Assassin’s Creed 2 EP30: Requiescat in Pace

By Shamus
on Dec 2, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

So the end of Assassin’s Creed 2 is the big moment where you don’t assassinate people? At the big ending, both protagonists pass on obvious and easy chances to kill Borgia and Vidic. Letting those creeps live will obviously lead to misery in the future, but Desmond and Ezio are slaves to this idiot plot.

I am giving Assassin’s Creed 2 my Goldun Riter Awward for storytelling. I realize this award might be somewhat controversial. I’ve only given it twice before. Does this game deserve to stand alongside Champions Online and Fable 2 as titles with laughably idiotic writing? Is it really that bad? Is it really worse than Fallout 3?

I think so. I’m not really faulting the game for the business with the alien artifact, or the fact that everyone from Eli Whitney to Elvis Presley was apparently a Templar. Yes, those ideas seemed kind of cornball at times, but I think those elements are a fine starting point. In the right hands, that can work. No, the problems with Assassin’s Creed 2 are thus:

  1. The tone is all over the place. We see an entire family hung in public, including a small boy, as the beginning of Ezio’s character arc. This does not fit with carneval, or “it’s-a me!” or any of the other absurd, lighthearted moments. The opening screams to the player, “I am a dark and gritty game! Take me seriously!” Then it begins undermining that setup and turns the whole thing into a farce. And yet it still expects us to sit through a bunch of mustache-twirling exposition on the part of the bad guys. You can have a grounded game that demands to be taken seriously. (Heavy Rain, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Arkham Asylum, Mass Effect.) You can have a zany game where fun comes first. (Saint’s Row 2, Serious Sam, Overlord.) You should be very, very careful when mixing these elements, in order to avoid making a joke of your own world. (See also.)
  2. The writers cheat like crazy. Here we have a game where you can excuse most videogame contrivances with “animus did it”. Additionally, the Pieces of Eden provide them with a convenient magic Macguffin that can do anything required by the plot. Finally, the idea that “The Templars write history as it suits them” gives the writers freedom to change historical details that don’t fit their pre-determined story. This is writing on Easy Mode. Yet the writers repeatedly introduced preposterous events that couldn’t be explained by the animus, altered history, or alien technology.

    The scene where the Spaniard beats ALL OF THE ASSASSINS in a swordfight and then kicks Ezio and runs away is so shockingly, offensively contrived that I am still dumbfounded. That scene is far worse than the moment in Fallout 3 where Dad commits suicide to keep his broken dehumidifier from falling into the hands of people who want to fix it. There is layer upon layer of nonsense in this sequence.

    1. The egg is transported via parkour?
    2. Then the egg is put into a parade for delivery?
    3. Delivery takes place in a public place, and not a fortified one?
    4. Borgia is able to keep up with Ezio in a swordfight?
    5. Borgia produces mooks from nowhere?
    6. Everyone Ezio has ever known just happens to arrive at the same time, here, at this moment, despite them not being part of the plan?
    7. And they’re all assassins?
    8. And they’re apparently useless against one fat old guy?
    9. And Borgia manages to hold off everyone, despite being surrounded? Even useless non-assassins ought to be able to stab him in the back.
    10. And then Borgia manages to ESCAPE, despite being surrounded?
    11. Nobody even TRIES to chase him?

    This is a childish hackjob from start to end. I can’t believe this was written, approved, and put into production. Shameful.

    And this ending sequence is just as ridiculous.

  3. Ezio is a gigantic Black Hole Mary Sue. He’s a super being who somehow became the most accomplished assassin in history without any real training. He’s fabulously, effortlessly rich. Women throw themselves at him everywhere he goes. He advises Leonardo Da Vinci on how to be a better inventor. He’s the first man to fly. Then at the end, we learn that all of his friends are secretly assassins, only they didn’t tell him because they were trying to… guide him? Somehow? The point is: It’s all about YOU, Ezio! You’re the only one everybody thinks about. The only one who can accomplish anything. Your friends don’t have lives of their own. When you’re not around, all they talk about is you. You’re so important they form a secret conspiracy within their already-secret society, the sole purpose of which was to give you as much of the limelight as possible.
  4. Ezio’s doesn’t have a character arc, he has a flat line that suddenly lurches downward at the end. Ezio begins the game as a privileged, spoiled, womanizing, self-important punk. Over the course of the game he transforms into an arrogant asshole who murders people because he’s angry. Then he finally gets a chance to behave like an assassin and kill a dangerous and important Templar, but he decides not to because he doesn’t feel like it anymore. It’s all about him, and since his revenge is sated he no longer cares. This guy was never an assassin. He was just a murderer.

    And they decided to make two more games starring this reprehensible jackass?

  5. The bad guys were comical evil villains with no goal. The first game gave us some nice philosophical ideas to play with. Would you use force to prevent war? Would you bend people to your will to MAKE a more peaceful, harmonious society? Vidic proposed some interesting ideas in the first game. His portrayal gave the Templars an understandable yet thoroughly distasteful worldview. We could understand what they were doing, even as we fought to oppose them.

    In Assassin’s Creed 2, I didn’t see any of that. The bad guys were just Bad People. What was Borgia’s goal? Yes, he did all those things in order to become pope and gain access to the vault, but why? Just to play around with it? Did he want to use it for something in particular? Or did he want it simply because it was powerful? It doesn’t matter. He’s the most cardboard type of villain: He killed your family, left you to die, and then tried to conquer the world. Because.

    I wouldn’t mind this so much is the first game hadn’t been so much better.

It would be one thing if the story was a small part of a larger experience. I don’t hold Oblivion or Fallout 3 to the same standards, because the story in those games is very small compared to the massive world of freeform roaming, leveling, crafting, looting, collecting, and dungeon-diving. You can skip dialog and get back to the gameplay if you’re in a hurry. (Although I’m always adamant that those games should do much better. I mean, there’s never a reason for the writing to be crappy, just like there’s never a reason to make a horrible interface.) But in Assassin’s Creed 2, the plot drives the gameplay. You’ll spend most of your time executing the missions given to you in those un-skippable cutscenes, and so the actions you’re taking need to make sense and move you towards an established goal. The lesson here is simple: If you’re going to write dreck, don’t put your story on a silver platter and shine a spotlight on it.

Most of all, I’m giving Assassin’s Creed 2 the Goldun Riter Awward because this company and this series could have done so much better. These contrivances could have been painted over with just a bit of forethought. This is a plot ruined by set-piece driven design, and then further crippled by lazy writing. The first game may have a few issues with the writing (although I can’t think of any right now) but it was a far more coherent piece of work. This company is capable of doing better. They didn’t. So now they get this:

goldun_riter.jpg

For what it’s worth: I liked the free-running gameplay, and the set design was spectacular.

And so ends our coverage of Assassin’s Creed 2. Requiescat in pace.

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A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!20207347 comments. Sure. Just keeping adding more. It's not like my server has finite HD space.

From the Archives:

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  1. SolkaTruesilver says:

    That’s all nice, Shamus..

    But did you liked the game? Come on, don’t hesitate to tell us how you feel this time.

    ;-)

  2. Dev Null says:

    OMG, I had totally forgotten your review of Indigo Prophecy, til I followed that link; it made me snort coffee all over again. Why didn’t it rate a Goldun Ritter? Or are the disks from Indigo Prophecy what you melted down to make the award?

  3. Hal says:

    It’s not your next SW piece, but if you ever get around to Brotherhood, I’ll be curious to see if they stepped up their game in your eyes or not. I skipped a few steps and started with Brotherhood, so my opinion of the series is based off of, well, one game.

    • Sleeping Dragon says:

      I’d say that Brotherhood had some improvements in the gameplay department and maybe a bit less stupidity (though Ezio is still very much a mister perfect and inspiring every single relevant event that happened during the renaissance), though on the other hand you let the main templar guy go and now you expect them to just leave you alone?! One thing that does piss me off is that the better half of it is pretty much everyone calling you out on “why did you spare Rodrigo” and Ezio reacting “He won’t get away this time.” I mean, we’re in the middle of activating some weird tech, was it really that hard to use all these lights, visions and moving set pieces to prevent you from killing it? I understand that the point was to show that Ezio got over his revenge thing but this is the one guy that should die no matter what. No, instead we’ll let the crazy templar remain as one of the most powerful people in the world.

  4. Jason says:

    I already asked this, but please, when you do Human Revolution, don’t just kill everyone, that’s boring. Show the stealth, exploration and non-lethality present in so few games. Ezio, Shepard, Max Payne, and many other protagonists are given no choice but to kill their opponents, for the most part. Jensen has the option of not shooting them repeatedly, and I hope you show it off. To me, sneaking around is so much more humiliating to the guards – “He shot a bunch of us, but we sure as hell hurt him, and he’ll have a tough time going forward!” versus “Yeah, he got around us. We never even saw him. Good luck on the whole ‘catching him’ thing.”

    • Shamus says:

      Well, stealth gameplay is always a bit volatile and slow. We certainly wouldn’t do it for the whole series. (My stealth runs always have a lot of saving & loading, which isn’t an option for us.) We’ll see what Josh does once the game is rolling, but an all-stealth run is probably not going to happen.

      • Raygereio says:

        If Josh does a running ‘n gunning style playthrough of DX3, it’s going to be interesting to see with just how little XP (and as a consequence how few augments active) he’s going to end up.

        For reference for those who haven’t played DX3.
        If you kill an enemy you get 10XP, 20 if it was via headshot.
        If you instead take down someone stealthly and non-lethal, you get 50XP. 145 if you take down two guys at once like this. Oh and if you go the stealth route you can get 500xp and 250xp boni at the end of each mission.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          You get 50 if its a non-lethal melee.I think it was 30 for a non-lethal range.Melee lethal gives you 40,if Im not mistaken.But if you already get to melee range,why use lethal?

          • Amnestic says:

            1) Because the animations are pretty cool
            2) Because knocked out guards who are discovered can be woken up, and you don’t get exp for knocking them out again. Of course, you could just non-lethal them and then shoot them in the face with a silenced pistol to get max exp with no chance of them getting up
            3) Because the animations are pretty cool.

            • DungeonHamster says:

              Actually, one of the reasons I pretty much never used lethal take downs in that game was because the animations bugged the crap out of me. I mean, come on. You’re a highly trained professional who, regardless of lethal/nonlethal, cannot help but find going unnoticed an advantage, but apparently the only way you know how to kill somebody with a knife is to combine a gymnastics exhibition with attempting to make a painting on the walls out of their blood. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the game, and the knockout animations had a little bit of the same problem, and your second point still has merit, but the melee kills were probably in the top three or so immersion breaking ludicrous things for me in the game.

              • Amnestic says:

                *shrug* I liked them personally. If we want to talk silly, apparently choking someone from behind costs the exact same amount of aug energy as a double kill involving flips, kicks, blocks, punches and arm blades.

                Hell, choking someone from behind costing *any* energy is pretty silly.

                I didn’t use them a lot though, since as was said above ‘why go lethal?’ Knocking them out then executing with a silenced pistol is far more effective and better for your exp.

      • RTBones says:

        Actually, that would likely make an interesting playthrough – given the XP/lack thereof. Would make Josh’s chosen augs more meaningful, to be sure.

        Looking forward to it – particularly since my style is stealth/non-lethal.

        • acronix says:

          And then he would get pummeled at the boss fights.

          • Nick says:

            Maybe, maybe not. The boss fights care about combat upgrades/ If Josh is charging in like a mad thing, why does he need stealth mods?

            • Amnestic says:

              I doubt it’d be that bad. Adam’s quite proficient with weapons even without any aug-training. The only real combat-augs Josh would need for a combat run would be the armour ones which are fairly cheap (4 points total, I believe?) and after that he could blow the rest on hacking, stealth, energy regen etc.

              I never found the recoil/aim augs all that useful, especially if you choose your weapons right (combat rifle is not your friend. Revolver is!)

              • NihilCredo says:

                In the absolute worst case he can still cheese it. The first boss, and IIRC the second as well, can be stunlocked and killed with just the taser. The third boss is in a room full of bulletproof translucent walls, so if you bring a laser rifle you’re fine (or you can use a glitch and kill him with one takedown as he climbs over a wall).

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Bosses dont care about augments.You can beat them without a single one just as easily as with all of them.Just pick the rocket launcher and 4 rockets,and thats it.Maybe a few emp grenades just so you could stun them at first.

            • Dys says:

              I dunno what difficulty you were playing on, but last time I took a rocket launcher to a boss fight, I emptied all of them into his head, reloaded at least once and he still didn’t die.

              Add to that the fact that without armour augs you will die in around half a second under fire, I’d say that while it’s possible to beat them without augmentation, it’s not exactly trivial.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Give me deus ex.I modified one rocket launcher specifically just so I could take it to the boss fights.And I dont think it ever took me more than 4 rockets.Heck,the only engaging fight scene was when I tried to save malik from dying,mostly because I went there completely unprepared.

                • Amnestic says:

                  Wait, you picked up the Rocket Launcher? …why? It’s huge! The stuff takes up way too much inventory space, especially for the return it offers.

                  First boss: Throw explosive barrels at him, a few bullets at most to finish him off.
                  Second boss: Stun gun glitches her out, wins. Or just typhoon her.
                  Third boss: Use a take down in the short moment after he finishes jumping over a wall, one hit kill.
                  Fourth “boss”: Laser Rifle her head for five seconds. Win.

                  So yeah, while I agree that the bosses don’t require Augs, I’ve got no idea why you hung onto the rocket launcher. Especially when the Explosive Revolver does the same job for a fraction of the inventory space ;p

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Because I didnt really need so much inventory space at all.Yes its bulky,and yes it takes space,but who needs it?I still ended up with more cash than I needed,and thats after buying all the praxis kits and bunch of nutrient bars.I didnt know about the revolver.But this was the easiest way I found.And in the end,I preferred sticking with my rocket launcher then picking up a laser rifle,so thats the only one where I had to put some small effort.

      • Eärlindor says:

        Perhaps Josh could stealth just RIGHT BEFORE you approach a boss JUST so you can show the game cut to you’re character moseying into a room under a spotlight and strike up a conversation for no reason. ;)

      • anaphysik says:

        With Josh and ‘to stealth or not to stealth,’ it seems the ultimate determining question is: “Can you put grenades in people’s pants?”

        Anyway, speaking of ‘stealth gameplay’ (and I use that here in only the vaguest sense of the term), are we ever going to see some more Hitman Hitmas with Rutskarn at the helm? Those episodes were hilarious.

      • silver Harloe says:

        Maybe mere mortals like us can only pull of stealth slowly and with lots of save-scumming, but I challenge Josh to do it really well the first time. Practice practice practice! After a million replays, there was a time I could stealth the Statue of Liberty in my sleep and nearly as rapidly as I could fight through it, all without saving. But I got really, really good at DX for a while.

      • “Well, stealth gameplay is always a bit volatile and slow.”

        No, it’s tense and compelling if properly presented, it’s just that it takes more effort than the relatively cheap laughs of ‘LULZ BASKET ON HEAD BREAKS GAEME!!!1″ Understandable mind. I get that this takes time enough to make.

