Alien: Isolation

A while back, I started playing Alien: Isolation. The only game in the franchise I’ve played before that was Aliens vs Predator. Now, I liked that game, but this would be a completely different experience, based on the thriller style of the first movie, focusing on stealth and ingenuity, rather than the more action oriented pace inspired by Aliens.

It not only satisfied, but exceeded my expectations with how exciting it was. It combined the weapon building of Alone in the Dark (2008), the immersion of Bioshock, the tense paranoia of Haunting Ground and the dystopian retro-futuristic setting of Alien.

(And if you haven’t played any of the games I just mentioned, go play them right now! And while you’re at it, go watch Alien, even if you’ve already seen it!)

But even if it’s a great game, it’s not without its flaws. As usual, I will not talk about glitches or bugs, or if the story is padded or not. Those are issues reserved for people who review games for a living.

I will just point out some issues I have with the plot, as a fan of the franchise. But please, don’t misinterpret this as an excuse for me to dislike the game. I only criticize these things because I hold the game to a higher standard than most games. It’s such a good game, problems like these stand out much more.

Now, before I start writing, I will do something slightly unusual. See, usually when I write about something, I assume that people reading my blog have seen the movies and played the games I talk about or, at the very least, have no plans to do so.

But here, the game in question is fairly new and pretty popular. As such, chances are people haven’t played it and may want to. If this applies to you, know this. This post contains major spoilers for the game. If you haven’t played it yet and plan to play it, STOP READING RIGHT NOW! I will take no responsibility for anyone reading past this point and having the story spoiled for them. You have been warned.

(Also, those who may have played the game, and don’t want some pedantic nitpicker on a blog to point out plotholes in it should probably not read any further either…)

With that out of the way, let’s begin.

The game takes place 15 years after the events of Alien. You play as Amanda Ripley, daughter of Ellen Ripley, traveling to the space station Sevastopol looking for a flight recorder that may tell you what became of the Nostromo. With you on the journey aboard the Torrens is a legal executive from Weyland-Yutani named Nina Taylor. She informs you she is going along to Sevastopol to retrieve the flight recorder of the Nostromo on account of it being Weyland-Yutani property. As it turns out, her real mission is to retrieve information about the Xenomorphs. Specifically the location of the planetoid where the ship with the eggs is located, as well as any information about the origins of the organism.

But here’s my question. Doesn’t Weyland-Yutani already know where the derelict is? In the first movie, the Nostromo picks up a distress signal, which they follow to the derelict. The crew member Kane is then attacked by a facehugger during the exploration of the ship, and the xenomorph is brought onto the Nostromo.

Weyland-Yutani must have known that was going to happen, since Ash was assigned as the science officer two days before the Nostromo left Thedus, having been given Special Order 937 to ensure the organism was retrieved successfully. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that Weyland-Yutani detected the emergency beacon and found its point of origin long before the events of Alien.

So what exactly was the point of Taylor’s mission? What could it possibly tell them that they didn’t know already? All it seems to accomplish is to try and make you go “Oh no! Nina is working for Weyland-Yutani, and they want to get the Alien!”

In other news, scientists have discovered that water is, indeed, wet.

Another problem I have with the game comes after you exit APOLLO, having been told that Special Order 939 (which is preventing you from communicating with the Torrens and escaping Sevastopol) cannot be lifted, even though the alien is no longer on the station. The reason for APOLLO’s refusal is that “Scheduled reactor scans are unverified”. To find the problem, you have to work your way to Sevastopol’s reactor and enter central reactor maintenance.

Once you get there, you find not a second alien, but an entire xenomorph nest, complete with eggs, set up by the drone that was brought to Sevastopol from the other ship to visit the derelict, the Anesidora.

Now, I have only one question with this plot development.

HOW THE FUCK IS THAT POSSIBLE?!

This series has been around since 1979! The xenomorph has been a part of popular culture for 35 years! We have had three and a half decades in which to flesh out the xenomorphs and establish how they function!

And one of the most fundamental facts about the xenomorph society throughout the series is the presence of the Queen!

The Queens main function (as with most hive societies) is to lay eggs! We’re shown in the movies how the Queen needs an egg sac in order to produce and lay eggs.

However, nowhere in Alien: Isolation do we see a Queen, hear of a Queen or even come across an area in the hive big enough to HOUSE a Queen.

This hive was established by a drone. Drones can’t lay eggs. It’s possible that the drone could BECOME a Queen (I’ve seen that in other games) but that was the same drone that was jettisoned along with part of the station into the planet beneath Sevastopol. So where the hell did the eggs come from?! THIS IS NEVER EXPLAINED!

