Media Blackout?

I haven’t written too much lately – a vacation got an impromptu extension and my laptop has been going through its own electrical epilepsy – which benefits my sleeping and penalized the times and places that I can get things done. Trying to get a little something up from the smartphone, as work privacy is limited. There have been a few growing pains as they iron out some kinks in the program.

I am trying to get the Xbox 360 to stream media. It won’t play NTFS formatted external harddrives (then what the hell do they use for the internal HD? FAT32 has a 4GB upper bound last I checked), I have had limited success going back and forth and back and forth with a flash drive. Streaming media requires a “media center capable” version of windows, or me untangling my partition table enough to dual boot linux. I’ve started in on that as I finally feel that Linux has matured enough to no longer be the endless time sink of man pages, compilers, and hardware research it once was.

Assassin’s Creed turned out to be quite more enjoyable the second time around. The graphics held up on a larger TV (sorry Darksiders) and a slight realignment of my expectations vastly improved my experience. The game makes a big deal of “The Creed”. So when you loosen up your definition of “harming innocents” you cut down significantly on the amount of time spent running from guards and hiding in haystacks. Guys on the roof telling you not to be there? Knife to the throat. Peasants begging? Grab and throw. Once you embrace a bit more of a Tom Clancy/Rainbow 6/applied fascism kind of take, it’s open season on the guards (who theoretically are trying to bring around peace in their own way) and you lift yourself out of the quagmire of plot based bullshit that the game itself put you in. And then it’s actually pretty fun.

It looks like the WordPress client actually has its editor display bugs fixed, so maybe I’ll get another one of these out sooner than I thought. (Can anybody tell me what a “category slug” is?)

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Posted in Games
3 comments on “Media Blackout?
  1. angryscholar says:

    I remember sidling through a crowded market and knifing a guard, then walking calmly away as he died, and nobody knew what the hell had happened. The rest of Assassin’s Creed seemed mediocre, but that was fairly slick.

    • vigorousbog says:

      The problem with the game is the initial conflict is set up by your violation of “The Creed” (guess the mobile link jobby still needs some work) for those who can’t see it at work it’s summed up by the following:

      1) Stay your blade from the flesh of an innocent
      2) Always be discreet
      3) Never compromise the Brotherhood

      A few minor addenda:
      1a) Guards are not innocent, the best way for you to avoid detection is for them to avoid breathing.
      2a) Discretion is overrated, you are a blade-wielding wood chipper of vengeance.

      As the game progresses, the challenges get better, with you having to hone your parkour skills by gathering flags in a timed course run, stealth killing guys, etc. You start to get a little swagger, a little brazen, as pressure mounts and you’re tapped to stealth kill 5 guys in as many minutes.

      Once you readjust your expectations (i.e. literally Grand Theft Jerusalem, not Sandbox Thief) the game returns to entertaining again, no “why the hell do they always see me?” Supplemental voice acting for the “save citizen” events is repetitious and terrible. “I wish my sons were as brave as you…”, “Thank god you showed up when you did or they would’ve made off with me…”, “Is that the last of them?” Blech. In retrospect, random crowd dialogue, street evangelists, merchants, etc is actually pretty good. It’s just when you’re doing something 40+ times, it grinds the gears more than a little.

      And I don’t know I just weaned myself off the Haterade but the companion storyline got a little less jarring as well. The only criticism that I can think of there is allow the main character to run. This guy isn’t the clubfooted twin from Fatal Frame. Overall I went from chalking this up to a starter funding Guy Ritchie “Sherlock Holmes” kind of thing, to a talented studio falling a little short in hurry-up offense. But then again that’s a possibility only when you’re ambitious.

      Added bonus, some of the books responsible for inspiring Assassin’s Creed seem to be worth checking out Alamut, by Vladimir Bartol, which should be a little more involved in tracking down and the Brothers Karamazov which well… yeah. I’ve never read anything by the epileptic Russian, though I have read a few things saying that he’s an epileptic and a possible link with his literal brainstorming compelling him to write. Either that or long, cold, Russian winters mean you stay indoors with a pen and a blanket.

  2. angryscholar says:

    I only read “Crime and Punishment,” and frankly, I was far too young to appreciate it (show me a high school junior who really CAN appreciate Dostoevsky).

    You really need to play Arkham Asylum. It’s fantastic, and it’s the first game I’ve ever played that really has a decent balance between stealth and combat. Ultimately it comes out a little in favor of combat: there’s no real cover mechanic, for instance, and there’s no light meter or anything like that. It’s all line-of-sight stuff: if you can see them, they can PROBABLY see you (though not always). And if they see you, you a-puncha their face.

    The best thing is, Arkham Asylum has all the darkness and violence that a grown-up game should have, but as Batman, you remain miraculously aloof from it. You beat the snot out of people, but the Bat will not kill. Bad guys are offing dudes left and right–there’s plenty of bloodshed here, though almost exclusively off-screen–but your take-downs are all non-fatal.

    The only complaint I have so far is that it’s fairly linear. There are items to find outside the main missions, but that’s usually all it amounts to: go here and find this. Reviewers have sometimes compared it to Metroid Prime, and that’s a pretty apt comparison: the game is fairly linear, but you can take as much time to explore a huge world as you want, and there are tons of collectible items scattered around. Not much in the way of subplots (no chocobo racing or weapon-forging or anything), but it’s still extremely satisfying. And the storyline is just brilliant.

    I’ve heard that Assassin’s Creed 2 is somewhat better than the first, but I’m not really sure what that means. One of these days I’ll get around to it.

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