Always Remember There Are Two Of Us
There was an article online which establishes our absolute primacy over all living things. Or, something like that. I haven’t read it. It is my policy to continue living my life the way I have lived it: singing to orphans, sixteen hours a day. I must warn you that this is not the universal policy of our establishment.
We briefly considered a comic on the Playstation 3’s inclusion of the HDMI 1.3 standard, but we determined that strips on a topic as hilarious as esoteric video specifications constituted low hanging fruit.
The recent news about Assassin’s Creed featuring various downloadable bits (not shocking) as well as a separate co-operative mode (my heart nearly stopped) made me realize I didn’t discuss it at all. This is weird, because the original setting plus that insane teaser trailer they released before the show proper made it the thing I was most interested in seeing. I did see it, too - played with a Playstation controller, the cable from which snaked into a nondescript white box where (one might assume) powerful technology dwelt.
It doesn’t quite look like the video, but it’s got nothing to be ashamed of. The main disparity is that they’re still tuning the way the protagonist behaves. You’ve heard by now that Silicon Knights’ Too Human uses a streamlined control system to project the game into heretofore unknown realms of accessibility. Assassin’s Creed has a similar philosophy, but instead of having a "streamlined control system" the character just sort of knows what to do. If I’m running away from guards, and there are a set of horizontal posts projecting from the wall, if I jump on the first one but continue to run forward, he’ll jump automatically to each of them without me having to do any Super Mario Brothers type stuff.
You’ve seen how when he moves through a group of people he’ll do anything from gently nudge them to almost pushing them down, and when I was watching it I think he might have had low blood sugar or something because he was really being a dick regardless of player input. The environment was startlingly detailed, and not just for show - every little doodad or whooziwhatsit that projected from a wall could be climbed by the player. You tell him where to go, and then he grasps the right thing, not climbing in the approximation we have grown accustomed to as gamers but an entity with hands and feet coming to terms with physical space. This is pretty shocking when you see it. If they’re able to get the social interactions to that level of effortless authenticity, it’s going to be a little frightening to watch.
Just for trivia’s sake, I should mention that despite the "middle ages" motif, Assassin’s Creed is clearly set in a science fiction context. This is something I’ve been trying to make sense of every since I saw it, the June 2006 Game Informer helps make some sense of it. There’s hints of it in the trailer I mentioned, futuristic scan-line effects, but I had written them off to teaser reel flash and didn’t absorb what they were trying to communicate. I could be mistaken, I don’t think I am, but when the character takes a tremendous amount of damage very pronounced video distortions are present. And when you die - get this - when you die, a pristine white interface takes over the screen, and you are looking up into a woman’s face. I did not expect that in my sneaky Crusades game.
Given that we’re exploring genetic memories, or Quantum Leaping or something to that effect, I’d be very surprised if the next Assassin’s Creed game - let’s call it Assassin’s Blade - took place in a medieval context.