Now, that is not to say it’s not possible to explain it.

In a deleted scene of Ridley Scott’s Alien, later released as part of the Director’s Cut in 2003, we’re shown that Brett, a member of the crew of the Nostromo, is actually being turned into an egg in a nest set up by the alien in the Nostromo‘s hold.  If you saw the Director’s Cut you’d know this. If you’re one of the people who only saw the original version (like I did) you’re going to be very confused. Still, that explanation seems to settle thing neatly.

However…

I can give several reasons why that explanation doesn’t work.

First of all, despite it being called the Director’s Cut, Ridley Scott himself claimed the original version was “his perfect vision” of the movie. As such, the scene with Brett turning into an egg was not intended as part of the original movie, which may well mean that humans becoming eggs is not part of the Alien Canon.

Now, that is a very pedantic argument, I admit. So here’s something more definite.

Let’s assume that humans turning into eggs is indeed part of the Alien Canon and that a drone could theoretically establish a hive without a Queen to supply eggs. But the problem is, I walked around that entire hive and inspected every single body there. Not one of them showed the SLIGHTEST sign of turning into an egg, or any physical deformities, other than some of them having gaping holes in their chests, courtesy of the chestbursters. If the idea is that humans become eggs, surely some of the bodies should be in some stage of transformation.

Am I wrong?

Not only that, but later in the game, after you destroy the nest, you find a brand spanking new nest, filled with eggs, And yes, this nest is clearly newly formed, since there are still plenty of exposed interior of the station! An older nest would have completely covered the walls! Not to mention that Apollo said NOTHING about this nest, only mentioning the anomalies in the reactor.

So where the hell are the eggs coming from?! Remember, this can’t be more than three hours after the main nest was destroyed, forcing the surviving aliens to relocate! Even if I were to agree that humans can become eggs, I refuse to believe it would take such a short amount of time to round up that many people and turn them into finished eggs!

And finally, my last argument on the matter.

The DLC Crew Expendable has you, as Ripley, Dallas or Parker, trying to eject the Alien through the Nostromo’s main airlock.

During the mission, you go through part of the ship, sealing maintenance hatches while trying to avoid the Alien. Can you guess what you find in the Nostromo‘s landing claw bay?

YOU FIND BRETTS CORPSE, IN A DECIDEDLY UN-EGGLIKE STATE!

If we are to assume that the “humans turning into eggs” idea is sound, why the flying fuck would the game not include THE ONE PART OF THE FIRST MOVIE that justifies that theory?! Why is the nest in the Nostromo’s hold not included in the Last Survivor DLC?

You see, if that’s the explanation you’re going with, you have to ESTABLISH that as part of the story. If they did, that would explain the eggs in the reactor core, but they didn’t. In this story, Brett wasn’t turned into an egg, which most likely means that’s not something drones are capable of, meaning the eggs aboard Sevastopol are completely unexplained.

Now, my last issue with the game is just a matter of personal preference.

Once you discover the nest, you have to destroy it. To do that, you have to initiate a reactor purge, which will wipe out the nest and everything in it. You have to overload the two cores inside the nest, and then initiate the purge from the reactor mainframe.

You initiate the purge, and the nest is destroyed. Everything is dandy… apart from one problem.

Several Xenomorphs escape the nest before it’s destroyed.

Now, this is a bit annoying to me since now, there are multiple aliens running around. It’s not a big thing, but if only one Alien escaped the destruction of the nest, I would’ve been happy. You’d be back on square one, in a manner of speaking.

It’d also somewhat explain why the Alien is following you, and only you, throughout the station. You just blew up its home and its entire family. One alien, as the game makes very clear, is more than enough to all but wipe out an entire space station. With four or five of them running around, you start to wonder how you survive past the three-quarter mark of the game.

And the thing is, had only one alien survived, the game wouldn’t be all that different. You’re still seemingly stalked by a single alien. Really, the only difference would be that by the end, as you’re activating the explosive bolts of the Torrens, only one alien would’ve been there.

Somehow, I can believe Ripley surviving a close encounter with one alien more than I can believe her surviving five at once.

That’s all I’ve got when it comes to Alien: Isolation.

Despite all I’ve said, It’s still a brilliant game. If you, for some reason, haven’t played it yet and still decided to read this whole thing, I recommend you try it.

But if you do try it, well…

I can’t lie about your chances…. but you have my sympathies.

This is Travis Tee, signing off.

