Posts Tagged ‘Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’

What’s Mine is ‘Mine’: Denouncing DRM

Seems like every time I get online over the last few weeks, I see more controversy over “always online” DRM (digital rights management) restrictions.  Penny Arcade did a comic on the subject, and forums are aflame on gaming news sites from Gamasutra  to Rock, Paper, Shotgun.  The ire most recently stems from controversy over Blizzard’s announcement that Diablo III will require require a persistent Internet connection to play…even in single-player campaign mode.  Does this irritate me?  Absolutely.  Just as it irritated me last year to hear that Ubisoft was doing that very thing with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and sure, it irritated me more when sure enough, within a month, said DRM requirement backfired on the players.

But here’s the thing that really gets me.  When I saw the quote from Blizzard’s VP that he was “actually kind of surprised” over the backlash, at first I thought, how clueless can this guy be?  But reading the comments attached to the article, I see the problem…the fans lining up on either side of the fence are merely arguing the conveniences of the issue.  The argument of choice for those not offended by this seems to boil down to several variations on “It’s 2011.  If you don’t have 24/7 access to the internet, it’s time to crawl out of your cave, mmmkay?”  Those defending their outrage are actually responding on this level, going into great detail about rural connectivity, monthly data caps on some plans, the reliability of game servers, and whether they can Play On A Plane.

Mass effect 3

You wouldn't pass around an advertisement from Commander Shepard on the Citadel...

Folks…forget those arguments.  They’re valid points, but spending your time arguing about them diminished the reason you should be mad, in my humble opinion.  That reason is, and I want you to say it with me:


I realize my opinion is probably coming from an old-fashioned perception of ownership, and that my outlook is colored by having grown up pre-Internet, buying games on floppy disks and CD-ROM, books made from real trees, music on vinyl records, cassette tapes, and compact discs.  And I am not naive – I recognize the difference between my ownership of a disc and the author’s ownership of the work it contains.  I would not presume to believe that purchasing a CD gives me the right to use it for commercial purposes, or to reproduce and distribute its content to all my buddies.  But that CD – that one, specific CD – that is my property, which I happen to believe I should be able to listen to where and when I like, make copies for my personal use, or install on as many machines as I can cram into my house.

The increasingly intrusive DRM push is based on a lot of fallacies.  I’ve seen these issues raised online before, so I’m not exactly saying anything earth-shattering here, but hey, my soapbox, my prerogative:

1.  Increasingly draconian DRMs stop pirating and don’t punish paying customers.
2.  Piracy is some dread new crisis that will bring the entertainment industry to its knees.
3.  Nobody will pay for art if they can get away with pirating.

Progressively more stringent and frustrating DRM, much like the TSA, reminds me of the saying “closing the barn door after the cows have run off”.  Pirates find a way to hack the copy protection, so technology comes up with a new way to copy protect.  Which – surprise! – pirates are going to find a way to hack.  There is no such thing as copy protection that can’t be cracked.  There is only copy protection that hasn’t been cracked…yet.  And when it is, it is the pirates who have a quality, unrestricted copy of the game, while honest customers are being punished for paying for it.

video game piract

Damn it. We missed "Talk Like a Pirate Day".

Is piracy a new threat?  My parents were rather prolific pirates; you tell me (and while you’re at it, get off my lawn.  And turn that noise down!)  Oh, I didn’t think anything of it at the time…but looking back to the ‘80s, the dozens of games I had for my C64 were largely packed onto floppies with handwritten labels, several games to a disk, with phrases like “Cracked by SuperCoolGuy” on the title screens.  Our sizeable collection of VHS movies consisted of 2 movies to a tape, their titles neatly scripted in my mother’s handwriting, some recorded from TV but many copied over from video store rentals, as VHS was still fairly new and often unprotected.  My folks aren’t bad people…frankly, I think it was pretty common back then because people simply didn’t think too much about it.  Sure, I saw the FBI warning at the beginnings of movies, but my parents never copied and sold any movies or showed them publicly, and it just seemed harmless.  These days, however, every album/movie/game they have is bought and paid for, and I seriously doubt it’s because they don’t know how to make copies anymore; they simply do the right thing, as the vast majority of us do.  And you know what?  Despite the prevalence of pirating I saw in the ‘80s of VHS movies/games/cassettes before copy-protection became standard, the movie/game/music industries still flourished.  Moreso nowadays.

