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Assassin’s Creed 2 Day#10: Tutto, ma i Templari

Day 10 is a day of no plot. I basically do everything I can in Forli without encountering Templars, and then get to return to the frame story for a weird interlude. There’s a bit of repetition of content that’s disappointing, and some plot movement that is actually quite contrived. It’s my weakest session of this game so far, but the core activity is still fun enough to keep me interested. Spoilers within.

Last time ended with me on a viewpoint quest, and so viewpoint hunt GO! for I think the fifth time. The viewpoints are all around the countryside, and what’s interesting is that one viewpoint is actually a bit hard. I got so used to them being straightforward that I was genuinely happily surprised when one took a little bit of thinking to get through. Unfortunately, that feeling was dashed five minutes later when I encounter another identically challenging tower with the exact same layout of broken stairs, poles, and ledges. That’s pretty lame — how hard would it have been to vary these climbing bits slightly? Viewpoints are an achievement; they shouldn’t just feel tacked on like this.

When I finish the viewpoints on the outside, I head into Forli to get the final two, and I almost immediately find another glyph. There’s  no subject 16 ranting this time. The first step is to find the glyph in the pictures, which is simple. Then I get a new screen with three small circular pictures and a small fire scattered on a flat background. I have no idea what this is. I  mouse over pictures and nothing happens. Then I mouse over fire and my cursor is now on fire. Okay, at least something happened. I mouse over the pictures again, and one of them bursts into flames. Turns out that was the Joan of Arc picture. Sure. She burns with some pretty awful screaming, and that picture and the fire are gone. With two images left, I just drag one to the other and that seems to work.  When I do, 16 talks about revolution and I get the passcode. Inscrutable video shows me a girl running and turning. Glad I’m done with that.

I finish up all the viewpoints but one — I can’t seem to find a way up the last viewpoint. But there’s an assassin mission at its base that I unknowingly click (it was glowing and I didn’t know what it was.) Turns out it’s a mission from deMedici to kill six guards to weaken up the city. I accept it to see what it’s like, and off I go.  Basically, the guards are either alone or in groups of two, and I have to whack them.  They are all assassinations and I get through it pretty smoothly with some nice touches (a double stab as I sneak up on two guards from behind, drop from above to take down two.) That was pretty fun.

I also see an assassin’s tomb on map, and since I’ve basically decided that I don’t care about the Templars today, I go for it. It takes me a little while to find it on the map because the icon is on a building which appears to have no entrance. Turns out I need to go into the river to find it. Once inside, I find it a hair more of a jump puzzle than a fight puzzle, but it’s a mix. It’s a quite annoying set of jump puzzles actually, because there is a STUPID FUCKING BACKWARDS JUMP PUZZLE right at the beginning. It is a STUPID FUCKING puzzle because you can shift the camera around while climbing, and when you do, the direction on the analog stick that represents “backwards” changes, so you will often misjump and fall, sometimes taking a lot of damage.  Ugh.  So much longer than that need to be. I end up fighting some guys at one point — it’s an easy fight, but there’s a big guy I can’t seem to figure out and I end up button mashing him to death. After that, we’re back in Prince of Persia land with some time jumping puzzles. There’s a switch (effectively — it’s a giant lever) that opens a far-away and often hard-to-reach gate, and I have to run through it before the gate closes. There’s about four or so of them, and they are decently fun.  The final one is complex enough to be interesting, and that one takes me to the tomb. I  get my cash and my seal and  go out through a trap door. Thankfully, this gets me out into the street, so at least once I don’t need to fall to my death to get the game going again.

Still stalling the plot, I go to get the codex I see on the map. I only see one, because I only unlocked one viewpoint in the city. I get through this one in a pretty quick fight. I then find other codex totally by accident; I drop off a building into a circle of guards who immediately attack me. Four more guards come, and it becomes a slightly challenging fight against eight guards.  But I do get two codices.  At this point, I’m finally done with the distractions to get back to the story.  I head back out to the countryside to find the mission startpoint, and when I get near, I hear a guy calling “Ezio, here, over here!” repeatedly. Hey, buddy, I’M A WANTED ASSASSIN – SHUT UP!!!! Turns out it’s Leonardo. He’s taking a boat to Venezia, but I can’t go with him without a pass to enter the city.

The CS ends and I hear a woman shouting for help. Turns out there’s a woman on an island I have a random mission to help. Why not? I have to get on a small boat and pilot it out to her. I get it now — this is prep for the Venetian canals. Ezio piloting the boat has a  stiff animation that looks terrible.  I steer up to the woman and she gets on the boat with me. Turns out she’s some extremely important historical figure, and as thanks for helping me, she gets me on the ship. Okay, the woman I happen to save gets me on the ship? This is way too contrived for this game. Plot in AC2 has generally been very strong, and the game is usually better than that at introducing characters and changes in direction. Bad move on the writers’ part there. I get on boat and CS Leonardo and Ezio discuss the woman and how Ezio should stay away from her.

At this point, we cut back to the future and the cipher called Desmond comes out of the animus. The team tells me I making amazing progress, they think, but they need to give me a break because too much exposure to animus can be bad in the blurred-reality, don’t-know-what-time-period-you’re-in way. The main girl wants to test to see if I’ve picked up Ezio’s abilities, and takes me to another warehouse room to run around to a set of different consoles to get defense grid up. This is a simple set of climbing puzzles. While I’m doing this, she tells me that they are going after Ezio because 16 was obsessed with that time period. They also tell me that 16 was driven mad by over-animus use. All throughout the scene, I’m seeing these gray overlays of Ezio’s time, but I’m told that hallucinations that don’t last longer that thirty seconds are okay. I finish the test, and the girl tells me that she’s happy I’m here or some other vague “maybe this is love” line and tells me to get some sleep.

I started walking back by myself,  but then I have another hallucination that lasts longer, and the past takes over as I go back to Altair (the assassin from the first game). I’m given a target to chase, and it’s a roofing hopping pursuit that it seems I can’t lose and can’t end earlier. This is obvious enough that it’s kind of lame. The chase ends when the target enters a tower (doesn’t matter if you get there first — you can’t stop him from entering) that you then have to climb. I get halfway up and then I can’t figure out how to go further. I give it a few tries before I give up for the night.

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