movies really boring.

          • Irridium says:

            Completely agree.

            I think a game that perfectly illustrates these points is Fable 2. The game is essentially a story-book setting gone wrong. The way it’s built up and presented… it seems like bad things happen often, and are meant to be laughed at. It’s all supposed to have this “dark humor” thing about it.

            It completely fails at this, and completely wins at this at the same time. For the failure, it’s the main story. It completely clashes with the whole mood of the thing. It tries to be serious, sad, and dark in a game that is built up around that kind of stuff being silly and ridiculous. Compare that to the sidequests, which completely embrace and build off the mood set, and it’s pretty fascinating to see, actually. The game both completely fails, and completely succeeds, building and keeping with the tone and mood it set.

            Also, Assassin’s Creed 1 had that.In all the cutscenes, you controlled Altair and looked over his shoulder, there was the occasional “glitch” in the animus that let you turn the cutscene into a more “cinematic” affair, but they were optional.

    • JPH says:

      I agree with this completely. You don’t just need “a button that makes awesome happen;” you need a fun game. Assassin’s Creed 1 was painfully repetitive and tedious. Assassin’s Creed 2 was varied and consistently engaging.

      Also, I really didn’t like the story in AC1. The twist with Al Mualim felt contrived and stupid.

      • Viktor says:

        See, the twist didn’t bug me, the parts leading up to it did. Altair didn’t press on certain questions I had, questions that would have led to me figuring out what Al Mualim was doing. I just didn’t trust the guy, so it was hard for me to accept Altair trusting him.

        • Gamer says:

          Well, Altair essentially grew up with Al Mualim as his father figure and mentor. I had questions that I wanted to ask as well, but I understand why Altair didn’t. The man practically raised Altair.

  10. LurkerAbove says:

    I think I ignore the story’s failings with the Assassin’s Creed games because they are so upfront and ballsy about it. Here is our ludicrous guy doing ludicrous things for ludicrous reasons, buy it or don’t.

    It’s similar to a villain’s death trap in a James Bond movie or a Batman story. Once you buy into the premise that they could act so irrationally their actions have their own logic. Or once you accept that every important can be settled in a 1 on 1 martial arts battle, the plot for a 2D fighter is much less annoying.

    On the other hand, something like Fallout 3 or Mass Effect 2 is trying to sell you on a serious story, with meanings and all that junk. Their inconsistencies represent a failure of writing or thinking instead of a genre choice.

    Of course this doesn’t excuse a game like Assassin’s Creed or Batman entirely, Ezio can’t start mowing down Templar’s with a Fat Man or BFG.

  11. X2Eliah says:

    I have never seen any Assassin’s Creed 2 review that even mentioned these issues in passing. This does not bode well.

    Hmm. I suspect it’s at the very least in some cases down to the simple fact that the reviewers didn’t bother to play it through, and just did the initial few hours.

    • Raygereio says:

      Nah. From what I gather the issue is that people that apreciate writing in videogames are a small minority. It just isn’t a priority; Not for a lot of gamers and not for most of the industry either. Heck, it’s not uncommon for the story of a game to be thought up last, long after the rest of the game’s design has already been set in stone.

      Well, the above and the fact that reviews in general are just plain crap. How often are bugs mentioned in reviews, for instance? How often do you see reviews where the reviewer bothers to explain how he/she arrived at his opinion? The list of issues goes on and on.

      • Zukhramm says:

        How often are bugs mentioned in reviews, for instance?

        Depends on if the game is by Obsidian or not.

      • swimon1 says:

        I’m more willing to buy into the game reviewers are generally crap than that people don’t care about story explanation. I think everyone care about a good narrative, unless you’re playing something entirely abstract like tetris (seriously auto-correct you haven’t heard of tetris?). It’s just really hard to comment on the quality of the narrative unless you’re already pretty trained in how narratives work. Sure pointing out that something makes no sense is generally easy if it’s obvious enough but to notice that you first have to care about the story and you need to be able to follow it. That doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be complexity in the writing (nor does it mean that you’re a moron if you can’t follow along) only that it should be explained well, the prestige is a good example of a movie that would be really confusing but because of great writing pretty much everyone can understand it. That very few people pointed out the logical fallacies of this part is actually far more damning of the games writing than the failings in logic itself. Because a lot of people would probably question a lot of this if they were invested in the story enough to pay attention, or if the game was better at explaining what was going on, maybe by having the narrative slow down a little? Sometimes? Just for a teeny tiny second?

