Oh, Ezio. You old misogynist dog. Why are you so awesome, while at the same time so silly? The first Assassin’s Creed was in many ways very inferior to it’s sequels in game play especially in terms of repetition.
Dammit, was it frustrating. As we progressed in the game unlocking new districts in Holy Land, the most frustrating and generally shitty part was the mind-numbing repetition of every episode: ride down to the city from your Assassin Castle, climb same number of viewpoint, beat up same number of cheating husbands, repeat the same variations of little assassin missions following oblivious assholes to steal their little letters, all before being allowed to do the most fun part of the game, going unseen in the crowd to knife the Templar douche-bag, listen to his cheesy unskippable soliloquy and the run like hell over the rooftops as every guard in the city wants to surround you and attack you individually, as if somebody had handed everyone a number and they are all patiently waiting their turn to have a stab.
Assassin’s Creed II changed many of the problems from the first game, and is generally improved in every area: Renaissance Italy looks and feels fantastic, game play is much smoother, guards are much more varied, there is much more variety in all the missions and the level of grinding took a serious dive. Of course, a lot of AssCreed II is still patently silly, in ridiculous mission-plots, over the top conspiracy theories and in many details, favorite of mine being the Guards “mating dance”, performed every time they get distracted with sexy looking bitches, this being average twice per every minute of game play.
There are some other details of amazing stupidity, many involved in the actual mechanics of game play. Example: the Notoriety system.
Question one: Why do all the guards become instantly and uniformly aware of your naughty deeds? Are they the fucking Borg? Do they all have smart-phones and post messages on Renaissance Twitter every time they see you punch a Bard? Is it telepathy? Now, you can argue that this is a quality in Animus itself, and should not really reflect realism even within the lore of Assassin’s Creed itself, so I can let it pass easily.
Question two: Why the hell would the city officials choose to put their wanted-posters several stories above street levels, where they will only be read by 1) window-cleaners, or 2) the occasional thatcher This is not just the odd exception it is actually very difficult to find one wanted-poster on street-level, where it might actually be read by a member of the public. The logical follow-up is how the hell does ripping one down help everyone forget the flamboyant man in a crimson bathrobe massacring 38 guardsmen in the center of the Palazzo, in bright daylight, with only 150 or so horrified spectators.
The real problem with Ezio comes with his totalitarian contempt for any notion of subtlety.
Now, the inevitable comparison to Altair is not entirely pointless Altair could seriously work on some issues as well, like not carrying more kitchenware on your back than the average Ikea, or wearing something other than the bathrobe. However, Altair is still the lord of social finesse in comparison. His hooded robes, though standing out like a rodeo clown in a crowd of Mormons are nothing in comparison to Ezio’s level of swag. At least they are very toned down and somber, as well as easily mistaken for pilgrim robes, at least making sense in the context of time and place.
Ezio, however, finds it very difficult to control his swag, dressed up like a slightly more flamboyant Elvis, really making himself the lady gaga of his time. Judging by the npcs, dressing up like a Christmas tree was all the rage arould 1500, but still ezio manages to stand out like a nudist in Vatican. Strapping Christmas lights and tinsel all over his body might paradoxically even make him a little less noticeable.
Still I suppose it’s not so bad. It’s not like he has nine different types of weapons strapped visibly all over his body and some kind of assassin’s club badge telling everyone who he is. Oh wait. He does! Yes he fucking does! Look at his ridiculously ornamental and over-scaled belt bucle, declaring to the Renaissance world that the wearer is not only dashing, a pillock, but above all a dangerous and suave assassin. It’s just like Superman’s S, only more flamboyant.
So the critical historian might take the time to ask: if this person walked around Renaissance Italy (or alternatively running all over the rooftops, if he felt he was not getting enough attention), dressed in ornamental bathrobes, strapped with a dozen different types of weapons, including swords, crossbows, knives, different kinds of knives, a fucking GUN, punching out bards left and right, throwing money at poor people, sporting a sign saying “Ask me about Assassins”, and generally acting like the most attention-seeking prat in the known Universe…why would he successfully assassinate half the aristocracy of his time, nevermind a blind taxidermist. Not like he should be able to disappear into any crowd, outside Carnívane and ComiCon. Or walk up to anyone without making a sound, since he is more likely to clink loud enough to announce himself two city states away.
Another problem is the infamous financial/renovating mini-games. And Renaissance economics generally. Since everything Ezio buys ultimately only manages to contribute to his hourly income, he is continuously buried under a landslide of money. He can buy equipment, medicine and prostitutes, sure. But they hardly make even the slightest dent in his fortune, and there is no reason to buy anything while you can loot the nearest dead guard, who all mysteriously carry throwing knives, medicine, poison, bullets, bolts, smoke-bombs, and more goddamn money.
To stop here, 1) why the fuck do all the guards carry assassin poison and bullets, when they are manufactured only by Leonardo Da Vinci according to unique, ancient assassin instructions, coded so well only Leonardo can crack them? Think about it. Does he hand them out at the back door? Is there a huge market for these things? Is Leonardo a bit of an asshole this way?
2) Why the shit do the guards carry this stuff anyway? Are they all aspiring assassins, or does it come standard for guards to carry bullets…without guns to shoot them?
So eventually Ezio keeps making more money the more he throws it away. Wish real life could work this way as well. By the end of Brotherhood Ezio ends up owning pretty much all of Rome’s serious landmarks, all the shops and bloody well about 1924% of it’s capital Why kill the Borgia himself? Who not just evict them? Or hire some small insignificant army to level the place. Like all combined footmen, archers and cavalry in all of Europe. He can afford it. This is a common problem in games, modelling financial systems where you end up owning roughly everyone and everything, but Assassin’s Creed seems to outshine all others here.
So, the inevitable conclusion is to compare Ezio with the other big name assassin: Mr. 47. Now 47 is all about subtlety. Fixing up the perfect plan, disguises, plotting, preparation and carrying out the hit without anyone noticing you were ever there. Even better, disguising all the dead bodies as victims of unfortunate accidents (yeah, shame about the piano falling on the circus performer) or suicides. Then on the other hand, 47 doesn’t get to run all over the rooftops of Firenze. Can’t have everything in life.
Anyway, we have new a new Hitman and AC out, so it’s time to start burning away money and get ready for the ultimate showdown of the assassins. Unless you’re a student, in which case you have to wait for their prices to drop and suffer in silence. Fuck.