Assassins Creed 4:Black Flag (PS3) A Casual Review

Assassins Creed IV:  Black Flag is the sixth installment in the Assassins Creed franchise, a sequel to Assassins Creed 3 and a prequel to the continuity of the games historical time line.  Ubisoft Montreal has created a world that explores the golden age of piracy and improves a lot on its predecessor’s short comings. Continue reading

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Assassins Creed: The New Assassin (Episode 5)

AC3-FlagWell surprise, surprise, it wasn’t long after our journey to Constantinople that your parents announced yet another trip for the following year, and a whole new time period to.  Was I worried?  Not at all.  Although our relationship had started to crack, I had faith in your parents ability and as all relationships go, a change can go a long way to revitalizing the love between partners or so I thought. Continue reading

Assassins Creed: Romancing The Creed (Episode 2)

(image courtesy of http://wordinprogress.com)

(image courtesy of http://wordinprogress.com)

After I had done everything that you had asked, completed every quest, collected every flag and everything else, I felt this sudden emptiness inside.  We were still together and we were still in love but like any relationship, we had to spice up our “love life” so to speak.  I quickly proceeded to check when the inevitable sequel would be released but as always, you were one step ahead of me.  A sequel was already planned for release in November 2009 and so typical of you, you had thought of everything.  You showed me beautiful HD images of Italy and Venice.  I’ve always wanted to go to Italy and the fact that it would be during the days of a festival just made it that more exciting.  However, the consoles were set to get you first so I had to wait until March 2010 before I could see how beautiful you had become.  I passed the time by trying to figure out the symbols that were painted by subject 16 and spent a lot of time on a wiki dedicated to you.  Eventually, time passed and March crawled into view.  Finally, our second Journey had begun.

It’s funny but when I picked you up at the store, I drove home slowly, unwrapped you gently, and installed you patiently.  I was always ever so gentle with you and treated you the way I felt you should be treated.  You did something though that I didn’t quite agree with.  Somewhere, among your time not spent with me, your parents had begun to dabble in the online world, met other people and had other ideas.  One of their ideas was to always be connected to the internet in order to travel to our beautiful locations.  I was immediately taken by surprise at this because at the time I had no internet connection.  How were we going to explore the arty world of Florence and Venice if I couldn’t get us online?  Well, you know that story better than I do.  I would not let such a thing as petty as the internet keep us a part.  It’s actually quite humorous, using the internet to find a way to keep us offline and explore the Renaissance era.  I found a way, by downloading a hacked piece of software that made your parents believe you were online when you weren’t.  I remember the sensation of finally getting it to work.  I spent a couple of hours trying to figure that out but it was completely worth it.  When you finally loaded up, you led me through another worm hole, my destination being another sleeker Ubisoft logo.  I waited patiently and then you showed me yet another pure white screen with Assassins Creed II, the word creed beautifully designed in red.  I let you hover for a few moments and then just as before, you reminded me of why we were together and why the wait was worth it.

1486, Venice Italy,

A festival is taking place, fireworks dance in the night sky, couples skipping across bridges.  All is well until an ominous presence in the form of a gondola comes into view.  Two men, with grim expressions looking ahead.  They both wear masks but the one is undoubtedly the master, wearing a full white mask covering his eyes and cheek bones, leaving his jaw revealed.  The other wearing a black mask that just covers the eyes.  We then see two woman making a deal with a mysterious person, who drops a pouch of coins into their hands.  Carnivale is in full swing, a barrage of fireworks lighting up the evening sky, while masked men and woman dance merrily together enjoying the freedom that such festivities bring.  The two men on the boat arrive with a group of soldiers.  As they enter, two courtesans notice them.  One of them approaches the group, and escorts the man wearing the mask that only covers the eyes away from the soldiers and into the thick of the crowd.  They both start dancing, smiles on both of them.  They both look up at the colored night sky as he spins around in a choreographed fashion.  When he finally looks down again, the courtesan has disappeared.  The man looks left and right, desperately trying to spot her.  He turns around and suddenly a hooded man appears, striking him quickly.  His vision blurs and time itself seems to have slowed down for him.  Struggling to comprehend what has just happened, the man looks though the crowd hoping to catch the eyes of the man with the white mask.  He succeeds.  As their eyes meet his left hand reaches up to hold his throat as blood trickles out over it.  The man with the black mask crumples over slowly revealing the Assassin, crouched, hidden blade revealed, ready to fight, behind him.  

