Monday, August 1, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 37

Today's favorite moment isn't really a moment, it's more of a feature. It's definitely not a spoiler, it's the most widely-advertised thing in the game. The game is Assassin's Creed, and I'm sure you've already determined what this entry is...

It was a known fact that the free running in Assassin's Creed was going to be awe-inspiring. It was such a huge selling point of the game that it almost seemed like a gimmick, but after all, if you're going to have a gimmick, make it a good one. Very few gimmicks in video game history have been as good as the free running in this game. Running over the rooftops, along scaffolds, and through crowded city markets in the ancient holy land is a thrill that not many games have been able to top.

Along the roofline, off the steeple, up the windowsill and a 50-foot drop into a haystack? Sweet. Let's do this.
What really made the whole thing click was how natural and intuitive it was. They could have made the free-running take some ungodly levels of skill - it probably would've been easier on the coders. Instead, the controls will you to succeed. It's never obvious about its little nudges, but you aren't going to run a dive for a ledge, only to find that you missed the angle by a couple of degrees.

The game itself mostly fails because the creators didn't seem to know what made everything work. The game turns into a slog of "go climb that tower so you can see what we need you to do next". Then it ditches the free-running altogether, leaving you to swordfight your way through  the last half hour or so (and the sword combat is easily the weakest aspect of the game). I've arranged everything into this helpful chart.
Oh yeah. You'd best believe I made this.

From what I hear, the second game fixed a lot of these problems. I'd like to think that it'll appear on the other list at some point, but even if it doesn't, I got hours of fun out of running around Jerusalem being a dick to hobos and then fleeing to the rooftops. That's gotta count for something.

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