        The problem is the ‘break the game/run ‘n gun’ style has come back to bite you in the ass before. I’m speaking to the later half of Bioshock, when the complete lack of preparation, tactics or thought ended in repeat respawns in the v-chambers, sucking all the momentum as well as entertainment right out of that last half of that season. Deus Ex might actually end up screwing you over in a completely different manner in the sense that since it allows for such varied gameplay, you won’t be able to play the ‘it’s funny because you’re not SUPPOSED to play this way’ card. At least I don’t think you’ll be able to lean on it as much.

        I’d say take a page from Ruts’ Hitman like someone else mentioned. Its strength is in his ATTEMPTS at stealth and watching how it all plays out when he inevitably fails. At the very least, don’t try to ‘break the game’. THAT. I think, will come back on you.

        • Shamus says:

          “takes more effort”

          See, I clearly said that we weren’t going to do an all-stealth game because it wouldn’t be as entertaining, and you had to twist it and make it sound like we are just dumb and lazy. You shouldn’t do that.

          I think we’re all in agreement that a show where you wait in the corridor for 2 minutes for the guard routes to line up would be incredibly boring. The conversations would go far off topic, and the series would be very long. And then when Josh jumps out after 2 minutes of waiting and botches the takedown, we’ll have 50 comments about how bad Josh sucks at stealth just because he’s got 3 people screaming in his ear and he can’t save-scum through a tricky bit.

          I’ll leave it up to Josh what playstyle we use, but when we do it will be because we want to present something fun to watch, not because we’re too dumb or lazy.

          • “I think we’re all in agreement that a show where you wait in the corridor for 2 minutes for the guard routes to line up would be incredibly boring.”

            Like ya quoted me, it takes more effort. *shrug*

            I aint gonna lie, you’re half right in that I don’t think you are guys are dumb by any stretch, but you ARE leaning on a played out schtick that I’m sick to death of. I’ve done my best to provide practical reasons beyond my personal preference why it should be put to bed and offer an alternative. If you wanna take it as offense rather than advice, well…that’s on you man.

            • Neil D says:

              “Like ya quoted me, it takes more effort. *shrug*”

              That doesn’t sound like more effort to me. That sounds like 2 minutes of nothing at all happening… no effort at all and boring as hell to watch.

              I play stealth on everything that allows it. I love the immersion and the tension I get from playing games like that. The Thief series has a special place in my heart. But watching someone else play it doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time. Sure, maybe once or twice to showcase how it works, but for a complete playthrough? The series would be three times as long and one tenth as interesting (for me, anyway).

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                This.Playing something intense and slow can be fun,can be really fun,but watching someone play something intense and slow stops being intense quickly and just ends up being slow.I enjoyed a stealth run of deus ex,but if I was forced to watch my playthrough Id probably kill myself out of boredom.

                • decius says:

                  If you want to maximize the “Engaging viewers is the opposite of engaging players” aspect, go for Gratuitous Space Battles. The interactive parts strongly resemble spreadsheets, and the gratuitous space battley parts are non-interactive.

              • Klay F. says:

                You wanna know how to make a stealth playthrough not boring? Its easy. Take the cloaking augment, upgrade it all the way. Thus you will never have to sit and wait ever again. Combine this with frag grenades for the bosses and game=won.

            • Deadpool says:

              He said it! I only thought it REAL hard…

          • silver Harloe says:

            I can’t speak for DX:HR, having never played it, but I know in DX, I ended up dying and save-scumming a LOT more when I tried to run and gun – the game just outright punished me for that style of play. Maybe DX:HR supports it better, but if the run-n-gun style is like a modern cover based shooter, I know I’d rather see Josh wait 2 minutes for the guards to sync up followed by some cool takedowns, than see him wait 2 minutes staring at a chest high wall for his health to replenish followed by the same old shooting. But I have no idea if the combat gameplay is akin to other modern shooters or not (which is what I was describing in the second alternative). Also, I know you weren’t replying to me directly, but I in no way meant to imply in my previous comment that anyone was being dumb or lazy, I was just reminiscing about DX – in that game you could stealth pretty quickly by running around and crouching only at the last second, so you avoid a lot of “waiting 2 minutes” issues.

            However, unlike the other person posting, I understand and agree with the idea that having long pauses where nothing happens would suck to watch – I don’t see how “a little more effort” makes 2 minutes of doing nothing entertaining. I just wonder – if the combat is like modern cover-based shooters, there’s gonna be 2 minutes of doing nothing often, anyway.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              If you put it on easy,you can just run through the game with little effort.And while your health does regenerate,it only does so to half your health bar.Plus I think in the beginning it takes 30 seconds before it kicks in,so sucking your thumb behind a wall isnt really advisable.

            • “However, unlike the other person posting, I understand and agree with the idea that having long pauses where nothing happens would suck to watch – I don’t see how “a little more effort” makes 2 minutes of doing nothing entertaining.”

              How presumptuous and actually outright false. If you’re doing 2 minutes of nothing, that means you AREN’T putting in the said effort. Not that the ‘2 minute’ argument doesn’t miss the point completely.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                If you are waiting in cover,taking in the environment,observing the patterns of the guards and planning your route,you are doing plenty,sure,but to anyone watching you it would seem like you are doing nothing.Thats the big difference between being the one playing the game and being the one watching a playthrough.

                • 1) This entire point is dependent on them keeping their mouths shut during the whole thing and when was the last time THAT happened?

                  Dos) That is not the ONLY POSSIBLE ALLOWED IN THE HISTORY OF EVAR method to playing stealth in the game.

                  TWO + 1) I already proposed IN MY FIRST POST an alternative by referencing an example everyone here HAS ALREADY SEEN and has NOTHING AT ALL to do with this tangent.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Oh yes,they are going to speak.But when your game moves slowly,eventually they resort to speaking about stuff other than the game.And that is usually not fun.Its witty when it happens a few times,but as asscreed 2 shows,if repeated too much is a chore.Also,lets not forget that Josh has to simultaneously play the game while participating in the conversation,and seeing how for stealth to work hed need to pay close attention to his radar as well,this would just further strain the guy.And for what?Just so they could say “see,full stealth is possible”.

                    No matter what way you choose to play a stealth game,distraction,incapacitation or avoidance,sooner or later youll have to stop and assess the situation.Rushing through a level will always end in you being spotted,and probably with a gunfire.

                    As for Rutskarns hitman playthrough,well Josh too tries to play the game as intended…most of the time.So why complain then?You know that he will try stealth numerous times,but will fail horribly at it,whether you ask him to or not.

                  • some random dood says:

                    Neil – looking forward to your youtube vid demonstrating how this is done. Please post link here when you are done so that we can appropriately thank you for your efforts. Would be interesting if you could also cover the technical side, because setting that all up can be a challenge.

                    • Syal says:

                      Seconded.

                      (I don’t care if you make the video, just link a video that pulls off what you’re suggesting. That way there’s at least a frame of reference.)

                    • Wow…really? There are no words…

                      Read my first post guys. Actually READ it. This goes for both of you.

                    • Shamus says:

                      A better way of saying what I was talking about earlier:

                      Josh will probably play in the most EXPEDIENT way possible. I mean, keeping the game moving forward is always the goal. Sitting still for two minutes is DEATH as far as I’m concerned. On the other hand, so is the game over screen. Both outcomes result in the halting of forward progress. We stop having new content to discuss, and then it goes off-topic. That fine, up to a point. But after a while we no longer have a Let’s Play. We have a podcast attached to unrelated videogame footage.

                      If I was playing, I’d probably go stealth, and stick with it until I messed up or I had to stop for more than ten seconds. We’ll see what Josh comes up with.

                    • Alex the Too Old says:

                      What’s the issue, Neil? You’re an expert on everything, so go on. Show these lazy, played-out hacks the correct way to do what they do. After all, your up-to-date portfolio site clearly demonstrates your competence, in accordance with your stated method for correctly writing a game review that you posted some time ago…

                    • Syal says:

                      Read my first post guys. Actually READ it.

                      I did. Now I want a link.

                    • Syal, there are not enough facepalms in the internet…

                      *le sigh*

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-WPz-Yet8c

          • Jake says:

            Honestly, except for parts of Derelict Row and Picus, I rarely found myself waiting for patrols to sync up. Most of the time my pauses were to figure out where to go from there so I didn’t take someone down and then get caught after several seconds of looking around frantically for cover. I mean, yeah, a scrupulous Foxiest of the Hounds run would get a little old for you guys after a while, but shooting everyone wouldn’t be all that interesting either.

          • eaglewingz says:

            “The conversations would go far off topic…”

            And this would be different how?

        • Adam P says:

          Stealth is only tense and compelling when you’re the one actually playing the game. When you’re watching a stealth run, you’d just be sitting there thinking, “go. Come on, go. Go already. Go. Move. You could be halfway across the room by now. Just gooooo. What are you waiting- FINALLY! Oh, good job getting shot in the face.”

          • Rosseloh says:

            Especially since everyone has their own way of successfully sneaking — I don’t know how many times I’d be watching a stealth game video and be shouting at the screen “Go already! You could have taken both those guards out if you had taken your opportunity!”

      • Eric says:

        I wouldn’t say stealth is slower. I actually managed to finish the entirety of Human Revolution (well, not counting side-quests) in a little under 4 hours, 100% non-lethal and ghosting as much as possible. If you know how to get through the levels it’s probably faster than shooting everyone.

  5. SougoXIII says:

    You know Shamus, I was saving a rant specifically for the last episode about how retarded the Pope fistfighting sequence was; how the ‘alternate history’ make sure that I’ll never take anything related to Assassin’s Creed seriously again and how moronic Ezio is as a character – the fact that they managed to milk two more games out of him completely baffles me – but you captured all of these so well in your Goldun Riter Award.

    Overall,like always, thank you for another great season of Spoiler Warning and I hope there will be many more to come further down the line.

  6. Groboclown says:

    Curb stomping the pope. They should have ended the game with that.

  7. Drexer says:

    First of all I want to congratulate you folks on another successful season. I haven’t seen a season ending since Season 3 and although I still plan to go back and see those, I haven’t quite gotten the willpower to do so yet. All in all, in the end you managed to balance both the critical aspect of evaluating the game as well as giving us plenty of reasons to smile, laugh and groan at Rutskarn’s puns. Its a shame that Mumbles wasn’t there at the ending, and I understand that she felt bad after saying those things about Stephanie Brown, but I had forgiven her already, you could let her stay. :P

    I have a quite heavier post to make about the plot and story of AC2(&1 too), much like I did in a part of the ME2 season, but I think I’ll let it settle through this night and post it tomorrow. Your final thoughts did lift quite a nice bunch of details and questions about this whole gameworld which I think reflect very nicely why it felt so empty at times despite all of its potential.

    Once again, congratulations on this very good season, on the continuation of this great show; because I’m sure I was not the only person eagerly pressing F5 all afternoon while waiting for this ending.

    Other people have their TV Series, we have Spoiler Warning.

    :)

  8. Catiff says:

    Actually, I can see why you can’t kill off Vidic at the end of the game, and Shamus, as a DM, you should have been able to see it too. You never let the PCs kill off the Big Bad at the end of the second adventure.

    Of course, they COULD have then had the next one’s be in different times, but that would have required research in history, or just in conspiracy theories.

    Or even require new art.

    • acronix says:

      Everyone know a story isn´t a story until it´s a trilogy. And it´s not a good story until it´s a septalogy!

    • Nick says:

      Yes, but this is an example of the DM half-assing the IN GAME REASON for why they can’t get killed yet. He needs to be leaving as the last of his minions fall, as a minimum. Pull any power you want the guy to have to make him escape, give a reason why the players can’t follow him and suddenly the horrible railroad has way less obvious tracks

      • Nick says:

        Or hell, if you didn’t want to kill him, have him be loudspeaking in from outside and watching on the feeds of the guards you’re fighting. Use some modern technology to get him out of the way. ANYTHING but nonsensical air barriers that stop you climbing into a van

    • anaphysik says:

      “Shamus, as a DM, you should have been able to see it too. You never let the PCs kill off the Big Bad at the end of the second adventure.”

      Ah, but Shamus would know exactly what to do should that occur. He even talked about it on this site: change later details of the campaign. If the PCs kill the Big Bad, then effectively demote that Big Bad, making them merely the Dragon of another (perhaps yet unseen) Big Bad. ‘Subtle railroading,’ he called it.

      http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=1155

    • Raygereio says:

      Actually, I can see why you can’t kill off Vidic at the end of the game, and Shamus, as a DM, you should have been able to see it too. You never let the PCs kill off the Big Bad at the end of the second adventure.

      If you really don’t want your PCs to kill your big bad before you want to, don’t position him in such a way they can kill him.

      In other words: what the hell is Vidic doing there? He’s old guy wearing a labcoat. Why is he involved in a raid on a warehouse?!

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Unlike the guys you encountered as ezio,this guy is in the real world,and not part of history,so having him not killable for a game reason is simply spoiling immersion(disregarding the fact that that ship sailed long time ago).If this was in animus,it would be no biggie,but the way it is now,its just stupid.

  9. decius says:

    Keep in mind that you never encounter Ezio. What you have encountered is Ezio’s memories, distilled through the Animus of Plot Device. The details, like a bad .jpeg, have been lost in the genetic encoding, and the Animus of CSI-Enhancing have restored detail to the memories that simply isn’t there.

    Ezio talked to Michelangelo, and then Michelangelo was inspired to create his designs. Ezio remembered that he talked to Michelangelo, and then Michelangelo came up with those designs. Desmond and the Animus create all the details within the existing broad framework. Ezio remembers “I was told that the best idea would be to win the mask at some stupid games, but then it was stolen and I had to steal it back; plus it wasn’t even really necessary, since I could recognize everyone even with the masks on.” Ezio remembers the race, and he remembers taking absurd shortcuts to win the race, &etc.

    [speculation]The bad guys are also pawns in a greater war, and their broad strokes have already been set in motion; the Pieces of Eden have a powerful and lasting effect, and anyone who has ever been subjected to one is a subtle slave to it forever. The “Floating city” referenced re: the prophet is clearly Atlantis, and the prophet referenced would appear to be… Desmond. [/speculation]

    tldr; Ezio is a major egomaniac, and the animus represents him as he remembers himself.

    • Someone says:

      That’s what I keep saying, but then if Ezio made such a Mary Sue of himself why was he so coldly snubbed in the end?

      • decius says:

        Because he remembers being snubbed. Which may or may not actually be a result of being snubbed. Also, Abstergo and/or subject 16 may have made changes to the memories that have not become apparent.

        Also key- “Its’a mee” and other anachronistic references come from Desmond, not Ezio.

        • Syal says:

          …are you suggesting Italians don’t regularly say “Its’a mee” to each other?

          (But I can totally see the Pope beating the crap out of Ezio, letting him live because “you can’t stop me anyway”, then Ezio gradually convincing himself that he spared Borgia.)

        • Destrustor says:

          But if the animus responds to desmond’s imagination like that, how can anyone trust it? If the “it’s a mee!” didn’t happen, the animus does not have 100% reliability, and if you go back hundreds of years like that the error margin starts to ruin the credibility of the information to the point where everything in the simulation could be total baloney.
          Those anachronisms break even the “animus did it” excuse.

