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XBox 360 archive at Nerdtales
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Archive for the 'XBox 360' Category

Assassin’s Crack

February 15th, 2008 by Marcel

Oh my god, it is 8am and I just finished playing. For all the frustration I felt on my way to Akkon, the actual town was just awesome. It was so awesome that I even finished all the side quests. I’ll write that up when I am back from the sleeping dead.

Off to Damascus

February 15th, 2008 by Marcel

Assassin’s Creed doesn’t seem to care much about immersion. After the first mission where I had to find the traitor I was pretty much hooked up to the game and the setting and started to feel good. Bam! The game switched back to the laboratory with the scientists talking about some nonsense, nothing of relevance I think. I walked around, not knowing what to do, until I stood next to a bed and a message poped up that I can interact here. Wow! What happened is that my character laid on the bed and slept. Interactivity in the year 2008!

After a couple of more minutes and some chatty with the doctor I was back on the table that brought me into the memories of my ancestor again. My master was pleased with my first mission and sent me to Damascus to kill a weapons dealer. I had to go down from the tower to the town and from there out of the gates. There I picked up a horse and rode to Damascus.

What happened here now was a switch to some sort of overworld. Similar to traditional JRPGs where you switch from towns/ dungeons to a world map on which you travel to the different locations. Just that in Assassin’s Creed the viewpoint doesn’t change. There are no mission objectives on this world map except the possibility to climb up several towers, which serve as outlook points, and collectible flags. On the way to other towns I passed crusader’s outposts and villages. It’s like a walk on the country side.

As this was all new to me it took me 30 minutes to Damascus. In front of the gates I learned about the secondary objectives. These are things like helping people which are harrased by soldiers or getting additional information on the main objective by overhearing or interrogations. I helped the peasant and submerged between monks to get past the soldiers at the town gates.

Once inside the first minutes really overwhelmed me as the scenery was very vibrant and full of life. People walking everywhere doing something, talking to each other, the city was alive. My main goal was to go to a contact of the brotherhood to get the permit to kill this weapons dealer. Before I went there I just walked around, climbed some outlook posts, which gave me additional information about secondary objectives on my map. With every 15 accomplished mission goals - secondary and primary - the gauge on the upper left, that is basically a health bar, fills up with one block. So I ran over the roof of the city and helped some citizens and gathered additional information about my mission. Whenever I was in danger and soldiers were chasing me the game was really fun because it forced me to use my surroundings to my advantage. For example pidgeons sitting on roof edges mark death jumps that help to hide from soldiers. And those death jumps really look astonishing.

But after some of those secondary tasks this all went rather boring as it was the same over and over again. The area I could walk around was limited by blue barriers. When I wanted to pass those the game just told me that the system didn’t have access to that part of the genetic memento. So I was forced to stay in the slums of Damascus. I then headed to the contact person which allowed me to kill the weapons dealer now. That all was rather easy. I approached a small market place where I hid between other citizens overhearing the target person talking to one of his suppliers. Well, not talking. He killed him. Time for me to jump in. I followed the weapons dealer and chose to slaughter him. A small pretty nice cut scene followed which showed the dealer actually passing away and his ghost talking to me.

The mission ended with me running away after a not so subtle assassination. Bam! Back in the laboratory. Only the assistant was around so I tried to talk to her and she gave me some hints why this all was happening, but it didn’t really explain much. So back to bed and the next day started with the doctor talking about the problems of mankind and how humanity lusts for control. This doctor acted like a fascist. Interesting.

Time to head into another part of the memories. I could actually chose the next mission, either in Jerusalem or in Akkon. So again I went down the hill from the tower to the town, out of the gates to the horse and rode to the world map where I started the long travel to Akkon. This is were the game became frustrating for the first time.

In the game I was constantly reminded that I was actually ‘replaying’ memories. This showed sometimes in jumping between different parts of the memories like a fast forward to the next scene of importance. But why the heck wasn’t it possible to fast forward to the next town instead of walking there? It took so long to ride to the next city because you always had to be aware of hostile soldiers and rode slowly past them to not cause a stir.

And then it seems that the whole system of awareness of the soldiers is flawed. On the upper left of the screen there is a sign that shows the awareness level of a soldier. When it is yellow I ride past the crusader and he won’t notice me. When the sign is red I have to push and hold ‘A’ all the time to go slowly and he won’t notice me either. That is what the game told me at least. In fact, it happened so often that still every fucking soldier was chasing me for no reason at all. That is a huge flaw because the game is also built on stealth elements which at least didn’t always work for me.

But I have almost arrived at Akkon, so let’s see what happens there.

Welcome to the Crusades

February 14th, 2008 by Marcel

Today I came by a rental shop that is actually right around the corner of my appartement. I went in actually looking for a nice Bluray movie for the evening. I came out with Assassin’s Creed in my hands. This is one of the occassions where I feel really bad about myself, that I always have to take the shiny things with me, although I already have so much other stuff. Or in this, I have still so many games left to play. I have rented it until Monday, enough time to see, why the game was scored lower than the hype led to me to expect.

Much to my surprise, the game started off in a laboratory of today. My character was lying on some sort of an examination table, obviously not knowing what he was doing there. I was pretty much confused, as I expected the game to play like 1000 years earlier with me controlling a kick-ass assassin. But the scientist and his lady assistant explained, with lot’s of mumbo jumbo, that everybody has a genetic memento of his forefathers and that they need some part of the genetic memento of my character’s forefather 1000 years ago, which was an assassin. Yeah, right. So they hook that sad guy up to a machine which takes me now 1000 years back in the holy land, during the crusades.

