From Masyaf to Revelations – Thoughts on Assassin’s Creed through the First Four

If you’ve followed the last couple of TBoD podcasts (what am I saying – of course you have!) then you’ve noticed that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag has been given the thumbs up by both Quim and Crim.

(No word from Eremenko yet, but these links make the think he’ll be jumping in soon.)

So since we’re all in the Creed-y mood, this is the perfect time for me to sound off about my recent play-throughs of the first four Assassin’s Creed games (Assassin’s Creed through Revelations).

While not exhaustive, this is a list of what stuck out to me during these last few months of protecting humanity from the shadows. I hope you enjoy, and many thanks to the Teabag Or Die crew for letting me be a part of this site!

It builds character

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know a character again – I haven’t spent this much time with a single protagonist since my NES days when I was stomping Koopas. Altair (from the first game in the series) stayed distant, but it’s Ezio Auditore (Assassin’s Creed II through Revelations) that has really pulled me into the story of the series.

Ezio (Brotherhood)

The man, the myth, the legend – Ezio “you’ll never see my eyes until it’s too late” Auditore

Through his multi-game story arc I have the chance to follow Ezio from (literal) birth through the course of his adventure-filled life, and my experience is richer each time I revisit the world because of how far I’ve traveled with this character.

For me, Ezio’s personal story carries more weight than Altair’s for one simple reason – family. While Altair’s opening loss in Assassin’s Creed is a loss of pride, Ezio’s opening loss of family gives his journey a stronger cord that pulls you deeper into the gameplay and story.

Besides the main assassins of the series, the supporting cast have enriched the game world as well. Niccolo Machiavelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, a host of other historical notables, and family members of the Auditore family have made me care about the protagonists – and the goals they set – as the games have gone on.

ezio_and_leonardo_screenshot_by_jakiron-d5560q0

Supporting characters help the story, and also provide tips on hats

It’s easy to forget how important secondary characters are, but they can strengthen a good plot or save a poor one. For the Assassin’s Creed series, so far it’s been the latter.

The Matter of Maps

I couldn’t have appreciated the maps of these games without first playing The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. While I still plan to go back to the land of Cyrodiil, I was incredibly frustrated with how the map was set up in the game.

The Oblivion map has two settings – you’re either looking at the entire world or the immediate area around your character, and it’s difficult to get a true sense of where you’ve been or what’s in your immediate area. While the differing map function may reflect the different styles of the two series, I’m a fan of how Creed does it.

My favorite kind of map - the kind that actually shows you things

My favorite kind of map – the kind that actually shows you things

I originally thought the thing I loved most about games was exploring, but it turns out that’s only half right. I love exploring, but I also love to be able to see where I’ve been – to have a sense that I’ve conquered a world, every nook and cranny. A map is the chief way I can see that happen, and the Assassin’s Creed series does a great job of making me feel like I’ve investigated every inch of the world.

A Family Affair

Playing through the series with my family is something I’ve been blest with over the course of these five games. Thankfully my wife knew what she was getting into – in our first year of marriage she watched me play through Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic – so to jump into these games with her has been fantastic.

But she’s not the only one – this is one of the first games the kids have been able to watch me play through. No, they don’t watch all of the gameplay, but I love introducing them to one of my favorite pastimes in bite-size chucks.

To illustrate, here are what the games involve as far as my children know:

  • You get to ride a horse, but not only that – you can whistle for it anywhere and it will come to you
  • Climbing is not really dangerous because there is always a pile of hay to soften that sudden stop at the end
  • Guards, while only doing their job, are to be avoided. When a group of them start to get close, I was instantly warned to be careful
  • Did I mention you get a ride a horse? That’s all they need to know – game of the year
Fun fact - this horse is the actual horse you hear during the quick-fire stat

Fun fact – this horse is the actual horse you hear during the quick-fire stat

Nothing is true except this statement

Assassin’s Creed is postmodernism in game form. “Nothing is true, everything is permitted” is not only the assassin’s maxim but a tidy summary of what postmodernism (in general) tries to say.

Assassin’s Creed Revelations went deeper into what the creed means as Ezio looked back on Altair’s motivations for why he did what he did, and the commitment to this line of thought is commendable.

It’s not a dish I prescribe to, but it’s good to know what you are served with any time you’re consuming media – and the fact that the game has a message is one of the reasons the story stays strong throughout the series.

