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ACII DLC: Bonfire of the Vanities

February 21, 2010 Leave a comment

The second and final piece of DLC for Assassin’s Creed 2 has just been released this Thursday on the Xbox Live marketplace and PSN. However two versions are up for purchase: The standard version that comes with the 10 memories or the deluxe version that includes 3 secret templar locations, previously only available in the special Black edition of Assassin’s Creed 2. The normal version is priced at $4 or about £3 and the deluxe version at $6.50 or about £5. Both versions include 10 new memories, a new area of Florence and a new move, the spring-jump. This chapter is all about trying to get back the piece of Eden stolen by the monk Savonaralo who is now using it to control Florence.  I bought the deluxe edition simply because I loved the interior/Assassin’s Tomb sections in AC2 and wanted more for, what I though was, a reasonable price. 

As I said before this DLC is about mainly about taking down Savonaralo. So you meet with your friend Machiavelli who fills you in on the situation; Savonaralo is using the piece of Eden to take control of various figures of mild power and influence to take control of the rest of the citizens for Florence. He’s then got all of them to get all the books and paintings and burn them in large bonfires, hence the name.  You then get round to plotting, Savonaralo is too powerful to get so you decide to go after his lieutenants, 9 in total. With them dead he should lose influence and the disgruntled citizens should do the rest. Cue 9 assassination missions. Now when this first popped up I sighed, my bad experience with the assassination missions in AC2 had left a bitter taste in my mouth but I was pleasantly surprised. I expected 9 very repetitive, unexciting and overall short lived missions but what I got was quite the contrary. The 9 assassinations missions come in a variety of forms: some you can just charge in while other have to be done without being spotted. There were two especially fun missions. One was a stealth mission, your target was on a boat and you had to swim around and pull people off the sides without the others spotting you. I required timing and skill but was very fun. The other one was the polar opposite. You start the mission in a closed off square, your target spots you and sends down his guards. once you kill them you climb a ladder to the roof of a church and have a massive sword fight on the roof, before killing your target. All I can say was, apart from being incredibly fun, it also looked epic, like something straight from Hollywood. The other 7 missions are good too, but these were my personal favourites. Once you have killed all 9 men the citizens rebel and send Savonaralo to a fiery death. That leaves you free to grab the piece of Eden before heading off on your mission to Rome.

Now game also unlocks the southern district of Florence, separated by the river Arno. It roughly half the size of Florence but is interesting enough. The DLC also features a new move the “spring-jump”. I was actually quite excited about this. I, like many others, had hoped it would be some new type of assassination move, where you spring across a plaza and stab your target in the face before you can say “renaissance”! The move, unfortunately, is basically a jump. Only it’s a jump that propels you slightly further (<—sarcasm)!  It’s very underwhelming, and that’s only added to by the fact it can only be done from certain flag polls that only appear in the southern district of Florence. So it’s an unexciting move that can’t be used in about 90% of the games, very disappointing.

I’m now going to go into the 3 secret locations you get with deluxe version of the DLC. The first is the Palazzo Medici, the home of the Medici family which has been invaded by Templars. Your mission is to rescue Lorenzo Medici from his treasure room (it’s a hard life) before the Templars get to him. This level is great fun, balancing platforming and combat perfectly. The second is the Santa Maria de Frarii, a church in Venice. It’s a level built entirely around climbing around the churches masonry in order to find yet another treasure room. This level is again good fun but does get a little repetitive especially after playing through some of the other Assassin’s tomb missions in ACII. The final mission is in the dry docks of Venice, called the Arsenal Shipyard. This is again a balance of platforming and combat as you make your way through drains and over half built ships. This was again a really fun mission, if not for the fairly good free running then for the enviroment. Over all I’d say these 3 locations are worth the extra £2 or $2.50. While they don’t add that much gameplay time the level are incredibly fun to play and are at some points quite a challenge. Even if the goal, the treasure rooms, do get very boring.

Overall quite good, it adds a good chunk of story and the assassination missions are some of the best in the game. It will keep you entertained for at least 2-3 hours and for any of you that have cold feet about the last DLC pack, do not fear, I’d recommend at least getting the basic version and if you enjoyed the Assassin’s tomb mission get the deluxe version.

Borderlands, Assassin’s Creed 2, Uncharted 2 and more DLC details.

January 26, 2010 2 comments

The issues that come with the dawn of digital distribution have split the consumer crowd on whether we’re ready for it. Issues like region specific content i.e countries like Canada, Japan or the Arab nations being left out, the lack of total ownership of games with services such as OnLive, it being an extreme hassle for those with slow Internet or non at all at a daily basis etc. Stuff deal breakers are made of.

All that aside though, I think we can all agree that the current wave of downloadable content is quite arguably the best setup for both sides.They’re cheap, they’re elongate the experience and best of all they’re easily ignored. It’s rare that you see a developer pack a major plot point in DLC. Unless we’re talking about Half Life, which is already taking it further than any of the mentioned content.

Plus developers can use DLC as feedback sponges. With each new expansions you see a game changing glitch or hinderance elegantly removed and fan favourites expanded and built upon. Makes the fanboy in me smile with glee.

Yet it also makes the googler in me cringe with frustration as DLC often fall under the radar within days of its announcement. We here at G.I.N have compiled as list to help you weed through some of the upcoming downloadable goodies :

Read more…

G.I.N GOTY Contenders

December 20, 2009 Leave a comment

The year is coming to an end and the games have stopped coming out. It is now time to pick the game of the year. First up I will list the nominees, then later I will post the winner that will be picked by the G.I.N staff. The nominees are:

1. Batman: Arkham Asylum
2. Modern Warfare 2
3. Assassins Creed 2
4. Resident Evil 5
5. Uncharted 2
6. Forza 3
7. Dragon Age: Origins
8. Left 4 Dead 2
9. Halo 3: ODST
10. Demon Souls
There is out top ten candidates. I will be polling the staff for their pick and make a decision based on that. I hope this satisfies many people, and I think it will.

