Saturday, 31 March 2012

Assassin's Creed II - Feathers

Progress Report

DNA Sequence 11 (!) complete. However...I'm playing through the first DLC just now, and then I'll play the second. Not sure if I'm gonna do the Templar Lairs though, unless there's a decent reward.
All feathers collected (ugggggggggggggh)
Achievements Earned - The Prophet (Complete Sequence 11), In Memory of Petruccio (Collect All The Feathuggggggggggghs).


Home in Florence


It was early Friday morning, I'm talking roughly 2 A.M., when I finally collected my 100th feather. I figured the reward would be worth it so I spent hours, spread over four or five days, collecting each and every one of them. I even cheated and used maps, otherwise I'd still be collecting them by the time the AC Universe says the world's going to end. So, I finally got my 100th feather (on top of a ship in Venice) and I could finally collect my prize. After a cutscene that lasted maybe twenty seconds, the game pops up with "Auditore Cape unlocked". Excellent! I got the, I would presume, best cape! The idea with the capes are that if you wear a certain cape in a certain place, you're "notoriety" level (like the Wanted level in GTA games) won't rise. Very handy. So you'd think the prize for spending hours collecting a hundred GOD DAMN FEATHERS would be an item so awesome that you can't help play the rest of the game with it.

I collected 100 feathers and all I got was this stupid cape...

Instead it makes it so that in every city, except Monteriggioni (which the Auditore's run), your notoriety is always full. Guard will automatically attack you as soon as they see you. Sounds awesome? No. It does not. Now, I'm not saying it's completely useless, if you're just messing around killing guards, pickpocketing etc, then as soon as you take off the Auditore cape your notoriety goes back to what it was. Also you get an achievement for wearing it in each city. BUT, I kind of expected more from collecting all 100 feathers. I expect something like a weapon that makes everyone it touches explode, or the ability to fly while dropping explosions onto everyone below or explosions so big those explosions have their own explosions that explode the explosions.

Pictured: Venice, 1488

Maybe in Assassin's Creed III.

But, silver lining time, Assassin's Creed II should be done and dusted by the next time I write.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Assassin's Creed II - Developer Spotlight - Ubisoft Montreal

Progress Update

Memory Sequences 9 & 10 complete
Achievements Earned - Masquerade (Complete DNA Sequence 9), Bianca's Men (Complete DNA Sequence 10) & Victory Lies In Preparation (All Item, Armour, Hidden Blade upgrades).
Should be done by Saturday.


Flight Over Venice 2

Developer Spotlight

Ubisoft Montreal

Ubisoft are one of the biggest game companies in the world. Started up in France in 1986 by the five Guillemot brothers, one of whom, Yves, is still the CEO of the company. Ubisoft started in-house production of games in 1990 and in 1997 would open their most important development studio, Ubisoft Montreal. Being a French company, it made sense to have their North American base in the French-speaking part of Canada. It is Ubisoft's largest development studio with over 1,700 employess and a ton of well received and, more importantly, commercially successful games. Their first two games, however, were not successful or well received: Tonic Trouble for the PC (later ported to N64) and Donald Duck: Going Quackers (though I remember playing this when the PS2 was new and it not being that bad. I was nine though). 

Their fortunes would change with a little game called Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. The game was met with glowing reviews, with the Xbox version getting an average score of nearly 93% (Says GameRankings) and selling over 3 million copies. In addition to the Splinter Cell series (22 million sold), Ubisoft Montreal was also responsible for the Prince of Persia series (17 million sold), Far Cry (8 million) and, of course, Assassin's Creed (38 million sold). The latter is easily Ubisoft's biggest game franchise (outselling the Just Dance series by 10 million copies). All figures come from Ubisoft themselves.

Pictured: The place Ubisoft prints their money

Ubisoft Montreal is set to expand even further, they plan on adding 1,400 more employees by 2013. That would make them the biggest game development studio in the world. And as long they keep making hits, it is an accomplishment they definitely deserve. We will definitely be bumping into each other in the future.

Assassin's Creed II: Random Thoughts - Races

They suck.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Assassin's Creed II - Voice Actor Spotlight - Danny Wallace

Progress Report II

DNA Sequences 7 & 8 complete
All Assassin's Tombs complete = Altair's Armour unlocked
Weapon Collection Complete
Achievements So Far: 40/50


Venice Rooftops/Ezio's Family Mash-up (afkVahn)

Voice-Actor Spotlight

Danny Wallace

Danny Wallace is a funny man, born in Dundee, Scotland, which basically makes us neighbours (though he's also English, and has spent most of his life there). From Assassin's Creed II onwards he voices Shaun Hastings, the snarky Englishman who acts like a researcher and historian for the Assassins. 

