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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Slashed Throats and Throwing Knives

I didn't get the chance to post anything yesterday: I was sick. It's been a while since I've actually bad enough to warrant taking a nap in the middle of the day, but it happened. I hate that nauseous, dizzy feeling that comes with certain types of illness. I started feeling much better last night, meaning that I ended up playing quite a bit of Assassin's Creed to close out my day away from the office.

Assassin's Creed is really doing the "little things" quite well. The game's presentation is so incredibly high that I can't help but smile the entire time I'm playing it. Every fight, every cut-scene, and every chase across the rooftops oozes style and polish. I'm actually getting into the story now and trying to figure out what's actually going on. It seems to me that Altaïr is being lied to and I'll soon find out why.

As of last night, I've completed four out of the nine assassinations that take place in Assassin's Creed. I also managed to clear another batch of achievements over the past four nights, so let's discuss, shall we? As always, there may be some minor spoilers in the text below - especially in the "Blood of a ..." achievement descriptions since these refer to the major assassinations that take place in-game. I'll do my best to keep things as vague as possible though.

Eagle's Prey [20 GamerPoint]: Can you guess how many guards I've assassinated while traveling from Masyaf to Damascus to Jerusalem to Acre and back again? Well, the Eagle's Prey achievement says that I'm now past the 100 victim mark. That's a whole lot of stabbed necks! I think I've probably killed more people in my first ten hours of Assassin's Creed than I did in a full play-through of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City! Mind you, who knows how many deaths Tommy Vercetti could have wracked up in 1191 A.D. Jerusalem?

If you're looking for an easy way to pick up the Eagle's Prey achievement yourself, here's how:

  1. Go to a big city like Jerusalem, Acre, or Damascus.
  2. Target the guards and soldiers who are patrolling the city streets as opposed to those who are standing guard. Why? Patrolling guards are generally on their own which makes it much easier to assassinate them without being noticed by other guards.
  3. When you see the guard that you'd "like" to assassinate, target them and select the wrist blade as your weapon.
  4. As the guard walks past you, do a quick 180 degree turn to fall in behind him and hit your attack button.
  5. Altaïr will grab the guard and plunge the wrist blade into his neck.
  6. As the guard falls to the ground, have Altaïr sprint from the scene of the crime to avoid being caught by the other guards who are sure to investigate.
  7. Once you've gotten Altaïr a few blocks away, start looking for another patrolling guard and repeat the whole process again.
All said and done, I think you could easily take out two or three guards a minute using the above procedure.

The Blood of a Doctor [25 GamerPoint]: Every game needs a crazy doctor who kills his patients while honestly believing that he is saving them. I pulled off this assassination without a hitch. After watching a fairly brutal cut-scene involving the good doctor and one of his patients, I easily guided Altaïr to within striking distance while the good doctor was tending to one of his flock. A quick blade to the neck and a uneventful escape from the scene of the crime made this my most successful assassination to date.

Enemy of the Poor [5 GamerPoint]: There are beggars/harassers scattered throughout each of the cities in Assassin's Creed. There are so many, in fact, that it can be quite difficult at times to complete a mission without getting a little too much attention from the local guards and the network of vigilantes. That's what makes the Enemy of the Poor achievement such a guilty pleasure: when a beggar walks up to you begging for money, you simply grab her and throw her down into the street. I tried to make a game of it at times by throwing the harassers into other innocent citizens, market stands, or scaffolding. Of course, flinging a harasser into a wall works just as well though has proven to be fatal from time to time. In the end, I was awarded 5 gamer points in exchange for a small piece of my soul.

The Blood of a Liege-Lord [25 GamerPoint]: Boy did I screw this assassination up big time! Take a look at the video below to see how things could have gone:

The hit looks nice and easy, right? Unfortunately, I was not aware of the "assassinate from the air" move and I ended up alerting all the guards to my presence when I accidentally fell off the ledge above my target and landed smack dab in the middle of all the guards. Needless to say, what followed was a long and difficult fight (yes - the fights can be tough) that eventually saw me take out William de Montferrat. I won't even get into the difficulties I had in escaping the castle grounds after taking care of business. All in all, it was a sloppy mission on my part that really gave me an appreciation for how well Assassin's Creed punishes players who don't take the time to prepare properly for the assassination missions.

Eagle's Eye [15 GamerPoint]: I remember complaining about how silly it was that Altaïr could take down an armoured guard with the throw of a single blade; my opinion has since changed. It can be quite difficult for Altaïr to take down his enemies quickly and the thrown blade is Altaïr's only means of doing so after a guard has been alerted to his presence. The game does a good job of balancing the throwing knives' power by limiting Altaïr's inventory to a maximum of five throwing knives. When Altaïr runs out of knives, he must either return to Masyaf or pick-pocket more knives off the local vigilante thugs patrolling the streets.

After throwing 75 stolen knives at 75 guards, I picked up the Eagle's Eye achievement. It's nice to know that I've managed to kill so many pseudo-innocents with a simple flick of the wrist and a good follow-through...

Absolute Symbiosis [45 GamerPoint]: I won't say what is meant by "Absolute Symbiosis" since it might spoil one of Assassin's Creed earliest surprises. I will say that this achievement is unlocked through standard game-play and requires no special actions. I like achievements like this one: easy, automatic, and worth lots of points!

I plan on continuing with Assassin's Creed until I've finished the main story. Although I plan on playing through a second time in order to pick up some missed achievements (such as Disciple of the Creed which I can no longer obtain on my current play-through of the game), Mass Effect should be arriving in the mail sometime this week. Once Mass Effect arrives, both The Orange Box and my second run at Assassin's Creed are going to be placed in a seemingly indefinite holding pattern.

I'll be back tomorrow with further Assassin's Creed game-play recaps. Tonight I plan to complete at least one more assassination depending on the amount of time afforded me.