Do not ask me what caused me to write this, but I figured I had some strong feelings with regard to Jim’s review. It is not that I hate him, I totally agree with him. Go through the actual thread of the review and or go have a laugh at Gamefaqs’ thread on the topic. The sheer amount of hate for Jim leaves me wondering: Have the people actually played and finished the game? Or are the blinders on to maximum effect? Or is Jim’s sexiness that oozes out of him just turning people on to hate him?
The game is much better then the first ASS, make no mistake about it. But, those wacky canucks over at Ubisoft still snuck in the suck and filler. Jim said that the game has a lot of filler, and when all is said and done it is true. The receptiveness of the first game is still here, and that is a problem when working in sand box type games. No matter what you do for missions, there will always be filler. One example of the types of filler are the “200” side missions that are available for Ezio to do. Naturally one would want to do the side missions for money. The problem with this is that an upgraded Villa technically breaks the game.
Once you upgrade the Villa, the notion of need for money disappears, thus the need for the side missions. Also the more you upgrade the Villa, the more money you can hold in your chest. It would have been nice to have the money be directly deposited in your coin purse. All the side missions come down to are the following: Beat ups, Courier, Assassinations and, I believe, Races. So how is this any different from the first game? If I remember, it was four types? Yet this game is being heralded as a much deeper game. Bullshit, really they put this padding over a LONGER time frame in order to extend the need for the gameplay. But like I said, once you get the Villa, I never did a side mission again. It is a choice, but the outcome would be to receive money. But once the Villa is upgraded this outcome is irrelevant, a game breaker for the side missions.
With this reward of money gone, the filler of side missions is gone. You could do them, but why do the same missions over and over again? Then again, why did we do it in the first game? The walking along side said person is just plain dumb. There were times when you had to do it, the last time was with Leonardo who just walks a bit then disappears. The walking missions are Ubisoft’s versions of the taped diaries from Bioshock
. Instead of a machine you pick up, you have the walking Equivalent, nothing more nothing less. They vary it up a bit when you get that big guy who likes to fight, you have to walk with him and fight with him.
The one thing I think could have been fixed was the story. Jim states that “the story is mostly forgettable” and, while I agree, I have a few notions about it. For me, the ending was completely dumb, Stargate
did it better, and even then it still lacks a punch. I will not ruin the ending, but if you picked up the Stargate
reference you will get an idea on where they want to take it. The central story has been told better, but I think if they were to cut five or six hours of fluff of the game then it would have been tighter. The game takes play from 1476 to around 1499, that is a lot of fluff they crammed in there. It took Ezio around 20 years to get his revenge and still it does not feel done. That is the problem with the story; it is just part two of a great “epic.” Also, I think with regards to the story, putting a big name like Da Vinci was not really used. Yeah, he decoded your codex, but half the time it was the same animation or cutscene. Maybe it was too early in his life to fully use him, but I would have loved more missions with the flying machine.
Navigation is critical in these big sandbox games, and ASS 2 lacks it considerably. Two of the biggest points Jim brought up were the “fast travel” system and the map. The fast travel system was a great idea in theory, but there really is nothing fast about it. When you get to the bigger cities of Florence or Venice, traveling back to your villa or to another city is a pain. You have to locate and mark it and run there, no real other way there. Now, the fast travel locations most of the times are on the edge of the cities, which would be good if this was an actual historical game. But this for all intent and purposes is The Matrix: The Historical Edition
. Yeah it is in Desmond’s head, but it was given life through a computer. So why not just input commands to give the player (Ezio/Desmond) the ability to do this. It is a computer like creation based on the memories of Desmond. I mean you de-sync when you die, which is funny. You never technically “die” in ASS 2 and no one really complained about it. But when something like Prince of Persia
gets rid of death, everyone complains.
The map could be and most likely is the most important tool in a big sand box game. But, in ASS 2 they overcrowd the map with ALL the icons. I know that you could get rid of them by doing the actual mission, but with the villa there is no point. What Ubisoft should have done is put a filter on the map. You can filter the locations, glyph landmarks and ASS tombs but that is as far as they take it. I played it the game between two TV’s: one 42 flat screen HDTV and an old 32 standard TV. The map is made worse by the fact that half the time I could not really tell what landmarks were where. I know that HDTV’s are becoming the standard throughout America, but there are still houses that have the older set, or a like me, a patio with random crap in it.
The two TV’s made it interesting to compare how HD really does affect the game’s engine. On the big screen, the areas and people were all right, the Carnival part of the game was the prettiest there was. But, holy fuck are the character models and textures ugly. Later in the game you run into a guy who was elected the new Doge, and his long hair and beard remind me of the old Smackdown Vs. Raw
games. They always had really bad hair (like Ron Burgundy) and it really shows. Not only do the graphics call attention to themselves, but also Ezio himself does Parkour as well as a drunken Rhino on LSD. The game really has no challenge to it, however Ezio is your own worst nightmare. In certain missions, the game asks for precise control, thinking that Ezio can do his best. Yet, most of all my deaths have come from the way Ezio perceives what precise controls mean.
What Jim had written I fully agreed with, and really cannot understand why people hate him? When I read his review, it was everything I had seen in the game myself. Maybe it is just Jim’s way of saying things that gets under people’s skin. Or that his honesty is just so BRUTAL that it gets people the wrong way. I really do not have a proper ending to this, so like George Carlin did in one of his stand ups, I will simply take a bow.