This fella.

His other voice work includes...err...well...that's it. He's not really an actor, you see. He was a journalist, then he wrote a number of books based on his own experiences, such as the time he accidentally started a cult, bet his friend he couldn't find 54 people with the same name and what would happen if he said 'yes' to everything. The latter book, 'Yes Man' would be the inspiration for the film of the same name. He also had his own television series where he decided to create his own country. In short, the man is awesome and I'll probably come back to him at some point during future games. Mainly because despite thinking he's awesome, I've only just started reading his books a couple of months ago. I don't reach much (hey, I'm a gamer!), so I've only finished one of them.

After the funeral of a relative who once attempted to gather a group of people to live on his farm, Danny Wallace decided to put an ad into a newspaper, simply saying "Join Me" and asking them to post a passport picture of themselves. Not expecting much to come out of it, "Join Me" eventually evolved into a cult (sorry, collective) of people and a journey to find 1000 "joinee's". The book itself is hilarious, charming and it is definitely worth the read. You can get it off the Kindle Store if you're into that sort of thing. I'll most likely have read (and watched) his other stuff by the time I play Brotherhood, so I'll probably do a short "review" of that when we get to it.

Tomorrow: A look at Ubisoft Montreal...

My Backloggery

In order to keep track of what's left to do, I've compiled a list in Backloggery. I'm pretty much finished, though there'll still be a handful of games I've forgotten, but I'll add them in when I come across. The list is here: 

The website also has a handy feature that picks a game from your "unbeaten" list for you, and that is what I'll generally be using to figure out what comes next. There will be a couple of exceptions, mostly when I simply want to play a certain game, or if I no longer own the game. In the latter, I'll do my best to replace them. There are also games I refuse to play for the sake of my sanity. Also, if it is a direct sequel then I'll change it to the first game of the series I've not played.

So, with that in mind, Backloggery has told me that the next five games I should play are: 
  1. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories (PS2/PSP)
  2. Puzzle Quest (PC)
  3. Super Mario 64 (N64/Wii (VC))
  4. Star Wars: Dark Forces (PC)
  5. Mario Kart Wii (Wii)
It's been rather kind to me. Thanks, Backloggery!

Now, back to Assassin's Creed II...

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Assassin's Creed II - Soundtrack

Progress Report 1

All side-missions completed in Florence, Tuscany and Forli completed. 
All feathers in Florence, Tuscany and Forli collected.
Story progress: About to start the first assassination mission.

The Soundtrack

The soundtrack of the game was composed by Jesper Kyd. While he's been composing video games for two decades now, it was in 2000 when he really made a name for himself. Kyd did the music for MDK 2, and more importantly, the first Hitman game. He would go on to compose the next three Hitman games (though he won't be working on Absolution). Other notable games include Borderlands, Unreal Tournament 3, a few songs for Forza Motorsport 4, and of course, the Assassin's Creed series. 

I can't speak for the first game as it's been a long time since I last played it, but I love the soundtrack to Assassin's Creed II, and each post I make from now on will have an accompanying video with either a song from the game or a remix. The best soundtracks are those that supplement the game, without getting in the way, but can be listened to by itself, and there are definitely a few songs on here that fit the bill. Here are a couple of (rather obvious) examples, and I'll post more when I come across them. 


Venice Rooftops

Simply divine. Alas, I'm not familiar with Kyd's other works, but that will be remedied later on in this project of mine. Probably by some bald fella with a silly tattoo on his head.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Assassin's Creed II - An Introduction

I apologise for all the words, in normal service I won't need to explain nearly as much.

Assassin's Creed II

Backstory (AC Spoilers AHOY!)

Assassin's Creed II was released towards the end of 2009 to great reviews and by February 2010 it had sold 9 million copies. As the name suggests, it is a sequel of 2007's Assassin's Creed. The story revolves around Desmond Miles and his ancestors, whose memories he can access through a machine called the Animus. In the first game, Desmond is forced to live through the memories of Altair by a man called Warren Vidic. Vidic works for a company called Abstergo. Working with him is Lucy Stillman, who is voiced by Kristen Bell, who you may know as "Veronica Mars" or "Sarah Marshall". The Altair segments are set during the Third Crusade. Altair is a member of the Assassin's Brotherhood, and his targets are all members of the Knight Templars, setting the big "war" between the two factions that would continue into later games. The object of both of these factions is to obtain Pieces of Eden, artifacts with the power of mind control. Eventually Altair has to kill his leader who was a Templar in disguise who was in possession of one of these artifacts. Altair claims it, it projects a map of Earth, Abstergo is actually a Templar company looking for these Pieces of Eden, the map shows them where they are. Desmond was going to be killed, but is saved by Lucy who is actually an Assassin, Desmond starts retaining some of Altair's skills and "see's" the previous Animus subject's projections of the world ending in 2012. The writers of this game clearly went to the same school of plot twists as Hideo Kojima. That all sets up nicely for the next game.