Chapter V: A Tale of Two Games

Let’s talk about the story of Skyrim, shall we?

Dave: Hold on a minute! It’s unfair to pick on the story of Skyrim. The story has always been the weak point in games by Bethesda. You don’t play their games for the main story!

Ok, since when is that an excuse for poor writing!? If everyone knows that the writing is their weak point, and they continue to make poorly written games instead of trying to improve the writing, then it’s completely justified to call them out on their poor writing skills. Wouldn’t you agree?

Let’s begin.

As I mentioned in Chapter I, the story begins on a prison escort on its way to Helgen. Once past the crappy excuse for a Character Creation menu, you’re told that your name isn’t actually on the list of prisoners sentenced for execution.

Do the Imperial soldiers apologize for the inconvenience and let you go, since they have no legal right to hold you prisoner, let alone EXECUTE you?

After all, as far as they know, you’ve committed no crimes and they just picked you up when you tried to cross the border, right? Sure, there’s a civil war going on, but that hardly makes “crossing the border” a crime punishable by death. Especially if you play as any race other than Nords, since the Stormcloaks are exclusively nords.

I mean, It’s not like you’re going to share any state secrets. The people being executed are rebels, led by Ulfric Stormcloak, and surely they will want his death to be known as soon as possible, to signal the end of the Stormcloak Rebellion and the Skyrim Civil War?

No, of course not! They just say “Well, since you’re here, we’ll kill you too” and sentence you to death for absolutely no reason other than it being Wednesday.

If this sounds like a dick move, consider it an example of an issue I hinted at in Chapter II. Namely, Skyrim is almost exclusively populated by morons and assholes. If you’re lucky, you meet someone who’s one or the other, but for the most part the two tend to blur together.

In fact, I defy you to name five people in this game that are neither evil or stupid. I can only count four. Paarthurnax, Kodlak Whitemane, Tolfdir and possibly Emperor Titus Mede II. (I didn’t get a chance to know him very well, seeing as during the one quest where I met him I had to kill him. With no choice in the matter, of course.). Everyone else is either stupid, malicious or both.

See, whereas Fallout had the Karma-system, this game has no way of determining alignment. Of course, If you’re a good writer this doesn’t stop you from writing multifaceted and complex characters.

But the problem is, the people who made this game aren’t good writers. Because of that, almost everyone have the same personality. In other words: They’re dickheads!

Dave: Wait, the writers or the characters?

Yes.

In my opinion, this game could really benefit from some sort of alignment system, if only because it’d give the writers guidelines for how to write characters with any depth to them…..

Anyway…

There you are, sentenced to death by people who have outright stated they have no reason or right to kill you. So far, this is shaping up to be the shortest game in the history of role playing.

But just when you’re about to get your block knocked off, the execution is interrupted by the arrival of the black dragon Alduin. He kills several soldiers and prisoners while also causing massive destruction and chaos, giving you a chance to make your escape.

During the escape, you’re given an option to follow an Imperial or a Stormcloak soldier.

(And in twist that will surely leave Dave in shock, this choice makes absolutely no difference, since the end result is the same)

You flee through some hidden caverns underneath the Helgen keep, and make your way to safety.

Dave: So? What was wrong about that?

I’m glad you asked, Dave, and I will counter with a very simple question.

Why did Alduin attack?

Dave: Because he wanted to save Ulfric. If Ulfric dies, the war ends. Alduin wants as many as possible to die, so he can devour their souls.

Fair enough.

But why did he attack Helgen, instead of attacking the caravan before it arrived? Wouldn’t it be easier to destroy a caravan guarded by a handful of guards and set the prisoners free, instead of attacking an entire city full of soldiers and risk Ulfric being killed in the collateral damage, while also dealing with all the soldiers? Sure, they pose no threat to Alduin, but I’d imagine it’s still pretty annoying to have a bunch of people shooting arrows at you.

Not to mention Ulfric may well be killed by Imperials while trying to escape the city.

And while I’m asking, how did Alduin know Ulfric was there? Ulfric must have been caught recently. After all, why else would they take him to a relatively remote mountain village, instead of Solitude to face execution?

Even if Ulfric was caught a long time ago, who told Alduin where Ulfric was going? Nobody is shown to collaborate with Alduin. (It’d be an interesting idea, which means it’s not going to happen in this game)

Does Alduin have any telepathic abilities or some secret shout that gives him the power to track people? If so, you have to ESTABLISH those abilities at some point.