    • zob says:

      It’s refreshing to see someone other than me understands this. Then again how in the world you manage to mix up Michelangelo and Leonardo. One uses nunchucks other uses swords.

      • decius says:

        [eggface]

        I even checked the spelling…

      • swimon1 says:

        Ok so if you apply copious amounts of fan logic it makes sense in-universe (to the degree that anything about the animus makes sense). That doesn’t really excuse the fact that it made a bad story to the player out-of-universe.

        • decius says:

          The Empire Strikes Back also has a bad story- The characters are barely introduced, have unexplained powers and ass-pulls, and change sides at the drop of a hat- Lando flip-flops two or four times, and at the end of the climatic join-me-or-die, Darth Vader chooses to let Luke escape (It’s established that he can know Luke’s location, and ‘Falling down at terminal velocity’ and ‘moving away at escape velocity’ seem like pretty big differences to me.

          Too bad those decisions don’t have a greater context, and form a second act to a three-part narrative.

          If you want to talk about the story, wait for the story that has already been written to be released. If you want to talk about the game that is used as a vehicle for this portion of the story, then do so- it’s a combination of forced stealth, stealth-optional, forced combat, parkour, collectable, and CTF, set in a pseudo-medieval setting. Good idea, mediocre implementation. I think it improves with AC:B, and cannot comment on AC:R.

          • Zukhramm says:

            I have no idea what you’re trying to say here.

            That Ezio’s story in Assassin’s Creed 2 is the second part of a trilogy? Because it’s not really.

            That The Empire Strikes Back has one single magical device that it uses to explain every single possible problem? Because I can’t really recall that either.

            • Raygereio says:

              A better question would be is how randomly ranting about The Empire Strikes Back without providing any context for that or given us wonderfully nonsensical zen idoms such as “wait for the story that has already been written” (seriously: what? o_O) constitute in any way, shape or form a reply to what swimon1 said.

              • zob says:

                I don’t agree with decius on this part. AC2 is basically Desmond reading memoirs of a self obsessed douchebag (Ezio). And I said it in previous episodes, story sometimes suck.

                But ignoring probably the most reasonable explanation of the plot by labeling it “fan logic” and strawmanning it to “animus did it” does not deserve a reply.

                • Zukhramm says:

                  If the games had established the experiences in the Animus as the subjective memories of Altaïr and Ezio from the start and set the game in much more abstract and dream-like environments I could go with that.

                  But as it is now, using either the animus or the fact that they’re memories to excuse every single problem with the plot feels really cheap.

                  • zob says:

                    Let’s ignore the fact that every single memory of every human being ever lived on this planet is subjective, for a moment. Even then discussing philosophy for 10 minutes with a guy you stabbed in the neck screams surreal subjective memory loud enough.

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      Not when the rest of the game lets you move through a pretty accurate and ordinary environment.

                    • decius says:

                      @Zukhramm

                      You seem to be using a rather liberal definition of ‘accurate and ordinary’.

                      How long does it take to sprint across a city? How many fortresses can be scaled that trivially? Magic haystacks? Random chests?

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      What I mean is the detail and the very specific placement of object. Does Ezio really remember all these streets and every single rooftop of multiple cities? The world is consistent and detailed enough that it does not seem to suggest that what we see is someone’s memory.

                      The games seem to, instead of giving reasonable explanation for how the genetic memory and the animus work, use the fact that they are not well defined as crutch to explain away any possible problem we can come across.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      @Zukhramm

                      If I tell a story to an artist,about how I chased some guy through the streets of venice,and then he goes and pulls a map of venice and makes a cartoon about me chasing a guy through real venice,would that mean I told him everything and he just drew it?We are never told that animus has no outside databases(and heck,if you check all the info about various people,it shows you plethora of things that ezio couldnt possibly know),nor that it takes its info from memories alone.

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      Of course, that’s my point. We’re never told how it works because if they leave it unspecified they can cheat and explain away every single thing that does not make sense.

                      Adding up all the ideas in this thread the Animus doesn’t let us see what happened. But rather what Ezio’s egocentric mind thought happened while drawn upon a detailed database of maps of Renaissance Italy, while at the same time, taking input from Desmond to cause Mario references to pop into the memories.

                  • decius says:

                    As I recall, the Animus is established as the vehicle in the very, very, first cutscene. It is very much player->Desmond->Animus->DNA->Direct experience, from the start.

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      So not it is the direct experience Ezio had or a Ezio’s subjective memory of the experience? Because that’s the thing that is not clear.

                    • Syal says:

                      I’m trying to think of an in-game reason why Ezio’s memory would be subjective via machine. If the memories could change, they’d all disappear because he’s long dead.

                      Or is it something like “you only get the memories they had when they conceived you” or something?

                    • decius says:

                      Since it’s established that the memories end at the time of conception, I’d say that the genetic memory held at that time is what is defining. Undefined term: genetic memory. (Forgot a factor: Random mutation over the last 500 years)

              • decius says:

                The story of AC, as yet released, covers four games. The protagonist of the story (Desmond) develops from a helpless lab rat to pawn of the POE; he has yet to rebel against the gods, establish himself as the supreme power, destroy the Templar and the Assassins, and dismantle the remaining Pieces of Eden.

                Complaining about the story, when the noted inconsistencies in the framed story are important clues to the real story, is taking the entire thing out of context.

                Pointing out that TESB can’t stand on it’s own is a troll. U mad?

                • Zukhramm says:

                  The fact that the Ezio story is poorly paced is a clue to the real story?

                • Shamus says:

                  “Pointing out that TESB can’t stand on it’s own is a troll. U mad?”

                  Actually, I’m wondering why you think it’s okay to troll people. Are you genuinely interested in pissing people off for lulz? You just interested in pointless arguments?

                  • decius says:

                    It started with “I’m angry that people think that ‘The story of AssCreed 2’ is a single entity separate from ‘The story of AssCreed’. I needed a device to show that intermediate portions of any story simply don’t make sense; I considered using Act 2 of Hamlet as an example, but decided against that.

                    I didn’t actually want to discuss the merits of the movie, just to use it as a concrete example of what I was saying. Therefore, I identified it as a troll (likely to produce a discussion that I am not engaged in). Are you really interested in the ethical philosophy that permits such actions?

                    • Shamus says:

                      “Are you really interested in the ethical philosophy that permits such actions?”

                      I just wanted to make sure you weren’t making messes for me to clean up. As the guy who does the moderating, I take a dim view of people who start arguments for laughs, which is what I thought you were doing.

                    • Alex the Too Old says:

                      >>>Therefore, I identified it as a troll (likely to produce a discussion that I am not engaged in).<<<

                      I do not think that word means what you think it means.

                • Raygereio says:

                  Pointing out that TESB can’t stand on it’s own is a troll. U mad?

                  Why would I be mad? Well, other then about your use of 4chan lingo. You’re right in that that movie can’t stand on it’s own.

                  However that has nothing do with the issue here. Disregarding the fact that Ezio’s story in AC2 stands on it’s own. We’re not talking about character’s histories. Now are we talking about things that have been established in the previous game.

                  Complaining about the story, when the noted inconsistencies in the framed story are important clues to the real story

                  Allright then minster Let’s-throw-random-words-togheter-in-the-hope-people-think-I-make-sense. Let’s call your bullshit out. Why don’t you explain in full detail what clues can be gathered from AC2’s shitty writing.

                  • decius says:

                    1: The tone is all over the place.

                    This is a valid complaint about the gameplay, certainly. The player should have much more control over when the parkour is dominant, when stealth is dominant, and when swordfighting is dominant. The anachronisms and immersion breaking references should key the player into realizing that there is information present which was not present when the memory was created- details have been added and altered seamlessly. What other details have been changed, how, and why?

                    2:the writers repeatedly introduced preposterous events that couldn’t be explained by the animus, altered history, or alien technology.

                    2a The egg is transported via parkour?
                    2b Then the egg is put into a parade for delivery?
                    2c Delivery takes place in a public place, and not a fortified one?
                    2f Everyone Ezio has ever known just happens to arrive at the same time, here, at this moment, despite them not being part of the plan?
                    2g And they’re all assassins?

                    Explainable by animus- Ezio remembers tailing the courier by using parkour, then impersonating a guard to carry it, but he was prevented from running off with it- there must have been some other guards nearby. Then the other assassins, the only people other than templars whose names got into the animus at all, set an independent ambush to retrieve the egg.

                    2d Borgia is able to keep up with Ezio in a swordfight?

                    Templar. Also, if Ezio was as good as he thought he was, not even the Templar would be able to conceal the reports of his swordplay. Borgia is therefore Ezio’s near-equal.

                    2e Borgia produces mooks from nowhere?

                    Game convention: Offscreen/out of view is somewhere else. The Pope has an army available to him.

                    2h And they’re apparently useless against one fat old guy?
                    2i And Borgia manages to hold off everyone, despite being surrounded? Even useless non-assassins ought to be able to stab him in the back.

                    “Has the powers granted by an artifact which grants indeterminate powers” is a pretty good excuse for being able to play with the big boys; Conservation of Ninjutsu applies when fighting multiple opponents.

                    2j And then Borgia manages to ESCAPE, despite being surrounded?
                    2k Nobody even TRIES to chase him?

                    Ezio doesn’t remember anybody chasing him; anyone or anything that Ezio didn’t remember didn’t make it to the animus.

                    3: Ezio is a gigantic Black Hole Mary Sue.

                    Ezio perceives himself and remembers himself as such.

                    4:Ezio’s doesn’t have a character arc, he has a flat line that suddenly lurches downward at the end.

                    No comment, since I’m avoiding spoilers for Revelations and subsequent games.

                    5:The bad guys were comical evil villains with no goal

                    The Templar? Abstergo? Borgia? All want the POE to further world domination. Becoming Pope in the 15th century is also a good step towards world domination.

                    Desmond is just a pawn at this point, a tool of the bad guys. I haven’t figured out the angle on the other modern-era characters yet.

                    The bad guys, however, are the aliens. Their goals are unknown at this point.

                    • acronix says:

                      The only problem I see with this explanation right now is that the characters outside of the memories (Desmond´s pals) don´t seem worried about the inexactitude of the memories. If the Animus remembers exactly the way the ancestor remembers, then there´s no way to make sure which are remembered exactly as it happened and which didn´t. Seems like that would break the whole “let´s fiddle with people´s genetic memory to find the Pieces of Not-Eden!”. Everyone seems sure it is very exact.

                      Another thing is with the Conservation of Ninjitsu with Borgia: the game doesn´t bother to explain it via shoving the “he has another piece of not-eden in his rear pocket!”. In fact, it seems quite clear that the only Pieces in this game are the apple and the staff. His innate resistance to half a dozen assasins is natural for the writers and probably didn´t bother coming up with a good reason.

                    • Raygereio says:

                      @Acronix: That’s the only problem you saw in there? Let me help you out. ^_O

                      @Decius:
                      I realize you’re probably a TRUE FAN and it’s downright useless to argue with such people as logic and reason bounce of them like they’re made of rubber. Mind you, there’s not anything wrong with being a TRUE FAN – I myself have a complete irrational love for certain things, but you ought to realize that you are one.

                      That said, let’s dig in.

                      The anachronisms and immersion breaking references should key the player into realizing that there is information present which was not present when the memory was created- details have been added and altered seamlessly. What other details have been changed, how, and why?

                      Repeating the same mumbo-jumbo in different wording does not constitute a reply. I ask you again: what are we suppose to learn from those inconsistencies?

                      Explainable by animus

                      That excuse has no merit to it al. Finding a new way to phrase “a wizard did it” does not excuse shitty storytelling.

                      2d Borgia is able to keep up with Ezio in a swordfight?Templar. Also, if Ezio was as good as he thought he was, not even the Templar would be able to conceal the reports of his swordplay. Borgia is therefore Ezio’s near-equal.

                      Your explanation doesn’t make any sense, nor is it coherent English for that matter.
                      So what if he’s a templar? That doesn’t change the fact that Rodrigo is a fat, old man dressed in cumbersome robes. Even if he was an expert swordsman, that fact alone should put him at a severe disadvantage.
                      As for your second sentence: I have no clue what you mean. Rodrigo is a good swordsman because the templars heard Ezio is good? What?

                      2e Borgia produces mooks from nowhere?Game convention: Offscreen/out of view is somewhere else. The Pope has an army available to him.

                      Sure, this is gameplay and story segregation. However that still doesn’t excuse poor storytelling and design. Ubisoft could have completely circumvented this problem by having those mooks present at the start of the bossfight, instead of spawning them in right after Ridrigo regains his health for no reason at all other then the fact that he is a boss with multiple stages.

                      “Has the powers granted by an artifact which grants indeterminate powers” is a pretty good excuse for being able to play with the big boys; Conservation of Ninjutsu applies when fighting multiple opponents.

                      Ridrogo doesn’t have an artifact during this fight. Also, conservation of ninjutsu my hairy ass; see gameplay and story segregation above.

                      Ezio doesn’t remember anybody chasing him (red:Borgia) ; anyone or anything that Ezio didn’t remember didn’t make it to the animus.

                      Congratulations, that explanation managed to completely not address the issue. The issue is that all your assassin buddies apparently just stand staring slack jawed while mister old-fat-man runs off. Saying “well, that’s how Ezio remembers it” doesn’t change the fact that your assassin buddies are useless idiots.

                      Ezio perceives himself and remembers himself as such.

                      Again: just saying ANIMUS! doesn’t excuse poor storytelling.

                      4:Ezio’s doesn’t have a character arc, he has a flat line that suddenly lurches downward at the end.
                      No comment, since I’m avoiding spoilers for Revelations and subsequent games.

                      There’s no reason for you to drag Brotherhood or Revelations in this (If only because the Ezios in those games are so utterly different without any build up for that, that all three games have effectively different characters).
                      To drag your own Star Wars exemple in here: the character of Luke Skywalker has an arch in The New Hope. You can comment on that, without having to look at any other movie, or even any of the EU.

                      The portrayal of the character of Ezio is in AC2 downright poor, with the worst example of this being at the very end. Ezio is ready to kill for revenge. Revenge is his life goal. He introduces Rodrigo’s face to his fist a couple of hundred times and then Ezio is all Zen of a sudden? Adress the poor storytelling.

                      5:The bad guys were comical evil villains with no goalThe Templar? Abstergo? Borgia? All want the POE to further world domination. Becoming Pope in the 15th century is also a good step towards world domination.

                      Yes end? Why do they want world domination? Heck, let’s start from the beginning. Why was our father killed? Why did they try to overthrow the Medici? Why did they try and control the merchant district in Venice? Why did they try to kill and replace the Doge?

                      The only time the game gives anything resembling a reason for this is at the beginning when you ask why Vieri de’ Pazzi is attacking. “He’s a templar”, the game says. Why thank you game. That sure explains everything. The game’s story doesn’t flesh out the villains at all. They’re just evil. Why? Because we’re saying so. Contrast this to AC1 where during the investigation missions the game tries to give you an idea of just why the men you kill deserve death.

                      Desmond is just a pawn at this point, a tool of the bad guys. I haven’t figured out the angle on the other modern-era characters yet.
                      The bad guys, however, are the aliens. Their goals are unknown at this point.

