I’ve been uninterested in the Assassin’s Creed franchise for a long time. I liked Asscreed 2 and Brotherhood quite a bit, but once it came time for Revelations I think I realized that I’d had just about enough climbing, jumping and stabbing my way around a big pseudo-historical playground full of shallow minigames and collectibles. AC2 became the codifier not just of Assassin’s Creed, but of all of Ubisoft’s major releases — big playgrounds full of shallow minigames and collectibles.
So imagine my surprise when I discover that the newest AC release, AC Chronicles: China, didn’t look like that at all, but instead looked like Mark of the Ninja with an Assassin’s Creed skin.
The HUD shows vision cones from guards and concentric circles appearing around all sounds. You climb on walls and ceilings, and can assassinate unaware enemies from above, below and behind, all using the context-sensitive X button. Environments are filled with Hiding Spots that you can sneak into and become invisible and wait until the right moment to hop back out. It has so many similarities to Mark of the Ninja that at a glance it looks like a clone.
So considering Mark of the Ninja is still my favorite game ever made, it probably makes sense that I was ready to play it and then eviscerate it afterward for being a hollow rip-off. But I was also ready to declare it a triumph if it proved itself — a game that takes inspiration from MotN, but differentiates itself and elevates the formula.
Now that I’ve played it all the way to the end credits, well, it isn’t really either of those. It’s a decent stealth game that’s cohesive and polished by Ubisoft standards, and messy and inconsistent by MotN standards.
I have a few friends that I’ve been playing Garry’s Mod with for awhile.
Garry’s Mod is an interesting beast — it’s a creativity tool used to create countless game modes that can be downloaded and played through the one program — but most game modes are either vapid or extremely confusing and unintuitive, and in both cases you can always feel the Garry’s Mod limitations straining them. There’s a survival horror mode, but it mostly relies on jump scares and you’re ultimately just running around in a custom Source map with “spooky” particle effects and models. There’s a parkour mode, but it feels like you’re exploiting a wall-jump glitch, rather than moving fluidly and naturally along obstacles like in Mirror’s Edge.
The types of modes we tended to latch onto most were the ones that followed the “Mafia” style of social play: you’re in a group, and one of you is the “bad guy,” and you have to figure out who it is. Unless you’re the bad guy, in which case you need to kill everyone else while maintaining your disguise as a not-bad guy.
The two modes we switched between for the longest time were Trouble in Terrorist Town, and Murder. In Murder the killer has a knife and one of the innocents is randomly given a gun. This way it’s up to the gunner to track down the killer. In TTT everyone can pick up guns, making a tense sort of “I don’t know if I can trust this guy or if I should kill him” gameplay.
Both are decent, but the main problem with both is that if you’re not the killer, there’s no reason not to huddle up with others and just wait for the killer to run out of time. If the killer has to jump into the group of people to win, everyone else can jump away from and/or attack the killer and it’ll be fine.
But just recently we discovered a new mode called Morbus. And Morbus fixes almost every issue we’ve had up to now.
Nintendo announced their new portable console, which is called “The New 3DS.”
When I first heard the name I thought it would just be another slight variant, like the 3DS-XL or the 2DS. Once I heard that it’s the actual next step in Nintendo’s portable console scene and games made for it won’t be backwards-compatible with The Old 3DS, I checked to see if it was April 1st already. To my surprise, it is not.
I probably don’t have to say that this is a bad idea. This is a spectacularly bad idea. This feels like the culmination of all of Nintendo’s bad ideas for the past decade or two. Here’s why.
I’ve been out of town for the past few weeks and I’m not headed home until Saturday, so I wasn’t planning on writing any content for you in the meantime, but then on Monday Jarenth posted a spectacular review of Skyscraper Simulator. It’s a scathing review of something that truly deserves to be scathed, which is generally delightful enough to read, but it was particularly interesting for me because I’ve been playing a sim game lately called Cook, Serve, Delicious! And I’ve found it to be a joyous experience.
I knew I had to write my impressions about it.