Extended Creed

When I take on a fiction, I’m usually all in. How many ion cannons did the second Death Star have? Tell me. The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) was build above Mars in the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards? I need to know about it. Aragorn was the sixteenth Chieftain of the Dunedain, the title taken by the Heirs of Isuldur after the last kingdom of Arnor was destroyed? I’ll remember that quicker than my own address.

This is why I’ve enjoyed the extras Ubisoft has added to the universe in order to give those who want more, more. LineageAscendance and Embers (especially Embers) are three films that not only added to the story but also to its impact.

"Revelations" finished Ezio's story, but "Embers" gave you his final fate and legacy

“Revelations” finished Ezio’s story, but “Embers” gave you his final fate and legacy

The more character development to you supply, the more power the story can have through continued connection with the gamer. The films I mentioned – as well as comics and other resources – take players deeper into a world they love, and I don’t take that for granted.

Sounds from the Rooftops

Not since the Halo Series has a soundtrack fed so well into the gameplay. The great Jasper Kyd composed from the first game through Revelations, and his music … wait for it … hits all the right notes.

Giving you that epic feeling at just the right time, pulling on the heartstrings when the drama kicks in, and the intensity punch when you’re discovered and have to run for your life – Kyd does it all fantastically.

First Person Perspective

Playing through the games back to back (as opposed to the year most people had to wait) made me realize I missed a feature I didn’t initially know was there – first-person perspective.

As I was playing Assassin’s Creed II I happened to hit the joystick down and WHAM – I’m looking right out the eye-holes of the main character. And once I found that out, I couldn’t stop doing it. Taking in Venice from every rooftop, gazing up from a gondola at night and watching the moon rise, climbing the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and being able to stare out at the city as dawn approached – having the first person perspective allowed for much more immersion during these memorable moments.

I missed being able to look over my shoulder in "Revelations"

I missed being able to look over my shoulder in “Revelations”

In Assassin’s Creed Revelations, the ability to see through eyes of Ezio was taken away – and my game experience suffered because of it. The vistas of Constantinople didn’t have the same opportunity to wow me as previous settings had, simply because I had to looking past my character’s shoulder.

Of course the landscapes are still spectacular, but they could have been even better in Revelations if the ability to look through your assassin’s eyes would have been left in tact.

Seeing the Layers

When playing a game you accept that certain things happens off screen. As a plot carries on, you’re usually given cutscenes or flashbacks that give the player the sense of a larger game afoot, of other things happening.

What I feel the Assassin’s Creed series does so well was is to  show you those layers, in all there reaction and indifference. When you fail a jump and land on top of a crowd, they scatter and your actions from that moment on affect the surroundings and game flow. But if you keep your balance and stay above, you need never interact with the ground level.

How much you want to be a part of the goings on in the street is up to you

How much you want to be a part of the goings on in the street is up to you

The citizens of Acre and Monteriggioni would never know the drama happening right above them, of your important missions or how so many things hang in the balance. The Creed games literally show you that instead of explaining or montage-ing it, and it’s another positive in the immersion category.

Shared Memories

Speaking of landscapes, the vistas of the Assassin’s Creed games often adorn my desktop background at work, and that has lead to several comments of “where is that?” from coworkers, who are seemingly disappointed when I tell them it’s a game I play.

But I had an unexpected surprise from one coworker – she returned from a trip to Italy, which coincided with my play-through of Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood, both set in The Boot.

It was amazing to hear about her experiences and see her photos from Rome, Florence and other cities, and feel like I had been there as well. Yes the cities are not an exact replication and the well-known landmarks of each city are brought closer together in the game world, but the general feel – the grandeur, the bustle, the sense of history – is all there.

"I've been there." "Hey, me too!"

“I’ve been there.” “Hey, me too!”

To be able to share my enjoyment with the games with someone who’s never played them was something I didn’t see coming – two people brought together over the same place, the only difference being how that location was represented.

(As an added bonus, I also found out she’s played through Ocarina of Time. Respect.)

The Bleeding Effect

Embracing a franchise means my time with the game doesn’t just involve me playing through it, but thinking about it off screen and seeing different aspects of it pushing out into other parts of my life.

Those “other parts” include but are not limited to the following:

Books – reading The Knight in History by Frances Gies was one of the reasons I started playing through the first Assassin’s Creed, and it certainly enhanced the experience by providing a factual background to the medieval world of a knight.

Gies Knight

Leo's Notebooks

Leonardo’s Notebooks also caught my eye in a local bookstore, and the entire period of the Italian Renaissance is something I find myself wanting to learn more about. I have Assassin’s Creed II to thank for that.