                      First up: why are you dragging that into this? It is completely beside the point here. In fact, it’s also somewhat nonsensical as we don’t even know if the aliens are aliens, nor do we know if they’re bad guys. In fact all evidence suggests they aren’t bad guys since they went through a lot of trouble to warn of us of an impending apocalypse.

                    • acronix says:

                      @Raygereio: I was just setting a trap so someone with more sleep hours would come and help me out. I´m truly a genious!

                    • decius says:

                      If you try to limit “the story” to “events depicted in this chapter”, you will find inadequacies. The aliens/gods did all of it, including manipulating the Templar and the Assassins AND Abstergo AND Desmond (starting rather directly at the end of AC:B) Their plot arc as master manipulators has yet to come into the clear.

                      Borgia APPEARS old and fat, because Ezio remembers him as being old and fat. He is a competent opponent because Ezio remembers having difficulty beating him. Since Ezio remembers himself as a peerless swordfighter, that means Borgia also has to be a peerless swordfighter. Interestingly enough, his appearance doesn’t change in the future, when he is defeated rather easily.

                      Look at the story as though told by an unreliable narrator, because it is. Major details, like “I hid the apple under the Coliseum” aren’t likely to change, while minor details, like “I don’t recall seeing anybody chase him” are created.

      • El Quia says:

        I don’t agree with you on the topic of players having to make so many excuses for lazy writers. But I can’t help but congratulate you on that TMNT joke. If I were drinking something when I read that, I would be asking you compensation for my ruined computer :P

        *claps*

  10. Raygereio says:

    Ezio’s doesn’t have a character arc, he has a flat line that suddenly lurches downward at the end.

    Ezio’s arch literally happens during the bossfight with Borgia. Before the fight he’s ready to kill for revenge – he outright says this, the only reason he didn’t is because Super-Pope stopped him. And then at the end of the fight he’s suddenly all Zen and ‘I’m done with this crap’.
    Thankfully they stopped attempting to build any sort of arc in Brotherhood and Revelations. They just present a static character and Ezio actually ends up being somewhat more interesting and likeble.

    The bad guys were comical evil villains with no goal.

    In the previous video you could hear Mario say: “We’ll stop whatever the Spaniard is plotting”. They literally have no clue what’s going on. Borgia could be plotting to deliver milk and cookies to all starving children for all they now.
    This could have been a good oppertunity though: the fight between the Assassins and Templars could have gone on too long and neither side really knows why they’re doing this anymore. But nope, the writers instead just say “He’s bad” and never bother to explain why. *sigh*

    I can’t help but think that Ubisoft suffered from the same problem I saw with BioWare: overcompensation following critique. People complained that the gameplay of AC1 didn’t have enough variation in it, so they filled with it random crap like a charriot chase scene and Carnivalle.
    People complained that the cutscenes in AC1 where the villains explained their motives dragged on to long, so they cut them completely. This even though the concept of those cutscenes wasn’t bad, the problem was the execution; they suffered from Metal Gear Syndrom (lot’s of dialogue that use some trimming) and lousy, nonsensical presentation (I kill a guy and now we have a lengthy conversation in null space?).

    • acronix says:

      Oh dear. I had completely forgotten about the conversations on null space! Now I´ll have nightmares again.

    • Eärlindor says:

      I assumed Rodrigo Borgia was going to use the Papal Staff to control everybody in the same way the Templars in AC1 wanted to use (and Al Mualim DID use) the Apple to control people, and in the same way Abstergo wanted to place a POE in a satellite so they could use mind control on a global scale.

      Though one has to wonder how (and/or why) Rodigo couldn’t retrieve the staff from the vault after Ezio left, yet it somehow ends up in Rasputin’s hands hundreds of years later.

    • Klay F. says:

      On the whole, I enjoyed the post-stabbing conversations. Yes, they could have been done, in a way that made sense, but even as they were, they gave the bad guys a shit-ton of depth, as such, the game would have been noticeably worse without them.

  11. Jeff R. says:

    Going off the last discussion you were having, my own list of settings for future AC games has always been (in chronological order) (1) Revolutionary France, which we’re likely to get. (2) China during the Taiping Rebellion, which is far less likely but is a really interesting historical time that people generally don’t know a thing about, and (3) London, during the Blitz. (Parkouring under blackout conditions, with the architecture occasionally getting bombed out from under you. Plus, that one absolutely demands a female ancestor, since anyone male and able-bodied enough to be an assassin would be in the military…)

    • SharpeRifle says:

      oooo yeah and the WWII one could wear fishnet stockings and a red leather bomber jacket which would inexplicably let her blend seamlessly into crowds!

      And she could get soldiers to follow her around as cover!

    • Klay F. says:

      I’ll call your Taiping Rebellion, and raise you one Boxer Rebellion instead.

      • Kalil says:

        How about the Sepoy Mutiny?

        It’s got everything: oppressed majority rebelling against the rule of a massive foreign empire, brutally suppression of a rebellion blamed for atrocities they didn’t commit, and the whole thing was papered over with a blatant and grotesque fabrication, the truth of which didn’t become known for a century after. The entire war actually /was/ a massive conspiracy, right down to having a conveniently placed army ready to move in when the rebellion was started by rumors planted by British intelligentsia.

        Toss in a POE to explain the success of the coverup, and you’ve got the entire plot of the game already written.

  12. Gamer says:

    Excellent season, despite (or even because) of AC2 being a compromise game. Can’t wait to see what you guys can cook up next.

    Except Rutskarn, his cooking would probably suck.

  13. LurkerAbove says:

    Since I love Batman, I have a pretty high tolerance for Mary Sue-ing. Ezio didn’t bother me.

  14. JPH says:

    I love Assassin’s Creed 2, but you’re absolutely right on all of your points. I can’t deny that.

    I’m normally able to (or rather, clueless enough to) glaze over plot holes and enjoy the general story elements, but even for me the AC2 story just did not work. Characters are thrown in and out for no reason, Ezio doesn’t have a proper arc, the game can never decide on a tone, etc. It feels like a script written by a gymnasium full of bad writers.

    That scene with Borgia swordfighting every assassin in the world gave me a level of plot-driven rage that has probably only ever been matched by the ending of Fable 2, so it’s absolutely fitting that they both receive the same trophy.

  15. Mantergeistmann says:

    Didn’t they mention something in the previous episode about Hitler being a Templar who was assassinated while trying to flee his bunker after faking his death or something? Because that would make setting the next game during WWII the best game ever.
    FINAL MISSION: ASSASSINATE HITLER

    • Josh H says:

      Even better: Copy this game’s final bossfight exactly. Punch the Nazi and win a prize!

      Of course, you still let him go afterwards.

      • Syal says:

        (aw, missed this thread when I posted my thoughts on the WW2 Final Boss battle.)

        It’ll totally be a long range battle with Hitler in a Zeppelin. Or possibly a fighter plane. He’ll have a Piece of Eden that’s also a gun.

  16. Adam says:

    I understand the problem they had. You can’t really have a game where you stab the pope. Walmart might not want to carry that.

    • acronix says:

      That´s actually a good point. All the media would have gone mad with “VIDEOGAME LETS PLAYER KILL THE POPE!!!!1!!!1!” without bothering to note any of the context or how he´s universally reviled as the worst Pope ever.

      • PSJ says:

        That, and the fact that he was still pope after these events make it a bit hard to kill him off.

        • acronix says:

          They used a bunch of timeskips in this game. They could have done so again!
          Besides, there´s the “templars write story at their leisure”, so this universe´s Borgia could have got killed at any point in the game and then they could handwave the incosistency with actual story the same way they handwave everything else.

  17. Jamas Enright says:

    No-one said this yet? *sigh* Fine, I’ll do it. Ruts was clearly too tired:

    Having gotten through this we are now… Assassins Freed!

  18. Amnestic says:

    So we’ve mentioned:
    Crusades
    Renaissance Italy
    French Revolution
    Medieval Japan
    Roman-Era (Italy? – The Roman Empire stretched quite wide, extending it to other countries might be quite fun.)
    WW1/WW2 Europe

    I’d add ‘Han Dynasty/Three Kingdoms China’ to that list as well.

    I’d agree though, it’s a shame that they didn’t do more with the quantum time leap thing. And having a (well done) female protagonist would be nice too.

    Still, great series guys and gal. Can’t wait for your next one.

  19. Zukhramm says:

    I’ve only played Brotherhood so I did not really know all that went on in this game. Of course, Brotherhood lets you know the basic, you got a message fro maliens after fighting the pope and you spared him but since the game did not give more detail I just assumed there were reasonable explanations behind it all.

    Still not sure if I should pick up Revelations, at least the slight change in setting might be interesting.

  20. Blake says:

    I get the impression that I’ve missed more puns than I read in past comment sections.

    I’ve often stated with some shame that I could never get into AC games, that for some reason they never held my interest. I’m really glad that’s the case now.

    You know, about 6 months ago I saw a posting online for a Ubisoft Narrative Designer job. I didn’t go for it because I haven’t finished my BA yet. Now I’m thinking I should’ve at least tried. I can do better than THIS, regardless of timeline.

  21. The thing I couldn’t stand is that the metaplot is now 2012 (or is it The Knowing?) where the sun is randomly trying to kill us. First, because an apocalyptic threat in a game essentially about violent politics just came out of nowhere and is about as solvable as Shepard shooting a reaper with a pistol and secondly because they don’t even care. They just throw out some random technobabble and the British guy says “this is basically pseudoscience” and then we’re supposed to be OK with it despite the fact it makes the entire conflict with the templars moot.

    I know there’s a lot of other stuff to complain about but as reveals go it was pretty terrible.

    And does the fourth wall breaking mean Desmond doesn’t actually inhabit the bodies of his ancestors? he literally follows them around with a third person camera? That’s kind of odd.

    • acronix says:

      That´d be a good revelation for Revelations. Ezio and Altair aren´t Desmond’s ancestors: his real ancester was the cameramen that followed those two!

    • Zukhramm says:

      Any story that uses the “switching the poles” as some massive threat instantly falls in the stupid category to me.

      But the planet will become geologically unstable!! Yeah, taht, or we’ll just have to recalibrate our compasses.

      • swimon1 says:

        Yeah hasn’t this happened several times during the earth’s lifetime? Sure maybe not because of solar flares but still. Also I could maybe buy that switching the poles would take a while and under that time period we would be unprotected from the radiation from space (well not unprotected but less protected) and that would be bad. Maybe. But saying it would make the earth geologically unstable? Do they have any idea how weak the earth’s magnetism is? Or how strong a magnetic field it would take to have geological implications?

        • PSJ says:

          The explanation is that during these events, earth’s geomagnetic field weakens which leaves us mortals open to massive radiation. It has been hypothesized that these events caused mass extinctions in the past, so its not THAT contrived of a plot device.

          • Zukhramm says:

            The poles shift over a long period of time and we keep quite close track on their movement. That they could cause sudden and catastrophic events is pretty contrived.

            But then, I guess in the world of Assassin’s Creed all science is really only Templar propaganda.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              The poles normally shift slowly,but there were few times in the past when they rapidly switched places.Why exactly,we arent sure.Were those events catastrophic for life on earth?We arent sure of that either.Its possible.

              • swimon1 says:

                again you could do something with this that would be somewhat plausible, but they say “geologically unstable” and that’s just silly.

                Thanks for clearing that up tho I wans’t sure I remembered it correctly with the pole switching shenanigans.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Well,yes.That is the dumb part of that.Though at least that can be written off as the brit guy trying to sound smart.For all we know,it may just be excess radiation.I mean,the last event killed the precursors,but left the earth pretty much intact,so that the humans could populate it.

              • Zukhramm says:

                Yes, but even the times they shifted “rapidly”, that was only rapid in relation to their normal movement, it’s still something that takes thousands of years.

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Well of course,but global extinctions also take time as well.When the meteor struck,it didnt cause the dinosaurs to die out on the same day.Humans arent different either.Heck,even when minor(relatively speaking)catastrophes strike urban settlements,the tragedy drags on for months afterwards.

                  • Zukhramm says:

                    The point is, there won’t be a sudden catastrophe. We’ll see it comming.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Im not sure about that.And even if we do see it coming,will we have enough time to do something meaningful about it?

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      As I said, we keep close track on the magnetic field and the poles. Wikipedia estimates the time of a switch to take between 1,000 and 10,000 years. It’s not really possible that it could surprise us.

                      As for what we can do, the depends on what happens, but considering previous species of human survived without even knowing it happened I think our chances are pretty good.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      We keep close tracks of earthquakes and volcanos,and those also take a long time to come to the surface,but we still are only able to get a few days warning at best.And those arent even global things(though volcanos can affect the global climate).

                      Yes pole reversals may take thousands of years to occur,but are they dangerous during the whole period?Or just in the beginning and end?Or just in the middle?Or at all?We dont know.

                      And seeing how the last one happened almost a million years ago,we have no clue how dangerous it would be.What if a pole reversal starts with a global emp?Sure,most living things wouldnt feel a thing,but imagine all the planes crashing at once,all the patients on life support dying at once,all the semaphores in the world stopping at once,it would be pretty catastrophic.

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      The poles and the magnetic field is in no way comparable to earthquakes and volcanoes, they happen so much faster.

                      We know the north poles is in Canada and that it’s moving towards Siberia, we know at which speed it’s moving and if it accelerates, slows down or changes direction we’ll clearly see it. Same thing with the magnetic field, we know it’s weakening and we know how quickly.

                      If the poles start moving outside the area they normally are within or if the magnetic field drops we know something’s going on.

                      It’s not that hard to meassure, it’s basically just sticking a Hall probe into the air.

                      Even if we’ve never experienced one ourselves doesn’t mean we’re completely clueless to what happens. The magnetic field will weaken, the possible dangers of that we’ll be exposed to more radiation than before, or maybe that the atmosphere will be damaged (and if it does, considering this has happened many times before, it’s probably able to recover).

                      And EMP? I don’t think the change in the magnetic field is quick enough.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      “I don’t think the change in the magnetic field is quick enough.”

                      Thats the key here:You dont know for sure,its just what you think.The same way that you wouldnt think how going fast would slow down the passage of time for you.

                      And sure,we would notice if poles suddenly accelerated,but how do you know that by that time it wouldnt be too late already?We arent completely clueless about the issue,sure,but we arent certain either.

                      And just because our planet and life in general can recover from numerous catastrophes doesnt mean we as a species can endure them intact.

                      This is why pole reversal can work in a smart sf story,because the ultimate effects of such event are vague.Here,as a contrast,compare these two movies:the core and sunshine.The first has a ridiculous premise of earths core stopping and us having to restart it,and the second one has an even more ridiculous premise of the sun itself dying and us having to boost it,yet the second one is a far more superior film(disregarding the backstory and explanations you can find on the website,and going just by the movies alone).And thats what Ive been saying for a long,long time:You dont need a smart plot/setting in order to make a smart story,because the quality of the plot and the setting has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the story itself.It can help,but its not essential.

                  • Zukhramm says:

                    I don’t know for sure, not because it’s completely uncertain, but because I am not a geologist or physicist specialized in this area. Just because I do not know doesn’t mean it’s a hard question to answer. Call up one of the above mentioned and you’ll have your answer is no time.

