Monday, 10 March 2014

Liberation and Conworlding

It took me three days to beat Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD, and I had a lot of fun. It plays quite similarly to Assassin's Creed III, but has the higher pace and more immediate connection to the plot that Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines have - in short, I wish the main entries in the series were more like this! There were some frustrations; Aveline seems very happy to randomly jump off things rather than making safe movements, and some of the 100% Sync criteria are very arbitrary and random to achieve. I like the story; again, I knew nothing about this period and location, so it was quite instructive for me. Aveline really comes off as torn between two worlds, and while Abstergo's manipulation of the truth might be quite simple, I like how little needed to be edited out in order to achieve their goal of whitewashing. Recommended, for sure. Enjoyed it a lot more than I'm enjoying Black Flag!

There is a slightly darker side, though. Emily pointed out one of this game's central mechanics is changing outfits; Aveline can swap between 'Lady', an aristocratic puffy dress thing that removes most of your killing potential, 'Assassin', where you're... an assassin, and 'Slave', where you are punished more severely for publicly offensive acts. Note that this is also the only Assassin's Creed game where you play a female character. Is this sexist? It's an interesting mechanic and one Emily and I would like to see in a more prominent game; Liberation was originally only for the Vita, and it might not be a coincidence that the main character is a black woman. Now, the Vita version did not sell particularly badly, so I hope this is actually just a sign that Ubisoft is considering more widely varied main characters. It would be interesting to see some sales data, as there has historically been this concept that male gamers do not like to play female protagonists, unless they are super sexy all the time. Aveline is certainly attractive, but is almost always completely covered up and certainly doesn't act like a femme fatale.

In some non-gaming news (sort of), I've began working a little more seriously on Craze, the fantasy world I've had in mind for many years now. Originally it was the setting to a game, also called Craze, but I spend so much time thinking about it that I really want to flesh it out and make it consistent. To this end I've acquired several books by Mark Rosenfelder, who has a real talent for explaining things that should be obvious. I already had it in mind that creating a world, complete with at least 5 different cultures, was going to be a massive pile of work, but his books more clearly lay out all the different things that have to be thought about, it's very useful. Maybe I'll also eventually write that game - I have a JRPG-style thing in mind but with a lot of branching paths and the ability to play as your own character as well as 'the hero'.

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