People will pay for what they like.  People can be outright antsy to give their money for what they like.  People will even pay money for something they already got for free – because they know that a dollar is a vote, and because when you’ve really wowed them, they want to say ‘thank you’ with their dollar.  When Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog was released freely on the internet, I fell so ardently in love with it that when it finally became available for sale, I bought it on iTunes…less because I wanted an iTunes copy of it and more because I’d been dying to pay them for what they had created.  And then I also bought a DVD copy as a gift for someone else.  It is also worth noting, however, that this was my first iTunes purchase and will be my last…because I had repeated issues with the “authorizing” the video, first when attempting to put it on my iPod, and again when I got a new laptop and got rid of my old one.  Yes, I managed to fix the issues eventually, but that’s not the point.  The point is that the hassle offended me on basic principle, as it became increasingly clear that I had not ‘bought’ the movie at all, but rather bought the right to borrow it indefinitely, just so long as I checked in with them any time I chose to do anything with it.  And yet we’re supposed to pay $50-60 for a disc we’re not allowed to use when and how we choose.  By requiring the persistent Internet connection, companies are essentially taking your money for a product, but insisting they ‘hold on to it for you’, so they can keep checking your receipt, over and over and over again.

Maybe I’m spitting into the wind arguing about it.  Concepts of ownership when it comes to digital material seem to be changing rapidly whether I like it or not.  But let’s not go quietly.  Don’t let them tell you it’s necessary, it’s inevitable, or that it’s just to ‘enhance’ gameplay.  If buying something does not give you the right to use and enjoy that something, be dissatisfied.  Tell them you’re dissatisfied.  And make it for the right reasons.

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Video Game Pin Ups: Ezio Auditore da Firenze

Ezio Auditore da Firenze

If you can get past those knives, you get to those sexy lips...if you dare.

Assassin’s Creed II blew the first Assassin’s Creed out of the water.  Not only because of the many varied quests (breaking out of the standard ‘rescue citizen’, ‘eavesdrop’, and ‘beat up’ events), the beautiful scenery set in Renaissance Italy (rather than the very dull, grayish setting of Jerusalem), and the introduction of new characters and new mini quests (Subject 16 videos!), but also because of the more animated, more interesting main character.  Ezio Auditore da Firenze starts off as a spoiled rich kid, but when some catastrophic events happen to his family, he grows into the assassin.  Not only does Ezio have a lovely accent, but he actually sounds authentic.  In the first Assassin’s Creed, the main character Altair was one of the biggest drawbacks in the game.  He wasn’t interesting to listen to, and he didn’t sound like he belonged.

Ass Stamp

Is it possible to stealthily stamp this on Ezio?

But dear Ezio charms both men and women.  His stoic attitude and fierce passion for revenge has men falling in formation as allies, and his attractive features and knight-like qualities has women falling in love.  I find myself charmed by Ezio’s humor and dedication.  Even in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, when Ezio decides a goatee is an excellent fashion statement, I still love him.

Ezio Auditore Brotherhood

He protects his most precious assets with his daggers. Just TRY to kick him there, guys.

There’s nothing greater than getting behind a character you find both attractive and rousing as an Assassin.  And of course, it’s great to see Ezio getting some lovin’ in the games.  Thus, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, we award you with the Ass Stamp of Approval!

…because you know we approve both when he assassinates his enemies and when he flirts with the ladies.


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The Waiting Game

We all know the feeling.

Stressed Cat

This cat is waiting anxiously for a game. It just heard a truck outside. Actually, this cat could be me.

You order a game online, but then for some reason it doesn’t allow you to choose release date shipping.  Not only that, but while everyone gets their game (in the mail, in stores) and proceeds to exclaim how wonderful it is, you’re left with an excruciating urge to play.  The lump in your throat grows larger and larger.  You log in multiple times a day to check the tracking number, and shout profanities when the information hasn’t been updated since yesterday.  Perhaps you even wait anxiously with one ear turned to the door, hoping to hear some shuffling footsteps or even a large truck of some time, in which case you will run to the door and peek out cautiously.  Of course, if the game ISN’T there, you don’t want to look like a fool.  Nor do you want to get your hopes crushed.

This recently happened to me with Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.  Yes, I do have the game now.  But waiting was horrific.  When I placed the order through Amazon, I somehow missed the ‘Release Date Delivery’ for 99 cents.  I was really excited to get with Ezio again, and to see if Ezio would act more like a womanizer this time.  (He does.  Great job, Corey May!!) I stressed, couldn’t think of anything else but the game, and would jump up and race to the door whenever I heard some semblance of a large truck passing by.  I almost mobbed the mail truck one day, when my package didn’t arrive the date it was supposed to.  I thought about showing him my boobs (and even if it was a mailWOMAN, I thought about it)… because what if he was holding my Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood?!