        Another problem is that this is what people expect, they don’t question narratives in games because they kinda assume that they can’t. It’s just a game and we must observe the story and gameplay segregation.

        The big problem I think is the feed-back loop that the industry is built around. Most writing in games are shit, so most gamers skip all cut-scenes so executives argue that it’s not worth spending time and money on the story since no one cares anyway which makes the stories terrible since the writing pretty much have to take the steering wheel in the production to be any good. Even when people flat out say “I don’t really care about the story in games” even that’s bullshit because if the story was any good they would care. Millions of years of story tradition didn’t just cease to exist in the last decades, everyone cares a great deal about story-telling. But a good story is something you feel, something that motivates you to continue on. It’s subtle and hard to pin down so we rarely realise how much we care about the story nor do we really know why we did or didn’t care for a story. It can be analysed, prodded and thought about like anything else of course but it’s really difficult. Because it’s so difficult most people can’t really do it which leads to this misconception that they don’t care about narrative at all because they never found one they did care about.

        • acronix says:

          The problem is that the industry´s ways aren´t consistent with the “stories don´t matter”. After all, if they don´t matter, why do they consistently keep ruinning their gameplay with horrible backgrounds and clichetastic plots?
          There seems to be some kind of innherent necessity for plot and story, even if no one seems to care enough to polish them beyond “suprastupid”.

      • Ragnar says:

        Also, the number of people that appreciate well made game reviews are vanishingly small.

  12. Jack says:

    MythBusters ftw!

  13. Raygereio says:

    I can’t wait to hear Shamus’ reaction once he finds out what the main objective for this sequence is.
    I’ve said it already yesterday, but I feel like being unoriginal for some weird reason:

    We’re going to spend time and effort helping mercenaries, so that they can help us get into the Arsenal.
    The problem is that the Arsenal isn’t some well guarded building like the DogeHQ was, you can just walk in like you own the damned place. You can walk through the front door, or you can climb over the wall. Josh could have gone in there right now and rob some super-duper-awesome-secret-templar-lair, for Ao’s sake!

  14. Amnestic says:

    Achievement Unlocked: Chlamydia!

    “Is the mean British guy over there just messing with me?”

    Yep. That’s the plot twist at the end of Revelations. Everything Desmond lived through has been the Mean British Guy fucking with him. I thought it was pretty funny really.

    “There are more heads to be smashed!”

    I’ve worked it out: Bartolomeo is the Venetian Minsc. Bianca is a Miniature Giant Space Sword.

  15. River says:

    “Dear EA Games,
    You copied a stupid tedious game to make a game that is only slightly less stupid and tedious, whats next are you gonna copy crash bandicoot to make a tedious stupid game that has sold out on all its values?
    Sincerely a sarcastic hate-filled gamer”

    • Lord of Rapture says:

      Are you talking about AC2 here? Because it’s Ubisoft’s, not EA’s game.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Umm, am I crazy if I think AC2 game play (especially AC2: Brotherhood) was more fun than DA2? I don’t remember much of gameplay in DA2 except moving my squad around and repeatedly casting spells. But I vividly remember stalking my target and then swooping down when he least expects it.

      And I’mt the guy who likes RPG and never plays anything that smells of Arcade/Action/Adventure.

  16. CalDazar says:

    Linking to the button awesome video?
    Really?

  17. Kresh says:

    Well, it’s also that people don’t care about the why of the quest; they just want to scarper over roof tops and stab unsuspecting people that they meet. The “writing” is merely a mission delivery device and it doesn’t have to make sense… except to please (aparantly easily-pleased at that) some segment of critics that demand “PLOT” as opposed to just “Here’s your mission. Have fun.” So setting the game in the genetic memories of an assassin from renaissance Italy qualifies.

    It’s a good (no, great actually) premise, but they flubbed it. Which is fine. Writing isn’t tough, but good writing is. As if the writing from the Street Fighter games actually makes people play them. NO, they’re there to beat the crap out of each other with on-screen avatars.

    I’m waiting for some smart designer to just be ballsy enough to design the “Sneaking and Stabbing Simulator,” and make it easily moddable so the players can easily make their own “Sneaking and Stabbing” missions. Similar Little Big Planet, except much, much more sneaking and stabbing. Like how moddable the Fallout games are, just without the crappy writing… unless the modsmith wants their to be writing in it… crappy or not.

