View Full Version : A critique of AC1 & 2 so you can tell me if I should buy the newer versions.

12-29-2011, 12:49 PM
Eye candy galore, but game-play seemed very lacking and repetitive. Understandable as game coding has become so complex that it is near impossible o have it all in the first game. I think the new trend will be fore each game to be built upon the last. I do see this with AC1 & 2.

In AC1 I loved the way you traveled between areas and loved the moment you came into the view of Jerusalem and the music kicked in to create an epic feeling to it. I missed this in AC2.

Combat seemed very boring...mainly because for the most part the game itself is doing the fighting. This is most evident with projectiles (throwing knives). I loved combat in Morrowind. I loved that you had to aim the bow and arrow yourself. Speaking of this, in the game trailer for AC1, the guy uses the crossbow for two kills, one with the bold and one to bash or stab the guy with the side of the crossbow. I was severely disappointed that it was not in the game...mostly because I come from first person shooters, not RPG's, so the combat is the most important part of the game for me. Or better stated, if it is severely lacking, it stands out in a big way for me.

In AC2 I loved being able to hire thieves, mercs and prostitutes to complete tasks and missions. A welcome addition if a bit underutilized. Did not like the way the ******s chose for themselves to distract the wrong group of soldiers. Overall, the experience provided a lot of comedy for me with the way the soldiers and thieves attacked, and especially the way the thieves would fall off the buildings, or into the water.

One of the biggest glaring issues for me was the way stealth is not used at all in the game. I mean this is an assassin...an elite human athlete and you can't even sneak up on an archer...at all (AC2). They always hear you coming. And this really bugged me in AC2 with the way you could kill a guy in a way that should have been anonymous and yet the notoriety would jump up a notch. I would go out of my way to kill a guy in secret and yet it would jump up every time. Only way it didn't was if I used the throwing knives. But if I used many of the tricks, like hanging on the roof, stabbing and grabbing him to toss him off, or jumped off ledges, and stabbed, etc.. it always made it jump up a notch. nearby archers never reacted, crowd never reacted, except to the dead body, and I dodged out of view before seen, and yet the notoriety jumped up. Frustrating.

In this same light, visiting the tailor to alter the color of your clothes made zero difference. Why not? This should have been used to make you anonymous. Note that all of the colors were city specific. With this, it could have been made such that guards noticed you faster if wearing colors from other cities, but using colors from the local city should have made you more anonymous and easier to blend. Changing color should have made you anonymous after the notoriety jumped up. IMHO this aspect was severely underutilized.

The puzzles. I enjoyed this aspect as I enjoyed the Myst series. I should note that part of me enjoyed it but another part of me doesn't like being forced into a linear mode and for the most part, most puzzles force you into a linear mode. That of course is a big obstacle for most video games. FPS games also suffer from this which is why online battles are more popular. Advanced AI is helping make FPS games feel more realistic without having a forced linear path. IN AC2 I would have appreciated The Truth Puzzles to be more organic. As in he gives you the clues, and then you have to go search for the answers by reading some specific books, or visiting certain places. I like puzzles but want there to be appropriate clues to find. I like this to be such that you gain real historical knowledge and that in the end with enough research you literally find the complete answer. In short, a series of clues that lead you to the answer. Some, based on their own knowledge and skill find it quicker while others would need to uncover all clues. A score based on how many clues you needed to uncover would be great. Doesn't matter that some would cheat...who cares if others cheat. Doesn't affect my game experience.

This seems lacking in AC1 & 2. The AI seems very "on/off trigger" centric. I rarely felt as if anything I was doing affected the guards. For instance, I can't get past guards, so I enlist the ******s to distract them and I could literally bump into the guards as I walked into rob the coffers or steal the codex page. In short, the AI aspect was severely lacking.

One aspect that has me twisted is the historical aspects. I am a history buff and this game takes great liberty in twisting history. OK, in the interest of having a game to play, I can live with the portrayal of the Templars as the bogeymen, and though the jury is out, I can live with the portrayal of da Vinci as a gay (jury is out on that and noting the belief he is was not necessary for the game...more a distraction), but portraying Machiavelli as some sort of Champion of the people (being an assassin) was just too much. This guy was no friend of the people. In fact he should be on the list of the ten most wanted enemies of the people. This man is the father of Machiavellian politics which in short says, "tell the people what they want to hear and then do what you want anyway." I would have rather seen him as one of the targets.