I bet this ninja is excellent at checking to see if the game arrived without anyone seeing.

And now, with Christmas just around the corner, there’s another waiting game to play.  This time, you see the pile of presents under the Christmas tree and the one you’re almost positive is the game you’re looking for.  Or maybe your parent or significant other is sneaky and hides what you want in a large box…which is even more difficult because then you get extremely disappointed thinking they didn’t get it!

So now the question is… what do you do while you’re playing the waiting game?  Be sure to leave what game you’re waiting for in the comments!



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When Background Stories in Video Games are Better than the Actual Story

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain = Epic Story

There are video games with stories and then there are video games with great stories. I’m told Dynasty Warriors has a story, but lets be honest I have never really payed attention? I do know there are things I always skip between battles. Dynasty Warriors is all about laying waste to large groups or people and cutting a bloody swath through a battlefield while yelling “musou” when you unleash the fury. For most of us the story is not what drives the game in Dynasty Warriors. It’s fun because its so simply delightful in its battles.

Heavy Rain has a great story. Right away you are drawn into a rich deep story wrought with passionate and interesting characters as you attempt to untangle a mystery to save the life of a small boy trapped in a storm drain filling up as it rains. Aside from a few key moments the gameplay isn’t action driven, fast paced, or heart pounding. It is sometimes all that and more but on the whole it’s interesting, unique, but a lot of fraction of a second decisions. Deep down its the rich and well mapped out and executed story that drives this game along.

As I play through Assassins Creed: Brotherhood I find myself dropping everything when I see a broken heart map icon appear. Though Assassins Creed: Brotherhood has a wonderful story that is almost perfect in almost every instance this small icon seems to be consuming all my attention. As a spoiler free description, it’s Ezio’s tale of lost

Resistance 2 - Chimera

This guy loves a good story. Preferably before bed time.

love (hence the broken heart). Why is it that I find myself drawn so heavily into something that can’t even be considered a secondary story? At most its a tertiary optional story that you really don’t have to do if you don’t want to. Originally I wanted to talk about games that had a secondary story that surpassed the main story but as I thought about it my thoughts came down to one game that (to me) had such an amazing story going on outside of the main tale that it stands head and shoulders over any other video game I could think of.

If you are familiar with the tale of Henry Stillman you will most likely be standing up shouting “oh hell yes that was awesome!” If you aren’t let me break it down for you. In the PS3 exclusive Resistance 2 from time to time you would find yourself near a broadcasting radio. Coming over the airwaves or a war torn United States being overrun with Chimera was the voice of Henry Stillman. He’s holding strong in a radio booth watching the world around him die out and be replaced with something alien. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, lets allow Henry himself to let you know what’s going on:

So here he is stuck in Philadelphia calling out to anyone who can hear him to take care of themselves and stay safe and secure. The first time you hear this you aren’t overwhelmed or really think too much of it. It’s somewhat early in the game and you’re currently amped up to start shooting some gray bug eyed Chimera because frankly…its fun to watch ’em fall.

Henry starts to become more human. You hear the desperation in his voice. This is when you begin to take note that there’s something interesting going on behind the scenes. Most first person shooters aren’t known for their eipc stories. While this isn’t part of the main story or even something you have to listen to it still begins to draw you in.

We often forget there is a world outside of what we have in the targeting reticle in game. Resistance throws this world at us in these radio broadcasts. Philadelphia is still there and has problems of it’s own. It doesn’t have a Nathan Hale taking down Chimera like hot dogs on dollar dog night at the ballpark. There are more lives at steak. Most have been lost like Beverly who apparently enjoyed her vegetables. People who have died horrible painful deaths and people who have yet to experience the horror but are about to…

It’s this one in particular that really got stuck with me. As a fight was raging around me I was getting pissed that I couldn’t listen to the radio. The tale of father and son being overrun by Chimera as one man sat up in a radio booth and watched helplessly. As Chimera attempt to overrun my position I’m huddled near a radio firing and cursing each and every muzzle flash because the accompanying noise just takes away from the radio. I have to know what’s going on. I need to know. I am fully invested in the life of Henry Stillman. I want to kick in his door and show him the way to freedom to help him live on with his life.