                    Would we have time to do something? Considering the timespan the events take place over, the rate at witch we can accomplish things and the fact that a very similar species survived this without all the knowledge about it that we have, it’s pretty probably we do.

                    Just because we don’t know exactly what will happen doesn’t mean we don’t know that certain thing simply can’t happen.

                    You might be able to tell a good story in a stupid setting, but honestly, I’m not going to care much about it. I’d rather have a smart setting with a bad story.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      If it werent a hard question to answer,wed have an answer by now.It wouldnt still be considered a possible explanation for some mass extinctions in the past.

                      As for the time,again,it all depends whether the most noticeable effects come in the beginning,in the end,or somewhere in the middle of the phenomena.Furthermore,we know that the species survived,but we dont know if it had any adverse effect on its health.For example,I could argue that using depleted uranium shells for weaponry has no impact on people,because my country has survived bombardment with such weaponry,but then Id have to disregard the increase of cancer patients that followed.Also,there is the impact on our technology which we can only speculate about.

                      So youd rather have matrix revolution than hogfather?Or,if you want to stick to video games,story of modern warfare rather than that of arkham asylum?

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      On the question “Can the fields change in such a way to create an EMP?” we probably do have a straight answer.

                      You’re acting as if we know absolutely nothing about what happens- Just because we don’t know exactly what happens doesn’t mean all imaginable consequences actually can happen. Knowing or not knowing isn’t a binary state but rather a scale.

                      As for your examples, I haven’t played, read or seen any of them, but how you came to the conclusion that the setting of The Matrix and Modern Warfare is good while the setting of Discworld is bad I don’t know. But I definitely disagree.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Of course we know something.We know that a pole reversal would kill everything,wouldnt destroy the earth,and similar things.But we have no clue if it would affect the climate(directly or indirectly),radiation intensity we receive from space,or our technology.

                      I didnt say bad,I was going by your words “good story in a stupid setting” and “smart setting with a bad story”.The setting of matrix is,more or less a machine revolution with humans living in a virtual world,so it mostly holds,which is seen in the first movie.The second and third,not so much.The setting of discworld is a flat world on backs of four elephants on the back of a turtle,and that is pretty stupid,but its played for laughs,so that stupidity works as an advantage.The setting of modern warfare is real world,and I doubt youd consider real world to be a stupid setting.The setting of arkham asylum is a city where a man can dress in extremely heavy suit,and still be able to slowly glide just by making his cape(which is shorter than him)rigid.And if you find pole reversal killing us or our society(which could happen)stupid,than youd find this(which could not happen)even stupider.

                      And how can you disagree if you havent played,read or seen any of them?Unless you are arguing just for the sake of argument.

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      But the point is, we do have a clue. We don’t know for certain but if there’s something we have. Radiation from space will probably increase if the magnetic field weakens but it will probably not be so dangerous to be impossible to handle. Considering we have ran machines out in space, outside our magnetic field, it’s also pretty probably that we’ll be able to keep doing that on earth as well.

                      Discworld is not stupid beause it’s not set in the real world, something Assassin’s Creed at least pretends to be. Caling Modern Warfare’s setting “real world” is a massive oversimplification. Bot the Roman Empire and WWII are “real world” yet completely different settings for a story. An Batman, no, I’ve never been a fan, of him, or any other super hero for that matter.

                      But, a setting is not necessarily stupid for breaking the laws of physics in reality. Stupidity is determined by how it’s done. A story which establishes itself to be about the magnetic poles switching places from the start is less stupid than one that reveals it in a throwaway line during the credits of the second game.

                      And I consider myself able to argue about them in spite of being directly familiar because I have read/seen/played other entries in the same settings and series.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      “Considering we have ran machines out in space, outside our magnetic field, it’s also pretty probably that we’ll be able to keep doing that on earth as well.”

                      Thats equal to saying “submarines work fine underwater,so floods dont present a danger”.There is a reason that space equipment is so expensive:It has to operate in extreme conditions that arent normally found on the surface of the earth.Regular machines arent suited for that.

                      So wait,assassins creed,a game which has genetic memory,a machine able to read it,people being able to cling by their fingertips for hours and jump from buildings into haystacks without problems is a real world,but saying that modern warfare is set into real world is “a massive oversimplification”?I sense a strong bias here.

                      And that third paragraph shows that you are clearly not able to argue something that you havent played,because that calamity about to destroy earth is not mentioned in passing during the closing credits.Its hinted at during the game,if you do subject 16 memories,and is mostly something reserved for future games.Its not integral to the story of asscreed 2,its something integral to the story of the whole series.

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      You misunderstand me. While both Assassin’s Creed and Modern Warfare are real world it is a simplification do say that their setting is “the real world”. Theyre obviously different settings.

                      And the fact that I did not know details about a sidequest in the second game means I am unable to argue my opinion on the setting?

                      I don’t see how that changes everything. That fact still remain that the game did not start by centering on the poles reversal but rather introduced them later on in a game originally presenting itself as a historical assassination game. That, is still, in my opinion, not good.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Modern warfares setting is real world.The introduction of terrorists who have access to nuclear weaponry and russia being able to invade all of the world dont change that fact.Of course,if youll argue that thats not real world,well then crime and punishment isnt real world either since there never was that particular student who killed that particular woman.In fact,neither story ever,except for biographies,is set in the real world,its all fiction.

                      Asscreed,meanwhile,starts with animus,something that not just doesnt exist,but never will exist in the real world.So it is science fiction from the very start.The conspiracies,the aliens,all that just builds on top of that.

                      It does change everything,since asscreed never was a historical assassination game,nor did it present itself as that.It was always a blend of two stories set in two different settings:One being the historical events of the crusades/renaissance italy(with some conspiracies sprinkled here and there),and the other being scifi about genetic memory and alien artifacts.And that second story was always kept on the sidelines and told mostly through optional quests,which you didnt play.

                      Does it work?Not really.Is it stupid?Yes it is,I agree.But that stupidity doesnt come from its settings like you are painting it,but from the way the stories are told.And by that I dont mean the structure,keeping the second story in the side quests,thats fine,that can work sometimes,but it doesnt work here.It couldve been done better.A lot better.

        • Adam F says:

          Pole reversals happen all the time. 23 times in the past 5 million years, alone! They are not harmful to life.

          • tengokujin says:

            Or just harmful enough to actually warrant the use of sunscreen, at least.

            • acronix says:

              Excellent. This means the last chapters of the AC story will consist of the assasins trying to snatch all the sunscreen industry from the templars so they can give free sunscreen to all mankind for the inevitable apocalypse!

            • Dovius says:

              So the big reveal is gonna be that Those Who Came Before were really highly-advanced vampires who were wiped out by the excess UV radiation?
              That still sounds better than half the plot of this game.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            You know something others dont?There still are plenty of mass extinction events that we dont know the reasons for.Seeing how we never witnessed a pole reversal,we dont know if its a harmless event,or if it has an impact on the amount of radiation we receive or on our climate.

            • Soylent Dave says:

              You can see magnetic pole reversals in the geological record.

              You can see extinction level events in the fossil record.

              It doesn’t take the most brilliant scientists in the world to figure out that they don’t match up.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Doing a quick wikipedia search shows that there was a drop in marine extinction intensity after the last superchron which lasted 40 million years,so I wouldnt be that quick to draw conclusions.

                Plus,what Klay F. said.It took scientists 20 years of extensive research(not to mention everything that was needed for that research to begin)to conclude that it was yucatan meteorite that triggered the dinosaur extinction,and here you are completely sure that even laymen can see with a brief glance how even older extinctions could have happened,even though we dont have even speculative theories for what caused most of those.

                • Shamus says:

                  For me, this has everything to do with the audience’s trust for the author. The idea is presented: Reversing the poles could cause “major geological events”. Sounds pretty ridiculous on the surface.

                  If this was an idea offered by (say) Neal Stephenson then I would conclude, “This sounds very far-fetched. I can’t wait to see how Neal sells it / read the science behind it.” Because I trust the author. He’s always filling his books with science ideas that have captured his interest.

                  When this same idea is advanced by the people who came up with “carnevale”, then I conclude it’s a stupid lazy ass-pull made by linking random science-y sounding stuff together. I don’t expect to learn anything about magnetism or geology along the way. These authors have shown that they can’t even plot a single scene without creating major plausibility problems, so I’m sure the magnetic poles business is complete blatherskite.

                  In this thread alone, I’m sure we’ve put more thought into the subject than the writers ever did.

          • Klay F. says:

            Uh, except that mass extinctions have also happened a crap load of times. Don’t say they are harmless when you have absolutely no clue if they are or not. The fossil record is way to vague to say either way.

      • Soylent Dave says:

        ‘recalibrate’ is a very fancy term to use for ‘swap the N and the S around’…

        • Zukhramm says:

          Well, that’s after the reversal. During it they’ll either be at some place between their current location, or there’s the possibility of a field with multiple poles which makes it a little more complicated.

    • swenson says:

      I took it as Desmond’s point of view is similar to our own, over-the-shoulder of whoever he’s “inhabiting”.

      • Amnestic says:

        But isn’t it meant to be teaching him how to perform these moves of Ezio’s? That only really works if he’s from a first person perspective, feeling, acting, running, jumping, climbing trees, putting on makeup while you’re up there.

        • decius says:

          Desmond sees himself from the same third-person viewpoint, so it’s all right. It’s the Assassin’s blood thing, along with Eagle Vision.

          He doesn’t mention it because he assumes that everyone else sees the same way.

          • acronix says:

            The main advantage of being an assasin isn´t incredible climbing and acrobatic powers; it´s that you can comb back of your head without any mirrors!

            • McNutcase says:

              That’s as may be, but you still need one to get the front. Also, shaving is a bear.

              • Amnestic says:

                That’s cool, you can just swing the camera around to the front, unless you’re stood in one of those annoying as hell fixed camera areas which pop up out of goddamn no where unannounced and completely fuck with your jumping so that you fall down and have to do the last 5-10 minutes of the fucking assassins tomb all over again.

                Not that I’m bitter or anything. Especially not when they added a TIMER to the jumping puzzles in at least one of them.

  22. Johan says:

    For the most part these criticisms seem spot on (I haven’t played the game, just watched the SW), but number 3 about Ezio being a Mary Sue, eh I’m not really feeling it. Se seems reasonable flawed enough that he doesn’t instantly succeed at all things, he needs a training montage to actually be competent, he occassionally fails and has to try again later, etc. He makes a lot of historical injokes (the coffee “you should add something to this” thing), but really those seem to me to be just… historical injokes. And he did get a slight revelation a few episodes ago about why his family was killed and how it isn’t all about him. I don’t know if he immediately forgets that message or what, but it seemed like a revalation.

    Everything else seems spot on.

    • Johan says:

      Also, wow, that was actually a REALLY SATISFYING CONCLUSION (for me at least). Feels like a first for this series with both Mass Effects ending without ending the story, Fallout 3 ending on a “meh,” well I guess New Vegas was ok.

      • Dys says:

        To be honest, it’s more about every single major cultural or historical event during Ezio’s lifetime somehow involving him.

        On a related note, playing Revelations. Got to love the way that Ezio is the reason the world still has every major classical text written before 1400. The Iliad, the Canterbury Tales and on and on all rescued from obscurity by the sole saviour of humanity.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          Actual saviour is Sofia. Ezio would have kept them in Constantinople lair, until inevitable Templar crackdown. But Sofia probably copied them and distributed them.

          Also only saved book are those that Ezio found, that were buried by Polos. The rest were bought of book merchants, were copies.

          I havent considered things from that angle, I merely tought it a nice collection game. Certainly better than stupid feathers.

    • Phoenix says:

      I agree. Also everyone is super in this game. Or at least every guard, because they can follow you on the roofs, climb or go down. With armor. Wtf.

      It’s a game about spectacularity (maybe cheap), not to make sense or be realistic, in that aspect.

  23. Fat Tony says:

    Prohibition era Chicago ’nuff said.

  24. swimon1 says:

    I want to thank you Shamus for giving Assassins Creed 2 a goldun riter awward. This post (the text and the video) was kinda relieving to me in a weird way.Now I only played brotherhood but it’s bad in a similiar way to assassin’s creed 2 although not quite as stupid (at least as far as I played) so I can sort of cross my eyes and pretend that you’re talking about brotherhood, a game that hurt me.

    It’s not that the writing in brotherhood is bad it’s rather that no one called it on it. Worse than that it gets praise for it’s “great story” all the time. For most games comments praising a bad narrative (bad is personal of course) doesn’t bother me, it’s the state of the videogame culture that standards are low for the important things and high for rather insubstantial things (the amount of polywops or whatever) and you just have to ignore it. For assassins creed it did bother me tho. The narrative (in brotherhood at least) is so astoundingly horrendous. Ezio is such an obvious and annoying Mary Sue he might as well change his name. The villains are free of motivation, subtlety and competence making them completely without threat. And I don’t think I met a single character I liked, except Shaun because he hates everyone and I can relate to that. Then people started praising it for it’s great story telling. At first it was just the usual comments that are easy enough to ignore but the praise quickly grew ubiquitous, it was inescapable even people who’s opinion I really respected started praising the story-telling (it’s hard to spell opinion BTW I always feel like there should be more ns and ps).

    And you know what I can kinda see why. If you have closer relationship with Ezio as a character and see him more as an extension of yourself rather than a separate character (how we view the player character in games is something I find really interesting partly because it often seems very individual and also because it’s completely unexplored territory by other media) Ezio being a Mary Sue goes from grating to awesome. After all a Mary Sue character existing is annoying, being a Mary Sue character is great. But it’s nice to no longer be alone in this, to know that at least someone agrees that the writing here is crap. Thank you for that :D

    Edit: Also now I’m really interested in the first assassins creed. Sometimes being dull is a small price to pay for narrative driven game mechanics. Maybe I’ll get to it after I’ve finished Skyrim… and anno 2070… while still studying for school… oh and I have to try batman arkham city first… Also I have already bought temple of elemental evil from gog I just haven’t played it yet… but I’ll get to it eventually, unless of course they intend to make games in 2012 too.

    Second edit: Spell check breaks and my apparent grasp of the english language drops like an ugly baby.

    • Syal says:

      (…and also because it’s completely unexplored territory by other media)

      Well, books can do it. I remember Ender’s Game being mentioned with regard to vastly different interpretations of the main character.

      • swimon1 says:

        I didn’t really mean different interpretations of the main character but rather an interpretation of him being you. In very few books or movies or whatever are the reader/audience the main character but I’m pretty sure they do exist (although I can’t think of one now). But I’m pretty sure there are no media except games where people disagree with the main character being them or a fictional character.

        Ok it’s harder to explain than I thought at first so let’s take an example. In half-life 2 the protagonist is Gordon Freeman. Now most people I’ve talked with see Gordon as an extension of themselves. When Gordon doesn’t answer someone in game they interpret their out-of-game reaction (say a groan to alyx’s stupid zombine pun) as Gordon’s reaction in-game. I on the other hand always saw Gordon as an entity completely cut-off from myself and when Gordon refuses to acknowledge that Alyx has said anything I interpreted that like Gordon was a giant tool. That is a problem that no other media has really explored I think because it’s something they can’t really explore since you have no input over them.

