Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Game Review: Assassin's Creed II

Before I start thanks to Patrice P and Nine9inche for reading, thanks for taking a look please feel free to stick around and maybe even let me know what you think...as long as you say nice things.

Our new readers are probably raising an eyebrow and this 'review' but anyone who knows this blog will know all to well that up-to date reviews are not my thing. I review games as and when I get round to completing them and there's actually quite a significant backlog of unreviewed games, so much so that reviewing this year-old game is actually 'skipping ahead'!

The reason for this is the release of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, I might do a more up to date review of that like I am (sort of) with Reach, so I thought it best to review this game first!!

Rough Plot

Wow! Now this is a job! AC2 reveals a lot more about the wider world of the Assassin/Templar feud, though there' plenty more to be revealed, keeping me hooked on the franchise. And of course there are again two storylines - I'll start with the historical one first.

. Ezio Auditore da Firenze is the son of a wealthy banker, Giovanni, who is also an Assassin. He builds up his skills getting into fights with rival families and running away from the fathers of the beauties he seduces. When his father and brothers are betrayed and executed, Ezio flees to his uncles villa in Monterrigioni where he discovers the hidden truth and trains to become an Assassin. He travels across Italy, killing those who executed his family, and hunting the man ultimately responsible, Rodrigo Borgia, leader of the Templars in Europe. He makes a number of allies on the way, thieves, mercenaries and courtesans, many of whom are members of the order. Ezio also collects the Codex, written by Altair, which reveals the location of The Vault a secret location linked to the mysterious Pieces of Eden. After battling Rodrigo for two key pieces, the Apple and the Staff, the vault is opened and Ezio becomes the prophet, delivering a message...to Desmond Miles.

. Desmond is a modern day Assassin, descended from Ezio. He ran away from the Assassins because he thought they were crazy...then ended up getting captured by the Templars in the form of Abstergo industries. However Lucy, and Abstergo worker is also an Assassin and broke Desmond out and brought him to an Assassin hideout where they had built their own Animus. Their aim was to trigger the bleeding effect, where the abilities of the ancestor are rapidly developed in the host through prolonged exposure to the Animus. During a rest period Desmond found he could fight and free run like his ancestor. But they also found more, Subject 16, Desmond's predecessor at Abstergo had gone mad through the bleeding effect and buried secret memories and Templar history in the Animus. Desmond received a warning from Minerva, an ancient being, who warned that more than just Desmond or the Assassin's future was at stake, but maybe the whole world's.

yeah...rough plot!


Like the first game...but a lot better. Having recently replayed the first game it is clear how much improvement was made in the second edition. Altair's sword is slow to draw and his climbing awkward compared to his Italian descendant. The introduction of swimming has made life much better, no instant drowning even in the smallest puddle this time! There is much more variety too, rather than a set of similar investigation missions followed before each assassination there are a wide variety of missions including the main assassinations. There is plenty of optional excitement too, like Assassination Contracts giving additional targets to track and fight, Assassin Tombs, free running puzzles to solve to find out about your heritage. And also a financial system and a town to upgrade and build for more money and better weapons. There's much more than this making for exhilerating gameplay, even when you're off the beaten track.

Sci-Fi Stuff

There's a fair bit of Sci-Fi in this, things that were only really hinted at in the first game, making for very exciting stuff.

Animus 2.0

Seems Abstergo aren't the only ones who can extract genetic memories. The Assassins put together an Animus team of their own comprising Lucy, who ran the Animus at Abstergo, Rebecca and expert computer programmer and Shaun a genius and historian to provide accurate information and hints for the subject. The Assassins claim their version is much better despite their limited resources. There are also a whole bank of new Animi at Abstergo...surely for some nefarious purpose...

Those Who Came Before

At the climax of the game Ezio comes face to face with one of these people...or a hologram of one anyway. Minerva represents a group of beings who predate humanity, as to their origins she simply states that they came before. They created humans and controlled them, but humans rebelled and won with their greater numbers and also survived a catastrophic event. Minerva warned that this event might happen again, but that it might be stopped, but Desmond would need to do it as these people are long gone.

Pieces of Eden

These mysterious artifacts left by Those Who Came Before play a larger role in this game and their history and abilities are partially uncovered, though it would take a while to go into it all. Here two Pieces, the Staff and the Apple are combined to access The Vault. The pieces were originally used to control humans and still are by those who master them, only a few seem immune, such as natural born Assassins.

The Truth

The Truth is a series of puzzles left by the mysterious subject 16, uncovering Templar influences throughout history and the uses of the Pieces of Eden in modern times. Once all the truth is uncovered, this amazing video plays, showing the origins of the Assassins and two curiously named individuals...

Worth Playing?