Henry becomes even more human to us as he begins to attempt to cope with the new world. Henry does what many people probably would. He drinks. He gets drunk. He gets really, really drunk. Henry admits he doesn’t even know if anyone is out there listening to him. He’s just talking to talk. It’s here that we begin to find ourselves wondering if there in fact is anyone out there listening. Are we the only ones hearing him? Are there others like us out there hearing Henry’s drunken ramblings? I can’t help but wonder what we’ve missed. What else has Henry seen or attempted to do? Has he ever tried to leave the booth?

One of the many questions about Henry have been answered. He did in fact leave for a moment. At this point he must view that booth as his only place of peace and safety. It’s his fortress of solitude where nothing can touch him. We’ve gone through this journey with him. What Henry does outstandingly well is not only give insight into the world crumbling around the player but fully immerse the player into the video game itself. He helps to create a living breathing world around us with full of life and hopes and fears. We don’t just see the normal soldier or short lived experience with an NPC. We really get to know Henry Stillman. We’ve learned about Henry and the kind of person that he is. What’s more is that even though you’re playing as some Chimera infused bad-ass in reality that’s not who we really are. Henry forces us to think what type of person we would be were we to be placed in a situation like Henry. We may call him a coward but if you were safe in a radio booth would you risk life and limb to save someone you didn’t know? Would you take matters into your own hands or would you wait for the inevitable end. Before I leave you with our last known broadcast from Henry let me just encourage you to comment below and let us know what your favorite background or secondary story has been in gaming. Is it good ol’ Henry, or is it something else? And now to find out what happens with Henry Stillman:

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Playstation 3 Holiday Video Game Gift Buying Guide

The holiday season is upon us and that means its time to go out and spend money on video games for your loved ones. Sometimes even if they don’t play. Last year I got my mom a bear skin run and No More Hero’s. She doesn’t even know what a Wii is let alone anything about Travis Touchdown. Strangely enough the bear skin rug was actually the primary area of question. But why? Who doesn’t want a bear skin rug!?!?

We all have that gamer in our lives. The one who you never know quite what to shop for. Will they like it, won’t they like it. They may in fact think you don’t know gaming at all. You might not, but here at PtC we’re want to help you fake it. You may be sitting there asking yourself “What do I get that gamer in my life who has a PS3?” Well ask no more.

Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain

Heavy rain is one of my top 5 Playstation 3 video games of all time. Initially my thought behind it was “people like it because it’s such a unique concept, it’s so different, but lets see if it stands the test of time.” Well the test is still going on, but personally I find myself drawn to it again and again.

If the reviews are to be believed this game was revolutionary for it’s innovative control scheme and absolutely outstanding graphics. More than the bells and whistles this game hits the user at their core. This has one of the more engaging stories to come out of a video game this year (in my opinion). What makes it truly outstanding is not just that the story grabs you in once, but you can play it over and over and find new elements, new endings, new possibilities. Unlike games such as Mass Effect or Dragon Age where there is a good, bad, and neutral response Heavy Rain teaches moral ambiguity. You will never know the outcome of your snap decisions until after you make them. This game will grab you and hold you until the bitter heart pounding end. It’s a quick play, but the replay value increases the playtime exponentially.

This is not a game for everyone mind you. The blatant nudity and storyline about a murderer are absolutely deserving of the M rating that it receives. But still – go out and get it for the gamer in your life who is over the age 18 that likes deep engaging stories.

GameStop: $59.99

Amazon: $43.88

Target: $59.99

Wal-Mart: $59.99

Buy from Best Buy: $59.99

Gran Turismo 5

Gran Turismo 5If you have a race fan, car enthusiast, gear head, or street racer this the game you should keeping your eye on this holiday season. Why is that? 26 locations, 71 tracks, and over 1000 cars. This is not for the amateur car guy. This is something you give to the fan who seriously sees a car and gets a big rubbery one.

What makes this so exceptional has to do with the fact that this game was in development for over five years. They went over everything in minute detail to present the cleanest, most polished, most unbelievable product they could. While the ratings for Gran Turismo 5 weren’t as high as many of us were expecting them to be it is still a pretty amazing offering that should be in the library of any gamer. Especially if that gamer loves cars.

If you have someone who appreciates meticulous attention to detail, has always wanted to attempt to drive a high end car who’s price tag would make Diddy do a double take then pick up a copy of Gran Turismo 5 today.

GameStop: $59.99

Amazon: $55.99

Wal-Mart (PS3): $59.99

Best Buy: $59.99

Assassins Creed: Brotherhood

Assassins Creed: BrotherhoodOh how I have a deep love for Assassins Creed: Brotherhood. It’s not the kind of love you sometimes find. Where you meet a girl and really like her a lot. You have feelings for her and you think you love her so you tell her and she laughs at you. Oh college… This is a love that is deep and passionate and most importantly reciprocated.