Weekly Recap

June 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Part of my duties as the News Director for Games In A Nutshell is to recap everything that all my fellow writers and I have talked about this past week, so here goes nothing.

Last Monday was a big day, with a lot happening on the site. We kicked off the day with our very first giveaway winner. The contest was the first person to make Josh laugh wins and EvenK93 accomplished that goal and won himself an Uncharted 2 beta key. Brian then reviewed Red Faction: Guerilla, giving it a stellar score of 9 out of 10. After that, we welcomed Nuclear Ninja to our family where he continued on to write about the possible new console coming out in unison with Project Natal.

A couple days later, Brian educated us about the downloadable content coming out for Fallout 3 entitled Point Lookout. Shortly after that three of our writers discussed their favorite game and announcement of E3. Next, Josh informed us about the exclusive pre-order only playable character, Sergeant Johnson, in the upcoming Halo 3: ODST. I then continued on the write about all of the new changes in Assassin’s Creed II and the hype surrounding the game. We then announced our Official G.I.N. Grifball Tournament where you can battle it out against none other than our staff (If you are interested in signing up email gamesinanutshell@gmail.com with the gamertags of the people participating). Subsequently, Josh released some info on Hitman: Blood Money being free on Gametap. I then previewed Bioshock 2 with it’s new gameplay involving Big Daddies, Little Sisters, and the all-new infamous Big Sister. After that, I reported on the more less-known game Singularity, where you can control the personal timelines of the things around you. Finally Brian wrapped up the week with his article about how music can basically make or break and games and then subsequently followed up with an article about the new Brutal Legend game from the mind of Tim Schafer.

All in all this was an exciting and news-packed week for all of us here at Games In A Nutshell and we hope you’ve enjoyed everything that you’ve read. Either way, we’d love to here from you with any comments, suggestions, complements, or even, dare I say it, complaints. You can contact me at JoeyDeeee@gmail.com, Josh at corgon67@gmail.com, Jordan at jordanthehobo@gmail.com, or Brian at Thatchilldudewiththehair@gmail.com. Until next week, remember, anything worth taking seriously is worth making fun of.

Assassin’s Creed II

June 18, 2009 Leave a comment

Before Words
Ubisoft had a terrific lineup at E3 this year including two of my most anticipated games, Assassin’s Creed II and Splinter Cell: Conviction. Obviously, since I have a picture of the Assassin’s Creed II cover art I’m going to be talking about said game.

A Change In Setting

The 12th century Holy Lands are now out of the picture in this installment. The games opens in 1476, the setting now being Renaissance Italy. What an odd time period to choose Ubisoft you say, well shut up and I’ll tell you why you’re stupid. First off, the compact nature of the Italian city-states make for an entirely new world to explore. The interconnected system of waterways in Venice make for a stunning backdrop and a great aid in assassination. The architectural marvels of Florence serve as beautiful and useful way to run, leap, and escape from your enemies. Unlike the first game, these city-states are not connected by empty wilderness but they are seamlessly linked together. So there you go, now you look stupid for thinking it was dumb for a game to be set in the Renaissance.

A Change In Character

This time around your old bff Altair is long gone and has been replaced by Ezio Auditore de Firenze (someone went a little bit overboard on the name), a Florence Nobleman. Ezio and Altair are linked in their ancestry, but their lifestyles are worlds apart. Ezio has grown up in life of privilege, educated in swordplay, poetry, art, and even seduction and charm. This provides for a quick and witty character unlike Altair. Ezio’s family is like much of the nobility of the time, with alliances with other houses and endless competition to one-up others. We’ll have to wait until the game comes out; however, to find out how such a distinguished nobleman is transformed into a cold-blooded assassin.

A Change In Gameplay

One of the great things about Ubisoft is that they actually listen to the gamer. There were many complaints after Assassin’s Creed I and they took the criticisms and built off of them. Assassin’s Creed II completely abandons the idea of the very simplistic get mission from the bureau, investigate target, assassinate target, and escape back to bureau game structure. Instead, an expansive network of contacts, that provide hints to Ezio, move him into cites, out into the countryside, and through ever-changing objectives. The more laid-back missions such as eavesdropping and pick-pocketing are now gone and replaced by more active missions like chasing characters through crowded streets which, in many cases, leads to a seamless transition into a race through the countryside. The game is planned to have around two hundred missions total.
Free running paths have been implicated into Assassin’s Creed II and are marked with a white flag to more easily escape from Ezio’s enemies. Another new feature is crowd blending. In the first game, blending was mostly useless because you could only blend with the monks, which you encountered practically never. Now for the second game, Ezio can blend with any crowd, which allows for new tactics of escape. Yet another new implication is notoriety. As Ezio assassinates and causes havoc in the city-states the people and soldiers will respond by becoming more suspicious of him. This will also allow for more missions for Ezio to complete, such as assassinating witnesses of crimes and taking down posters of himself. The biggest innovation would probably be with the combat. A new disarm feature has been added to the game which allows Ezio to use his enemy’s own weapon against him. Furthermore, each of the weapons that can be stolen all have their own unique special move. Finally, one of the most simplistic but most bad ass innovations is the use of two hidden blades. Now two targets can be assassinated at the same time in one go, just as stealthy as before, enough said.

After Words
As you can tell I’m pretty freaking excited for Assassin’s Creed II. Everything about the game seems pretty much epic and even better than before. This game is planned to hit selves in the fourth quarter of 2009 so make sure to keep an eye out and pick this game up when it comes out. To check out the E3 Assassin’s Creed II video follow the link below.