        Similiarly Ezio can be interpreted as being you in which case being the guy who’s awesome enough to be better than everyone else is awesome. Or you could interpret him as being a character in which case he’s an annoying Mary Sue.

        • guy says:

          The extent to which I see a PC as an extension of myself depends on the extent to which they say things that are stupid and is also inversely corrolated with how many static dialogues there are. So, for instance, I tend to see Shepard as an extension of myself except when she goes into full on tinfoil hat rant mode.

          • swimon1 says:

            Me too and Shepard is a really interesting example of this. You can choose what she says (well you could in most of mass effect 1 *grumble grumble*) but it all carried the same tone. All her dialogue comes from a military perspective. You can’t do the alpha protocol thing where you choose the manner in which you say it, you always sound like a marine… well not really with the “sir yes sir” but it’s clear that Sheppard is someone who doesn’t do arguements over metaphysics but rather someone always focusing on the practical.

            As such Sheppard could be argued to have a personality of her own but it never felt like that to me, rather it felt like she was a side of me. Me if I had been a quasi jock soldier rather than king of the socially awkward nerd brigade.

            And that’s what makes the question of identity in games so interesting, total freedom or conformity to the players self image isn’t necessary to make the character feel like you. Even if the character has some rudimentary personality the fact that you sometimes control the character means that you can still see it as yourself.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      “Worse than that it gets praise for it’s “great story” all the time.”

      It does?Huh.Well thats stupid.Personally,I didnt bother with it,because at the very beginning you are told “we dont care about this,but you must drudge through it so we can finally get the info we need”.And if the main characters dont care about it,neither should I.

  25. Paul Spooner says:

    Well done guys. I applaud you for sticking it out to the end of this infuriating game. And making it entertaining to boot! I have to admit I watch this at work. You guys have made me convulse in mirthful silence on numerous occasions.

    The free running was definitely the best part of the game for me. My main beef was I actively disliked Ezio from the start. I played the first few hours of the game (just barely up to the villa) and found myself thinking “I don’t want to play as Ezio. Why am I playing this game?” No good answer, so I quit. Somehow I feel like I would enjoy AC1 much more, especially after seeing what came out of fermenting this already rotten character.

    If I had my say, you’d do Minecraft next, just for a few episodes. Long enough to build the SW credits in-game.

  26. Mr Charles says:

    I hated this ending! One of the best parts about the franchise untill this point was the hints and small pieces of lore that we’d been shown about the origins of the assasin/templar conflict. They did such a good job of building it up, only to leave us with some half arsed plotline which got rid of the templars as the main threat and replaced it with solar flares. In 2012. Revealed by ALIENS! ARRRGH!

    On the bright side, great season.

  27. silver Harloe says:

    Despite the mooks carrying … eh, swords? random metal poles? tire irons? in the modern day fight during the credits, at least one game should have been set somewhere where Desmond could learn to use and counter modern weaponry because it would be highly ridiculous (which is to say: very likely to happen) if the bad guys in the “present” all forswore guns utterly when he finally has to break into Templar HQ to steal the last MacGuffin to open the last temple and save the Earth from the Plot Fire of Doom.

    Having a couple games about Ezio could have been justified if he decides to take the warning for Desmond-who-the-fuck-is-that? as an affront and takes it upon himself to try and fulfill the prophecy and locates and activate some of these special Temples of Shielding the Earth… does that happen? or do we just follow Ezio because of Rule of Cool and he does nothing new Desmond really needs to learn how to do and learns nothing Desmond really needs to learn?

    Without some of the ridiculousness leading up to it, man, the ending could have been totally awesome. “Thank you for your struggles, and thinking yourself important, but _nothing is really about you at all_” could have been real tear-jerking moment of loss of Ezio.

    • Amnestic says:

      I believe the mooks were carrying telescopic batons. Though you lack a HUD, you can switch between Hidden Blade/Fists. Using fists, you can actually disarm the mooks and steal their baton (it then filling your ‘sword’ slot). The batons are ridiculously effective against them, taking them down in 2-3 hits *at most*. Far faster than the Hidden Blade.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      At this point the templars are still trying to capture desmond and not kill him.Though I dont see why they didnt try to kill lucy.

      • Mantergeistmann says:

        If they were trying to capture him, couldn’t they have used, I don’t know, pepper spray? Tasers? Tear gas? There are ways to incapacitate people without killing them other than beating them in the face with metal poles. Actually, you probably wouldn’t want to beat them in the face with a metal pole, as you’d run the risk of causing brain damage.

      • Dovius says:

        Except since Vidic is surprised to see Desmond there, there is no reason for him to be packing gear to capture him in the first place.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          To me he seems surprised that desmond confronted him instead of holing up.If he was surprised to see desmond there,why did he come?He is a scientists,so why would he go to a beat down of an assassin cell?

          @Mantergeistmann
          Those would be incompatible with the rest of the game,theyd have to make new mechanics,and we dont want that.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      In Revelations Ezio’s main goal is to find out why. Why are these artifacts here, what was Minerva talking about and so on. And he does figure it in the end that he is basically a courier for a man that can se what he sees. He even addresses Desmond and sort of pats him on shoulder with help of Altair’s POE. Also that moment is a Sync Nexus. A MacGuffin where Altair, Ezio and Desmond all inhabit same place, so Animus is finally able to separate them all, and thus is Desmond able to beat insanity that comes with bleeding effect.

      • Nimas says:

        God that must have been an awkward conversation.

        Altair:So, you basically followed my memories throughtout my life. Er, so when I was…with Maria, were you…er, watching?

        Desmond:Well, um…yeah, sort of.

        Ezio:Wait, he was doing what when I was doing who?

  28. Ed says:

    WAITWAIT WAIT, at 6:18 or so, does anyone else see Ezio hit the guy into the horse who kicks him without even looking? Can Ezio speak horse?
    Am I the only one who noticed that?

  29. Noble Bear says:

    So, based on all of this, does this bode ill for an Ass Creed movie, or is there hope given that movies don’t need to accommodate gameplay?

    • Syal says:

      I don’t see how anything can bode ill for a movie ending in a fistfight with the Pope. And super powers.

    • swimon1 says:

      Ubisoft made quite a bit of noise over the fact that they won’t let hollywood ruin it and intend to make it themselves. My first thought was “wow that’s awesome maybe if someone who understood games made the movies they wouldn’t all suck? Also Ubisoft has artistic integrity? Huh.” But the more I see of the plot in the assassin’s creed games the more I lean towards the explanation that they met a writer and was immediately terrified by his baseline level competence, “you want us to make a protagonist that’s in any way likeable? Get out!”

  30. Vect says:

    Well, you probably don’t have to worry about any more games about Ezio. By the time of Revelations he sorta retires from the business (not that I knew that you could) and “Assassin’s Creed: Embers” ends with him dying from being 65 in the Renaissance (even though Altair lived to be 92).

  31. Winter says:

    You know what game that ending would have been an awesome ending for? Borderlands. Conversely, the Borderlands ending would have been a lot better for this game.

    Or, you know, just have the screen go black–genetic memory passed on!

    • Kylroy says:

      I’ve always thought Borderlands was a great example of “no more story than necessary.” Sure, it was derivative and simple, but it never once got in the way of gameplay. Amidst all the cries for better stories in video games, I think it’s important to acknowledge the ones that decide to tell a basic tale well.

  32. MrWhales says:

    Sounds like Creed 2 had typical Trilogy-itis. The first game is shaky, but good enough to warrant another. The second on is when they try to extend on what they did good and fix what was wrong, but they don’t what they are doing really. And the third is the best of the stuff. The good from both combined. I only wish they did more with Ezio in it. Or atleast did like his son. Someone other than 50 year old Ezio. Although the rest was amazing stuff. I’m not sure how Saga-itis works. But we will find out with Constantinople.

    • Noble Bear says:

      What other trilogies conform to this model?

      Prince of Persia didn’t. They made combat less repetitious but besides shoehorning in the whole light/dark thing that everybody was doing. the story went from solid to WTF to abysmal.

      The problem I see with trilogies is that they are never crafted to be trilogies, each time they have to figure out how to artificially add on to what went before, which causes contrivances or power creep or just painfully bad writing overall, especially when they decide to go in a different direction within the same series.

      • MrWhales says:

        They did originally plan to stop at a Trilogy, and also to only be with Ezio one game.

        While not technically a trilogy, Morrorwind/Oblivion/Skyrim could possibly have the same thing. Oblivion isn’t as highly held as people like Morrowwind, and everybody and their mom is on the Skyrim bandwagon, more ofr less deservingly.

        The Halo series. Halo 2 is significantly lesser than the other 2.

        You can pretty much pick any trilogy and the second one at best is just “eh.”

        • swimon1 says:

          I pick star wars where installment 2 is many people’s favourite.

          But you do have a point. The second part of any trilogy is often inferior because it lacks a real beginning and a satisfying end. I don’t think that’s the problem here tho. The lack of a beginning only really pertains to Desmond and he’s so completely ineffectual in this game that his lack of introduction doesn’t matter. And since the story is written to end here Ezio is given a full ending and the only ending lost is some denoument for Desmond’s story. Which again is so pointless that the game somewhat admits it by having the ending play during the closing credits like the outtakes in a Jackie Chan movie.

  33. Varewulf says:

    I remember when I started AC: Brotherhood about a year after AC2, and was all like “Wait, Borgia isn’t dead? I’m certain I killed him. Didn’t I kill him? Why not? Why didn’t I kill him? What?”

    After nagging a friend of mine about it for like 20 mins, I finally let it rest and just played the game.

  34. Tizzy says:

    At the end, Desmond is proving right the worst prejudices about video games: obviously, playing in the Animus for too long totally desensitized him to violence, since he then takes his first human life without any sort of emotion. Murder simulators indeed! ;-)

  35. Darkness says:

    I bought both AC 1 & 2. Never finished either. I had purchased AC2 on a discount before I gave up AC1 during some stupid sequence that was a total setup any idiot should have been able to overcome. But synchronization stopped me. When I showed my wife AC2 views (to cities she had been in) she turned around and walked out mumbling, “The colors are completely wrong”. Then I had a realization of the villa part was more interesting then the game.

    So FuckIt(tm) I went back to Fallout 3 to get the evil trophies. Last big UbiSoft game. Only ones since then have been $15 XBLA. Plus their whole DRM issues.

  36. Dwip says:

    So.

    Thanks for confirming my plan to never, ever buy an Ubisoft game, no matter how much I hear people praise them. I’d call those later boss fights grade school design, but that would be an insult to grade schoolers. I’m kind of sad that people paid money to produce that.

    That said, good season, and thanks y’all. Worried though you may have been about the season, I think it really pulled together, the banter was entertaining, and the criticisms were pretty relevant instead of the random nitpicking of trivialities in some of the other seasons. 30 eps seems to be a pretty good length, too – we’re cutting off about the time I was starting to get tired of it.

    Although I did kind of think there wasn’t enough surfing dead guards off of roofs, so maybe you could pick that up a bit next time. YMMV.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Beyond good and evil.Seriously,no matter what anyone says,no matter how bad other games are,no matter how reprehensible their drm is,beyond good and evil absolves ubisoft of everything.

  37. Phoenix says:

    Deus Ex 3 story wasn’t interesting, but the mood was more coherent. Although I really like the mood of the present time in AC2/B, and the gameplay (apart from story, badly scripted missions, certain boss battles) of renaissance and the beauty of the cities and landscapes.

    But maybe there’s a reason in this, at least in part. We’re still talking about assassins. Murder isn’t an accepted practice usually. So he speaks with the people he killed, he do mad things and sometimes it makes no sense. As if they try to make this non serious.

    But does this game takes itself so seriously as these posts suggests? I didn’t felt it that way.

    • Mathias says:

      What I love about Deus Ex is the sense of a pervasive theme going on in the fringes. Extra Credits already did an episode on this, but the running themes of transhumanism, poverty, the transition from humanity to post-humanity, media control, corporate independence, were all touched on, and you were free to choose for yourself which route you wanted the future to take, as well as the future of the good mister Jensen.

      Its story in itself was nothing spectacular, sure, but neither was New Vegas. What’s important here is the sense that the whole story is moving with its themes, and the themes are what drive the gameplay. The NV DLC’s are a good example here in that they’re all about recovery – the world’s been through a nuclear holocaust, now it’s time to get back on the saddle. It’s no use contemplating the Old World and “what could have happened”, what’s important is that you try to create a New World.

      That’s my take, anyway.

      • swimon1 says:

        I kinda like that analysis of NV. When it comes to human revolution tho, while I liked how seriously it took it’s themes and how unafraid it was in dicussing them I don’t think they handled it all that well. The pros and cons of human augmentation is never fully discussed. On the pro side things like freedom of expression or illegalizing leading to a larger black market that does the same things only less safe is never really brought up and on the con side that one chineese realtor is pretty much the only one who really brings up the widening of gaps in social equality (which is weird because that’s what the trailers focused on). Mostly the arguement is “I won’t let anyone tell me what to do” versus “I think augmentation is selling our humanity” which are pretty weak arguements (especially the latter). Also the last sequence of the game seem to focus on the body horror and aesthetics of it all rather than the ethics which felt rather cheap to me at least.

        Edit: I guess the fact that I used to subscribe to an internet transhumanist magazine is kinda relevant to the context of my comment.

  38. rrgg says:

    So, the Assassin’s Creed movie being made and Ubisoft has complete creative control. How well do you think that’s going to turn out?

  39. Eric says:

    You know, I’ve got to say: Assassin’s Creed 2, for its occasional padding and stupid moments, is one of the only games I’ve seen that mindfucks the player in such ridiculous ways. The moment when you realize that Minerva is talking directly to Desmond (or you) and not Ezio, the completely bizarre stuff about solar flares and climate change, the subplot about Subject 16 you skipped over, all of it is designed to catch you off guard in the best way possible.

    When you’re just going through the game and not really thinking so much about all the little plot details (or have just accepted that Ezio does stupid things), Assassin’s Creed 2 can really shock and bewilder you. I have to give major credit to Ubisoft for doing this kind of stuff in their games – this is true creativity and originality coming from a AAA studio, and it deserves praise. Yes, I hate the plot holes and other problems, but I don’t think they’re enough to diminish those strengths simply because so few games are willing to be quite so batshit insane with their plots, and present it in such equally off-putting ways.

    My biggest complaint about Assassin’s Creed 2, actually, isn’t so much all the story details but rather the overall structure. I think losing the coherent order of Assassins was a big deal and really harmed the feeling of being part of a larger movement. You get the sense Ezio is involved in some sort of plot, but it never comes together or feels like anyone has any idea what’s going on. The game didn’t need to use a mission-based structure, but more focus on a home base, clear goals, intelligence-gathering, regular collaboration and meetings between Assassins, showing that said Assassins could actually be useful, etc., all that would have gone a long way towards fixing the “what are we doing? why?” issue that plagues much of the game.