YES!!!! Oh yes and no mistake, this game is completely satisfying, get it, play it, buy the new one!!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Blogga's Halo Reach Diary - 24/11/10

Right, well I'm going to try and step this up now as I do have some new video games as you might have seen on the Wall. But as this diary thing is seriously backdated anyway I figured I might as well finish off Reach before pressing on, so we'll look at one more level this week and keep up the pace as best as possible.

This post contains spoilers for the level 'New Alexandria'


A bit more of a mis-match this time as it was harder to find definitive armour to suit the mission. I'd quite liked the look of the Operator helmet so I went for that, plus it also seemed suitable for a pilot which is what half the mission entailed. The rest of the armour I made up from Counter-Assault pieces as the mission was a counter-assault against the covenant.

New Stuff

UH-144 Falcon

A lot of this level takes place in this craft so it seems a good time to bring it to the table. Of the new things in Reach the Falcon is the most prominent. It is a troop-transport come gunship able to rapidly transport soldiers across Reach. I wasn't too sure about the Falcon on first-viewing, not seeing the difference between it and a Pelican in terms of function. but I can see that Pelicans are what you use for a mobile space force, but on a planet you need the nimble but powerful Falcon. They are great to fly, with 'lock altitude' being a handy feature.

Shade Turret

Shades have been a regular feature of Halo since the first game, but things have stepped up in this latest edition with the Covenant employing powerful fuel-rod Shades and specialised anti-air Shades (above)

Armour Lock

An ever-popular ability armour lock generates an incredibly powerful energy shield that can repel even heavy weapons fire for a limited time. The user has to 'lock down' and remain immobile for the shield to work, but if used properly it has incredible benefits. These include being able to shuck off plasma grenades and the tricky move of blowing up a Ghost trying to splatter you. My favourite use is to run up close to the elites, sticky them in the face at point blank range (they dodge too well at distance!) and then armour lock to weather the blast.


This was a nice varied mission with both aerial and ground combat for plenty of variety. The Covenant have place communication jammers all over the city of New Alexandria, destabilizing military operations - the Spartans counter-attack to restore communications. Noble 6 flies around the city, taking out Banshees and Phantoms on his path, completing a number of objectives such as.

. Destroying a jammer at a hospital overrun with Brutes and Huragok and another in a luxury penthouse swarming with Drones.

. The third jammer was challenging, but exhilarating, taking out Hunters in a luxury nightclub. The combat was intensified by the awesome location, with holographic lighting on the dance floor giving us a glimpse of the luxury that was lost when Reach fell.

While traveling to the objectives a number of other missions take priority, such as taking out attack teams about to invade a building, rescuing squads of Army troopers pinned down and eliminating anti-air Shades to clear a path for other air traffic. The absolute highlight of the level was running in Gunnery Sergeant Buck and his squad and giving them support so they could live to complete a very important mission on Earth - that and the voice of sci-fi legend Nathan Fillion!

With all these objectives complete and communications back online Noble Six rejoins the team to get their next orders, while doing so the Covenant attacking the city draw near and begin glassing their area. The Spartans escape to a shelter through the crumbling building but as they do a sniper shoots and kills Kat before escaping on a Phantom. After three days the Spartans emerge, bringing Kat's body with them.

Naturally I bought her voice for Firefight!

That'll do for now I think, more soon!

Friday, 19 November 2010

Doctor Who: New series, new species part 31

Ok so The Sarah Jane Adventures has wrapped up here in the UK. I've really enjoyed this series, it's felt more consitent and while it still has the cheesy intro on the whole it's felt a bit more grown up and realistic while still suitable for a kid's show.

Anyway - Monsters!!


These are puppets and no mistaking!! To the jaded eye they were clearly fake, large creations of some lab and what's more they were unmistakably modeled on vultures while preying on the apparently dead Doctor - hmmm. But you know what, they kind of worked! Quirky special effects have always been part of the charm of Who, with 'spot the bubble wrap' being a favourite game of mine when watching classic series - but the point is when the characters react to them you believe them and so yeah, bar the odd moment, I was convinced. Plus it was nice to see Matt Smith's Doctor so that kept me distracted!!

The Shansheeth are a large avian race capable of standing vertically on two legs in a vaguely humanoid fashion. While imposingly tall, and possessing sharp beaks they are nonetheless a calming presence for those they meet. This is due to a well practiced etiquette required for the duty of choice for many outgoing Shansheeth. The Shansheeth dedicate entire fleets to searching out the dead, especially the heroic dead, and giving them a proper burial. Recently one group went Rogue and attempted to steal a time-machine in order to prevent the deaths they undertake.

That's kind of it, there was another race explored in the following episode, but they weren't really seen except for one of them who was half-human, but they did send some pretty cool robots to go stomping round looking for the boy Gavin, who turned out to be next in line to the throne.

More Soon!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

SF at the Movies - November '10

A nice slice of Sci-Fi for us this month - and not a minute too soon!!