The man with the white mask order his soldiers to kill him.  The Assassin leaps forward and punches one soldier, counter attacks another, steals a spear and stabs a different soldier, before finally giving a slight smirk to the soldier that was punched.  The hooded Assassin drops the spear as he chases after the man with the white mask.   The man runs frantically through the city, the Assassin not far behind.  Jumping from gondola to gondola to the side of a building, making his way up.  Keeping his target in sight the Assassin leaps from rooftop to rooftop, tiles dropping to the canal below under his feet.  The man with the white mask reaches an archway leading into a courtyard shouting orders at a group of armored soldiers who are waiting patiently.  The soldiers move up, guarding the one and only entry way, careful not to let themselves be exposed while they hide behind the walls.  The man with the white mask catches his breath and moves to the entrance. In the distance, on top of a perch, the Assassin appears and drops down to street level, dust blown away around him as he lands.  The man with the white mask starts antagonizing the Assassin, while he walks forward hidden blade drawn.  The man with the white masks then mentions the Assassin’s mother which causes him to stop walking, disarm his hidden blade.  As the taunts continue, the Assassin pulls a lever just underneath his wrist and you hear a mechanism loading.  As the man with white mask finishes his threat the Assassin extends his left arm, palm up, aiming directly at his target.  His right hand reaches over to his left wrist and then the sound of a gun shot echoes against the walls.  Pigeons scatter at the noise.  The man with the white mask falls back slowly, blood gushing out behind him covering his Templar badge in blood.

After seeing that, I knew we were going to have one hell of an adventure.  You allowed me to play as Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, an Italian nobleman who’s destiny was far greater than he would ever fathom.  I witnessed his birth and at this point I knew this was going to be something much more than what our first adventure entailed.  You immediately instilled an emotional connection just by placing me right at the beginning of this mans life.  I was with him every step of the way.  From the conspiracy against his family, to learning about the assassins, meeting Uncle Mario, and making the discovery of The Ones Who Came Before.  We shared the same emotional responses, from shock and sadness, to exhilaration and confusion and finally to accepting one’s destiny. But it wasn’t only Ezio’s character that I fell in love with, it was the whole world as well.  Through you, I was able to meet Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the great minds of our time and I got to appreciate the brother that Ezio found in him.  I got to see just how corrupt the world had become having a Templar assuming control of unimaginable power.  I didn’t know it was possible but you managed to show me how much love and care your parents truly had.  Everything was improved, the fight mechanics, the free running, the introduction of new weapons and upgraded ones like the dual blades and the pistol.  The world was absolutely gorgeous and polished to near perfection and you managed to keep me invested in the world for months, littering the map with treasure chests to loot, feathers to collect, and contracts to complete.  Not to mention the hidden glyphs embedded in the world around me.

You also allowed me to witness Desmond’s escape from Abstergo with the aide of Lucy Stillman and watch his training, taking place in what seemed to be an abandoned warehouse.  Experiencing the bleeding effect and for the first time being worried about what it might do to his Psyche.  I got to meet Shaun and Rebecca, without whom, this adventure would not have been able to take place. With the aide of Shaun, Desmond and I were able to hack glyphs and solve puzzles and hack the memories of Subject 16, revealing a disturbing revelation. Conspiracy’s aside, seeing the relationship between Desmond and Lucy grow made me feel like I was part of something wonderful despite the world gone to hell.  With everything you managed to create, the one thing that stood out, that made me pay attention was the love that went into this world.  You could see it  from the view points, hear it in the sounds of swords clashing and most importantly I could feel it with every secret discovered.

We were all a family and the bond we shared was cemented for now and forever more.

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Assassins Creed: The Seduction (Episode 1)

(image courtesy of http://psextreme.com)

(image courtesy of http://psextreme.com)

This is a very special post, one that means the world to me.  You see, my heart is torn in two, I am still healing, but every Saturday Gamercrash kept uploading his site with his cursed video round up and every week I returned, like a lamb to the slaughter, watching his videos, and I always wind up close to tears when I watch a new trailer showing off Assassins Creed 4:  Black Flag.  Due to this, I have been forced (but not really) to watch how good Assassins Creed 4 might potentially be.  So in light of my melancholy feeling I have decided to give you guys the full picture.  It all started….Que Memory Flashback Tune, Please Click This Link! Did you click it?  Good!

In 2008, one year after you were released, I walked into a store that wasn’t necessarily about gaming but had a few games just strewn in a bargain bin.  That was the first time I saw you.  You were just lying there, on your back, scratched cover with big bold letters Assassins Creed, some other game called Second Sight lying casually on top of you.  I remember analyzing your cover and thinking “ Meh, Looks boring“. I parted ways and I left you in that bargain bin, letting you stew in the mess of crappy titles that were littering in and around the bin and I completely forgot about you.