  18. Jokerman89 says:

    Rutscarn talking about Bianca being a horse really reminded me on an early scene in Jade empire for a second.

  19. Graham says:

    Regarding “Bianca” – the best explanation I can find is that Bianca is Cassio’s jealous lover in Othello. Seems to fit the context.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      It doesnt need context.They needed an italian name to name this guys sword,so they just picked one.The same reason why ezio is ezio,and why claudia is claudia.Only odd one in the group is probably mario,because italy,its a me,thats just a perfect opportunity that you cant simply let go.

      • Graham says:

        It doesn’t need context for being an italian name, no. But when two separate games use Bianca as the name of a weapon, one wonders if there’s some other meaning behind the name.

        The SW crew asked this in the video, and I gave the best answer I could find.

  20. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I dont get why you keep saying how asscreed 2 is serious with its plot.It has a guy named mario in it,simply so they could have a joke about “its a me,mario!”.Its clearly the same as champions online.Actually,no,thats not fair.Asscreed still has some pretty well written things in it,as well as some real historical info.But its never too serious about it.

    And brotherhood is even better in that regard.It even says in the very beginning that desmond and co dont care about the events at all,but they have to go through them so they could uncover the one thing thats locked behind them.So you are basically playing a cracking the protection minigame,only that its fun,with marvelous visuals.

    Would the games be better with a better story?Definitely.Should the story be taken seriously the way it is now?Definitely not.

    • Raygereio says:

      It’s a matter of presentation and feel: Sure, there are a few jokes, but beyond that the plot of this game – the cutscenes, the dialogue, etc, etc – feels to me like the developers intended it to be serious business.
      It doesn’t help that you have interviews with developers of AC2 going on about how wonderfull the story is.

      Compare it to something like Quake 4 where it’s obvious to the player that the story in that game doesn’t matter. It’s just there to provide you a flimsy excuse to shoot at crap, nothing more. The AC games are different to that in that they want to tell you a story.

    • Shamus says:

      They hung a ten year old boy as part of the turning point for Ezio to begin his journey. If they weren’t being serious, then it was offensive. Saint’s Row 2 didn’t start the game with a brutal rape on a pinball machine, to paraphrase Plinkett.

      AC2 has all the PRETENSIONS of being a serious story. The long exposition over the evil plans. The guy stabbing hookers. The historical tie-ins.

      Maybe that’s the problem. You probably shouldn’t have “a ten year old boy is hung in public in front of his brother” and “it’s a-me!” in the same game. The historical tie-ins don’t mesh with the ridiculousness of CTF. You could say it comes down to a problem with tone. You can have the serious, grim, realistic stuff. You can have “bah, don’t think about it too hard” silly time. But mixing the two is dangerous.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well yes,they shouldnt have started with that.But thats not the only place where you see the story being stringed in between to opposites.Ezios development is another.It starts of slow,building up to him overcoming revenge,and then *puf* he is now somehow beyond it.

        • Tse says:

          And there is a mission in Revelations where Ezio dresses as a bard. He ridicules the bards, the story of the last 2 games, his dead enemies… It was a really drastic change of tone.
          P.S. That’s not the main thing I dislike about the game, though. Let’s just say I’m rooting for the Templar.

          • Rosseloh says:

            Man, just finished that mission, and so far it’s my favorite part. Revelations seems to be extremely rushed, like they knew they had something left to tell about Ezio but had to follow the 1-year release schedule for all the multiplayer fanatics (I haven’t tried the multiplayer at all).

            But I loved that “impersonate a minstrel” bit.

        • krellen says:

          In Saint’s Row 2, after Aisha is killed, had Gat had an existential break-down where he really questions his choices and his lifestyle, wondering if maybe everything he’d done up to this point was a poor choice and that he should have listened to her and settled down more, I (and probably Shamus) would also be criticising that game for its ridiculous story, as the “suddenly serious” moment would be horribly out of place.

          But it didn’t do that. Gat goes on a murder-filled revenge streak, which is exactly the sort of ridiculous, over-the-top response you would expect from the game. A wildly fluctuating tone is far more damaging to your narrative than any level of ridiculous contrivances.

