Last night I put in a final push and finished off Assassin’s Creed 2. I can say with a good amount of certainty that it was far better than it’s predecessor. What I can’t say however, is that I fully enjoyed it or believe in where the series is headed. I can’t actually talk about it without spoiling it, so, we’re just going to go ahead and put a read more right here for the folks who have finished it already, or who don’t care…
I’ll make this simple. The ending sucked. A lot. It made no sense whatsoever and takes the series in a completely different and weird direction. It’s like they got bored with killing people and decided that what a good assassination game needed was some fucking aliens. It didn’t work for Indiana Jones, it’s not going to work for Assassin’s Creed. It was pretty blatant as soon as you started collecting the glyph symbols and video nuggets that “Adam and Eve” were either from the future, or aliens, or both, but the ending really kinda jammed that bit of story right down your throat. I’m sorry, that’s just the weakest possible way out. They couldn’t come up with a reasonably good “ultimate weapon” or source of unlimited power, or something else for the “pieces of Eden” to be, so they make them alien artifacts. It’s like Stargate, the movie, only dumber. What’s really ridiculous is that they started this whole thing by playing off theories about the Templar Knights, ala Dan Brown style. How we got from “Templars discovered great treasure during the crusades” to “aliens created the earth’s civilizations and left their trinkets behind” is beyond me.
And why the hell do the pieces of Eden give people magical powers? And why the hell do we even care? The pieces are just the key, to a vault, with a video diary in it. Big friggin deal. So, let me get this strait, these two magical super items, each with immense power of their own, are nothing more than a key AND there’s not a third, even better item behind said key. No, it’s a video. A video that obviously couldn’t have been recorded IN the stupid pieces of Eden themselves. No, no, that would make sense. Obviously super powerful alien artifacts don’t have DVRs!
And what’s actually IN the video. Well, a message that they sun is going to kill us all of course! That the earth’s magnetic fields are going to reverse, that the sun will crisp us all up like bacon and that the world as we know it is doomed. Of course, the magical video lady is telling all this to a 13th century Italian guy, who of course is rightly confused. But fuck that guy, you know, the character we’ve been playing for months now, he’s not important. The lab rat in the modern time is who the alien lady is actually talking to. But, wait, these are just “memories” from the Italian guys’ life right? What the hell good does that do our Italian guy, to hear a message from some random alien lady, aimed at some douchbag in the future? He’s confused, we’re confused, the only one that might not be confused is Desmond, who is apparently a moron.
He actually says, in the cinematic, what we’re ALL thinking: “What the fuck?”
I’ll boil this down. Why did I just spend, hours and hours, learning about, reliving events from, developing skills for, a message delivery boy? By making the game about something that will happen in the future, you destroy the entire purpose of the game itself. If the story is really about Desmond saving the world from becoming a giant Hot Pocket, then tell me THAT story.
If however, it’s about Assassins who throughout history have charged the course of the world events, who are fighting this war between good and evil and trying to stop the bad guys from amassing items of ridiculous power, then leave the fucking aliens out of it. I would be ok with that story. I could almost deal with that. Then the credits rolled.
After the credits we get a tiny little extension of the modern timeline story. Desmond and his annoyingly blond friend need to escape because the “bad guys” are coming. Which of course, turn out to be a scientist and about 10 security guards. Apparently, when you’re going to assault the secret base of ASSASSINS, you only need a group of 10 guys who went to night school and a pasty old guy in a lab coat. The bad guys apparently have a severe lack of qualified help in the Strategic Planning department. Not to worry though, our friends escape and take a truck, to a cabin in the woods (no joke) to “analyze the data” they just got out of Desmond’s head. Then the game ends.
“What the fuck?” indeed.
So, while I can’t really give the story writers any credit for trying, I can say that I enjoyed the actual game play itself far more than the last one. The first one was just so dry and boring that I literally never finished it. While it was fun to run around roof tops, control was lacking and you only had the knife and the sword. The strides they made to correct that for AC2 paid off. The multiple weapons, the double knives, the smoke bombs, even the villa and the money system were a big success. I enjoyed actually playing this one because, let’s face it, running around on rooftops, stabbing people in the face is fun.
What worries me more than anything is that the rumors and early indications are that the next game will be another jaunt backward in time. Why? Why bother going back in time? If you had managed to “fix” whatever the problem was in the past, it wouldn’t be such a pressing concern in the future. And if it’s not a threat in the future, why go back in time where you could fuck it up? What they should do is use the first and second games as backstory and “training” for Desmond to become uber-assassin in modern times. He has to stop whatever the threat to the planet is and the Templars are just…. well, hmmm…. why are the Templars still around?
The Assassin’s obviously “win” a part of the “war” there at the end of AV2, and obviously discover the plot for the future. Why wouldn’t that group of Assassins write down, or pass on the knowledge that we just spent all game trying to get. Obviously it’s important. Wouldn’t the end of the world be something you write down, or at least mention to someone. Since the Assassins guild obviously still exists, why don’t they already know this?
Fuck, I don’t know. All I know is that they completely hosed the entire time-line by talking directly to Desmond in that cinematic. If they had left that out, they could have salvaged another trip back in time to “uncover more clues” or something. They didn’t. They totally “nuked the fridge” on this one.