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A Few Random Bits

Since I don’t really have enough to talk about for a full post about one specific thing, I’m going to fill this post with a few bullet points explaining some of the games or movies I’ve seen recently.

Assassin’s Creed 2

I just finished up Assassin’s Creed 2 earlier today and I have to say I enjoyed the game pretty much the entire way through. I had to stop myself from making a post talking about a lot of the stuff in the game, since I don’t want to much away about the story later because I actually enjoyed discovering it for myself. However, I do want to talk about some of the things the game does well, but I’ll try to refrain from going into spoiler territory.

The story in the last game was okay, but this game really takes it up a notch. The main character (by which I mean the assassin whose memories you’re living through most of the game) is an assassin-to-be in Renaissance era Italy named Ezio, who is a lot likable than Altair, who was kind of a prick for the first half of Assassin’s Creed 1. He starts out as kind of a roguish street punk who has a weakness for the ladies. He has a strong relationship with his family and leads a pretty happy life when we first start the game. But since this is an Assassin’s Creed game, you just KNOW that isn’t going to last for long, and indeed it does not. Ezio matures over the course of the game becoming a wise, nice, sympathetic character after starting out as nice, but a tad shortsighted and impatient.

The plot is very cool and a lot deeper than the one in the first game. You interact with a lot more historical figures (like Leonardo da Vinci, who helps Ezio and occassionally makes assassin gadgets for him, which is pretty damn cool even though its not historically accurate). I really like the historical fiction/sci-fi setting the series takes place in and the game fleshes it out more, letting you learn more about the Templars and the Pieces of Eden. Some of the stuff you find in the backstory is pretty out there at some points (especially near the end where they start going into Metal Gear Solid weirdness), but as long as you realize it’s just historical fiction and not meant to be taken so seriously, you should enjoy it. Even though the story gets pretty weird, you’ll honestly want to go on to see what happens next just to see how this will all make sense (unfortunately the ending is a cliffhanger again and it doesn’t explain everything, but you definitely learn a lot more than what they revealed in the first game).

The gameplay is improved a lot as well. If you played Assassin’s Creed 1, you know every main mission in the game can be summed as A) Gather information about target, B) leap on target like a velociraptor and knife him, C) repeat until final boss. Even though I liked the first Assassin’s Creed a lot, you did kind of which for more variety once you realized you were doing the same thing for each mission. Instead of just rehashing the same formula, Ubisoft did fix a lot of the problems of this game. Each assassination mission has a wide variety of mini-missions leading up to it that are always different. There’s also more secondary objectives and more reasons to go for them. You have a few secondary missions like assassination contracts and beat up events (which amount to some lady saying she wants to pay you to beat the ever loving crap out of her cheating husband. Every time) that give you money which you can use to buy new weapons (which is another good addition. You get stronger weapons and new gadgets as the game goes on which go far beyond the few weapons you earned in the first game). You can also hunt for glyphs hidden in the memories that lead to puzzles which unlock a lot of the games backstory (which sounds like a needless fetch quest, but considering how creepy and interesting the backstory is, you’ll probably feel compelled to find all 20 of them to find out what the hell is going on) as well as find seals from assassin’s tombs, which are almost always platforming levels, to unlock the strongest armor in the game (previously owned by Altair from the first game). There’s no shortage of stuff to do.

Now, the game is about average length (maybe like 15 or 20 hours total by my estimate) which seems like the perfect length for it. It’s not too short like the first game might have felt and it ends before it starts to get old. I pretty much enjoyed it the entire way through. The only complaint I have is that, just like the last game, they end on a cliffhanger that makes you really really want to see what happens next and you’ll have to wait a couple years before its resolved.

So if you liked the first Assassin’s Creed, you’ll like this one a lot more. If you didn’t like the first game, it fixes most of the problems with that it had so you might like this one. Either way, I recommend checking it out.

Heir Apparent

After I did the post about Animorphs, I had an urge to look back at some of the books I enjoyed when I was a kid to see if they’d hold up. One of my favorite books that I read during my first years in middle school was Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde.

This is a really good book that is one of the few books I’ve read that is about virtual reality that does it well (aside from Snow Crash and the Otherland series by Tad Williams). I haven’t read many other books that use the concept of virtual worlds or virtual reality very well and if you know of some, let me know since I used to be obsessed with the concept of virtual reality as a kid.

I don’t want to go into to much detail since I plan on doing a full post as soon as I’ve finished rereading it. Speaking of which, if you’ve never reread one of the books you used to love as a kid when you get older, give it a try. Not all books hold up, but its interesting to see which ones do and you may find yourself catching some stuff you may have missed the first time you read it. I will say I really recommend the book if you’re a fan of sci-fi and fantasy. It’s not a long read, but it is enjoyable and I’ll say more about that a few posts from now.

TVtropes

This isn’t something I’m planning on doing a post on, I just feel like talking about it. TVtropes has been my most visited site on the Interweb for a while now. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a Wiki (like Wikipedia but much more informal) that has pages about tropes (reoccuring themes, plot elements, archetypes, etc.) found in fiction, video games, tv shows, film, and so on. They have pages about many works of fiction that list tropes found in it and also has pages on the tropes themselves with plentiful examples. Most of the examples and descriptions are written in pretty amusing ways.

Now, if you’ve ever visited wikipedia, you know that you can spend hours just clicking on links that peek your interest. TVtropes is like this, except worse. If you like fiction in any medium whatsoever, this will be much worse. Not much to say except to check it out and hope it doesn’t steal most of your life.

And that’s it for today. I’ll see you guys later.

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