Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Assassin's Creed 2 pros and cons

First off no worries I still think this is a and much better than its predecessor, but I thought it would be handy to quickly list the things that made it better and the things that still need work; seeing as Ubisoft seems to be paying attention to such views.

Better minimap showing buildings, guards, and vertical plane differences.
Better blending.
Larger range of missions.
Fast travel.
Ability to hire groups to aid you.
More stealth kills - the ability to pull guards from ledges, or drag them into barrows.
The ability to use your hidden blade in normal combat - thank you, thank you. Trying to switch between blades to dispatch a toppled foe was so slow to be useless
Being able to counter with the hidden blade - Would have been pointless trying to use it in combat if you couldn't.
Being able to break away and run from combat - previously you had to 'unlock' from your target then run; now you can just run.
Better collectables.
Larger variety of weapons.


Free-running jumps - still dodgy. When I jump close to a pigeon roost assume I'm making a Leap of Faith into the soft landing spot and not jumping out into thin air to land with a thud on the cobbles. Likewise if there's a building/ledge/post/rope within my jumping distance and rough angle of leap assume I'm jumping to that and not into thin air onto aforementioned cobbles. You could argue that slowing down as you approach a jump to adjust your angle negates this problem, but you try doing that when you've a guard chasing you.

Can't replay missions - Some fans suggest that you should be able to replay certain missions to try them different ways and extend playability. I'm ambivalent about this, but I can see why some want to be able to do it.

Can't abort missions - now this is a pain. Let's say you've picked a checkpoint race mission you've missed a jump and there's no way to complete it now. You can't abort the mission. You can abort the memory, but that generally has the consequence of dropping you at some point in the landscape nowhere near the mission you just fouled up. Instead you have to wait for the timer to finish, or get yourself killed at which point the mission simply restarts.

Still a lot of screen-tearing. Although not as bad as TimeShift (what is?) and for most of the action it's not noticeable when the action slows it becomes more apparent. I can understand why it's not v-synced as that would introduce stutter into a fast-moving game, but there are a lot of other engines out there that don't suffer from this problem.

Too much money. Sounds an odd complaint, but it's a consequence of any RPG style economic system. I hit Venice with approximately 150,000 florins in pocket with a full healing experience costing 50. Although there are consumables such as medicine, poison and throwing knives as well as simple healing and armour repair the costs of these become insignificant compared to the income you're making just from doing missions let alone your uncle's mansion income. A lot can be spent on weapons, armour and paintings but those are all one-off purchases. the only way to burn cash is to keep changing the colour of your clothes.  There is a limitation in that the chest at the mansion only holds a certain amount, but with fast travel costing around 100F that's a 200F trip to pick up 40,000F roughly every hour. Makes you wonder why you're even bothering with the side-missions except for the fun value.

[Additional - Database location entries can't be matched to the map. When you encounter a prominent building you get a database entry with a bit of history, interesting but not essential to read. However some buildings have glyphs on them and these are indicated in the entry by a red eye icon. So you go to the database and see which entries still have eyes showing and then ask "Where the hell was that?". Came to my attention as one such entry popped up while I was on the tour of Venice and couldn't stop to investigate

Escort missions. No please no the first one I've come to rescuing some thieves and having to lead them back to the safe point on the rooftop. Each rescue has four thieves and you need at least one to succeed. I never came back with more than 2. No not my fault either they tried to route themselves via a set of guards rather than follow me or better yet pushed each other off the roof! AI means if two people get too close they shove each other aside. When jumping from point to point they could land close to each other and shove wheee splat!]

Anyway that's it - a lot of pros not many cons.