In regards to history, and with this game starting out during the Crusades, I was somewhat pleased that this game didn't totally take the low road that is taken by Hollywood, liberal media outlets and many amateur historians, but neither did AC1 challenge the inaccurate portrayal of the crusades. One aspect that is always lost when you begin with the crusades is what led up to them which is the fact that within 100 years of Islam becoming a religion, the Muslims had pushed into France, Lower Italy, and were threatening to topple the Byzantines(Eastern Roman Empire). It never seems to be noted that the Crusades never sought to expand, but merely recapture former Christian lands. This game doesn't, and obviously can't really go into that...too much history...but on the other hand it does seem to take sides in the naming of the Templars as the bogeyman. Kind of funny really. It is quite amusing that some seem to have this weird view of Templars and subsequently Masons. Everyone needs a bogeyman I suppose.

I can live with all of that in the game but Machiavelli was the one I couldn't. He clearly should have been a target. Sorry for the tangent because the historical aspects really aren't that big of a deal to me. For instance, the Villa and Forli Castle seem to be very altered, but that is OK because they were better in the game.

Would like Joystick support for the flying, but can live without it since there is very little flying in the game.

Enjoyed the ability to use the gondolas in AC2. Would have been better if Ezio didn't have super human swimming abilities, and also, I didn't like that the propulsion came with the left shift key. Repeatedly hitting this key drops the game to ask if you want sticky keys turned on. So i had to hit it 4 times, then hit another key. This happens when I choose to use the shift key to descend from heights also.

Eagle vision was a very cool aspect but seems underutilized. I felt it would have been better used if it was used to also find random Easter eggs. i would also have appreciated more glow from distant feathers and flags. In other words, climb a building...a viewpoint...and use eagle vision and be able to see the general location of every feather in the area. Would come in handy since I am missing 3 feathers and sorry, I am not going to search all 100 locations to find them. Speaking of which, most...many people who get all of them get them buy using one of the many maps online that tell the exact location. I would have preferred to use Eagle Vision to see a glow in the area of the feather. As it is, you only see the close ones and they must be in direct view. I find most randomly as I move around the city, then the rest I use the maps to find. Even doing that, I somehow missed 3 of them and it was likely due to one of the several CTD's I had since I was crossing off numbers as I visited the locations on the maps.

Wells. Why do all the wells glow with eagle vision yet the only one you can enter is the one in the Villa? Was it intended for all of these to lead to underground areas but time ran out to get them implemented?

Other things I enjoyed were the whispered comments by some of the people in support of your cause while others were against you. Very realistic. Even our own American Revolution only had support by 30% of the people. Splits were about 30% in support, 30% opposed, and 40% indifferent.

Love the organic feel of the cities. First game of this scope I've seen that had so much life in it. What is missing however, are children running around the streets, playing, etc... They would have been great in the pickpocket role also. I lived in Italy for a few years and enjoyed the way that people still yell out their products. I lived on the 4th floor (third Italian floor) in a corner condo, overlooking a piazza, and it was a daily event for the lizards to roll full of produce and these guys would yell out what they had so people would come out to buy it. Absolutely loved it there. Loved that this was in the game near piazzas. The eye candy is everywhere and love that some of the buildings are totally historic. I understand that games can't make every city totally historic, but it is great if they are close, and or have some very specific areas that are totally historic. This game does that. As I said, I love the view of Jerusalem and have been there 3 times and have seen a view similar to the one that you see when you first show up outside of the city.

Loved the free running and I am OK with it not requiring a lot of effort on your part. Leap of Faith is goofy but appreciate it in terms of allowing you an easy way to get down from very tall structures.

I liked having an impact on the home base (Villa) but wondered why the bank did not work. I thought you should be able to enter it and deposit/withdraw money.

things I didn't like were the lack of special weapons to capture from assassinated enemies. The inability to permanently keep weapons dropped by enemies was frustrating. I would also have liked the ability to build merc groups loyal to me in each city and have the ability to equip them as I see hit. In short, buy them weapons and armor to build them up better. They should have had a specific lair like Leonardo did. When you really need them, you go find them. Same for some thieves. What would be great is to find a child, give him a note with a map detailing where you want some thieves, (same for mercs) to go. Then from a perch, you watch them show up and signal to you that they are ready. You would use eagle vision to pick out a child or messenger that would be loyal. You could detail to the thieves whether you want a distraction or a kill. ******s would be told to either distract or take the guard off for a good time. Mercs would be told to create a distraction or a kill. Everything costs money and the more you want the more you pay.

