The Devil’s Brigade Volume II
So far so good with the xbox360achievements.com guide to get the dog tags. After about four hours of playing spread across three days, I have sixty-one out of the ninety-five dog tags, but I’m getting close to that point in the game, I think, where everything goes wrong and I miss one or two or three of them. I was hoping to finish it all tonight, but a sudden wave of exhaustion set in and I’m beat and in need of sleep. But not enough that I can’t write a few thousand words or so here. Ha.
The World of Assassin’s Creed
Assassin’s Creed came out something like fifty years ago, give or take about five decades or so, and it wasn’t really on my radar at all. I remember seeing a friend play it on the Xbox 360, and I was somewhat impressed with it until I played it myself and couldn’t even get into the game because it was repetitive. It wasn’t until a few years later when Ubisoft released the sequel, appropriately named Assassin’s Creed II, that I gave it another whirl and fell in love with the game, and the entire franchise which has sense become an annual sort of thing.
The main reason I fell in love with the game is because the setting of the second game is Renaissance Italy and you get to interact with many architectural wonders and even talk to that Leonardo da Vinci guy several times. The Assassin’s Creed games allow video game players a very unique opportunity in that they are essentially time machines that let you travel back to certain time periods and actually be a part of that environment. It’s different from books or films that are period pieces because they’re either descriptions from the author’s point of view, or they’re motion pictures also given to you from a certain perspective; never are you allowed to go to those places and adventure in them of your own free will. You don’t get to climb around the Colosseum in a movie or a book, but here, in Assassin’s Creed II, you can. Without getting arrested and thrown in prison like you prolly would if you attempted this in real life. It gives one an entirely different appreciation for the architecture of such places, and there are many of them decorated throughout not only Assassin’s Creed II, but the entire series.
There’s also a huge history element that is absolutely fascinating. This particular game deals with the Borgia family and their attempt to do all sorts of wrong things. The history is as accurate as one could hope for in a fictional world – if historical accuracy is important to you and all that – and it’s simply fascinating to watch it all play out as close to how the events actually unfolded plus the added fictions that the development team threw in for dramatic intent.
And some of those fictions deal with a whole lot of science fiction. One of the main plot points for the game is that you’re not actually playing Ezio (or Altair from the first game), but are playing Desmond, a young man that lives right now – well in 2012, because… yeah. Desmond is related to Altair and Ezio, and he’s reliving their memories through his DNA thanks to a machine called the Animus. A corporation – that’s evil, ‘cause every time a corporation is introduced in a fiction, especially science fiction, it has to be evil, right? – is trying to dig up specific memories from Desmond’s head in the first game, and then he goes rogue in the second game with a band of folks that claim to be assassins. You’d get it if you played it. There’s a lot of science fiction stuff going on and it’s good stuff. It’s not all too whacky…
But then again! It is! Assassin’s Creed has this aspect to it that I’m calling the Tinfoil Hat to Protect Yourself From Mindreading Aliens elements. If you’re at all familiar with the Ancient Astronaut Theory, then this stuff will be old hat to you. And you’ll probably roll your eyes and call bullshit. But wait! I’m not a tinfoil hat wearing crazy guy, and I really enjoy the Ancient Astronaut Theory. Not because I believe it’s true to the slightest extent, oh, no no no. It’s just as much bullshit to me as it prolly is to you, but what it is to me is absolutely fascinating; especially from a fictional point of view. And the version of it that Assassin’s Creed presents to me, as a love of all sorts of crazy fictions, is just awesome. I’m still excited to see how it’s all wrapped up for the Desmond character as I’ve yet to finish Assassin’s Creed III. My original goal was to finish Assassin’s Creed III on December 21st, 2012 because that’s the day the game took place on, but I failed miserably. I suppose I could set my PS3’s clock back to that date and pretend, but it probably wouldn’t have the same sort of nerdgasm level of nerd… gasm.
Assassin’s Creed II also tells a very unique story within those re-lived memories. Unlike a lot of other games where the story is eats up a relatively short amount of time, this game covers almost an entire life span of a single character. From birth to mid-life, we’re told the story of Ezio Auditore de Firenze and his involvement in the overall plot of the series. It’s very interesting and quite unique to see a character grow from an infant the first time you meet him, to a young man that gets into all sorts of trouble, to what he becomes at the end of the game – and further continues in Brotherhood and Revelations, and even the short film, Embers.
In Memory of Petruccio
These fucking things. It seems that in order to make a video game nowadays that’s not a first person shooter, you have to include these tiny, almost missable items that you have to collect in order to get 100% completion, and then they add on top of it a trophy that requires you to get ‘em. If it’s not dog tags you find on the corpses of sometimes well hidden soldiers, it’s feathers. FEATHERS.
The reason it’s feathers in Assassin’s Creed II actually has to do with the main character, Ezio, and his young brother, Petruccio, that is executed along with his father and his older brother. So, to remember his brother and do him a great service, Ezio continues to collect the feathers and places them in a box at his home. I completely passed over this activity the first time – and only – time I played this game from beginning to end, ‘cause I was gonna do it much later, and take my time with it. Then I lost my save file, and now I gotta play the whole game over again and start from scratch, which is and isn’t fun at all. Collecting feathers. Feh.
