Apologies for yesterday’s postus interruptus; as per usual around here, I tend to get very busy only when I’m working on blog stuff, and since the first half of yesterday’s post felt particularly good coming out of the fingers, you would be correct to assume that I got absolutely buried in work bullshit before I was able to get to the second half. Right now, none of my bosses are even in the office, so this is a perfect opportunity to start writing; of course, I didn’t end up playing anything last night except for my two current iOS obsessions, so I’m feeling a bit detached from the Assassin’s Creed 3 rant that I never ended up writing.
Let me start with the iOS stuff first, since I’m in a good mood. I’m still playing the hell out of Chip Chain, and now I’ve gotten my wife into it as well. Here’s how addicting and engrossing it is – I missed my subway stop yesterday morning because I forgot to look up from my iPhone. I told my wife as much, and to be careful on the way home. She then missed her subway stop coming home from work, even though I’d warned her, because she forgot to look up from her iPhone. We are both fully obsessed with it; I’ve finally unlocked everything there is to unlock, and my scores have been getting better, but I’m still not quite the zen master that I feel I could be with just a few dozen more hours of play.
Ironically, the one thing that’s helped me curb my addiction to Chip Chain (besides my day job keeping me insanely busy) is another new iOS game called Dream of Pixels (itunes, $0.99). The easiest way to describe DoP is that it’s Tetris in reverse; a solid wall of blocks slowly descends from the top of the screen, and you have to carve a given tetromino shape out of the wall before anything touches the bottom of the screen. I’ve never been particularly good at Tetris, and I’m sure my scores in DoP are on the low side of things, but goddamn, it’s really well made – it’s got a really beautiful and soothing art style and sound design (For some reason, the art style reminds me a little bit of Braid, even though the only thing you see are block-shaped clouds), and even though things can get hairy, it never feels as chaotic as regular Tetris. It even gives you a nice compliment after you lose, which is quite lovely. I think the only knock I’d give it is that it doesn’t appear to let you listen to your own music/podcast/etc., but that’s certainly not enough to dissuade me from giving it a full-throated recommendation. UPDATE: Turns out my iPhone was just being weird; DoP certainly does let you listen to your own audio. Fantastic! No knocks to give!
OK, so. You may recall in yesterday’s post that I very much wanted to discuss what I’d just seen in Assassin’s Creed 3, but that I needed to get my Halo 4 rant out of the way first. There are SLIGHT STORY SPOILERS ahead, but let’s also be pretty clear here – AC3 takes place during the years leading up to the American Revolution, and considering the events that the previous games let you be privy to, you have to assume that your character will be an active participant in certain notable events in American history. Let me also state that even though I’ve been playing for a dozen hours or so, a lot of those hours have just been dicking around in exploration mode; I’ve not really advanced the story all that much, so what follows is still relatively early in the game.
The whole reason why I even bothered to put Halo 4 into my 360’s tray was because I’d just finished the Boston Tea Party mission, and I literally couldn’t believe what I’d just seen.
I’m not sure what the right word is to describe just that mission’s terribleness, especially considering just how all-encompassing that terribleness actually was. It was downright farcical. For a franchise that generally takes itself incredibly seriously (notwithstanding Ezio’s Uncle Mario, as well as everything about Leonardo da Vinci), the Boston Tea Party was a goddamned travesty.
My familiarity with the American Revolution is, admittedly, a bit rusty. That’s partly why I was so interested in playing AC3 in the first place, though; I was really interested in seeing what these events might have looked like.
Wikipedia describes the Boston Tea Party as “a key event in the in the growth of the American Revolution.” What the game presented, though, looked more like a frat party stunt gone awry, with just 3 dudes heaving boxes of tea off of a ship (or, at least, trying to heave boxes of tea off a ship – when I tried to do it, I was just as likely to throw a box into another box, or a ship’s mast, or even backwards), and also in a world where “awry” means the violent, acrobatic murdering of 20-30 British soldiers in front of a cheering (though utterly silent) throng of colonists. And when it was over – when 100 boxes of tea (no more, no less) had been thrown into the murky depths of Boston Harbor, the cutscene that followed basically just showed 3 dudes walking, and the camera was actually drifting off of their faces – it looked like a bad take, frankly.
The whole thing could not have been more anti-climactic, which is the literal opposite of the intended effect, I would think. I couldn’t believe that such an epic moment of American history could have been treated so sloppily. And considering that this is but the first such moment I’ve come across, I shudder to think what else this game is going to have me do. (I’ve already heard terrible things about Paul Revere’s Ride, which certainly doesn’t bode well.)
UPDATE: not moments after I published this post, Kotaku revealed that Ubisoft is putting out an absolutely massive patch next week that should fix a lot of what’s broken. That list can be found here, but I must also submit that there’s plenty about the game when it’s working properly that’s still a bit messed up.