How is it given back? With the tightest control scheme seen in any Assassins Creed, a fantastic extension of the already incredible story of Ezio. But then it decides that killing along a defined story is no longer good enough to keep you a loyal and monogamous assassin. No it amps things up and brings other people into the relationship to spice things up. THAT’S HOW MUCH IT LOVES YOU!!

Fear not Assassins Creed: Brotherhood…we have noticed what you’ve done and we love you too. So much so that we don’t want to be the only one who gets the benefit of “sharing”. We want to share you with the world and say “Give yourself to others and make them as happy as you’ve made me.”

Now as you can imagine this is not going to be a game for everyone in the family. It has an ESRB rating of M for a reason. It’s all about killing people. Very gratifying and visceral killing, but still killing. Add to that the game starts off with Ezio getting down in a tub with Caterina Sforza and you have yourself a super sexy murderous box full of awesome.

GameStop: $59.99

Amazon: $49.99

Wal-Mart: $49.96

Red Dead Redemption

Red Dead RedemptionThis was one of those video games that you pretty much knew was going to be fun. It mixed all of the greatness that was the Grand Theft Auto franchise and set it in the Old West with horses, and cougars, and bears. BEARS!!! Come to think of it you could give the greatest gift ever given. The opportunity to bring down a bear with a hunting knife. I can’t name a single person who hasn’t wanted to do that. Heck even my dog Maddox gazed at the TV with rapt attention as I attempted it. There was a certain look of jealousy in his eyes. As I failed I can swear I heard him sigh as if to say “If it was me I totally would have brought down the bear.” He’s a jerk.

Much like everything listed so far this game is rated M which means you’re not going to be wanting to pick this up for your niece or nephew who spends most of their time dancing along with YoGabba Gabba! Okay well in most instances where your niece or nephew spends their time dancing along with Yo Gabba Gabba!

What you get is essentially a classic spaghetti western set in an entirely open world video game. You get stage coaches, shootouts, saloons, and s….ookers. Yeah that alliteration was DOA wasn’t it?

GameStop: $59.99

Amazon: $49.96

Target: $59.99

Best Buy: $59.99

Wal-Mart: $49.96

Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit

Need for Speed: Hot PursuitNeed for Speed: Hot Pursuit, unlike Gran Turismo 5 is intended for the Ricky Bobby style of drivers who just “wanna go fast.” Need for Speed has always been a solid and reliable franchise that you can count on for great racing, fun environments, and (as the name suggests) pursuits from law enforcement to break up an otherwise “mundane” race.

However the makers of Hot Pursuit threw a curve ball at fan and <gasp> actually listened to them. Fans had been asking for it and Criterion answered by actually letting you play as the police. This is something that most people thought would be entertaining and a change of pace and wouldn’t ya know it. We were all right. All us. All except Steve in Columbus Ohio. He was so very very wrong.

The truly fun aspect of Need for Speed is that it doesn’t take near as much time or effort to get a high end car that you will never find in your garage. It was created in a way so that you, for lack of a better phrase, get to the good stuff quickly. It’s rated E10+ so feel free to get it for some of the younger family members.

GameStop: $42.99

Amazon: $49.95

Target: $59.99

Best Buy: $59.99

Wal-Mart: $49.96

Call of Duty: Black Ops

Call of Duty: Black OpsIf you know anyone who is a fan of first person shooters (FPS) then this is something they should already have. However if you have that one person who was, for whatever reason, holding out then absolutely go pick this video game up and make their Christmas bright. Instead of twinkling lights to delight the eyes they will gaze lovingly at muzzle flashes and artillery.

This game takes place in the 1960’s as you assume the roll of (mostly) Alex Mason a special forces solider running CIA sanctioned black ops missions. It takes you around the world to places like Laos, Vientnam, Cuba, and Russia. But single player campaigns aren’t what COD games are typically about.

What really gets the people amped up about COD is the multiplayer. With points and unlockable rewards this isn’t just run and gun. It becomes a personal experience that becomes an extension of who you are. There are so many facets to the online mutliplayer system that we just can’t list all of them in a simple gift buying guide.

GameStop: $49.99

Amazon: $54.96

Target: $59.99

Best Buy: $59.99

Wal-Mart: $54.96

I’m not saying these are the only video games to pick up for the gamer in your life this holiday season. These are just the ones I would specifically look for to pick up. So now I ask you, what games are on your holiday wish list? Comment below and let us know. We may even tell Santa to hook you up.
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