I finally finished Assassins Creed 2.
It took me 5 months, a 2 week hiatus, and around 300 hours.
While Portal 2 was significantly more frustrating (the swearing was ridiculous) this may have actually taken me longer than Portal 2 – a game for which there is no Blind Lady Versus.
So let’s talk about AC1 real quick: I’m stuck in it, and I’m not sure I’ll be going back because unlike the structure for AC2, there’ no way to skip certain kinds of missions (Flag gathering races are my particular bane. Black see through things that I have to find in under 3 minutes? Fuck that.) I’d love to finish it, but I don’t see it happening.
In AC2 they changed the way in which you unlock assassinations, and the ways in which you play through were significantly improved. But let’s talk about the challengers for a low vision player.
1. TIMED MISSIONS ARE THE DEVIL
So here I am, trying to win a mask to enter the Doge’s ball so that I can kill the Doge, and in order to do it I have to complete these missions.
One of them is a race, and the other is a game of Capture the Flag. Both are timed.
Here’s why timed missions are terrible in this game specifically – as a low vision player I have some trouble with accuracy in terms of directing my avatar throughout the game. Hopping across rooftops safely is a little harder for me than a regular sighted person. These are things that make me crazy and it actually took me two weeks to get past this one little thing.
2. Tiny Climbing Bits!
There is a moment where you have to climb a tower in a flashback to AC1 (which I didn’t finish because small transparent black flags are evil) and I couldn’t see the way to get onto the ledge in order to complete the sequence. I was stalled on this one tiny spot for about two months. I swore a lot. I tried to do it hundreds of times, and finally one time on a fluke it worked. I have no idea how I made it happen, but I made it past the sequence and was able to continue the game – eventually completing it.
3. Jumping! Jumping Everywhere!
You do actually NEED depth perception to make some of the jumps which occurr in this game. The rooftops all look relatively the same and so if youre not careful, you can fall off a ledge or miss a jump and die.
4. Chase Scenes
It could get a little hectic to find hiding spots between fleeing guards. Not impossible, but challenging.
5. Sudden Notoriety
I managed to keep my notoriety pretty low, preferring to sneak around on rooftops or using blend to make my kills and get around, but when the final section of the game happened, and suddenly I ahd assassinations which required me to do them without being seen at all and I was on high alert? Well, that;’s when thngs got really hard.
I vented about one particular assassination on twitter – Last Rites in the DLC for the Bonfire of the Vanities? Yeah. Let’s climb a massive building while sneaking, and be undetected, and the jumping points on the dome are… unclear at best. These were the kind of quests that were hardest for me. Ones where I couldn’t control my play style. Because being visible was sometimes not within my control, I had to do the things that worked for me as a low vision player, and ignore what the conventional play style might have been. More running and tearing down (Somewhat invisible to me) wanted posters, but at least I could decide what level of stealth play I wanted.
Things that Worked For Me!
It was tan with high contrast black dots and other dots for guards. It was actually usable – especially since it gave me step counts for where to go. I could manage to find things using the minimap, which if you’ve ever read a Blind Lady Versus article before, you know those are a pain in my ass a lot of the time. One thing I really liked about the mini map was that it was shockingly useful when it came to fixing one of my complaints – the aforementioned chase scenes. Hiding spots appeared on the map!
One of the things that I really liked was that while this was a stealth game, until your notoriety got too high, you were able to wander around a lot more.
My favorite thing was that at one point, I was climbing around on the inside of the duomo to find hidden assassin treasure, and it felt like a really satisfying Tomb Raider sequence. I was playing tomb raider, but for a historian with bloodthirsty intentions. I’m okay with that.
I enjoyed the setting a lot, and how they wove history into the story.
Despite my deep frustration, and the length of time it took me to play the game, I really enjoyed the play experience. So much so, that I’ve gotten most of the other games on sale on Steam. (IN fact, I finished Assassins Creed: Brotherhood over the weekend. Delightful, still many of the same issues as AC2, but I found the addition of Assassin Helpers very useful for someone who can’t see all the enemies all the time.)
My FAVORITE thing about Assassins Creed 2, though?
IT WASN’T DARK. A stealth game that was beautiful and wasn’t set in the shadows. I could see most of the places I needed to run to. I could flee into the haystacks which weren’t thrown into a dark shadow. I could play the game because it wasn’t set in some grim shadowed medieval world, but rather a vibrant visual historical setting where bad things happened to worse people.
At its core, Assassins Creed 2 was a game where i got to dismantle toxic power structures to make way for people to have better lives. For a violent video game, I think that’s a pretty great moral.