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Friday, December 14, 2007

Old School Assassination

Yesterday was one of the better gaming days I've had in a long while. Not only did I manage to put in a three-hour gaming session last night: I also gave into greed and hit up eBay for another new game. Since I'm already knee-deep in both The Orange Box and Assassin's Creed, it would have probably been best had I picked up a new game for my DS or an achievement-point-friendly diversionary game like Peter Jackson's King Kong. Nope! I bought myself a copy of Mass Effect: the biggest and best RPG to hit store shelves in a long while! Now I just need to find out where I can buy some free time...

No point worrying about Mass Effect and gaming-time right now. Instead, I'd like to talk about the wondrous night I had playing Assassin's Creed. Nine hours in and still lovin' it! Honestly - this is a great game! Not only is the game-play fast and gamer-friendly: it's also great for those of us who like achievement points!

When I started playing last night, I set out to pick up a few achievements:

  • Gifted Escapist: This achievement is unlocked by jumping through merchant stands.
  • March of the Pious: This achievement is unlocked by "blending" with scholars 20 times.
  • Enemy of the Poor: For this achievement, you need to grab and throw 25 harrassers (aka beggars).

There weren't enough harrassers about for me to pick up the Enemy of the Poor achievement; however, I made up for this missed achievement with a whole pack of others! I've got a lot of ground to cover so let's get to it!

Gifted Escapist [5 GamerPoint]: Leaping through 20 merchant stands is not difficult. In fact, I'm pretty sure this achievement can be unlocked by jumping through the same stand twenty times in a row, though I can't confirm. Not to worry though - there are plenty of merchant stands to be found in both the country-side and in each of Assassin's Creed cities: Jerusalem, Acre, and Damascus.

One unique thing I've found with Assassin's Creed's achievements is that the descriptive text changes based on whether or not it's been unlocked. For example, the Gifted Escapist achievement was listed as: "Jump through 20 merchant stands". Today, the Gifted Escapist achievement reads: "The Merchants of the land now know you VERY well.". Pretty neat, huh? It just shows that Ubisoft is always thinking of ways to bring a unique experience to its customers.

March of the Pious [5 GamerPoint]: This is an extremely easy achievement to unlock and involves hitting the Blend button (A button on the Xbox 360) a mere forty times. Here's what I did to unlock this achievement:
  1. I found a group of scholars that Altaïr could blend with.
  2. I moved Altaïr into the group of scholars and "blended".
  3. Immediately, I hit the Blend button a second time to "unblend" Altaïr from the group of scholars.
  4. I then repeated the last two steps over and over and with the same group of scholars.
After ten seconds of blending and unblending, March of the Pious and 5 gamer points were mine!

Eagle's Dance [10 GamerPoint]: The Eagle's Dance achievement is unlocked as soon as Altaïr has made 50 leaps of faith. A leap of faith is counted when Altaïr jumps from a high ledge or building into a nice, soft hay stack. And believe me: there are a surprising number of haystacks to be found all throughout the Middle East in 1191 AD, according to Ubisoft.

Although every Assassin's Creed player will find himself guiding Altaïr through 50 or more leaps of faith while playing through the game's story line, I wanted to force things a little. While in Jerusalem, I found a building with a low roof that offered Altaïr a spot from which to perform a leap of faith. For your reference, birds tend to roost or circle on or around possible leap of faith points.

During my game last night, I was able to have Altaïr climb a ladder onto a roof top and perform the subsequent "leap of faith" into a haystack at a rate of about eight leaps per minute! As you can imagine, unlocking fifty leaps of faith was not difficult, especially after having already performed a few dozen of them already. Another easy achievement and 10 more gamer points!

Blade in the Crowd [30 GamerPoint]: I'm pretty sure that most players will get the Blade in the Crowd achievement around the same time that they unlock their first assassination-related achievement. But, as I said a couple days ago, I really screwed up my first real assassination of the game. Instead of stealthily moving Altaïr into position and striking quickly with the wrist blade, I ended up getting Altaïr involved in a large brawl involving the assassination target and his bodyguards. At that point, I felt like I was playing Diablo II again instead of Assassin's Creed.

In any case, I redeemed myself last night by taking out my second assassination in status-quo fashion: Altaïr tackled his victim to the ground while plunging his wrist blade deep into the victim's neck. Brutal yet effective and worth 30 gamer points!

The Blood of a... [25 GamerPoint]: I don't want to ruin the game for anyone so I'm going to avoid giving out the name of this achievement. I can say that it was unlocked immediately following the wrist-blade-into-neck move that Altaïr pulled off for the Blade in the Crowd achievement above. This second assassination was pretty exciting and I look forward to trying it again on my second play through Assassin's Creed sometime in the future.

Eagle's Challenge [20 GamerPoint]: Now this is an achievement! To unlock the Eagle's Challenge, I had to have Altaïr fight and defeat 25 enemies in one battle. Although you'll probably not encounter this many enemies in one place early on in the game, I've found an easy way to get this achievement before you've even completed your second assassination of the game. You should make sure that Altaïr has the counter-strike move in his arsenal of weapons before you attempt the following:

  1. Enter any of the cities in the game and find a group of soldiers.
  2. Have Altaïr take out his sword and insert it into the face, neck, or back of one of the guards.
  3. At this point, you should now find yourself facing off against a number of soldiers.
  4. Using Altaïr's kick-ass combat abilities, kill all of your enemies save one! This last opponent will help you continue the fight until you've managed to defeat 25 enemies.
  5. Begin moving about the city, being sure to parry each and every attack coming your way as your last desperate enemy attempts to kill you.
  6. In very short order, the number of enemies facing off against Altaïr should grow once again as you happen to come across more soldiers.
  7. Have Altaïr take out all but one of your opponents yet again. When only one enemy remains, continue wandering about town as your hapless opponent attempts to score a hit.
If you repeat the above steps a few times over, you should find yourself picking up the Eagle's Challenge in the space of about five minutes.

Once you've defeated 25 enemies and picked up the 20 well-earned gamer points, be sure to continue fighting because you'll want to clear...

Eagle's Flight [20 GamerPoint]: If you can manage to keep Altaïr alive during 10 straight minutes in open conflict, you'll unlock the Eagle's Flight achievement. If you can clear the Eagle's Challenge achievement above, you should be able to pick up the achievement as well. Just remember that open conflict only lasts as long as Altaïr has an opponent. In fact, I'm sure you could remain in open conflict for an infinite amount of time by simply having one soldier take swings at you as you hold down the parry button while making yourself a nice little snack.

In my case, shortly after clearing the Eagle's Challenge, my Xbox 360 informed me that I had also cleared the Eagle's Flight achievement. At that point, Altaïr was still facing off against four enemies. A scant ten seconds later, all my opponents lay dead on the ground as Altaïr walked away, head bowed and blending into the crowd of onlookers...

Over the next couple days, I'm hoping to get some more time in with both Assassin's Creed and Half-Life 2. I'll have to do my utmost to enjoy these games before Mass Effect arrives in the mail because once it does, I think it will be game over for both these games. I love my RPGs and I just bought myself a real keeper!

Have a great weekend!

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SITE NEWS: I may be updating the look and feel of The Greedy Gamer sometime this weekend. If that is the case, there may some site outages as I play around with the HTML and scripts behind the scenes. I am hoping, however, that there will be minimal interruptions in service.

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