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Assassin’s Creed 2 EP22: The Desynchronizer

By Shamus
on Thursday Nov 17, 2011
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

From this point on, most of the game revolves around a plot-driven door.

A natural side-effect of plot doors is that players will scrutinize them in direct proportion to how much hassle it is to open it. In the Neverwinter Nights 2 example I linked above, it takes the player about a quarter of the game to open a door. Therefore that potion of the game attracted a lot of analysis, which resulted in the entire thing flying apart for me.

The Assassin’s Creed 2 writers seemed to be aware of this danger, so they wisely set up this mission to examine the building and establish that it is exceptionally secure. This helps persuade the player that the upcoming steps will be justified. On the other hand, the mission itself is kind of annoying, and it doesn’t really satisfy all objections.

For example, if I was trying to sneak in to that place and kill somebody, my first thought would be, “Food and water are getting in there somehow. These are not carried by nobles. These will be carried by peasants. Maybe I should consider taking off MY MAGNIFICENTLY FLAMBOYANT CLOWN SUIT and try to slip in undetected. Maybe explore some other methods of assassination besides ‘frontal assault’.” Well, I’d think of that before I thought of “flying machine”, at any rate.

This setup made me even more angry at Ezio. He stayed his blade when all of his foes were right in front of him. Later they’ve moved into an impregnable fortress and NOW he wants to kill them?

Of course, they could have just stuck to the core mechanics and missions like the original, and then I’d fault the game for feeling repetitive. Or they could cull the repetition and I’d ding the game for being too short. Instead of the Good, fast, cheep tradeoff, games seem to have “long, diverse, well-made”. Looking at it that way, Assassin’s Creed 2 actually performs better than most games. But I wouldn’t be doing my job if I let these plot-hacks slip by without comment.

EDIT: Edited the first paragraph to fix my nearly incoherent introduction.

Comments (94)

  1. SolkaTruesilver says:

    I hate PDD (Plot Driven Doors)

    This is why I prefer sandbox games… Like.. oh, I don’t know..

    Somebody knows a nice recently published sandbox game?

  2. DaveMc says:

    “Edited the first paragraph to fix my nearly incoherent introduction.” — See, now I really want to see what that looked like. Curse your ephemeral nature, internet!

  3. webrunner says:

    Isn’t it rather weird that three conspirators would walk in broad daylight and explain their plans loudly, instead of, for example, in private?

    Also, that guy is almost as bad as Lydia at assuming the shortest distance between two points is go.. somewhere and have adventures. My Lydia once decided to go backwards through a Dwemer ruin instead of taking one step onto a small amount of snow.

    • Imposing Snail says:

      I feel like this is a problem of exposition in games. If this were a film I’m sure they would have been inside that impenetrable building and Ezio under an open window or something. This solves the problem of why he doesn’t just kill them, he can’t, and it’s a much more sensible place to talk about your evil plans. It almost feels like this part exists as an excuse to have a “follow these people without being seen” mission, rather than being what the plot calls for.

      There is a lot of exposition to get through and giving the player something to do stops it from falling into Final Fantasy or Metal Gear Solid syndrome of feeling like a film with playable bits in between the story.

      Of course finding a way to get the information across while avoiding the villian’s speech altogether would be better than both of these options.

  4. Joel D says:

    I was waiting for that “Assassins peed” – I’m glad you delivered!

  5. Mathias says:

    …Of all the places in the world, -this- is the place where someone drops a Dire Straits reference? Good on you, Shamus, good on you.

  6. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So thats why its called ASSassins creed.Its steamy ray vaughn edition.

  7. Hitch says:

    Who cares about Stephanie Brown? Carrie Kelly did it first. And knew about Jason Todd dying before the rest of us.

  8. LurkerAbove says:

    Consider this the angry post saying Stephanie Brown was great as Robin.

    • swenson says:

      Eh. Honestly, she really wasn’t too useful as Robin. She really only got completely awesome after she grew up a bit. She was awesome as Batgirl. I’m real happy for Babs and all, but I loved Steph as Batgirl.

