Friday, December 23, 2011

Happiness Is A Game Of Thrones RPG Video Game

For those of you who follow George R.R. Martin's blog, I'm sure you're excited as I am about this news. For those of you who don't, but are fans of the books and the show, this is amazing news indeed. Cyanide Studios and Atlus Entertainment are working on a Game Of Thrones RPG video game coming out next year, possibly in March 2012. That's right, Game Of Thrones as a video game. It looks like they have reached an agreement with HBO allowing them to use elements from the television show in their game as well.
I admit, I was skeptical and thrilled at the same time. With such an intricate story of this magnitude, a video game could be either really good or really bad. After watching a trailer on the website however, I find myself impressed, hopeful, and wanting to see more game trailers as the game develops. It looks fantastic and it seems that Cyanide Studios and Atlus Entertainment want to make this game as great as possible.

You can check out the trailer and other information at the official video game website here:
The French fans at La Garde de Nuit were invited to a hour and a half long  presentation of the game and shared their insights and video here:
This website has the most in depth information on the video game which you can take a look at here:
And of course you can check out George R.R. Martin's blog here:

I for one, am quite interested in this and looking forward to more news about this game as it develops, especially seeing how fantastic everything looks so far.

Happy Holidays to everyone! 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Assassin's Creed Revelations, The Best One Yet

Assassin's Creed Revelations ties up the story of Ezio Auditore, Altair Ibn-La'Ahad, and  Desmond Miles. The story in Revelations not only includes Ezio's quest to uncover the secrets of his order, but a romantic interest, and a complex political situation as well. You also get flashbacks of Altair's life and some brief optional excursions in Desmond's mind in the Animus, making for an intricate story.
 Somehow, it all fits together perfectly. Ezio's story seems to be the catalyst because his quest to find out more information about Altair ties itself to the social and political unrest in Constantinople.  The romance between Sophia and Ezio is subtle and it is impressive how convincing they are and you find yourself believing that these two are falling in love with all the chaos around them. Overall, the story telling in Revelations is remarkable and the cinematic scenes are done right with fully developed characters in strongly written scenes.

A New City To Explore.....
   On a basic level, Revelations plays the same as the Assassin Creed games that came before. You're still accepting various missions that have you stalking, meeting, or killing targets. Some of the quests in Revelations do add to parts of the story, but more than a handful are time wasters or poorly constructed. However, the most exciting moments are Ezio exploring Constantinople and his discovery of clues about Altair's library. It's here where the "dungeon" sequences come into play. Similar to the Lairs of Romulus and the Assassin's Tombs, these excavations can take you on some fantastic adventures and these are some of the great highlights of the game.
Adventuring Is A Dangerous Business

  Even better are the chapters that feature Altair himself. Each major portion of the game includes a segment with the original assassin and players relive specific moments from his life from young to very old. Some of these missions feel slightly similar to some of Ezio's, but others are completely different. The variety keeps things from getting dull as well as the fact that they're very story driven. Some of Altair's memories even carry a certain weight and understanding of what Ezio is doing. As the game progresses, you begin to see similarities and differences between the two men, which makes the story an even more emotional and thought provoking experience.

 When it comes to gameplay, it's clear Ubisoft made a number of additions in terms of controls, weaponry, and the menu layout. The most noticeable change was a button layout change. Players can now directly access a secondary weapon (throwing knives, bombs,) in addition to a primary weapon (hidden blade, sword). This gives players more options, allowing for quick reactions during stealth missions as well as challenging combat scenes. Bombs become an extension of your combat options, offering three different categories. Choices of bombs range from standard smoke bombs to a bomb that shoots out coins luring dozens of peasants.

Climbing higher and higher....

The hook blade was also introduced, a feature playing on Ezio's hidden blade, that is perfect for zip lines and climbing to heights that seem almost unreachable. It becomes a universal tool in Revelations, for exploring the city and other locations as well as proving useful in close combat and assassination missions.

Hook blade, don't leave home without it.

 The only two parts of the game I found issue with were Den Defense and some of the game play as Desmond Miles. First of all, Den Defense really didn't add a lot to the experience of Revelations. In fact, it detracted from it. The menu is very clunky. Ezio stands on a rooftop near his headquarters as enemy troops march down the street attempting to damage the building so they can take it over. Players must install through a point and click cursor menu various barricades and a variety of assassins along the rooftops to fend off the attack. Controlling the deployment is really clunky and this mode does not mesh well with the game. Assassin's Creed's strength and focus is direct combat, not real time strategy. Frequently, I found myself fighting against overwhelming odds, which made the whole thing an irritating mess. If they bring Den Defense back, they definitely need to make a few changes and modifications to it.

 Now we come to Desmond. Desmond's sequences are completely optional in Revelations, most likely Ubisoft anticipating a divided reaction to the departure in game design. Desmond is in a coma, attempting to reclaim his mind within the Animus architecture and must navigate through Tron like worlds in first person perspective. He moves through these oddities by using two shapes of blocks he can create and place in the world. While I did like getting to hear some of Desmond's memories and his back story, I did not like the first person perspective. It's jarring at first, and it takes a lot of getting used to. I also suffer incredibly bad vertigo in first person game settings which is why I rarely play first person games. I found that while it was a bit unsettling at first, I did get used to Desmond's first person view sequences because thankfully, the camera did not bob up and down at weird angles. I could only play in brief bits however, because after a few minutes I found myself feeling quite nauseated. I truly wish his sequences had not been done in first person, but the scenes are well thought out and the puzzles actually play well. I also found myself a bit frustrated towards the end when once again, I got more questions than answers. I came to understand that they left it this way on purpose to make room for the forthcoming Assassin's Creed game in 2012, so I'll just have to wait.

 Multiplayer is augmented again in Revelations with various new modes, a variety of customization options, and a better interface along with a story mode that allows players to learn more about the Templars as they progress in the Abstergo facility. There are several modes that create unique gameplay with different match types. All of these build towards an ultimate goal which certainly rewards those who are used to focusing on a core storyline.

 Overall, Assassin's Creed Revelations gives a brilliant presentation of an intricate story line filled with gorgeous graphics, great voice acting, subtle yet powerful music, and great core gameplay. For me, this was the best Assassin's Creed yet and I know I will be playing through it again. If you've been following the stories of Altair and Ezio this far, you definitely need to see their last adventure. It's worth it.