Also, we established in the last chapter that killing Ulfric won’t actually stop the war. More likely, it will escalate matters when the Stormcloaks and their sympathizers hear that the Empire has killed Ulfric. This is what I hinted at in the last chapter.

You see, despite their name, the Stormcloaks aren’t really followers of Ulfric. The name “Stormcloaks” was originally meant as an insult from Imperials, which the rebels then appropriated.

The rebellion itself was fundamentally centered around worship of Talos. Making Ulfric High-King was never the end goal! Ulfric was just someone with authority and charisma, representing traits the Nords value. Killing him doesn’t mean the core issue of Talos just goes away! All it does is killing someone who, arguably, has a legitimate claim to the crown, a man who would allow people to worship their god again.

Instead of a leader to follow, he becomes a symbol to rally around. A hero who died for his beliefs.

So either the war ends with Ulfrics death, in which case the writers completely missed the central issue in a storyline THEY THEMSELVES WROTE, or it keeps going, meaning the entire quest line of the Skyrim Civil war I talked about in chapter IV was a complete waste of time.

(Neither explanation inspires much hope….)

But if the goal was to prolong the war, Alduin had EVERYTHING to gain by Ulfric being executed.

Attacking Helgen was the absolutely dumbest tactical move he could have made, and not only because Ulfric survived the attack.

In what other way is it stupid?

Let’s say you’re Alduin. You know there is a civil war going on in Skyrim between the Imperial Army and the Stormcloak Rebellion. You want as many people as possible to die. Now, you don’t have to kill them yourself. As long as they die, it’s to your benefit, and neither side in the civil war is aware of you or your army of dragons.

(Never mind the fact that you’re immortal, so you’re not really in a rush, and you could pretty much just sit in the afterlife with your mouth open and eat everyone who dies.)

What should you do?

The answer is that you should wait until one side has defeated the other. That way, they will have limited supplies, their fortresses will be in disrepair, their troops will be exhausted, their equipment will be worn out and their strategic leaders will relax, since the crisis is over. This means they have little to no preparation or capability to defend themselves when you send in the aforementioned army of dragons and wipe them all out.

Now, I’ve never read “The Art of War” from cover to cover, but I seriously doubt that you’ll find that answer in the military teachings of Sun Tzu.

Do you know why?

Because it’s so fucking obvious, that if Sun Tzu, considered one of the greatest military minds in the history of organized warfare, believed it worth mentioning, he may as well have written an addendum to the book, outlining strategies like that.

And my guess is that the book would be called something along the lines of

The Art of War: The “YOU DON’T FUCKING SAY” Edition

Now conversely, do you know what is the absolutely worst thing you can do in that situation?

SHOWING YOURSELF, AND REVEALING THAT THE DRAGONS HAVE RETURNED!

Why?

Because if you do, chances are they will unite against this new, common enemy.

And even if they don’t, you are attacking them at the peak of their martial power!

Dave: So what?! The dragons can’t be killed! If they die, Alduin just resurrects them again. They are unstoppable, except if the Dragonborn is found!

Right you are, Dave. Now, do you know how someone would find out if they were the Dragonborn?

DaveBy killing a dragon.

WRONG!

The correct answer is: By absorbing the soul of a dead dragon. They don’t actually have to kill the dragon themselves, just stand near the corpse of one before Alduin gets to it. So if the Dragonborn happens to be in a city, let’s say Whiterun, and a dragon attacks, and the soldiers are well trained, well supplied, well equipped and pretty much prepared for war, chances are the Dragon might get killed (since, as we’ve established in Chapter II, the dragons are morons and don’t fight intelligently), which means the Dragonborn might be found.

And guess what?

THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT FUCKING HAPPENS! 

(And keep in mind, Alduin was aware of the prophecy that the Dragonborn would return!)

If Alduin, and by extension, the writers of this game had any brains at all, they would wait with the dragon invasion until AFTER the civil war was over.

Not only because it makes all kinds of sense from a tactical standpoint, but also because that’d mean the civil war would actually be part of the fucking story! If you want to fight dragons, you have to deal with the civil war first. It’s called a storyline! In Fallout New Vegas, you don’t get to go straight to caesars camp and talk with him. In Fable II, you don’t get to travel to Bloodstone and talk to Reaver, first thing you do.

Having the civil war come first would make you want to play the civil war and who knows, you might actually get invested in the story! Not to mention it’d build suspense and mystery around the dragons, culminating in them finally appearing!

The more observant readers among you might be wondering about the title of this chapter.

