Pigs Are Flying Dept.: Jones Tries Assassin's Creed II
I was never a fan of the original Assassin's Creed. I stuck with it for awhile. But eventually the game just felt too hinky and too ambitious for its own good. I was lost all the time. I had no sense of direction, or that I was getting anywhere. I shelved it and moved on with my life.
The original sold enough copies to merit a sequel, much to my chagrin. When Ubisoft announced that the sequel was imminent, it was like being told that you have to re-marry your ex.
My response: "I tried to love you once. Now you want me to try to love you again?"
Give me a break.
Last week I loaded up Assassin's II with the lowest of expectations. I didn't know what the hell was going on for the first 40 minutes or so. Kristen Bell is back, playing a character who looks and sounds like Kristen Bell, only now with a weird mouth. And Nolan North--NOT AGAIN!!!!!!!!!--voices the guy who has to go into the Animus. Or whatever it is called. The two of them run around for awhile in some sterile science place, but eventually the game shifts mileus to Florence, Italy during the Renaissance.
And once it does, things get remarkably more bellissimo, not because the gameplay is remarkarbly improved--it's not--but because I found myself for the second time this year totally suckered in by a story (the first time: Uncharted 2 and Nolan North did it to me a few weeks ago). I started to really care about the game's lead, Ezio, and his family. Early petty errands had me tracking down a lothario who'd cheated on my sister, but the game quickly ramps up the drama, and soon I was assassinating a fat dude who'd screwed over my entire family.
Plus there's an air of maturity about the whole operation. There's sex. My own mom tells me to stop chasing "vaginas" all the time! I love it.
The overall experience still feels like it could be tightened and tweaked. And I wish Ubi would ditch the meta-narrative (it's boring and largely pointless). From a PR stand point, Ubi also didn't try to cram the game down our throats with coy teases about THE AMAZING REAL STORY behind the game (the dumb meta narrative), as they did with the first game. They showed me a few trailers, then left me alone, and let me discover the game on my own terms.
Which I did.
Of all the games I've consumed in the past week--Left 4 Dead 2, Modern Warfare 2, New Super Mario Bros., etc.--the one game that I found myself craving more of was Assassin's II.
Who knows. After this, maybe I should give my ex a call, see if she wants to give our old, totally crappy relationship another go.