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Assassin’s Creed Day#3: La mia vendetta prima

Day 3 in Assassin’s Creed makes me an assassin. I get a bunch of training in the arts of stealth and stealthy killing, and then I’m unleashed in quite a good scene. There’s a bunch of side quests as well. One of them involves an annoying series of new gameplay steps, but it’s only a minor annoyance. The shape of this game is very much avoid the polizia in Renaissance GTA, and that is fine by me. The open world is implemented with a very nice balance of freedom and direction. Spoilers within.

When I start this round, I’m notorious, which apparently means that guards are spotting me with no hesitation. It’s going to make it hard to get around. I start by buying some armor to increase my health.  I really like the look of the equipment in this game; maybe it’s just something about the period costume that makes me want to get it. I also catch a viewpoint as long as I’m near it.

Asides taken care of, I get back on to the mission, which is to get to my maid’s sister’s house. It turns out it is a brothel, and the maid’s sister Paula is the madam. In CS Ezio tells her he must kill Umberto in revenge for hanging his father.  Paula volunteers to teach him how to survive. This is a new mechanic called blending. To blend, you stand near a group of people. While you’re in proximity to them, you are invisible to guards, but it fades as soon as you leave the group. I have to test this by following Paula without being seen by guards as she wanders around the city. This turns out to be hard, and I fail three times before I succeed. It’s hard to tell when I’m synced in a crowd; groups are a bit amorphous and not obvious on sight, and the feedback isn’t very strong about when you’re hidden or not. I still like it though, because it involves reading and following the chaotic flow of crowds.

When I finish, Paula teaches me how to pickpocket, which you’ll remember I accidentally discovered on my first day. The mission is to steal from five people — but now that I’m notorious, I really have to run when they realize they’re robbed. The mission is easy though and I breeze through it. I go back to Paula when I’m done. In CS, she gives my father’s blade and bracelet, and tells me I have to bring them to daVinci to fix.  Ezio asks why she is so keen to help him. She reveals that she too has known betrayal and shows a scarred arm.

I get control back for a find daVinci mission. Wandering around the city is now quite dangerous; I get chased for a couple minutes while heading to daVinci. But I do get there and when I do, he CS welcomes Ezio. Looking at the bracelet, he says that the tech is very advanced and he can’t fix it, but he finds a codex in the bracelet, and after decoding the codex, he does fix the blade. He then tells Ezio that to use the blade requires the loss of his ring finger, and  asks Ezio to put out his finger to get cut off. Ezio does it, but daVinci deliberately misses with the knife, telling Ezio  he was kidding and that the blade no longer requires a sacrifice. I can’t help wondering if that’s a reference to Assassin’s Creed 1 somehow. Once I have the blade, a guard stops by CS and daVinci is taken to a courtyard to get questioned and beaten. I get control to sneak up on the abusive guard to assassinate him with my new blade. I carry the body back to daVinci’s lab; he tells me I can stash bodies there, as the city give bodies to him for research. As I leave, he tells me to bring any other codices (who’s a lit major?) I find to him to decode and make.

The codex sounds like a good idea, so I go after the codex marker on the map. On the way, I spend some coins to change the colors of my outfit a more earthy set of browns. I’m a New Yorker — we don’t wear all white.  It turns out that the codex is in a building guarded at the door by three armed goons. I try to drop behind them, but it doesn’t work and they spot me. I try to fight them, but I forgot that I lost my sword in the piazza scene, and I take a lot of damage trying to draw it. I eventually give up and  run. The game is in a very fun way not forgiving. The guards do not let up. If you duck into a hay pile too close to them, they stab it with swords to scare you out. If you try to climb in front of them, they throw rocks at you until you fall back down. Eventually, I end up jumping into river to escape.

When I climb back out, I decide the codex looks too hard right now without a real weapon, and I go for some viewpoints instead. I get four of them, dying once when I try to do a leap of faith (the fancy jump you get to down from a viewpoint) and having the system miss that command and instead have me jump to my death (stupid, stupid controls). I also end up stumbling into an area where the future people tell me is a glyph. I search the space, but don’t find it and have no idea how to look for it. I give up and  get a fifth viewpoint. On the way I see a bunch of thieves, who turn out to be a group that I can hire to distract guards for me.

On the way down, I pass another location that indicates there’s a glyph. This time, I decide to try my Eagle Vision and almost right away I find a glowing symbol on  a wall. My future friends tell me that it’s code built into the memory core that a previous subject (16) hacked and that can only be read in the animus. It reminds Desmond of the signs he saw on the wall. We cut to a weird interstitial screen where we hear an obviously disturbed 16 ranting about lies we’ve been told. He tells us that he’s locked all the evidence he has about it up in code. Then there’s a mini-game where I have to pick out 5 of 10 paintings that have a similar core. I’m not sure I like this — it’s very outside of the gameplay of this game. At least these are nice classical paintings to look at. Eventually I get it and the solution in white is next — the key is all of the paintings have apples . Once I get the right set of paintings, I see an image of some gold, steam-punk style orb and get a passcode. Hitting A shows me a short video of a naked man and woman jumping into what looks like a lake. It’s short and it’s put in a section of the interface called the Truth. Weird, but intriguing enough to have me go back to the first glyph location to try to find that one. Still no dice, even with Eagle Vision, and after a few minutes of searching, I head back to Paula.

In CS Ezio and Paula decide it’s time to assassinate Umberto, and Paula tells him that Umberto will be going to a painting exhibit. I get control to chase down Umberto, but I can’t let him know I’m after him, so it’s a really stealth play to avoid guards and get into the courtyard where the party is. I actually get in the courtyard itself when I hire a set of courtesans and they distract the guards by seducing them — that’s quite cool. When I get in the party, I hop from group to group to blend my way closer to the bastard, and he spots me as I exit the crowd right next to him. I rush in with my bracelet dagger and CS stab him to death quite violently.  As he dies, he CS says that Ezio would have done the same in his position to protect the ones he loves. Ezio agrees,  and then stands up and proclaims himself alive and out for vengeance to the surrounding crowd. It’s a nice moment of drama, and it gets me fired up. Of course, when the CS ends, guards rush in and away I run. I duck behind a corner and jump in a thing of hay to escape. Once I’m clean, I get back to Paula.

In CS Ezio tells Paula he’s got to leave Firenze for a while, but she says that I’ve got to get my notoriety down first. I head out to take care of that, and my future friends tell me they’ve given me a notoriety meter, but I’m not leaving until I find the glyph and give that last viewpoint a try. More tomorrow.

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