      You can insult Jason Todd any day, though. Feel free. :D

      • Fishminer says:

        I’ve only seen under the red hood so my view of Jason Todd is king badass who is probably right about everything, but the prospect of that is so terrifying that batman would prefer to just get rid of him.

      • Viktor says:

        Yeah, it wasn’t until BQM got his hands on her that she came into her own. As Robin, she went on one mission, where she disobeyed orders in order to save Batman, letting the villain escape*. Not the greatest track record.

        That said, she never actively murdered anyone while wearing the Robin outfit, so she was still a better one than Todd.

        *All of this stems from the fact that Bruce Wayne is a dick. A giant, MASSIVE dick.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh,right,why ezio didnt kill them then and there.See,the game is really bad at conveying this,especially when played by someone like Josh,but ezio was not a blood thirsty killer.So he was trailing these guys to find out what they are planning,not murder them.In retrospect,he probably shouldve,seeing what happened because they lived.

    • James says:

      so he’s like the sniper from tf2.

      ones a profession and the other thing is mental sickness good to know. also in Revelations Ezio is oooold. like late 50’s old. and still kills guards. soldiers. Templars and minstals without a sweat.

    • guy says:

      But… but he totally does assassinate people. He assassinated a guy who was going to be at this very meeting the previous night. They’re discussing their plans to kill the leader of the city and take over. Once that becomes clear, what possible reason does he have to not assassinate a bunch of his sworn enemies right then and there?

      • Gamer says:

        According to the subtitles, the explanation is stupid.

        Ezio (paraphased): “Damn it. They got away!”

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Sure,he does assassinate people.But what does he do evey time?Tell them to rest in peace.Hes not doing it for revenge any more.He got his revenge.These are not his sworn enemies,he disposed of his sworn enemies in the beginning.

        • Raygereio says:

          Hes not doing it for revenge any more.He got his revenge.

          But then the problem arrises of what the hell Ezio’s motivation is. It pretty much has to be revenge. If it isn’t why did he come to Venezia after he was done with the Pazzi? Just for the fun of it?

          But yeah, I agree with you that the game’s narrative is really bad at conveying the non-bloodthirsty aspect of Ezio’s character (then again it’s bad at conveying anything about his character). Its why the “That will save me from having to bloody my sword”-line sounds so silly. It sure as hell doesn’t help that the sidemissions has you murder incredible ammounts of people with the sole motivation of money.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            He came to accept the thing that his father and uncle did:Stopping the templar plans.Its supposed to be a growth narative,he starts with a blind revenge,but then sees the big picture,and how what his father and uncle did was good,and continues that work.Thats why you are collecting codex pages,and finding out about the artifacts that altair hid.Except that its a little bit disjointed,seeing how the main narrative doesnt blend that seamlessly with your codex hunt.

            • Raygereio says:

              I honestly never got that from the story. I just figured that Ezio was still doing this for revenge at this point.
              I don’t think I can be blamed for that either, seeing as none of this growth is really shown in game.

              The problem is the presentation of Ezio’s character. Or better phrased, the utter lack thereoff. It’s only at the very end of the game when we we’re being shown that Ezio has changed.
              Ezio decision to not kill Borgia at the end (spoiler warning, derp) doesn’t come across as the result of a character walking a long path, learning things, overcomming obstacles and becomming a better man in the process.
              It comes across as a sudden, almost impulsive decision of a man who – after a long, long time – finally got to the end, found that he was tired and just said “screw this”.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                And thats the main problem of the whole asscreed series.Its trying to tell two(well,a few more than two)parallel stories at the same time,and ends up with one of them being rather overstretched(the desmond story)and the other being disjointed and nonsensical at times(ezio story this time).So while desmonds growth is being so slowed down that people dont even see it,ezios is being sped up so much that they jump from him starting to get the creed to him immediately knowing everything about it.And this doesnt make the game normally paced on average,but just plain messed up.

  10. Guvnorium says:

    Not gonna lie, when Mumbles talked about Rutskarn’s character sparkling, my first thought was this.