Parkour all Over – after playing these games, every surface around me suddenly seems the ideal surface to vault over or perch on. Water towers, ladders, random boxes – no longer just everyday objects, they now seem the perfect place to get a lay of the land if need be.

Not that Impressed – I recently watched The Bourne Identity, and there’s a part early on the film where Jason Bourne escapes pursuit by climbing down the wall of an American embassy.

While the Bourne Trilogy is one of the best collection of action movies around, I found myself not that impressed with the wall-scaling of the hero. “I’ve done that” came to mind and while unfair, it’s interesting in just how many ways games can affect the way we see other media.

Many Doll House

The Assassin’s Creed series brings you into history, but it also lets you own a little part of it.

Ezio's Room (AC2)

While my in-game character never sits in that chair, I like to think that he does after I turn the console off

Emphasized in Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood, you home base was place you could invest in – spruce up with art, view portraits of past targets, see the tombs of previous assassin’s, etc. Throughout the games it was a place I always loved to come back to – it really made you feel like it was where you belonged … and that’s just what home should be.

Back to the Colonies

I’m (predictably) currently playing Assassin’s Creed III and still enjoying the series – there’s an adjustment period when moving to a new main character (Altair to Ezio, now Ezio to Connor) but after a slow start I’m hitting the sweet spot.

And then it’s onto more Pirate-y things!

The TBoD Podcast – 44 – The Teabag or Die Saga

Howdy partners

The whole crew is back this week to go through the latest gaming news, along with our views and opinions.

This week, we discuss:

Sony announcement – what could it be?

The solution to gamer rage?

Bound by Flame

Medieval fantasy epic, Kingdom Come Deliverance

Banished release date confirmed

Assassin’s Creed future settings

Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor announced, not without controversy

Lastly, we discuss some copyright issues around last week’s indie game, the Banner Saga

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Enjoy and leave a comment if you like.

The TBoD Podcast – 43 – The Neverending Tangent

Yo homies,

Another weekly digest of gaming news, views, and the inevitable tangents you all love us for.

This week we talk about:

Rust and DayZ – sources http://playrust.com/intro-video/http://www.incgamers.com/2014/01/facepunch-knocked-out-by-rust-sales-figures, and http://kotaku.com/dayz-or-rust-which-players-are-friendlier-1501109843?utm_campaign=Socialflow_Kotaku_Twitter&utm_source=Kotaku_Twitter&utm_medium=Socialflow

The Last of Us DLC – http://m.uk.ign.com/articles/2014/01/13/your-first-look-at-the-last-of-us-single-player-dlc

PS Plus free game news – http://www.gamepur.com/news/13285-ps-free-games-february-2014-leaked-outlast-ps4-bioshock-infinite-metro-last.html

The Banner Saga – http://store.steampowered.com/app/237990/ and http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/the-banner-saga-review/1900-6415626/

Xbox One features in action – http://kotaku.com/the-xbox-one-can-do-a-lot-more-than-you-might-think-1501411519

The return of Shooter’s Corner – Evolve – http://uk.ign.com/articles/2014/01/07/evolve-first-gameplay-and-multiplayer-class-details-revealed

We Called the Dog… – http://kotaku.com/sick-of-shooters-heres-a-mind-bending-first-person-pu-1497750193?utm_campaign=Socialflow_Kotaku_Twitter&utm_source=Kotaku_Twitter&utm_medium=Socialflow

Enjoy!

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Don’t Starve: Console edition – A survivors guide

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Don’t starve focuses on the adventures of Wilson the gentleman scientist and was first released by Klei entertainment (Eets, Shank, Mark of the Ninja) on PC April 2013 now however this absorbing little title has made it’s way to PS4 and the PS+ service.

Most of the fellow PS4 owner I have spoken to about it have really struggled to get started but as someone who adopted the game early on PC I thought I would write up a little starter guide to get you newbies through the first few nights, a lot of the beauty of this game comes from discovery so only read that which you really need to survive.

The absolute most important thing you are going to need to survive is a light source, a torch will save you in a bind but it won’t last you an entire night, you are going to need a fire, preferably you want a fire pit but a regular campfire will do for the first night. To do this you will need to gather sticks and flint and some grass for kindling … quickly, search your surroundings for those also picking any berries, carrots and seeds you can find. By all means munch some of these up if you get hungry but they are better if you cook them on your fire. So make an axe take down some trees to get some logs, you will need two and three grass to make a campfire. If you can manage it crafting a pick axe and mining some stone will give you a far superior fire-pit but you will need twelve stone too. Once your fire is lit you will need to ensure it stays burning through the night so make sure you have some spare logs on hand to stoke those flames. Once it’s burning cook up any food you have and get stuck into some nom noms. An important part of making survival as easy as possibly is the correct placement of your base camp, if you don’t manage to make a firepit you can always relocate but if you have a fire pit try to place it nearby some berry bushes, grass nodes an most importantly some rabbit holes… these will soon become your easiest and modes satisfying food source.