          • acronix says:

            But then there´s that gang storyline where the new guy in the band gets horribly murdered by being chained to a pickup truck and dragged all around the city. That part finalizes with the boss mercy killing him.
            The boss´ following revenge is also played seriously, if I recall correctly.

            • krellen says:

              IIRC, it’s a ridiculously convoluted and over-the-top revenge, which I don’t think is played very straight at all (doesn’t it involve tricking the Brotherhood leader into getting tattooed with radioactive waste?)

      • Peter H. Coffin says:

        At least, breakthrough silliness and nods to other works as moments of relief from a deadly serious and tight narrative work far better than breakthrough seriousness in the middle of nonsense.

  21. Vect says:

    Personally I enjoyed Assassin’s Creed II as a game when I played through it, even though I despised the Carnivale section (I cheated the Capture the Flag section by just straight-up jumping down from a building as a shortcut). I can’t say I honestly cared for the plot but it doesn’t mean I consider it drivel. At the least I find the whole Templar Vs. Assassins conspiracy kinda interesting in how they’ll manage to fit who into which side.

    Speaking of the Awesome Button, I remember that Saints Row: The Third had something like that which mostly just meant the difference between jacking a car and dropkicking into the car through the window.

  22. Rowan says:

    Suspension of disbelief. I’m plating the game to be entertained, not to pick holes in the story. Although the business with the mask got confusing.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Sure,but sometimes you get to a thing that is so stupid that your suspension of disbelief explodes.Yes,that border is at different places for different people,but its still there.

  23. Lanthanide says:

    Have you given any serious thought to doing System Shock 2 as your next game? There are lots of mods and unofficial patches out to fix lots of bugs in the game etc. It works fine on Windows 7, too. http://www.sshock2.com/

  24. Jarenth says:

    MISS BRANT! GET ME A SWORD NAMED BIANCA, A BOTTLE OF SCOTCH, AND A PLUCKY ASSASSIN WITH ABSOLUTELY NO COMMON SENSE, I’M TAKING THE AFTERNOON OFF. AND TELL THAT LOSER PARKER TO TAKE SOME MORE PICTURES SO I CAN LAUGH AT THEM AND NOT PAY HIM LATER.

  25. Tuck says:

    Mumbles: What does a doge do?

    I was waiting for someone to quote bits from The Court Jester. Such a missed opportunity. :(


    King Roderick: The Duke. What did the Duke do?
    Hubert Hawkins: Eh… the Duke do?
    King Roderick: Yes. And what about the Doge?
    Hubert Hawkins: Oh, the Doge!
    King Roderick: Eh. Well what did the Doge do?
    Hubert Hawkins: The Doge do?
    King Roderick: Yes, the Doge do.
    Hubert Hawkins: Well, uh, the Doge did what the Doge does. Eh, uh, when the Doge does his duty to the Duke, that is.
    King Roderick: What? What’s that?
    Hubert Hawkins: Oh, it’s very simple, sire. When the Doge did his duty and the Duke didn’t, that’s when the Duchess did the dirt to the Duke with the Doge.
    King Roderick: Who did what to what?
    Hubert Hawkins: Oh, they all did, sire. There they were in the dark; the Duke with his dagger, the Doge with his dart, Duchess with her dirk.
    King Roderick: Duchess with her dirk?
    Hubert Hawkins: Yes! The Duchess dove at the Duke just when the Duke dove at the Doge. Now the Duke ducked, the Doge dodged, and the Duchess didn’t. So the Duke got the Duchess, the Duchess got the Doge, and the Doge got the Duke!
    King Roderick: Curious. I… I… hm? What? What’s that? All I heard was that the Duchess had a siege of rheumatism. She’s 83, you know.

  26. Matthew says:

    The game is better than the first, full stop. Yes, a few plot holes here and there (nothing as bad as what you make out…but they’re there), particularly the one you mention, giving you tough challenges to get this special golden mask and then you’re notorious when you wear it. A bit daft, I have to concur. Though I notice in the cut scene two shady guys are watching you receive the mask, so I tie it up with that in my mind, even though it’s probably nothing to do with it. There’s also a few bugs, even after the patches, but this is all to be expected in a much bigger game/story. The gameplay has been improved a hundred fold, so I think we need to cut it some slack. It improved again with Brotherhood, perhaps the best of the entire series. Revelations is a bit ‘for the sake of it’, though, I admit.

  27. Hastur says:

    Ding, Dong, the Doge’s dead, we shot him once, right in the head…

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