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Assassin’s Creed 2 Day#2: Dammi il mio mantello, Dammi la mia spada…

Day 2 with Assassin’s Creed 2, and it will surprise no one, but this game is GOOD. There’s a little wonkiness in the complexity and context-sensitivity of the controls, but the combination of Prince of Persia style climbing/exploration play with GTA run-from-the-cops play is just wonderful. It’s a very immersive world, and there’s tons of fun stuff to do. And on top of that, nicely defined characters with a good plot of old fashioned Italian betrayal. After a long stretch of ehh, finally a game to enjoy. Spoilers within.

So, we left off last time with my father asking me to deliver a letter. I snap right to that. The map is still a bit wonky to use; I really wish it had some indication of altitude and building entrances. Also, the markers in this game are confusing. I keep passing by these courtesans who have some icon over their head, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to them. It’s about twenty minutes later when I’m wandering through the settings menus that I find a legend that tells me the icon only indicates that the girls were courtesans. Nice. No reason why you couldn’t tell me that when I first saw the icon.

I do the run across town and find my delivery target. He tells me that the guy I’m delivering letter to is out of town, and I should go back and tell my father. On my way back, I get into a quick fight with my rivals. The combat is getting more interesting. It’s a standard block and counter fight mechanic, non-trivial but not punishing. The fight gets me a bit off course, and I notice that there is another viewpoint nearby so I decide to climb up a very high tower to capture it. Again, it’s a beautiful view of the city, it opens up a chunk of the map, and it gives me a nice reward jump at the end. From here, I get a little obsessed and decide to hunt down all of the viewpoints I can find. This is just plain fun in the Ico/Prince of Persia vein. One of the six starting viewpoints appears inaccessible (it’s on top of a building I don’t see a way to climb) but I get the other five. I also climb the Duomo for the hell of it and that is just as OSSIM as you want it to be. I’ve seen the Duomo in person, and it’s just cool that I can actually recognize the building. I have to hand it to this game for the immersion; from the architecture to the costuming to the barkers on the street, they are trying hard to make you feel like you’re in Renaissance Italy. I do fall on the way down which leads me to desync (i.e. die) — good to know that falls can kill me.

After that fun romp, I get back on track and return to my father. He’s CS talking to a guy (Alberto?) about something that they don’t explain to me. Dad tells me I have to go see my mother and sister.  I see the sister first. She CS tells me that her guy has been cheating on her, so I take a quest to beat him up. I have a sister, so this is a good motivation for me, and I enjoy the hell out of pounding this total creep. (They give me a CS that assures me the guy is a douche.) When I get back,  my little brother asks me to get him some eagle  feathers. It’s a time-limit test where I have to get three feathers off of the roofs before time runs out — also fun. Finally, my mother wants me to accompany her on a walk. This is a nice bit of narrative immersion. She tells me along the way that the father of the guy I fought at the beginning of the story is accused of murder and my dad is the witness. That won’t end well, Nick’s story mind tells him. Turns out my mom is going to see Leonardo da Vinci . He has paintings for her, and my job is to walk them back without breaking them. I do and am thanked by both of them.

I don’t have an immediate next step, but each of those missions has unlocked a set of missions of that type. I decide to try a courier mission first, and it turns out I need to deliver some letters from Casanova to two of his paramours within a time limit. I get to the first girl safely, but I ignorantly walk past her guards on the way out and get chased around the city. Unfortunately, while I do make it to the second girl, I can’t talk to her unless I’m anonymous, meaning no one is actively hunting me. You lose pursuers by staying out of sight for long enough, either by hiding in something or staying away from witnesses. I can’t hide or shake these guys in time, and I desync as a result. I’m smarter the second time, avoiding groups of guards and knocking out solitary ones, and I succeed.

With that done, I decided to see what the mission start is back at my house. It turns out it’s my father again, who asks me to make another two deliveries and pick up a pigeon message for him. He seems agitated in the CS, so I get right on it.  I go to the closest marker on my map, which turns out to be the pigeons. It’s annoying to get the message in a way sadly typical to AC2. When I get close to the coop, the control key in the upper right tells me I can hit B to interact, but when I hit it, it causes me to swing my free hand instead. It turns out that despite what the key says, I have to be standing in a specific spot to trigger the interact. That’s not good — the key should be my clear guide as to what the buttons do, and it’s buggy that it isn’t. Anyway, I get the message from the pigeon, and head to the next checkpoint. The second guy is a weird paranoid. He takes the package from me and tells me that “people are moving tonight” and that my father should as well. I get no further explanation, so I head to the third and final destination. This is a poor and unpleasant couple who snatch the letter from me and send me on my way. Why is my dad hanging out with such weird people?

I head back to the house when I’m done, and I jump immediately into a CS in which our servant tells Ezio that dad and and brothers have been arrested. She volunteers to take mom and sister to her sister’s place for safety. I get a mission to find my dad in my cell. This is another climb back to one of the places where I found a viewpoint. I remember seeing guards up there who threatened me, so I have to be stealthy. Climbing and sneaking, very fun. I get to the cell after a couple of false starts, and enter a CS conversation. Apparently Ezio’s father expected this to happen but not this soon. He tells Ezio to go to his office and take everything behind a secret door. There will also be a letter there, and Ezio has to bring it to the guy father was talking to earlier. I get control back and head back to the house. When I’m inside, I hold down Y for Eagle Vision (secret door/clue locator) and see the door. Behind door is a chest, and in the chest is the white assassin outfit  and blade. I don them and take the letter, hitting the street as my new badass self.

I exit to two guards sent to kill me. I learn some quick sword controls and slay them. I have to evade guards all along the way, but then get to the guy’s house and CS give him the letter. The guy is being nice and promises that my family will be acquitted, but there’s a hooded guy behind him in the room and I just don’t trust this, even though Ezio is oblivious. The guy talks about conspiracy and invites Ezio to stay with him for safety, but Ezio refuses and promises to meet him in the piazza tomorrow. When the CS is done, it’s daytime so I decide to go straight to the piazza for the acquittal. It’s a CS, and in it, my family is up on the hanging platform. Turns out my father’s friend is a lying bastard, and claims that he never got the doc despite my father’s anger protests. He condemns my family to death, and my father and brothers are hung. I CS run out to stop it, but guards surround Ezio and the poor people from before tell him to run. I don’t question the wisdom of this, so when I get control, I tear. This is FUN — I’m angry and I feel betrayed, and running from these guys takes a while and requires me to be quick on my feet. I get out of site of them by jumping off a roof and diving into a hay pile, and that’s the end of section one.

The game loads and I jump to 1476. The maid CS tells Ezio that he should follow her to see his mother, but he says it’s safer if they go separately. The archivist from the future world tells me that there are icons on the way he wants me to find as well. I’ve been playing for a while, so I decide to call it a night. More tomorrow.

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