Saturday, November 27, 2010

Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Ezio Rides Again

I just got done playing Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and I'll level with you, the ending did cause me to have  a what the heck is going on moment. The ending is abrupt and leaves you with a cliffhanger, only drawing forth more questions, and leaves one feeling a bit disappointed and frustrated. However, it does open up many possibilities for the story and for another Assassin's Creed game.
 Cliffhanger ending aside, Brotherhood does not disappoint. You get to play as Ezio Auditore once again fighting against the Borgia clan. Ezio is now a leader and you can recruit assassins throughout the city of Rome and build up assassin signals to take out guards, enemies, and even send them out on contract missions. There are many great side quests, including one with Ezio's old friend Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo's Machines was one of my favorite side quests because not only was it fun to play, but it was interesting to see all the great designs spring to life for the various missions. The tank was my favorite by far! The rebuilding quest is back, only this time you rebuild Rome and there are many great rewards with it.
 Brotherhood isn't completely perfect as there are a few bugs that the developers seem to have missed. One frustrating bug was if you went through one of the hidden tunnels before you were formally introduced to it in the game, you would spawn in front of it and desynchronize repeatedly. There was nothing to do about it, except start a new game. Another bug was a design graphic error with the cinematic of when you recruit an assassin to your cause. The new recruit was just a floating head with a body following it, and their neck was missing. There is also a bug where the game will freeze during game play for no reason at all and the only thing you can do is reboot everything. I only had this happen to me once, but a couple of my friends had it freeze up on them two or three times during missions.
 Overall, the game was a blast to play and I did love that all you had to do was whistle or make a hand motion to call on several assassins to take out all your enemies. The historical notes are informative as well and the artwork and music enhance the experience of playing the main missions and the side ones. There's great downloadable content also to add to the fun.  I will definitely be playing through it again and have a great time doing it. If you haven't picked up Assassin's Creed Brotherhood yet, I suggest you do so because it is a game that definitely entertains.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Hunger Games, Dystopia With Training Wheels

 I gave The Hunger Games trilogy a chance, I really did, but I found myself so frustrated with these books. I know all about the comparison to Battle Royale and here and there I do see where Suzanne Collins was influenced by it, but the books are different. For one thing Koushun Takami's book is better.
 The problem for me, mainly was with the heroine Katniss. I wanted to like her, but I found I could not care about her at all, even after she did the noble sacrifice of taking her sister's place in The Hunger Games. She seems very cold, apathetic, and just drifting along. For a main character there isn't any depth to her and that's sorely disappointing considering the theme of these books. Then we have this pointless love story that is completely unnecessary to the book and it just seems awkward and forced. The only character who seems real to me at all is Peeta while the other characters seem one dimensional. I also found myself frustrated with Katniss because at so many intervals in the story she just gives up so easily like it's as simple as changing her hair color. Are you kidding me with this nonsense?
 I had to keep reminding myself that these were books for young adults and while the writing wasn't bad, the story was not great. If the writing is so poor that you find you can not even care about the characters especially the main one, that's a serious problem. This didn't feel like a dystopian novel at all, sure it was dark and depressing, but that's pretty much it. I need more from something claiming to be a dystopian story. This was more like Dystopia with training wheels. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go read Fahrenheit 451 and Battle Royale again.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fable 3 Revolution Made Fun

 I finished my first play through of Fable 3. I did pick the hero role my first time through. You can choose to play an evil tyrant also.  I loved hearing John Cleese as the voice of your trusty butler Jasper, along with other recognizable voices throughout  the game such as Simon Pegg and Ben Kingsley. The first half of the game follows the template of exploration, quests, and combat as you recruit followers and gather an army as either a prince or princess of Albion. While some of the quests are courier (package delivery) quests, there are quests that are creative with things like donning a chicken costume, performing in a play, or wearing a disguise.
 Once you have your army, the revolution can begin and Fable 3 becomes a tactician strategy game where the tough decisions you make actually have an impact in the story. Interaction with others is one on one now making it easier to recruit followers or woo a spouse. Another thing that I loved is the solution to the clunky menu system. That is gone and you now have the sanctuary where you can organize weapons, costumes, and your full magic arsenal. There is also an offline and online co-op feature that works really well so you can play with others and pool together treasure, resources, and rewards from adventuring together.
 That isn't to say that there aren't any problems. There are a few.  At times, there are loading time issues with the load screen as you enter a new area. There are also little graphic errors here and there where you're holding an npc's hand for a quest and as you are running, it looks like they're not holding hands with you, or they end up stopping and standing there so you have to come back to get them. Even with the world map and fast travel, there still seems to be a loading issue.
 However, you forget all that as you play Fable 3 immersed in fun quests, planning a revolution, and deciding if you will be a hero or a villain.  Who knew revolution could be so much fun?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Walking Dead Comic Done Right By Frank Darabont On AMC

 On Halloween Ron and I sat down to watch the premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. I was quite hopeful when I saw that Frank Darabont the director of Shawshank Redemption was directing The Walking Dead. I was not disappointed. It stayed true to the first volume, Days Gone Bye right down to the scene with Rick Grimes showing mercy to a zombie with no lower torso dragging itself along and the scene with the tank in the city. I was delighted to see that Frank Darabont not only read Robert Kirkman's comic, but that he loved it and wanted to do it right the first time when it was presented on television.
 Kirkman's brilliant writing and character development shined through in this first episode especially with Andrew Lincoln playing the role of Rick Grimes, the father (Lennie James) and son (Adrian Kali Turner) that Rick meets who are in emotional torment due to the father's now zombie wife roams the street in front of the house they're hiding in. You come to care about these characters so much and your heart goes out to them when you see their emotional struggle with a family member, a friend, or a loved one becoming a zombie.
 Two things are certain. Frank Darabont got it exactly right and Ron and I will definitely be watching it and loving every minute of it.
 The Walking Dead is on AMC Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m. and you can watch full episodes on the AMC website.