    Another big thing I would have liked to see done differently is giving the Templars clear motivation. Instead of dumping everything on the player in the endgame, there should have been hints dropped early on about the Templars’ plan. Even vague mentions of the Prophet and the Templar’s desire to have one of their own take that place, a mission or two revolving around reclaiming key Codex pages (where the Templars learned about it to begin with), their desire to get rid of Ezio (explain that they’re afraid of him becoming the Prophet, which is why they want him dead, not *just* because he’s an Assassin), and a better sense of fighting a real “invisible war” throughout the game, would have fixed most of the issues.

    I like the early and endgame portions of the story, but close to 3/4 of the entire story doesn’t have any clear relation to the ending, and never establishes why Ezio is special, or what the Assassins are trying to do other than just fighting the Templars. It sucks too, because Assassin’s Creed 2 really could have had that Planescape: Torment style revelation, where all those smaller plot details and characters finally fit together into a full picture at the end. Instead, the ending feels kind of divorced from everything else; the rest of the game doesn’t support it properly to allow for that kind of “now it all makes sense!” moment.

  40. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “But in Assassin’s Creed 2, the plot drives the gameplay.”

    No.Sorry,but no.I do agree with most that youve said,but not this.I was never into asscreed because of its plot.And same goes for many others.Ubisoft knows this,which they practically confirm in brotherhood when they tell you in the very beginning to just go in and do shit because you have to,even if you dont care.Im ok with it,because its gameplay that matters here,not the story.Jumping on rooftops,avoiding dudes,fighting dudes,chasing dudes,buying maps to collect shit,buying paintings,riding horses,thats what I enjoy in this series,and thats what the series keeps delivering.If they took away all the dialogue,it still would be the same game,and probably even better off for it.(well maybe the could keep leonardo and bartolomeo,those two are fun)

    • Katesickle says:

      “the plot drives the gameplay” doesn’t mean the plot is what makes you enjoy the game. It means that the actions the player takes (or at least, the actions you’re supposed to take) are a result of the plot. If you try to just wander around and do whatever without following the plot missions, you’ll wind up stuck rather quickly. The idea of “just go in and do shit because you have to,even if you dont care” is what is meant by plot-driven gameplay. The plot MAKES you do those things, therefor the plot is driving the game.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well the same can be then used for oblivion,fallout 3,and any other free-roam game.Sure,you can dick around,but if you dont do story missions,you will end up stuck.It may take longer than in asscreed,but thats just because the world is larger.

        • Tizzy says:

          But isn’t this precise;y the distinction that Shamus is making? Between getting stuck immediately vs getting stuck in the long run, it’s not quite the same experience.

        • Adam P says:

          In Assassin’s Creed, you can do some side-missions and stuff, but you’re restricted to the area of that memory. You have to go and progress the plot in order to do more side quests. In Bethesda games, you only have to follow the main plot up until they let you loose on the world. There’s not much to restrict what side quests and such you can do after that point.

          On top of that, the side quests in Bethesda games are frequently fulfilling on their own.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            So?You are restricted to the vault in the beginning of fallout 3.If we are talking just scale,then asscreed is superior,since its tutorial is much larger.But once you get over with the tutorial,you are free to dick around.Sure,there are areas that are off bounds to you,but same goes for all those other games as well.If the only difference is the scale,then tell me where exactly is the line?When exactly does it pass from plot driven to free roaming?

        • Shamus says:

          As Tizzy said, this is exactly the distinction I was making. In Morrowwind, Oblivion, Skyrim, and GTA 3, I tend to run off as soon as the tutorial is over and look for things to do on my own. In some cases I even spend the MAJORITY of my time in this non-plot stuff.

          Heck, I’ve got a Skyrim game going right now where I’m level 42, I have 100 skill in Smithing, Sneak, Enchanting, and I’m very nearly to the top with both archery and lockpicking. I’m leader of the Thieves’ Guild, I’m almost Arch-Mage, I’ve been made Thane of a couple of holds, and I STILL haven’t really begun the main quest.

          In AssCreed, what do you have? Free-running missions? Collecting feathers? Nice, but it’s peanuts compared to a more open-world game.

          The big difference is leveling. In Borderlands and Bethesda games, you can loot and level on your own. This doesn’t really apply to AC.

          In AC, this story is a very central element of the experience. Even if you didn’t care about it, you spent a lot of time sitting through those cutscenes and doing what they told you to do.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Again,thats just scale.You cant compare chests and feathers with getting holds.You can compare them with looting dungeons.And you do get a hold in asscreed 2.So the difference is only scale.While in asscreed 2 you only have one hold,in skyrim you have many.But then again,in fallout 3 you have none,just a few houses.So where is the line here?These are just different approaches to the same mechanic.Same goes for looting(in asscreed 2 you have chests,but these provide pure money,unlike dungeons which provide mostly junk you have to sell)and leveling(in asscreed 2 you can only level your health,but there still is more than one way to do that(ok 2)but its still leveling).

            So,Ill just give you the same question:Where is the line?When does a overly long tutorial start being overly long,and where do locked areas become less noticable?Where exactly is the line between these two points on the scale?

            EDIT:Heck,lets muck things up a bit more,shall we?Lets throw in batman games.They are just as restrictive as asscreed games in terms of locked areas and gadgets,but still have plethora of shit to do,and you can do loads of those before you even start the story.What side of the line are these games on?

            • Shamus says:

              “So,Ill just give you the same question:Where is the line?When does a overly long tutorial start being overly long,and where do locked areas become less noticable?Where exactly is the line between these two points on the scale?”

              Okay, so you agree there’s a scale. Great. That’s all you needed to do.

              There’s no line. Some games are more, some are less. The more story you cram into my eyeballs, the better it needs to be. AC2 is too much dumb, in too great a concentration for my tastes. YMMV.

              I’ve only played Arkham Asylum. I thought the story was fine. If Batman went on a quest to get a little Robin mask to wear over his Bat-mask so that he could sneak into the Riddler’s party and then lost a fistfight with the Penguin, and if this all took place during numerous unskippable cutscenes, then I’m sure I’d complain until people got sick of it.

              Actually, the difference between Batman: AA and AC2 is fairly instructive. In Batman, you get a bit of exposition, often without taking away contral of Batman from the player. It’s short, it’s concise, and it keeps things moving. AC2 keeps stopping for these scenes where people talk too much, say very little, which only highlights the internal incoherence of the thing.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                “AC2 is too much dumb, in too great a concentration for my tastes. YMMV.”

                Exactly my point.I didnt mind the stupid,because I wasnt playing it for its story.Same like you didnt play gta for its story.Which Im glad you brought up,because then I dont have to explain how you can enjoy a game for its gameplay with no regards for the story.The differences dont come from the games themselves,but from the tolerance level of the players.Just how you could tolerate gta I can tolerate asscreed and someone else can tolerate something else.But saying that any of these is just plot driven is wrong.These are sandbox games first,and its their gameplay that should come on top,with good story just being a meaty bonus,like in batman games.

                • Klay F. says:

                  The problem is, if Ubisoft didn’t want the story to be the central focus of the game, they damn well should have made the cutscenes skippable.

                  If you are going to force me to watch cutscenes, there sure as hell better be good story encased within them. Otherwise let me skip them and get back to stabbing dudes until the credits roll.

                  • Otters34 says:

                    The problem with that is there’s very little way of knowing ahead of time if what you have is a good story at all. Odds are the writers think their story is brilliant, and that the Spoiler Warning crew are humorless nitpickers who don’t ‘get’ that it’s just a game.

                    On the other hand, the whole conspiracy storyline leads me to think that what the writers want players to focus on isn’t the story exactly, but the themes presented. Judging from how carefully the world is set up to make the agents of the Assassins less gray than before, how everyone you are directly ordered to kill is Pure Evil, and how Ezio has all the requisite ‘good flaws’ to make him a safe pseudo anti-hero(besides the fact that he kills bucketloads of people for political reasons), I’d say the writers intended the story to be a concept delivery system instead of an actual compelling narrative.

                    Bolstering that is the chatter you hear, like when the brothel-running nun gives her view on what God is really like and really wants, or here where the developers made sure you couldn’t beat Borgia before their Ubervillain(who is SO SMRT U GUIZ!)gave his speech to show how utilitarian the Templars are supposed to be towards institutions.

                    • Katesickle says:

                      “The problem with that is there’s very little way of knowing ahead of time if what you have is a good story at all.”

                      If you can’t tell if a story is good then you shouldn’t be writing professionally. There is absolutely no reason why someone who professes to understand writing (which I would hope a writer would) should be unable to tell if a story is decent before publishing (or in this case, shipping the game).

                    • Klay F. says:

                      Even if what you say is true, Ubisoft didn’t even bother to make said concepts interesting in the least. If you are going to bombard the player with concepts that don’t have much to do with the game itself, it helps to have a running theme to give those concepts structure. AssCreed 2 has no theme besides stabbing dudes.

                      Contrast that with AssCreed 1, which indeed does have a constant theme throughout.

                      Even as a “concept delivery system” as you put it, the game falls apart. Taking your example of the nun a bit further, if this were AssCreed 1, Altair would have called out her bullshit and debated with her over her beliefs. In AssCreed 2, Ezio just listens to her and goes, “K, can stab dudes now?” letting her beliefs go completely unquestioned.

                • Shamus says:

                  “But saying that any of these is just plot driven is wrong.”

                  You’re willfully ignoring the points I was making:

                  1) Number of cutscenes
                  2) Length of cutscenes
                  3) Un-skippable cutscenes

                  If you don’t like the term “story driven” feel fee to pick another, but AC2 force-feeds you more story than the others.

                  • 4th Dimension says:

                    Ummm, if I remember correctly cutscenes should be skip able. You pres escape key during them, and then select nice menu option “Skip cutscene”. At least Brotherhood had that, although I’m not sure about AC2.

                    • Phoenix says:

                      Revelations too, but it’s not comfty to press esc then click skip.

                    • acronix says:

                      Two buttons to skip a cutscene: the developers are trying to be completely sure you want to skip their all-important excellent-written plot exposition.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    Fallout 3 and skyrim also have unskippable cutscenes,so it again boils down to quantity.And if the line for quantity isnt clear cut,it boils down just to personal taste.

                    • Phoenix says:

                      Well surely there’s a difference.

                      AC2 forces you to follow the main plot because he doesn’t let you do everything without following it.

                      But story driven is a bit too strong for a game, like brotherhood for example (if I remember correctly AC2 too), where the most part of quests weren’t in the main plot line. Revelations instead has few secondary quests, it’s mostly main plot.

                      But again, secondary quests usually are more connected with the main plot in AC2/B/R than in skyrim (where most stories are literally separate, like different adventures).

  41. CalDazar says:

    I think we can all agree that the ending music is nice.
    At least something isn’t vastly disappointing. The papal pugilism is what made me stop caring about this franchise, others things may have been frustrating, but nothing was that draining on my interest.

    You talk about missing out on settings because of this focus on Ezio, I’d be just as happy to see other Pieces of Eden. They are supposed to have amazing powers but we get one we’ve seen and a staff that does, something.

    Questions:
    What is that comment about One Piece supposed to mean?
    What is this “not a merc” joke?

    • Amnestic says:

      The “not a mercenary” joke refers to the Fallout 3 Let’s Play. During Broken Steel, you can ask the Brotherhood of Steel to pay you for your services, to which one Paladin replies “You are not a mercenary.”

      Now bearing in mind Reginald Cuftbert’s actions up until then, this line was just…bizarre, not to mention a clear statement by Bethesda “This is the story. Follow it. Choices are for mooks.”

      • More specifically: At that point you’re supposed to be a member of the Brotherhood, but there is an option (under about three layers of “are you sure?”) in the recruitment dialogue tree where you basically tell Elder Lyons to make like Harold and get out of here. When you ask this guy for pay, he gives the same answer if you joined or not because nobody at Bethesda considered that you’d say no to being in their railroad club.

        • swimon1 says:

          It’s leave you idiot! “Make like Harold, and leave.” You sound like a damn fool when you say it wrong! ^^

          • Gale says:

            Wait, what does “leave” add that “get out of here” doesn’t- oh! Right! Leave! Leaf! I get it, now! It’s a pun! Man. I have been so confused about that saying for years. I am not kidding. This is literally the first time I’ve understood it. Up until now, it had just completely baffled me. Did not understand what trees had to do with anything. Jeez. This has really been an eye-opener.

          • Bret says:

            Maybe it was a back to the future reference?

            (And most Fallouts have, at most points, had an option to say basically “Look, I ain’t in this for your revolution, and I’m not in it for you, Princess. I expect to be well paid. I’m in it for the money.” It’s a wonderful thing.

            Sadly, Fallout 2 has a worse case with your beloved peasant village. Everyone else in the gameworld? Slaughter and mayhem on the table. Arroyo, the town that built the temple of trials and thus deserves all the atomic death in the world?

            Kick one person in the groin, and it’s a game over. ‘course, you can easily ignore it.)

    • Matthew says:

      The One Piece comment probably refers to how villains don’t die in One Piece? I guess? Or maybe Rutskarn hates One Piece.

  42. Daemian Lucifer says:

    A question for Rutskarn:
    Now that the season is over,did you go back over all the previous episodes and look at the pun comments to see how many youve missed?

  43. Museli says:

    Punching the Pope is my new favourite euphemism for…well, you know.

    All in all, another fine series. I had a lot of fun watching this – good work, team :D

    Also, Papal Fallacy? Good lord, Rutskarn. That was nice.

  44. Mathias says:

    Oh God, Deus Ex: Human Revolution is next.

    I’ve played pretty much every major action-RPG release this year (Skyrim, Deus Ex, Witcher 2, DARGON AEG 2), and this is my sacred cow. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been suffering from major elf fatigue and a major disinterest in the decidedly GRIM DARK bend that every fantasy game’s taking these days, but I found Deus Ex so much more engaging.

    Maybe it’s just that I’m a closet transhumanist, but I really found Deus Ex 3 to be the most thematically deep game of the year, and I’d choose it any time over Skyrim’s hours of unstructured fun or the Witcher 2’s smartly written, but ultimately depthless plot and mediocre worldbuilding.

    Keep in mind that I haven’t even played the original Deus E-

    …Why are you all pointing pitchforks at me?

    Also, you could argue that Altaïr has an arc in the first game as well, it just isn’t as pronounced. He goes from being an arrogant master assassin who ends up screwing up, but refuses to acknowledge his own failures. However, through his acts of redemption (killing his targets) and debating with Al-Mualim and Rafiq (one of the brokers), he eventually tempers his skill with a measure of wisdom.

    • guy says:

      I will admit that I dont think too mucnh of DX:HR’s very last conversation

      So, you have four options: TRANSHUMANISM POWERS GO!, Science is Satan!, allow people who intended to mind-control the entire planet to make everyone’s decisions, or obliterate all evidence of the entire plot. Where was the, “I AM LORD JENSEN! KNEEL BEFORE YOUR NEW GOD!” option? What about connocting a story which would lead to instituting reasonable regulations AND the destruction of the Illuminati? How about telling Eliza to transmit the actual truth instead of various distorted versions presented by various major figures?

      • Rosseloh says:

        Totally agreed here. Capital game that was unfortunately damaged for me, by the final “conversation”.