Released 12/11/10

I'm looking forward to this one. The trailers have been great in that they thrill us with images of huge alien warships, mysterious bright lights that capture humans and even a monster or two, but still don't give us much of a clue as to what's actually going on. I'm looking forward to the epic special effects and seeing just what is behind the bright lights.

Oh, my apologies, I thought there was more - oh well, check this one out anyway!!

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Heroes: Nowhere Man

Well Heroes appears to be cancelled so no mystery return on the BBC it would seem this time. While it certainly had lost it's steam after the glorious first series I had really hoped that the potential for change left by the end of series 4 (with Claire revealing her powers) would kick start the show into something new.

Well I guess that means Heroes- based content will stop on the blog, I think 'Power Trip' has had it's day among other things, but if you'll indulge me I'd like to wrap up something I did earlier in posting up the Heroes 'Webisodes' - this series 'Nowhere Man' showed Doyle trying to live a normal life before he eventually wound up at the carnival.

YouTube isn't doing it's thing but heroestheseries.com seems to have working videos so thanks to them.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

There's one more webisode to pop up, but who knows maybe this'll stir up some Heroes interest and maybe they'll get to finish the show off properly.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Blogga's Halo Reach Diary - 6/11/10

Ok so it didn't turn out to be the weekly thing I'd envisioned but oh well, I'm gonna press on with this bas boy as best I can. I have actually finished the campaign now, but there would be far too much detail to cram all that into one post so I'll go one level at a time and keep you updated on my progress.

This post contains spoilers for the level 'Exodus'


Well I thought hard about this mission - you are stranded from your team after falling back into Reach orbit, you battle on your own through a city, trying to find your next objective - there was only one option: ODST. There are a few pieces of ODST armour available, the distinctive helmet and also chest piece made the gear clearly ODST. I wasn't able to get the shoulders, but there are plenty of Air Assault and Paratrooper pieces that make the grade - I even splashed out on some knees - the system is great for making me buy stuff I wouldn't bother with. To top it off there was something I wouldn't have considered, changing my visor colour to ODST silver.

New Stuff

There were a few new-look things in this level, improved by Reach's better graphics, including new ODSTs (making my armor choice even better) and new Brutes (below)

This level gives me the opportunity to talk about some of the equipment you get in this game as it is essential to the mission, first off...

Reentry Pack

This bulky backpack is what allows Noble-Six to drop to Reach's surface without dying, much in the way Master Chief did in Halo 3. At the start of the level Noble-Six gets up and retrieves this pack, getting a pistol from it - but that's not the only thing he straps to his back...


The ODSTs you link up with are Jetpack specialists who nimbly maneuver around a skyscraper contruction site. The Jetpack is one of many armour abilities found in the game and a favourite among fans. It's application is fairly obvious; it allows you to jump high and fly short distances. Experienced users will know to save a little power to break large falls and use quick bursts to extend jumps just enough.

Evacuation Ship

It was great to see some new Human ships as well as Covenant ones, while the Campaign has been awesome for giving us a close look at Frigates in combat we haven't had any new ships, but we did get some civilian transports as Noble Six aided in the evacuation of New Alexandria, much like the evacuation of Arcadia in Halo Wars.


This was a hard mission, though not incredibly long. As Noble six moves through the city he finds forces engaged in terrorizing civilians. First there are squads of suicide grunts and next there are Brutes savagely attacking noncombatants. The Spartan joins the Army force in pushing them back and they fight to secure an evacuation point for the civilians. This is made difficult by a covenant Corvette pounding the city at close range. With the assistance of some ODST a landing pas is briefly secured allowing civilians to get away from the bombardment. The team then move out of the city to cover evacuation ships getting civilians off-planet. Noble Six fights his way to activate a missile battery that critically damages the Corvette, saving many lives as they get off-planet.

After the mission is complete, Noble Team find their missing member and he is reunited with the group in the city.

I'll leave it there - more soon though!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Stuff: Star Wars The Old Republic - Threat of Peace

Threat of Peace is a recent comic arc set in the old Republic era. For the few of you not in the know it is set in the era that will soon be defined by the new Video Game The Old Republic (TOR). Linked to the famous Knights of the Old Republic, this new game takes the action to a large scale, being a Massively Multiplayer Online Game.

The game is set a few centuries after it's predecessors, but still well over 3000 years before the original trilogy. In this era the Sith have returned in huge force, crushing the Republic and forcing a truce on them. With masses of territory under Sith control the Galaxy lives in an uneasy peace and a tense cold war is fought between the two factions.

This first comic arc (another 'Blood of the Empire' is currently underway) takes place at the start of this treaty. The Sith and the Republic have been locked in battle for years and suddenly the Sith send a delegation to Alderaan to meet with a Jedi diplomatic team. However this is a ruse and the Sith arrive and invade Coruscant (as seen in the famous 'Deceived' trailer.