    Then I realized that that that was a silly idea, and that I’ve just spent too long with the PPC…

  11. Jeremy says:

    Wait a minute. Doesn’t Antonio turn out to be an Assassin at the end of the game? And does he not perform a Leap of Faith, along with the rest of the Assassins?

    Then why the hell is he more useless than Jason Todd Robin?

  12. Bentusi16 says:

    I like to think that maybe Ezio and Rosa were just bumping uglies and there was absolutely no real depth to it other then a booty call. Because this is Italy and Ezio is a young man.

    That’s why its hinted at only lightly, because really, there’s nothing more to it.

    That’s what I think anyway.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      But theyve already shown all of the other pointless sexcapades ezio had,so why restrain themselves here?

      • Bentusi16 says:

        The only one they actually showed explicitly was the first girl, and that was, I think, to establish that Ezio is a young horny guy in Italy. Everyone else, while it’s been overt flirting and doesn’t leave much to imagination, hasn’t been any difference then what he did with Rosa there.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          On the other hand, I think they initialy planed to have more things done in Venezia, but cut it later. Maybe were planing to release it as a DLC?

        • Jakale says:

          The first girl, the horse race girl in Forli, and later in Venice. Given that, they give Ezio a sex scene in every explorable area except Monteriggioni and San Gimignano. Given how later Ezio does a bit of introspection with Rosa and the flirting and implied actions it seems pretty clear that they’re close so it’s surprising that they wouldn’t give a bit more time to showing their relationship building.
          Granted, by and large, the AC games don’t do much work in showing growing relationships between the main and everyone else at all, with a couple people that might be exceptions.

  13. krellen says:

    After that Robin burn, Mumbles is my new hero.

  14. Annikai says:

    I got the Big Bad Beetle Borgs reference Rustkarn.

    • Lord Nyax says:

      I have not had reason to remember the Beetleborgs for years now until this video brought them back. I once had a Beetleborg action figure, complete with a Beetlebike, or whatever the heck they called them.

  15. Drexer says:

    I just had an exam today. I reserved an hour of my afternoon to catch back on the three Spoiler Warning videos I had behind.

    And now you do this to me, Mumbles?

    You insult Stephanie Brown? The most will-driven, dream-pursuer character of the Batman mythos. One of the characters that wore the Robin mantle in full right of it despite being treated like crap by editors who only wanted to use it for a bait-and-switch and objectified the character sexually in a death-torture scene. The character which got one of the best titles post Final Crisis and which brought with it some of the best writing I’ve seen in the latest years of comics? My favourite DC character!

    I’m sorry, I know that what I’m about to say shouldn’t be said, and it obviously goes over some unspeakable rules of wishing bad things onto someone else; but this time you crossed the line, and I’m going to say the thing all the viewers thought about saying but we did not because it would be too cruel for you:

    You should date Rutskarn, you two deserve each other.

    Nice episode though :P

  16. Simulated Knave says:

    Actually, the viewers will complain the comments that Ezio doesn’t just stab everyone because stabbing people doesn’t mean their replacements (who you DON’T know) won’t go ahead with their plans. It also doesn’t let you find out who their friends and co-conspirators are. Or what the Templar’s overarching plot is.

    Not immediately stabbing everyone is the smart option.

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Also while Ezio kills people, by this time he has settled in kind of Assassin morality, where he doesn’t kill if it’s not strictly necessary. And at that point those people would be more of use alive, so they can lead him to more of their friends.

    • Wtrmute says:

      I agree completely, particularly because of that “Spaniard” character Ezio doesn’t know could still go ahead with some unspecified plan even if the people in Venezia were killed.

      However, it isn’t very Cuftbertian to show restraint, so it sorts of rubs everybody the wrong way.

    • guy says:

      See, the issue with that is that there’s seriously five people who are apparently pretty important within easy stabbing range. There just isn’t going to be a better chance to throw their plans out of whack. It’s an outlandish stroke of luck that he’s encountered this many people who can’t be easily replaced, and there’s no real likelihood he’ll end up with a better set of targets. This isn’t a case where their plans will just keep going if they lose these people, they’ll need to make new plans.

