Category Archives: Video Games

Game of the Month: Assassin’s Creed II

As I already liked its prequel I was looking forward to the release of Assassin’s Creed II. It continues the story of Desmond Miles who got involved in a war between two secret organisations, the Assassins and the Templars. Once again Desmond uses a machine called the Animus to relive the memories of one of his ancestors.

The basic course of the game hasn’t changed since the first game. You control a character who moves in a three dimensional landscape resembling historic sites. This time the story line takes you to Italy in the late 15th century where you guide an assassin going by the name of Ezio Auditore during his search for the murderers of his father and brothers.

The game retained all the advantages of its prequel:

  1. Brilliant graphics, especially the virtual Venice is worth seeing.
  2. Cities full of people who socially interact with your character.
  3. A fighting system well-balanced between challenge and fairness.
  4. A fascinating storyline.

The designers also got rid of the annoying parts:

  1. No more investigation phases to unlock main missions.
  2. Collecting flags is (mostly) gone.
  3. No tedious horse riding through a landscape full of aggressive, respawning soldiers.
  4. The interruptions by the plot taking place in the present time are less frequent and less irritating.

New elements make the game even more interesting:

  1. The goal of the main missions vary to some degree. Dispatching an enemy is often not good enough. You e.g. need to follow him to a secret meeting without being discovered first.
  2. Treasure hunts in dungeons which require expert climbing and careful jumping pay homage to Tomb Raider.
  3. Running the Auditore family’s countryside villa introduces an admittedly very simple economic simulation into the game.
  4. The ability to buy weapons, armour and other equipment or get extra training for money adds elements of a role-playing game.

All in all Assassin’s Creed II provides hours of fun with just the right level of difficulty accompanied by an entertaining story. I’m already looking forward to the third part of the series.

Game of the Month: Batman: Arkham Asylum

Games based on movies, TV series and comics are frequently very disappointing. It seems that most of the money is spend on the rights and the resemblances of the main characters, but none on the gameplay. After a favourable review in the c’t magazine I decided to buy the PS3 version of Batman: Arkham Asylum nevertheless.

The game is based on DC Comics‘s Batman comics and not on the recent movies. If you like the dark atmosphere of these comics you will really enjoy this game. Excellent comic-style graphics, brilliant animation and the voice actors from DC animated universe bring the story to life.

Your job as Batman is to regain the control over the Arkham Asylum and stop Joker‘s plan to create an army of Bane-like creatures. Besides Batman’s formidable skills as a fighter you can also use his well known gadgets like batarangs or the grappling gun. But even those won’t help you much against a group of Joker’s henchmen with automatic guns. You need to plan carefuly, attack from the shadows and silently take out the bad guys one by one. Between the fights you have to solve puzzles to gain access to the next area or to find hidden extras.

If you want to know how it feels to be Batman this game is as close as you can get without getting up from your sofa. 😉

Game of the Month: Mario Kart Wii

A lot of people told me that Mario Kart Wii is a must-have. As usual I grew suspicious and wasn’t sure whether I wanted such a hyped game. But after playing Mario Kart Wii with my nephew I had to agree. When we were back home Silke browsed through a lot of shops in Cambridge until she managed to find the game in the last shop where it wasn’t sold out.

Mario Kart Wii is a comic style racing game. You pick a character from the Mario universe (e.g. Mario, Toad or Bowser) and either a kart or a motorbike and race over imaginative race tracks. The gameplay is simple, you only need to steer, accelerate and use extras. The extras are what makes the game so interesting. You can e.g. get extra speed boosts, missiles, temporary invulnerability, shrink all your opponents or turn into a cannonball which dashes along the race track. But some amount of fairness is maintained nevertheless. The racer in the lead e.g. never gets powerful extras. The real fun starts when you play the game with multiple players. Up to four people can play in split screen mode if you have enough Wii Remotes at hand.

I can highly recommend this game because it is very entertaining, a single race doesn’t require much time and you can play it with your friends. My advice is however not to buy the Wii Wheel. It only makes steering more sluggish compared to using just the Wii Remote. Overall I prefer to use the Wii Nunchuk anyway.