The hastily assembled truce is tested to the limit as troopers refuse to abandon their posts and terrorist attacks go on throughout the republic. Only a few Jedi, stranded far beyond the Republic have a clue as to what is going on but both they and the Sith have to act quickly to find out who is responsible to have any chance at peace. The Jedi find it is one of them, a Jedi master thought dead that is responsible and they must turn their backs on her to save the peace.

So let's have a look at what's new (or old!) eh?

New Jedi

Species: Togruta
Sex: Female
Position: Jedi Master

Dar'Nala was a senior Jedi Master sent as part of the Jedi negotiating team to Alderaan. Shortly after the Sith-enforced peace she and her apprentice were captured by a Sith vessel, she enabled her apprentice to escape and also a bounty hunter who she sent with news to Corsucant. She was tortured by the Sith and believed by most to be dead. After she escaped she began to sabotage the peace process, striking at Imperial targets and turning the Sith against each other. After she was found out she was killed in a confrontation, ending the threat.

Orgus Din
Species: Human
Sex: Male
Position: Jedi Master

Orgus Din was a Jedi active in front line duty and had just returned to report on his activities when the Sith attacked, he engaged the Sith as they arrived and searched for survivors in the Jedi temple. After regrouping with survivors and fighting of Sith forces he was sent to Balmorra where his Padawan was halting the peace process. He stayed to help the evacuation then moved on to Dantooine where the crisis was eventually resolved.

Satele Shan
Species: human
Sex: Female
Position: Padawan (will become Grand Master)

We meet Satele in her early days here, in the game (and in the prequel novel Fatal Alliance) she is Grand Master of the Jedi Order. Here she is an impetuous apprentice who talks with her lightsaber when she realizes the Sith's betrayal. While not eager to give up the fight she did recognize the need for peace and ultimately turned her back on her former master, shaping her into the great Jedi she would become.

Species: Kel Dor
Sex: Male
Position: Grand Master

Zym was Grand Master of the Jedi Order at the time of the Treaty of Coruscant, after hearing of the Sith betrayal he urged for peace, acknowledging that the Republic had little choice and that it was better to save lives than retaliate in haste. Zym was called to a meeting with a republic military officer and the bounty hunter who had Dar'Nala's warning, however the hunter had a grudge against the officer and killed her and when Zym retaliated he too was killed, leaving the message undelivered.

Fortris Gall
Species: Miralian
Sex: Male
Position: Jedi Knight

Fortris trained under master Orgus and so his former master was called when he refused to retreat from the front lines on Balmorra, believing the truce to be a lie. He was ordered to go to Dantooine to quell the fighting there, but quickly got involved in the battle as things escalated. It was only when he saw the damage done by Dar'Nala that he joined the other Jedi in establishing peace.

Phew - that's a lot of Jedi there, but who knows you may be glad to know them when you bump into them in game, thankfully there aren't as many...

New Sith

Darth Baras
Species: Human
Sex: Male
Position: Sith Lord

Lord Baras was key in creating the treaty of Coruscant and getting the Republic to agree to it's terms. Unlike other Sith he was keen for the opportunity to create peace, he was also distinct in that he didn't do so to gain power, in fact he refused a promotion, content to serve well in his position. He came into conflict with Darth Angral who wanted to destroy the Jedi, and later when he was blamed for sabotaging the treaty, but when he saw the truth he brought Angral to his side and confronted the Jedi.

Darth Angral
Species: Human
Sex: Male
Position: Sith Lord

Angral lead part of the assault on Coruscant city while others atacked the temple. After landing he dueled Orgus Din, but a crashing ship seperated them. He went on to kill the Republic Chancellor and wanted to kill all the Jedi, but was stopped when the negotiations were completed. He was angry with Lord Baras, but temporarily came to his aid to stop Dar'Nala before finally parting to go his own way.

I'll try and be quick, next up are


Oppresor-class Battle Cruiser

A Sith star destroyer used in the invasion of Coruscant and later by the Sith Lords leading their forces to Dantooine and other worlds. Typical star destroyer shape with the bulky, squared off design featured commonly by Sith in this era.

Fury-class Transport

A long-range fighter employed by the Sith and carried on their warships. They were used as both transports and aggressive fighter craft. One was used by Braden to escape Sith custody.


Envoy was a republic transport used by the Jedi to travel to the front lines after the Treaty of Coruscant, it was attacked by the Sith and only Satele Shan escaped.

And last of all...


I like doing these - there are far to many comings and goings for me to do my usual arrows, so I'll just mark all the planets mentioned in this arc.

Whooo! That was longer than expected, anyway, hope it was of use. I enjoyed Threat of Peace and I look forward to visiting some of the location and maybe some of the characters in the upcoming game.