With this in light, I would have preferred to be able to recover all of my throwing knives from corpses. Some might be broken and need to be fixed. Would have preferred that the crowd saw the difference between taking the knives. In fact, it would have been better to be able to view the contents of the body, then if you wanted something, be able to pick the body up, carry it to a private area, and then ransack it. I found that the game defaults to searching the body first. This could have been something that gives you favor with the people. Steal from bodies in public and you lose favor, carry it off to private, and you don't lose favor.

If I could only have one thing, I would want more control over projectiles. I want to be able to aim my throwing knives, bullets...and where are the crossbows and bow and arrows? And, what is with the IFF radar that the archers have where as soon as you target them, they turn and call you out? Dumb. And stealth....more stealth.

12-29-2011, 12:56 PM
Forgot this one. Color seems very washed out in AC2. Is there a fix to this and does it cause the game to run hotter? Reason I ask is that I play this on an i7 laptop with 6GB of RAM. It does cause my laptop to run hot already so I sue a fan to help keep it cool. I had some performance issues with AC1 when running with all the bells and whistles. Had to tone down a couple of the settings which solved the problem for the most part. AC2 seemed to run better, less buggy.

12-30-2011, 03:56 AM
Originally posted by russell3041:
Forgot this one. Color seems very washed out in AC2. Is there a fix to this and does it cause the game to run hotter? Reason I ask is that I play this on an i7 laptop with 6GB of RAM. It does cause my laptop to run hot already so I sue a fan to help keep it cool. I had some performance issues with AC1 when running with all the bells and whistles. Had to tone down a couple of the settings which solved the problem for the most part. AC2 seemed to run better, less buggy.

Turn off the bloom. It makes the game look more like AC1 - i.e. better (on a PC monitor).

Regarding your critique, I have to say a lot of it is a little nit-picky. History wise, I was pleasantly surprised with the accuracy. AC1 achieves a nice medieval period atmosphere - the religious mores and superstitions, the feeling of grime etc. The plot takes the Dan Brown approach to the Templars. In reality the Templars were basically the Crusaders special forces - and later bankers - but a certain mythos has built up around them in popular culture and the game follows that angle. Its premise is that the history you read in history books isn't accurate, the events remembered through the Animus are what really happened. Of course, anyone who knows how the brain works will tell you that wouldn't work either: show a dozen people the same event and they'll "remember" a dozen different versions. The game doesn't really take a goody-baddy approach to the plot though. Even the antagonists have good intentions, they're just taking the wrong approach, according to the Assassins.

Gameplay wise: to stealth kill someone on a roof, don't let them see you. Approach them from behind, or (in AC2), shimmy along the edge of the roof and pull them off when they aren't looking. Don't like using the shift? Re-map the key - I use a mouse button. Wells are hiding spots, like benches or haystacks.

For an action game based around killing people I was pleasantly surprised with the intelligence of the script, and the gameplay is pretty fun and fluid. The optional puzzles were a nice extra. (and where is it mentioned that Leonardo is gay??)

12-30-2011, 04:49 AM
In my opinion AC2 is the best of the series so far.

I'm generally not so critical about historical correctness, especially not as far as historical persons are concerned. A little more so perhaps when it comes to technical aspects like weaponry or special "machines" like Leonardo's for flying. In that regard AC2 strikes a good balance, I think.
But what elevates it the most above all other parts - for me - is it's elaborate story and convincing pacing. And the music!

'Brotherhood' doesn't come close with it's story. But graphically it is a clear step up, which makes it's Rome at least equally beautiful as AC2's Venice. And gameplay-wise it offers more diversity in fighting (weapons, the brotherhood - where the latter is implemented as some sort of "magic" rather than as NPCs to really interact with) and around a bunch of over-the-top "Leonardo War Machines". Thus the historical correctness goes downhill - though in my personal opinion the result is still "acceptable"... -, but some of the locations and the specific gameplay of those sequences are good fun nonetheless.

'Revelations' didn't "work" for me at all, to put it short. Innovations like bombs in a hundred variations or the "tower-defense" mini-game don't improve anything. They are questionable (the heavy focus the game puts on those bombs) or an annoyance (tower-defense) I tried hard to not get in touch with.
The memories of some legendary assassin of old (...) on the other hand didn't appeal to me emotionally, for some reason I cannot explain exactly. Desmond's "journey" was boring. And the setup for next year's big AC-conclusion had been better after 'Brotherhood' than it is now - in my opinion at least.