      • Pete says:

        But thats the point. Ezio wants to be sure that by the time hes done, there wont be anyone left to make plans. Besides, on what do you base the fact that these five specific people are so important? (Hint: its probably the fact that they have names and unique models.)

        • Raygereio says:

          How about the dialogue? That alone indicated pretty well that Carlo Grimaldi was their way to the Doge. Taking him out right then and there would ensure their immediate plan for killing the Doge would be useless.
          It’s also obvious that while the others are no more then stooges, the Spaniard is the leader of the bunch.

          Heck, even if Ezio didn’t want to kill anyone right then and there. Finding out more about the Spaniard would have been a smart thing to do. Follow him.
          But no, that’s not what happens. Which brings me to the major problem I had with this segment writing-wise. Why the hell does Ezio just suddenly loose them? They’re on the middle of bridge! They had nowhere to go. Did Ezio just stare slack jawed at the birds for a couple of hours?

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Sure,carlo was their link to the doge,but was he the only one?What were the plans of others?If ezio were to jump them and kill carlo and the spaniard,and the rest ran away,what would be their fall back plan?Is the spaniard the leader,or just the leaders right hand man?And what of their connection with the vatican?None of this is covered for quite some time after this mission,but all of it is important.

            • Raygereio says:

              the rest ran away,what would be their fall back plan?

              Follow then and find out. Make them panic and do something stupid.
              Oh, but I’m sure if that happened there would be a cutscene in which Ezio loses them for no reason at all.

  17. silver Harloe says:


    Ezio wants to make sure stabbing them all will actually solve some problems instead of just introducing new actors who might do the same thing or worse, and he wants to know if they have associates in other cities on whom he will need to go apply some stabbing afterwards.

    I can tell this, and I haven’t even played the games, and know nothing about the plot except what I can hear when you guys pause for breath.

    Er, this was supposed to be a reply to the comment above it (the one by Simulated Knave), but I can’t delete and repost as a reply, so, uh. Bad me for hitting the wrong post button there.

    • Fnord says:

      It’s obvious BECAUSE you haven’t played the game.

      Ezio has no idea who all these people are, or who they connect to, or if he’s going to have to kill them. People who’ve finished the game already know all that.

  18. Ceebees says:

    “Because i’m the only other gay guy, er, gay, like, character.”
    Nice save, Ruts.

    I kid, only because that story actually caused me to hurt, in my soul.

  19. Peter H. Coffin says:

    And yes, that is San Marco/St Mark’s. Well, that cathedral you ran across the roof of is, at least. If you go across the narrower direction across the plaza from the tall tower and climb across about two alleys, you should be in the neighborhood with all the Gucci handbags.

  20. guy says:

    Yeah, that following mission was pretty nonsensical. Maybe they could have had you do a chain of shadowings, where the first two guys met up with the third guy and then one of them left and the other two met with another guy and split up again, and then the remaining guy met the last person, and then the last person mentioned having to talk to some other guy and then he went somewhere you couldn’t easily follow. Then it would make sense that Ezio didn’t assassinate these people because there would actually be a sensible progression by which he’d assume they would meet more people and he could go completely nuts on them.

    Also, why did you go on a massive jumping mission with Antonio and not Rosa, who is actually allegedly good at jumping and has recovered by this point?

  21. el_b says:

    after the amnesia video, one face off reference is too many face off references :P

  22. gragsmash says:

    Rutskarn shoulda learned to play the guitar.

    He shoulda learned to play them drums.

  23. Dovius says:

    Mmm, I thought the reason why Antonio had to come with you was to see if his Thieves could also get inside.
    Ya know, since they’re completely incompetent and thus wouldn’t be able to do half the stuff Ezio does on a daily basis.

  24. MatthewH says:

    Oh, man… Is “Money for Nothin” really that dated a reference? Now I feel old.

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