A few months later, a friend of mine loaned me a whole bunch of games to play on my newly built PC.  One of  the games included was you.  However, as fate would have it, I chose to completely ignore you.  I played Half Life 2, Prototype, GTA, (can’t remember which one though) Singularity, Batman:  Arkham Asylum.  It took a few months but I finished all these games and some others.  It was November 2008.  I was bored and needed something different to play.  I went through the games that I had borrowed and there you were again, completely neglected and forgotten about.  I thought to myself “ What the hell, nothing else worth playing.” I opened the cover and put the silver disc inside my DVD-ROM and installed you.  I knew nothing about you, never saw a trailer, no gameplay footage, nothing.  I didn’t know what to expect from you, which in hindsight was the best thing that could ever have happened.

Once you were installed, I double clicked on the icon and I was transported immediately through a purple worm hole that eventually revealed a logo, “Ubisoft” That logo also looked seriously good for some reason.  You then showed me a small cut scene, a CG trailer of what you were all about.  Like one of those dating profiles you read.  “Describe yourself in two minutes or less” Boy, did you describe yourself.

A majestic eagle watching what seems to be a form of execution, a hanging.  The public wild, wanting to see death.   The eagle flies off, allowing me to follow until I see a robed man, standing on a perch in front of a church bell observing the crowd.  I remember thinking to myself  “Who is that?” and then he vanished as the bell rang once more, pigeons scattering as if something disturbed them.  My interest was peeking.  The mysterious, robed man was now amongst the crowd pushing ever so gently through, steadily speeding up until he was just by the podium when he broke out into a furious run, killing a soldier with his crossbow, dodging an attack from another soldier then making a dramatic slow motion jump into the air, seamlessly gliding to his target,  Right arm stretched out, left arm pulled back so his hand is lined up with his ear, and then a sound so beautiful yet so deadly, emanates from his left wrist, echoing in my brain, and then a blade is released ending his target.  The crowd doesn’t know what’s happened before panic ensues.  Soldiers appear from nowhere and the robed man has no choice but to run.  Escaping in the streets, dodging people, then climbing up buildings and jumping from roof top to roof top, till eventually returning back to earth and blending with a group of monks.  He disappears, never to be seen again.

The screen faded to black and I was then presented with a big white screen that simply said Assassins Creed. I shudder at the feeling I have, remembering what it was like to be completely blown away.  I started a new game and you started to educate me in the ways of the assassins, explained that we battled Templars in order to keep humanity free from control.  I was honored to have been part of that story.  I shared in the pain and humiliation as Altair broke the creed, and was revoked of his assassin status, forced to climb the ladder again in order to redeem himself.  I remember it well.  I was there every step of the way.  Every skill learned, I was there.  Every targets life that was taken, I was there.  Every Templar’s life that was extinguished, I was there.  Every tedious flag that was collected, I was there. I witnessed the events that helped rebuild your assassins status, and I saw and heard everything about the ultimate betrayal.  I saw and heard everything that his master was planning and I felt his pain inside.  When the Piece of Eden was activated all those years ago, revealing a world familiar to me but not to him, I was there and more importantly I understood Altair’s confusion and bewilderment.

You also made me walk side by side with Desmond Miles, a person that everyone thought to be a nobody, but you showed me how special he truly was.  What secrets and gifts he had to offer.  Explaining the science to him and me about the Animus and how it works, how DNA memory is completely possible and you proved it to us too.  You then introduced us to Lucy Stillman, an exceptionally talented individual who was as smart as they come and beautiful to.  It was nice to know that we weren’t alone.  That we had someone to look after us in case things got bad.  But you had to give us the good with the bad.  Warren Vidic, the Templar bastard that was intent on destroying our minds in order to obtain the locations of the Pieces of Eden.

Through out this adventure I fell in love with you.  I appreciated what you tried to do and even defended you on internet boards.  Nothing could or would change my mind on how special you truly were.  That kind of love is not bought, or given, it’s earned.  With that love came a deep trust between us, one that would never be broken.

I was there for it all, and I replayed the adventure a hundred times over.

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GTA V Torture Scene Controversy

(image courtesy of http://arstechnica.com)

(image courtesy of http://arstechnica.com)

I’m not really a person who gets offended easily by anything shown in any type of media art form.  I even watched the Human Centipede and for some strange reason the sequel as well, and yes there were gross and seriously disturbing scenes in there but I could get through it, and sleep quite well at night I might add because well it’s just a movie.  I’m not doing those things…

Have you guys heard about the latest controversy?  Well, it’s in a little game called Grand Theft Auto 5

SPOILERS!