Quick quide (Day 1 minimum requirements: two flint, two sticks, five logs, three grass, food)

<Day 1 recommended requirements lots of flint, lots of sticks, lots of grass, lots of logs, twelve stone>

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On the second day your main goal is either to find some stone (if you haven’t already built your fire pit) or to start harvesting food. The easiest way to do this is to make a bunch of traps (six grass, two sticks) which can be found in the survival tab of your inventory. Once you’ve made a couple drop them over the top of rabbit holes and leave them for half a day or so, when you return to them they should be filled with tasty rabbit. You can then murder the poor buggers and turn them into tasty morsels which you can cook up on your fire. The next thing you should ideally achieve on the first day is collecting some gold. Look for a rocky area and try to ferret out some of the larger rocks with the gold veins running through them and mine those up. You will also need more logs and stone if possible, don’t use all your logs up because you will need them to add fuel to your fire through the night. If you have plenty though four logs four rocks and one gold will allow you to make a science machine which will allow you to prototype some new tools and inventions which will aid your efforts to live on.

(Day 2 minimum requirements: Stone, Logs, traps, food)

<Day 2 recommended requirements: All of the above plus gold)

By day three you should start to become more comfortable with the mechanics of survival in this weird and wonderful world and it’s time to concern yourself with protecting yourself and your assets, you can do this a couple of ways, items don’t despawn if you leave them on the ground (but don’t drop them too close to your fire) or you can build a chest to store your things, if your lucky you might find an eyeball on a stick which will grant you the company of chesty the chest monster (you can get him to stay at your base if you lead him there and place the eye stick inside his storage). The next thing to do is plant trees all around your base, you should have plenty of pinecones from your much chopping of trees, plant quite a few but save some in your inventory in case of emergency. If you’ve gathered plenty of stone you can refine that into cut stone and use that to create walls (don’t bother with straw or wood walls they are really worthless). Your base will never be truely safe because you can’t make a door but a few walls will make you feel a lot better on those scary dark nights.

(Day 3 minimum requirements: Science Machine, Chest, walls)

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Extra hints;

– Don’t attack bees, it wont end well,

– Chopping wood is all well and good but should you upset a tree beast he can be calmed simply by planing enough pinecones,

– Food is important, you can eat berries, seeds, flowers and all but the real boost comes from meat. Get traps and nets as soon as you can then focus on trying to make all of the items in the food tab,

– If something looks nasty, it probably is do not provoke them,

– Spiders are a great source of loot and mats that you will need, don’t be reckless though, use traps and cunning to thin their numbers before hitting the nest.

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Ok everyone, hopefully this will help you to survive in don’t starve, just stay calm and keep plugging away.

eremenko

The TBoD Podcast – 42 – Sit On Your Hands.

Waddup,

More pod goodness to nourish your ears has arrived, full of anti-oxidants and anti-matter.

We discussed a couple of the recent gaming announcements from CES, the main being the reveal of PlayStation Now.

We also get the chills over the latest game involving everyone’s favourite Xenomorph – Alien Isolation.

We also talk about our feelings toward Infamous Second Son and wax lyrical about the announcement that Titanfall will be 6 vs 6.

We also talk about the newest bit of concept art from 343 for Halo for Xbox One as well as the change of guard with another departure from the team, as well as our hopes for the future of Halo.

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Enjoy and leave a comment if you like.

The TBoD Podcast – Journey Special Adventurecast

We go on an expedition with Justin from Drunken Halo to discuss one of the top rated games of 2012, PS3 exclusive Journey!

Come join us as we trek through our thoughts on the game!

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The TBoD Podcast – Episode 41 – New Year HD Resolutions

Happy Ne Year Teabaggers!

We ring in 2014 with a new podcast for your delectation.

We talk about all kinds, from games for the Occulus Rift and Sony’s counterpart and similar technologies that track eye movement inbound this year. We also talk about the free games coming  to your Xbox’s and PlayStation’s in January

We also discuss the latest audacious project from the Skyrim modding community and our indie game of the week is a Survival RTS called Banished which has us all worked up.

Enjoy and best wishes for the New Year!

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