      • CalDazar says:

        The crippled old fellow whose name escapes me at the moment. Harrow or something like that? Anyway, that person’s message is the truth of the matter, but the game presents it as his side since it was his plan alll along.

      • Irridium says:

        Yeah, they kind of shot themselves in the foot with the ending. Probably because they made it a prequel.

        No matter how it ends, we all know what it’ll lead to. Deus Ex. So they could have either provided a set of choices for different endings which really don’t mean much. Or have one ending for everyone, which would completely go against the game’s open-ended nature, like the Boss Fights.

      • Phoenix says:

        Yeah the ending sucks.

      • Amnestic says:

        Hugh Darrow’s viewpoint was the truth of the matter. You may not have been paying attention or it may have been obfuscated by other lines of dialogue, but I pretty much understood that from the start. It’s also the only none-suicide option you are guaranteed to have.

        As for why you didn’t get all the other options you spoke of? Well, two reasons from what I can see.

        First, it’s a prequel. That’s pretty obvious. As Irridium said, all roads lead to Deus Ex. Everything has to be able to tie up and reasonably lead to JC Denton, Daedalus and Majestic-12. Becoming GOD JENSEN doesn’t really work, since then people would be all “lol, clearly not canon since you never hear about him again in Deus Ex!”

        The second reason? Well, this is my supposition really but none of your options were about transhumanism and augs. To me, the ending choice wasn’t a “This is how Jensen wants to proceed into the future” but rather an expression of his – and by extension, the player’s – views on the core philosophical and ethical subject which had been touched on throughout the games length. It was a “We’ve given you all this information, all these conflicting sides, conflicting people, you’ve seen the richest, the poorest, everything in between and you’ve seen the dark underbelly while others see only the glistening outer shell (Apple!).

        Now what do you really think?”

        Granted you could – perhaps rightly – say that this was a cop-out or that they should’ve saved that choice for somewhere else, or given you a ‘real’ ending afterwards or whatever, or given you more choices.

        But you know what? I enjoyed it. I liked that a game’s final decision was not a bang, not an explosion, no death star main reactor exploding, but one wo/man’s judgement on humanity, transhumanism and augmentations. JC Denton had the option to become a god-like figure. But Adam? Despite all his augmentations, despite everything he’d done and fought through to get to that last point, despite all the deaths, and hardships and time and blood and sweat and tears…he was just human.

        I don’t doubt some people will disagree, or think that I’m reading too much into it, or think that perhaps I’m trying to cover and defend a game I really really really enjoyed, but that’s my view on the DX:HR ending. And personally? I loved it.

    • Rosseloh says:

      A note on Witcher 2: I find it interesting that you mention “mediocre worldbuilding”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disagreeing — I have played it and seen for myself that there’s not nearly as much background as the first game. Technically there IS a lot of world-building, but you’d have to have played the first game and read the novels to really get it. Basically, it’s that the world is already built and the game is just inhabiting it; it gets me thinking about “why”, perhaps it’s something to do with a different culture background for the writers (Polish vs. US)?

      • Mathias says:

        Yeah, but “read the novels” is kind of a weak excuse. I admit that I haven’t played the first game, so it might just be me who’s missed a whole bunch by not playing that, but I felt the setting overall was kind of..Weak.

        • Rosseloh says:

          That’s what I’m talking about, maybe they look at that sort of thing differently in Poland? I’ve read the novels (the english ones at least) and have a good background, and yes, I agree that you SHOULDN’T have to to get an understanding of the story. I was just trying to place why that seems to be the case with the Witcher series.

          • Phoenix says:

            Maybe they don’t are very conscious that Andrzej Sapkowski isn’t very famous out of Poland (most books aren’t still translated in english). The game is decisely more enjoyable if you read some books and played (obviously) the first. In Poland they made also a one season tv series, so it’s pretty famous there. And yes maybe it’s also a cultural thing, to expect people to read the books or play the first.

  45. Tharwen says:

    Surely the boring information-gathering could have been replaced by information-gathering of the ‘sneak into this important general’s house and steal his battle-plans’ sort instead.

    Also, the duplication/resurrection fight with Al-Mualim had a place in the first game, because it (sort of) revealed the dangerous power of the Piece of Eden, which up until that point could have been a completely mundane religious artifact.

  46. zootie says:

    Wow. Thank god it’s over. Ok, I’ve been saving this question. Ready?

    If the AC series of games were pure historical fiction where you played the same renaissance-assassin character as the same kind of behind-the-scene actor in historical events, but ending up shaping history as we know it today through your actions ….

    … how many of you would have refused to play it on the grounds that your character wasn’t being accessed through the memories of a modern-day descendant, via a futuristic genetic-memory-accessing device, because a prehistoric uber-civilization had left behind artifacts that an ancient power-hungry order wanted for its own greedy ends?

    Not me. In fact, the exact opposite holds true for me. If one could take out the tractor-trailer load of cheese that is the “main plot”, I’d be very attracted to the game for the gameplay, the settings, and all of the tangential learning opportunities to be had. And there’s no end to the behind-the-scenes stories you can craft about historical events, so the game would never run out of content or new settings to play in.

    oh well. A player can dream….

    • SharpeRifle says:

      Hmmm you probably still could have worked in all the POE gibberish too as mysteries you and the “secret” orginization were working to fight.

      still could have moved everything through the historical timeline(Altair,to Ezio to Other to Desmond)..with the final game or two revealing that instead of the actual characters you had been playing Desmond playing the characters in the Animus….and then with that reveal your playing Desmond ready to fight the Templars!

      Wouldn’t give you much time to think about the Animus then at least!

      Course…they probably still would have had us play CTF…

  47. James says:

    But but, the Poles do switch, they actually do i. just. what. um. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_reversal see Geomagnetic Reversal. its an actual thing IT IS NOT PSYDO-SCIENCE.

    also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_excursion it happens briefly more often, and we’re not dead.

    how can Ubisoft make such and ass of them, us, Desmond, Ezio and the industry with this sloppy writing

    • Raygereio says:

      Erm. Who said it was pseudo-science?

      Oh, the game itself did.
      “Hey, let’s grab a real scientific hypothesis that has a huge amount of literature on it and call it pseudo-science.”
      I’m not really sure why, but that offends me more then anything else in this game.

      • Klay F. says:

        Especially since Shaun says that while Desmond is STILL IN THE FUCKING ANIMUS. Seriously Shaun, if you want to talk about pseudo-science why not start with this magical fictional history simulator?

  48. james says:

    I hated HATED the ending reveal of the disaster of this game, that the magnetic poles with switch causing the earth to destabilize. One problem, EARTHS MAGNETIC FUCKING POLES DO NOT WORK THAT WAY. If earth’s magnetic poles switch their maybe minor tectonic activity maybe but the earths magnetic field weakening is a bigger problem. A solar flare if the magnetic field was week enough and the flare big enough would cause a near total extinction event for whatever side of the planet was facing it. The radiation and heat alone would kill millions if not billions, the emp would knock out global communications and electronics, mass radiation sickness for survivors, uncontrollable weather pasterns due to radical changes in the environment, lets not forget that ultraviolet light under this weekend magnetic field may well be lethal after long term exposure till it strengthens again, riots, flood, the collapse of civilization as we know, 1000 years of darkness, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

    Wow did I just put more thought and research into this than the rights? That’s kinda said for both of us.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Thus causing a cataclysm all the same. Pretty spot on considering 99% of time writers Fail Physics Forever.

      • swimon1 says:

        No the writers do not get credit for this, not even a little bit. If you said that an atomic bomb detonating in the atmosphere over Spain would cause invisible fairies to become angered at technology and destroy all electronics you would not get credit for the fact that in the end the results would be the same because EMP from the bomb would destroy most electronics. The writers said that a reversing of the magnetic pole would make the earth geologically unstable, that is so stupid it hurts.

        • james says:

          Yah this is one of the few times in a game were i feel my intelligence was actively insulted. In Brotherhood they never mention this and just mention a disaster caused by the sun. Probably realized how stupid their explanation in 2 was.

  49. Eljacko says:

    Holy shit. After that philosophy fistfight, now I really want to see a game with a dialogue boss, where you have a fight with someone during a cutscene, while arguing with them, and your dialogue choices affect both the course of the argument and the course of the fight, and you have to win the argument to kill your enemy.

    • Josh H says:

      KotOR 2 had one or two bossfights like that, though for better or worse without any impressive cutscenes. Many more levels had a character at the end you just talk to for a while. It’s almost the trademark of Obsidian Entertainment – where the “bossfight” is just a verbal spar that lasts 15 minutes.

      • Rosseloh says:

        Hey, KotOR 2’s problems aside, “verbal boss fights” aren’t a bad thing so long as you get the same sense of closure. In fact, for me, I’d feel more accomplished having destroyed the enemy logically rather than shooting them repeatedly.

        Granted, I don’t even think I’ve played a game where you can have a convincing argument with the villain, since most games don’t have very deep conversation options. Closest I can think of is the end of Mass Effect where you can skip stage one of the end fight entirely with dialog.

  50. Johan says:

    And of course Borgia has to do the “end game boss” thing of taunitn you over and over again.

    The fisticuffs fight is better in this respect because it’s actual philosophizing and not just random taunts.

  51. guy says:

    Ow, that fight with the pope is about a million times stupider than I imagined, and it’s led me to the following conclusion:

    The Assassin’s Creed engine does not actually support boss fights.

    Like, in a better engine, say Oblivion, taking a half-dozen clones of yourself into battle with an old dude calling upon a powerful magic staff/spear to become an ass-kicking superman would actually look and feel pretty awesome. But this engine is designed for Parkour ninjas contemptuously swatting ordinary dudes and is clunky for fights in which you’re on a numerically superior side and/or facing down an equal. And I think that might almost be the greatest offense of the sequence. I mean, yes, “YOU FIGHT THE POPE” is sort of a punchline all by itself, but on the other hand he is kind of the most important man in Europe and wielding an ancient artifact of incalculable power. So if the fight had actually been cool by itself we could have ignored how inherently silly the premise is. But the execution also looks silly.

    It’s also why making the bosses hidden blade proof and bulletproof was such a terrible design decision. They didn’t want people to skip their bossfights, which is fairly common, but their bossfights sucked, so it was immensely more objectionable than any other RPG boss who is immune to Instant Death effects.

  52. Kdansky says:

    Lethal is less EXP and more noise. If you want them to be dead, you just murder them with a silenced gun while they are sleeping. I think I did about five lethal takedowns during the game, all of which where unintended effects of the “put seventy things on every button because keyboards are gamepads” issue.

  53. Tizzy says:

    I am very sad to report that, unlike Shamus, when I first read in the comments that the ending involved punching out the pope, I never doubted that it was to be taken literally.

    It’s sad that our expectations for stories in games have had to fall that low…

    • Alex says:

      I don’t think the problem is low consumer expectations. I think it’s developers and publishers having low opinions on consumers.

      “And then make him fight the pope or whatever. Who cares if it doesn’t make sense? Only dumb kids play video games.”

  54. Another_Scott says:

    Speaking of black holes… linking to tvtropes?!? Stop trying to destroy us all!

  55. Mixmastermind says:

    Damn you Ubisoft, ASSASSIN’S CREED: LES MISERABLES! Just make it already.

  56. Kazeite says:

    I respectfully disagree with the third point – The player may not, but Ezio does take time and effort to train his skills. I mean, have you noticed that it takes him a year to learn sword skills from Mario before attacking Forli?

    Actually, what I don’t understand about AC2 is why does it take him 20 years to finally get to Rodrigo. I mean, dude, did you crawl to all different cities or something?

    It’s especially jarring (and hilarious at the same time) at the start of second DLC (Bonfire of the Vanities): At the end of previous DLC, Ezio was stabbed by Checco and lost consiousness. Now he wakes up, and it’s nine years later! What, he spend that time in a coma?

  57. Legault says:

    There are a lot of posts that I don’t have time to read, so I’m running a high risk of repeating a point that’s already been said. But referring to the first fight with Borgia, I kinda thought that 7 explained 6. Everyone you know “randomly” shows up to “help” you in this fight? Well that’s because they’re all assassins and were working together to find this prophet. If you accept that they’re all assassins then it only makes sense that you would bump into them sometime during that mission. (Also I gave them a pass for their ineptitude in combat because they were obviously following the same rules as the guards in combat, and after 2 games, I’ve already accepted that combat is nowhere close to challenging once you master the counter move because everyone waits to take their turn.) But yeah I still couldn’t tell you how all of them and Ezio managed to let Borgia escape in the cutsceen.

    I can’t think of anything that would excuse most of your other points though. But I guess my point is that the plot is a bit contrived, but not quite as badly as you make it sound.

  58. Velkrin says:

    So if they do Deus Ex:HR what’s the over/under episode count for Josh attempting to dance?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y414Q7vVgYU

  59. Gamer says:

    Let me start out by saying that I am an Assassin’s Creed fanboy and love the series. As much as I complain, I will probably keep buying AC games. I can’t wait to see how it will end.

    But I can’t argue with any of you with regards to your criticisms of the 2nd one. That’s mostly because I had similar gripes when I played through. When I play a game, I usually play through once for the experience and then another time to go through and analyze the story a little closer. I know you’re right because I picked on all the stupid things my first time playing through, which rarely happens. Fortunately, I was able to still enjoy the game (except for Carnival and some Vanities missions, they were just blatantly unfun). I’m still of the opinion that AC1 had the best plot of the series. None of the later games have been able to sway me from this opinion.

  60. Jokerman says:

    In deus ex you would stealth it with some pace, taking people down/shooting them then moving to the next. You will get caught then its time to bring out the shotgun.

    HR is not a stealth game…its a “play out you want” type game, my first run was pure improvisation based on the situation at hand and any time things went wrong i would just roll with it.

    • Jason says:

      Well, yeah, you can play it however you want, but I think plenty of people want to see the playstyles that are rarely an option in most games – stealth, sneaking around, and exploration. If I want to see Spoiler Warning shoot a bunch of dudes, I can go to either Mass Effect playthrough; Deus Ex offers something else.

  61. webrunner says:

    Obviously when he got stabbed the first time it innoculated him against the second time.

    It’s like if you get the chicken pox you can’t get it again.

    Stabbing works like that right?

  62. drlemaster says:

    Shamus, thanks for all this, and thanks to rest of the crew as well. (Particularly Josh, who does much of the heavy lifting, in between Shogun and Skyrim.) I do think you may be a bit harsh on your criticism of the final fight. Obviously, Josh can’t kill Vidic because that’s not how Desmond remembers it.

    Oh, wait…

  63. Jonn says:

    And they decided to make two more games starring this reprehensible jackass?

    No, they didn’t. They decided to actually give him some character development in the intervening period. I don’t know much about Brotherhood, but by the time Revelations rolls around, despite being the biggest baddest hood-wearer in three continents, he’s humble and frequently self-depreciating.

    I’m that EGRJ guy on Youtube, BTW. For the record, most of my fan wanking to close the plot holes is meant to emphasize how many plot holes need to be filled in the first place, and how easy it would be to do so if someone actually gave two hoots. I even added Carnivale to the relevant TVTropes page.

  64. rrgg says:

    So, it’s over then. Any chance that the next game won’t be Skyrim?

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