After some tutorial yadayada, I finally got to play… sort of. Altair, the assassin I play, was together with two other assassins on a mission to recover a treasure. They were just entering some sort of cave as it turns out, that what they were after was the ark of the covenant. Too bad the crusaders came first, and although the other two guys warn me not to, I am on my way to kill the boss of the crusaders. Actually I tried not to, but this game is straight forward and leaves you no choice. The assassination failed and I got pushed out of the cave, the entrance collapsed and my mates were lost inside. After some jumping around I made it back to my home town.

My master was not so fond of my failure to deliver the treasure, but before he could punish me, the crusaders attacked the town and I had to help to fight the back. Which was fun for the first 3 crusaders I killed, but it got old pretty fast. In the end, fighting is not much more than button mashing. The combokills are a joke and the counterattacks make the whole experience very easy. What was nice about the fight against the crusaders though was the scene it, where I fake-jumped to death and sneaked behind the enemy’s lines to trigger a trap. Awesome stuff.

Back in the tower I got a mighty kick in the ass from my master, who basically punished me to climb the career ladder of an assassin up again. I still would like to know, how he could take away my learned skills… oh whatever. So I was an apprentice again, and my first mission was to find out who betrayed the order of the assassin’s and helped the crusaders by opening the gates of the town. So I sneaked around town. Actually at first I climbed around town. Climbing up house and juming over the roofs is so much fun. It gives a sense of freedom. In such moments Assassin’s Creed feels like the best sandbox game ever.

The sneak mission was pretty cool, as I had to overhear somebody, then I stole a letter from a merchant and finally I had to interrogate another guy to get the information about the traitor. With my first mission accomplished my master regained some trust in Altair, and sent him to Damascus to assassinate a weapon’s dealer.

But I will write that up tomorrow, as it is actually 6:30 am here right now and I am pretty tired.

Like a Rocket Bound to Skates

February 10th, 2008 by Marcel

Today was time for another session of Forza 2. I had to finish the 5 by 5 Superspring Challenge in the second tier. I won the first two races yesterday after some heavy fights with my car, the #23 Magellan Financial Viper Competition Coupe. Keeping control over this car is an art by itself.

The third racetrack was King Cobra which looks like the name suggests. The Viper was obviously way too overpowered for a track like this. And way too nervous too. Like a rocket bound to skates. The track demanded a lot of concentration with corners mostly taken in the 2nd gear and very cautious acceleration. But to my surprise it took me just 3 attempts to win this race.

Now I felt relaxed because the next track was Road America (long version), one of my favourite circuits of the game. Fast corners, going up and down all the time, but still a very fluid experience. This time however I was tempted to smash something. Usually I would be in the front right from the start, around one to two seconds ahead of the Porsche Carrera GT. Then in the fifth of six rounds he would miraculously come closer and closer almost getting me on the long straight and pushing me out in the chicane after the straight. Talk about stupid AI. It took me over an hour to finish and finally win this race.

Having the challenge finished I moved up to level 28. I can’t finish the second tier, yet. The last two challenges aren’t availale until I have level 30/35. However, I have to get a break now anyway, my arms are starting to hurt, it almost feels like work playing this game with the driving wheel.

The Ending of Call of Duty 4

February 9th, 2008 by Marcel

First of all, two days ago Zero Punctuation released the review for Call of Duty 4.

I agree with most of this review. The game is just great, but right after finishing it I was disappointed by the rather quick ending. In the one second I was in a big fight and then all of a sudden the game was over. It ways pretty annoying. That was some weeks ago.

Now after seeing the review at Zero Punctuation I come to think of the ending again. Suddenly it makes sense to me. Call of Duty 4 is basically a depiction of a military operation through the eyes of two soldiers. With some exagerations here and there it mostly sticks to the facts. This includes or rather exludes heroism and pathos. And that exactly is why the ending is so sudden. The fight is over, that’s it for this soldier and this operation. No parade, no celebration. Nothing. ‘Business as usual’. This might be confusing in a medium where heroes are important parts of the narratives. But this is in retrospective not bad at all.

Back for Good

February 9th, 2008 by Marcel

I bought Forza 2 right after it was released. Additionally I got myself the wheel, so I was prepared for some good race driving. Because I don’t have a driver’s licence yet - I doubt that I will ever get one - it took me a while to get used to everything. But after after a week I had a good feel for the game so that I could even play without any assistance, except for ABS. Things went okay and I progressed pretty quickly.

But I think I played too much, because after 4 weeks I started to get frustrated and bored. The game lacked variety. Sure, the cars are very different from each other, but in the end it is always the same race tracks with different cars. And it got harder especially with the rear wheel driven cars. It happened too often that I made a spin in the last corner before the finish line.

So Forza 2 rested a while until I picked it up again a couple of days ago. And I have found the fun again. It is still frustrating sometimes, but then this is most of the time based on my mistakes. Yesterday I finally finished the first tier (don’t know how the tiers are called in English) and right now I try to finish the last races of the second tier. My car is a #23 Magellan Financial Viper Competition Coupe and it is anything but easy to drive as it is pretty nervous on the rear axle. My main opponent there is the Porsche Carrera GT which makes the races pretty hard and my hands sweat every round that I am in front.