OK so there’s a mission where you and your terrible trio of three have to break into some type of federal building to break out this guy who MIGHT have information about a bad guy that needs to be taken out.  I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but this is just the build up anyway.

Once you have gotten this guy, the F.I.B (which is the F.B.I. really) asks Trevor (who is as psychotic as they come BUT at the same times, has his morals?) to torture this man to obtain the information.  So, Michael heads to the location with another F.I.B. agent to find the target but they need the correct information.  Que the controversy scene..

In order to find out what the target looks like, Trevor is contacted and asked to get the info.  You have a couple of tools to choose from in order to get the answers.  You have a wrench, which I think was to break knee caps or testicles, jumper cables hooked up to a battery on one end and the others will go onto the nipples of the tortured and then you would electrocute him,  a tank of gasoline which you can drown your victim in and pliers to pull teeth.  Let me paint you a picture..

OK, so how do you feel?

Now while I was playing that I felt the need to walk away.  My instinct was to not participate in this kind of behavior however in order to progress I had no choice but to play my role as psychotic red neck which I did.  I still remember pausing the game and saying to my wife I wish I could skip this part.  The pulling of the teeth in particular was grueling for me, because as you saw by the video, they really make you work to get that tooth out.  It was a horrible ordeal.  I wasn’t offended by it but I was put off because I don’t like the idea of hurting other people and I didn’t have the option to skip.  Wait a minute, did I just say “I don’t like hurting other people“?  Hmm, interesting, because if I’m truly honest with myself, I’m a fucking hypocrite again.

How many people have I killed in Uncharted, Mass Effect, Tomb Raider, Assassins Creed, Call of Duty, The Last of Us, Resistance, Singularity, etc, etc.  Do I feel bad about killing these people?  No, not really.  So what does that mean?Are we all monsters deep down?  Why was this particular moment in GTA V so different from everything else we’ve played?

My first explanation is that the acting was brilliant, I believed the guy was in pain and I felt bad for him, I heard bones break, and could hear the electricity coursing through him.  I could almost feel that tooth coming out.  And when he was crying and gasping all I wanted to do was let him go.  The sound was excellent which really immersed me in the entire situation.  What I find interesting now is that I’m referring to this guy as a real person and I’m referring to it as a situation and not a mission.   Don’t you think that’s odd?  Because I could see his face, see the damage I was doing and hearing how painful it was. I think on a sub-conscious level my mind thought it was real.   I was the person controlling this character.   That’s why I felt bad and disgusted by it.  I’m not saying Rockstar did a bad thing in fact I think they should be applauded for making so many of us feel so revolted and uncomfortable.  I felt more uncomfortable in this scene alone than I did in the entirety of The Last of Us.

My wife brought up a good point that maybe it was so bad because the guy couldn’t defend himself.  There was no way out and I was in a way the executioner.  Perhaps that’s why its easy to kill thousands of other “enemies” because they are armed.  It’s a fair fight.  But is it?  Is it fair to a roof top guard in Assassins Creed, to get stabbed in the back simply for doing his job?  Is it fair for a henchman to get an arrow in the head simply for patrolling his designated area in Tomb Raider?  Granted these guys would kill you given half the chance but my point is, is that it’s easy to kill “enemies” who are simply obstacles to over come.  But at the same time, I guess we weren’t torturing these enemies, we simply killed them, put them out of their misery, couldn’t look them in the eyes and pull the trigger.  If we were forced to pull the trigger slowly on an enemy in a normal gun fight, hearing him injured from a bullet wound that you caused, would you still be comfortable?

What I think Rockstar did was skip the obstacle and delve straight into our humanity, our moral fabric of what is right or wrong.  Were you offended because you had to torture him in a game or because you had to face him head on and torture him while he expresses the pain?  Or maybe we are all evil bastards that just want to kill but can’t come face to face with the gravity of it or maybe we’ve been programmed to resist?  It’s interesting or at least, it is to me.

What I’m mainly interested in, is why everyone is so upset with Rockstar about it?  Again it came to my article on censorship, that either everything is off limits or you can do what ever you want in a game.  Rockstar is always pushing the envelope.  Have they pushed too far?

What do you guys think?  I know a few of you have got the game, so for those of you who have gotten to that part, what do you think?  Morally grey?  Down right wrong?  Should people Chill?