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innocuousremark avatar 11:12 AM on 03.20.2012  (server time)
Disappointment: Lucy In AssCreed 2 Proves Ubisoft Thinks We're Stupid

In Assassin's Creed, we find ourselves watching and controlling a young man named Desmond, who has been captured by agents of some corporation, and is being forced to relive ancestral memories (which are implausibly stored in his DNA or some nonsense) in order to further their shady goals. Not much is explained, and information is given to Desmond in tiny, inadequate drops as the game progresses. A great sense of mystery is established and maintained.

The only two characters we meet outside of his memories are the scientist apparently in charge of this nasty business, William Miles, and his assistant, Lucy Stillman. William Miles is a stereotypical evil genius: narcissistic, obtuse vocabulary, aloof attitude. But he is well-written into that stereotype.

Lucy is his foil; a person who, even though she is assisting him, consistently sticks up for Desmond (us) and seems to at least regret the whole process that she is a part of. We later discover that she's actually an ally of Desmond's, and that she has a plan, and so on.

Frankly none of this is particularly amazing, though the dialogue is pretty well written. What IS amazing is that Lucy actually looks like a real person. So many titles, especially AAA ones, have only he-men, strippers, children, and old people. That's the range. I've heard a variety of arguments and reasons that women in video games ought to all look like whores, and while I find them unconvincing, frankly, characters like that get boring, and make the creators look lazy.

If Lucy had looked like a tarted-up hussy, it would have distracted us from the role she plays in the story. It wouldn't have fit. But instead, not only does she look like a real person, she looks like a real, living person. As it turns out, she was made to look as much like her voice actor as possible, and just to be clear, that woman is very beautiful, but she's not the impossibly perfect goddess we've all seen a million times in video games. So many details, so many asymmetries, are captured and deliver to us a very real-looking, believable, and interesting vehicle for character and story development. Awesome!
Walking away from the experience of Assassin's Creed, the one thing I found the most memorable and impressive was the design and execution of the character of Lucy Stillman. While most of the story, gameplay, and characters were only partly original at best, at least they nailed this one thing, and that's pretty impressive.

See? Real person. Was that so hard?

Then I played Assassin's Creed 2.

Assassin's Creed 2 is an obvious attempt to improve and build upon what was established in the original. Some crap was removed, some cool stuff was put in, and bullshit mechanics to lengthen gameplay were added as well! And they made Lucy look like this:

How did this change make the game better? HOW?!

Look, I'm all for sexy fun time. It has its place. Like gay Shepherd, for example. But when a character like Lucy 2 is hanging around all the time, it just worsens immersion. It's a constant reminder that this is the game where the audience is treated like they're stupid instead of treated with a tiny bit of respect.

What I'm saying is, I wish more developers would see believable characters as something to strive for rather than something to fix.

I think I'm not alone in my opinion here, because while looking for the relevant images, I came across this:

She also stops being an interesting character, in case you were wondering.

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