We’re almost through the first quarter of 2011 (!!) and with the exception of a couple of notable titles, there’s hasn’t been many new releases this year that I’ve been excited about. There was the better than expected Bulletstorm (be sure to check out our Bulletstorm PC wiki), and the as good as expected Dead Space 2.
In my latest archive gaming expedition, I’ve spent a bunch of time with Singularity and Assassin’s Creed 2. No point in full-out reviewing year old games, as you probably already know what’s going on with them. I’ll try to keep my impressions short and sweet.
Let’s start off with Singularity. Singularity is a pretty straight forward FPS released in the Summer of 2010 and was met with somewhat positive reviews. I played through the single player portion from beginning to end, although there were times when I seriously considered just quitting the game entirely. To say Singularity is a linear corridor shooter is an understatement. We’re talking the kind of linear corridor shooting that will give F.E.A.R. 2 a run for its money on who can be more linear and who has more corridors. To be fair, the game does add something a little bit interesting and different in the TMD (time manipulation device), but it’s extremely limited as to what objects you can use it on. Generally, the game will only provide things that you can age or de-age (for lack of a better term) as barriers impeding your path. A staircase you need to continue your journey has been destroyed? De-age it to keep moving forward — that’s about the extent of it. Don’t expect to come up with creative ways to kill enemies or solve puzzles, there’s usually only one way, and it’s usually very obvious. You, of course, can use it as a weapon and zap enemies with it, and later on turn them into zombie-like things that go attack other enemies. That’s mildly entertaining.
Singularity’s story is serviceable enough. Russian technology gone wrong causes changes in the history time-line, and ends up with Russia as the main superpower instead of the US. You, the mute hero, occasionally phase back and forth between the past and present to fix things. You get to shoot a lot of zombie-like creatures and random Russian soldiers in your journey. The voice acting is decent, and early in the game you’ll be paired with a partner who is voiced by the same voice actor who does Nathan Drake in the Uncharted series (also Desmond in the Assassin’s Creed series). He’s almost type cast as Drake for me at this point, and was totally disappointed to hear him shout lines at me like “We’re OSCAR MIKE!” and “STAY FROSTY!” Ugh. The ending of the game offers you three choices, the good ending, the bad ending and the in-between ending. This was the only part in the whole game where you had a distinct choice in anything. Each of the endings made enough sense to the story, and surprisingly didn’t really leave it obviously open to a sequel. I actually did all three endings, since re-loading from your last checkpoint puts you right before the point where you have to make your choice. The story mode I’d roughly gauge at somewhere to 6-8 hours, standard fare these days. I’d only recommend the game if you are looking for an average FPS experience. Wait for a severely discounted price (or rental on consoles), as the re-playability is nil, and the multiplayer game modes are most likely to be void of players at this point.
Part two of my Gaming Archive journey takes a look at Assassin’s Creed 2. A little background on my Assassin’s Creed experiences. I played a bit of Assassin’s Creed 1 when it was first released, but found it to be a slow starter, very repetitive and in general didn’t really capture me. The ideas were great, and provided unique gameplay, but just felt like too much uninteresting grinding. I started Assassin’s Creed 2 over the 2009 holiday season, but again found it to be a slow starter and never picked it back up. Then after tons of glowing reviews and recommendations, I dove into Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood over the 2010 holidays and fell in love. I loved it so much, it made me want to go back and check out 2 all over again. So I did, and am glad I did.
Playing the games in somewhat backward order hasn’t proved to be too much of a problem. I was already familiar with the Assassin’s Creed fiction, so I knew what was going on enough to fill in the blanks. While Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood starts fast and drops you right in the action as a bad-ass assassin, Ass Creed 2 is a much slower starter. It takes quite a while for the story to progress in the early stages, and it takes even longer to acquire all your assassin techniques and weapons. But once you do, the payoff is great, and there’s still plenty of gameplay to go around.
Both 2 and Brotherhood are set in during the Renaissance period in Italy, and you’ll get to see many re-world places in Florance, Venice, and in Brotherhood, Rome. This makes for a very rich environment, and lots of Italian language which makes for an immersive experience. Mission structure is varied, so you’re not doing the exact same thing over and over again, and there’s tons of side missions which are optional and provide different gameplay elements. The combat is very solid, allowing for some level of combos, but you can see how it was even improved more in Brotherhood. If you do a lot of the extra stuff in addition to the main story thread, it would be easy to sink 12-15 hours of gameplay in to the singleplayer, which goes against the trend of shortening those experiences.
If you weren’t overly impressed with Assassin’s Creed 1, but like the general idea behind it, definitely give Assassin’s Creed 2 a closer look. Stick through the slow start if you really want to give it a shot. I’m pretty sure you’ll be happy that you did, and will be eager to move right along to Brotherhood.