The last thing you see in the game...'cept the XboxWorld logo. Unless they are secretly Templars...

Which I almost didn't play because I didn't like Assassin's Creed. I thought it was a great concept, but I gave up half way through, it just got very repetitive and dull. I had to be convinced by a friend to play AC2, and I'm glad he did. Despite only getting half-way through, that was enough time to realise that everything had been improved. Then I forgot about it. For two years. Eventually, I decided to watch someone play Assassin's Creed and then picked AC2 up again in the summer, got to roughly the same point as I did before. Then I forgot about it. For eight months. Or more specifically, since three days ago. Now, it's time for me to FINALLY complete this game.

So Far...

This will be the only game I'll ever jump into half-way through. The reason I've done this is because I simply want to play it, and also I have Brotherhood just sitting there gathering dust and I feel I need to play it before it raises some sort of dust army to kill me and take this golden apple I found. (oh, the most common PE in the game, at least so far, is an apple. SYMBOLISM). ANYWAY, I'll try to sum up the story but I'll try not to go too much into spoiler town as I did up above there.

Lucy saves you from Abstergo, takes you to secret Assassin hideout, introduces two new associates: Rebecca; a "cool, yeah, radical" kind of girl who is in charge of keeping their own form of Animus running, and Shaun, your stereotypical snarky Brit who does databasing and research (he is voiced by Danny Wallace, who's a rather famous funny guy/author in Britain). This time it's Renaissance Italy and you play Ezio Auditore, who is much more likeable than Altair in every way. Long story short, his family gets betrayed, his dad was an Assassin, Ezio follows in his footsteps, kills a bunch of Templars connected with his families murder, befriends Leonardo da Vinci (aka, one of the best supporting characters in any game ever), fled to Venice where we're now helping the Thieves to kill some old guy. That's it in a nutshell. Oh, and that guy who wrote all those symbols up there? Subject Sixteen (Seventeen being Desmond). He seems to be living in the Animus now, revealing 'The Truth'. I think I'll talk about that when I'm done with it. Although you've most likely have played it already, I'm very wary about giving spoilers away to games I already like. I'll wait for the proper Review for that.

Our hero, Ezio Auditore, if his beheading went terribly wrong...

The Plan

Each day starting from tomorrow will have a little write-up, explaining how far I've progressed (which might be low-to-nothing on days I have to work) and then accompanying them will be more interesting stuff. Most of the posts will be about something related to the game, though not necessarily about the game either. These posts will focus on specific voice actors, writers, game companies, real events talked about in the game, soundtrack etc. So, look forward to that, I guess if you want.

Obligatory Explanation Post

Good morning/afternoon/evening/night/other to you. My name is Stuart, I'm a Scottish lad who likes to control virtual people using a hunk of plastic with buttons on it. I'm not alone, there are millions of other people just like me. We tend to be called 'gamers'. As one of these 'gamers', I have ended up with a large amount of games. Some people might call it too much. But the thing is, most of them (particular the ones bought in the last four years) are just sitting there after being played once or not at all. This cannot continue. So, before the day I die (I'm 19...a bit too young to be thinking of that sort of thing), I plan on largely reducing my backlog of video and computer games.

Pictured: Still more organised than my collection.

So, why on earth have I decided to blog about it? Honestly, no idea. It seemed like fun. The idea (and I stress that it is still an idea and will expand and evolve as time goes on) is that I basically muse about whatever game I happen to be playing. Just random thoughts, experiences and the like. Eventually, if I feel the game deserves it, I will review it, even though chances are most of the games I end up playing will be well known. It just brings closure, y'know? Right now, the idea is to devote around a week to a certain game, but there are no real deadlines.

Right now, I'm playing my way through Assassin's Creed 2, so that'll be the first game on this journey. I'm already halfway through because that's how far I got before I came up with this idea. I won't just be talking about the games though, if I find anything interesting related to the game in question I'll post about that too. Don't say I'm not good to you. (seriously, don't say it, or I will get angry). 

Starting off nice and obscure...

My "backlog" can be found by clicking the "here" on the description near the top of the page, but it is only half done at the moment. I still need to add all my PC many PC games...sigh. 

This. This is truth.

Until next time,