Show Your Colors
The capes in the game are part of Ezio’s attaire and have some pretty decent features. The first cape you get is the default one, and it doesn’t really do much of anything. The other capes, however, like the Medici cape, the Venetian cape, and the Auditore cape all have different effects on how noticeable you are in each of the cities in the game, with the Auditore having the most negative effect of the three. The reason it has a negative effect is because the Auditore family has been completely disgraced and framed for a bunch’a bullshit, so they instantly assume you’re up to villainy when they see you wearing this cape.
The trophy comes from obtaining this cape – which requires you finding all the feathers – and wearing it in each of the cities you can visit in Renaissance Italy. Unfortunately on my previous play through, I didn’t find all the feathers, so I never even got this cape, let alone the opportunity to wear it anywhere. This time will be different!
This trophy just pisses me off. It’s a simple one. You pick up a pole arm, like a spear or a pike, and you do a sweep move when surrounded and knock down five or more guys. That’s it. Unfortunately, I don’t think I ever picked up a single spear or a single pike and did anything with it, ‘cause Ezio’s default weapons, and the weapons you get throughout the game are much better than a goddamned pike. After playing a lot of Assassin’s Creed III and learning how to get EVERYONE’S attention ‘cause I forgot how to play it, this trophy really shouldn’t be a problem to get at all. Whatsoever. None.
The other day I decided to order all the Lego games ‘cause I really enjoy playing those goofy little fuckers. I already re-obtained Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga on the Xbox 360 – ‘cause it has Achievements, whereas the PS3 version doesn’t have trophies – so I said, “What the fuck,” and bought the rest of them. Relatively cheap. I went ahead and got the other two that didn’t have trophies on the PS3 for the Xbox (Lego Batman and Lego Indiana Jones), and ordered the rest on the PS3. I got them today, and, well, there was a mishap. One of the games I got for the PS3 was Lego Pirates of the Caribbean, and instead, the folks selling this copy through Amazon saw it upon themselves to send me the Xbox 360 version instead. And this probably wouldn’t be a problem at all if, well… if I hadn’t already scored 56% of the trophies on the PlayStation 3. So, now I have to make a very unexpected trip to GameStop tomorrow to fix the situation, ‘cause I’m not fond of returning things. I’ll just trade it in instead. I’ve got a few other games I wanna trade in, anyway, so it’ll make it easier. Dumping off F.E.A.R., The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for the PS3 because they don’t have trophies, and I have the last two already on the 360. Hopefully I can pick up F.E.A.R. for the 360 and Lego Pirates for the PS3 tomorrow, but we’ll see.
But, wait! There’s More!
I don’t just play video games and try to get all the trophies and achievements, mind you. I also do other stuff. Like work. I got a job, y’know! But one of the other things I do that eats up a lot of my free time that my writer’s muscle doesn’t like is read a LOT of comic books, because comic books are an essential and important part of the human imagination’s diet. You like to not think so, but then you pay ten bucks to go see a comic book character beat up some dudes on a giant screen and lazily lay there snarfing down all your popcorns and sodas that cost you just as much as it does me to make one trip to the comic shop. Only I get more outta it!
Been reading Rick Remender’s run on Uncanny X-Force from beginning to end, and while I wasn’t caught up on all things X-Force prior to the Uncanny X-Force series, but I have to say it wasn’t required reading. The original X-Force book was created by Rob Liefeld and others from the declining-in-sales New Mutants book and was reimagined as a high-octane action adventure book revolving around mutant affairs, instead of being just a bunch of kids learning stuff at school. Which isn’t all that interesting of an idea, even though I’m not so sure that’s what the original New Mutants book was about. I wouldn’t know. I never went near it because it didn’t have an X in the title. My rationale was pretty retarded when I was a kid. The new X-Force was reconfigured to be an elite strike team of X-Men that had no qualms about pulling no quarter when it came to killing folks. So, naturally, the team was led by the one and only Wolverine. Like how all that connects?
Uncanny X-Force comes after that X-Force title, and Wolverine has his team of wholesale slaughters still in effect: himself, Archangel, Psylocke, Deadpool, and Fantomex. Only, this book goes pretty deep. It deals with the Apocalypse. Not the Christian Apocalypse, or the end of the Mayan Calendar apocalypse, but THE Apocalypse. En Sabah Nur, Marvel’s FIRST mutant. Born in ancient Egypt, En Sabah Nir was born with special abilities and eventually became selected by the Celestials, cosmic being things that do stuff, to ensure that evolution was kept on its proper path. It wasn’t. Apocalypse was killed (more than once, if I remember right), and eventually, Archangel becomes his heir. So that’s what Uncanny X-Force was about, and it’s INSANE. It’s insanely hilarious, insanely violent, insanely well drawn and well written, and insanely good.
I also made my first weekly trip to a comic shop to pick up physical comics in four years. I’ve been reading digitally for quite some time now, but I wanted real comics. Real paper comics. And I got them. But I haven’t touched them yet. I did manage to find a hardcover collection of the first eleven issues of the pre-Rick Remender X-Force X-Force book and snagged that happily enough. I also ordered vol. 2 of that same series. Excitement. A part of me feels sad for non-comic book reading folks. What hollow lives you live.