Replay Values: Assassin’s Creed

Hope everyone had a happy Christmas!

I had a pretty decent gaming haul: Halo 4, Assassin’s Creed 3 and Hitman: Absolution. I’ve no idea when I’m going to find the time to play through these titles, but I’m happy to have received them nonetheless. But that’s not what this post is about! No, it’s about something that occurred to me after reading a post in an XBox gaming group I’m a member of on Google+. Someone asked if anyone could recommend some older games that he could get and start playing, while saving up for the abundant selection of recent and upcoming releases on XBox 360. I thought that was pretty cool and thus, Replay Values was born in my overactive brain, a blog series about picking up old games and hugging them like the cousin you haven’t seen in ten years, and then either recalling your love for them or realizing that you still haven’t forgiven them for stepping on and subsequently breaking your collector’s edition Final Fantasy figurine. Ahem.

I love replaying older games; it takes a lot for me to sell a game that I’ve played already, especially if I get all attached to the characters (like I did with the Mass Effect series). One such game for me was Assassin’s Creed. I loved Altair, from his annoyingly cocky swagger to his cool outfit. I mean, come on. Look at this guy.

Bad-assery. A word invented for him.

When I moved to The Netherlands, I had to get rid of all my games, since they would not be region compatible with the new XBox I was buying here in the land of everlasting rain. So I was really happy to get my hands on a copy of the original Assassin’s Creed game last month, and I set about reliving all my Altair memories. I even downloaded map copies to find all those dog-gone flags…you remember…the two billion you had to find, scattered randomly throughout each city. I figured since I was not achievement hunting or playing it for the first time, I could have a lazy play-through. And man…

The game is so much slower and less entertaining than I remembered. All I’ve been doing since loading a new game is comparing it to Assassin’s Creed 2. This is both good and bad. Bad in the sense that it’s incredibly distracting and my Altair has died more often this time around than the first. Good in the sense that it’s wonderful to see, just by playing an older game, just how much Ubisoft has grown and matured as a developer and publisher. When I first saw the renderings of ancient Acre and Jerusalem in Assassin’s Creed, I was impressed. Seeing them again, particularly after the spectacular representations of Venice in AC-II, was not as overwhelming. But this is, in my opinion, what ‘Replay Values’ is all about. Playing an older game, particularly if it’s from a developer you run into often, should be all about seeing them grow and get better with age, like a fine wine.

By getting better I mean on a whole, and not just on one level, such as graphics or gameplay mechanics. Repeating a play-through of AC-I has made me appreciate Ubisoft’s personal and professional growth in AC-II. From what I’ve played of AC-III so far, I’d say they’ve kept going in that same vein. This doesn’t always happen though. I’ve played games that had me wondering what the developer was smoking, and in their second trot around the paddock, they make the same mistakes and seem to have learned nothing about listening to constructive feedback (note how I said, constructive) and learning from the replay value of their earlier attempts.

I hope this first edition of Replay Values was enjoyable! I love comments. Some might say, I’m a comment-digger. That may be so, but feedback is what helps us all get better in the end, wouldn’t you say? So go on…write something…you know you want to. And if you have any old games you think I should play and then see if I want to A) hug the developer or B) beat them with a copy of their own game, then post it and I’ll get my hands on a copy and have at it.

Until next time.

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