“A Tale of Two Games”

What I mean with that title is that this isn’t a complete game. It’s two halves of two different games, smashed together with little to no care of whether or not the two have anything to do with one another.

Think about it. you have the threat of Alduin, the Black God King of All Dragonkind, First Ruler of Man and Mer, Devourer of Souls and Armageddon incarnate.

And no, I’m not exaggerating at all with that description. From what I’ve been told, in Morrowind, you were fighting to avoid the world turning into a necropolis, and humanity turning into zombies or worse.

In Oblivion, you fight to keep Mehrunes Dagon, the Daedric Prince of Destruction, from entering Mundus, turning Nirn into a blasted wasteland and either enslave or wipe out humanity, thereby making the world an extension of his domain.

In Skyrim, you are not fighting to save a kingdom, or a continent, or even humanity itself. Alduin’s final goal is the COMPLETE AND UTTER ANNIHILATION OF THE PLANET. That is why he wants souls. Once he has devoured enough souls, he will have enough power to fulfill that purpose. He IS the end of the world personified.

But apparently, someone at Bethesda looked at that premise and thought “That’s not interesting enough! Throw a civil war in there as well!

So all of a sudden, we have a side plot of a civil war in Skyrim. An entire quest line that, ultimately, makes fuck all difference in the finished game.

It doesn’t matter what side wins in this tumultuous conflict that has Skyrim split down the middle. It’s not like if you finish the civil war, the winning side will fight alongside you against Alduin.

Why not cut the civil war, put more effort into the main story, iron out the problems, work on the writing and actually make a game people won’t look at and go “let’s not bother with the main story. It’s not any good anyway”. If people say that your main storylines aren’t very good, put in some effort and PROVE THEM WRONG!

And if you still want the civil war, just make that a DLC!

Sure, people don’t like DLC’s, but wouldn’t you rather have a complete game with a story you’d actually be interested in, rather than this badly constructed piece of crap?

Maybe you could cut a few Daedric quests too, and make the Civil War not just a battle between humans, but have some Daedric Princes getting involved as well, maybe to further their own agendas or just for their own amusement.

Boethia, Malacath, Clavicus Vile and Sheogorath could all be involved with the war, and motivating why they’d be involved should be easy.

But let’s assume that the civil war HAS to be part of the main story, and if you were to remove it, some artistic message or social commentary would be lost.

Fair enough. Let it never be said I wasn’t willing to compromise.

Here’s how you do it.

Suppose Alduin attacked a convoy carrying Ulfric Stormcloak that, rather than going to Helgen, is on it’s way to Solitude where Ulfric is to stand trial. Alduin attacks the convoy for the express purpose of killing Ulfric. Maybe it isn’t even Alduin himself attacking, but members of a resurrected dragon sect, like the one that spawned the Dragon Priests. They kill Ulfric, and remove the bodies of the imperial soldiers. This means everyone will blame the imperials for assassinating Ulfric rather than give him a fair trial, which might have seen him released and crowned as the new High-King.

Brewing paranoia and tension ensues.

Now, you are passing through the area when the attack takes place and witness it. And during the attack, you get knocked out by one of the attackers.

Then you wake up in a small cabin, by someone who found you.

Then that someone says something along the lines of “I’m such-and-such, by the way. Who are you?

Cue a proper character creation menu!

Now, nobody believes you when you claim that it wasn’t the imperial soldiers who killed Ulfric. And they certainly don’t believe you when you talk about “Dragon Cultists”. That sect has been gone for millenia. Clearly you just hit your head very hard.

The civil war could then be just the first part of the game! You can choose to try to meddle peace back and forth or fight with either side, ending with the enemy SURRENDERING. Your choice might have an effect on the ending. And once the war is over, one way or another…

THAT is when the dragons attack!

Now, how would Alduin know when to launch this attack?

Simple. He has informants in the form of cultists, masquerading as members of both factions, loyal to him alone. And maybe when he launches the attack, that’s when he uses some powerful spell or a special shout that restores the other dragons to life!

Cue the arrival of dragons loyal to him.

Alduin tasks one of the dragons to kill the people celebrating the end of the war, and leaves.

And when you defeat this dragon, you are revealed as the Dragonborn!

After that, the story can proceed much like it already does. Maybe the dragon attacks result in more casualties if either side defeats the other in the civil war. Perhaps capture of the dragon Odahviing is different, depending on what faction you favored. Maybe the Imperials favor a technical solution, and the Stormcloaks prefer beating the dragon into submission?

And then, of course there’s the ending…

Dave: What’s wrong with the ending? It was awesome!

And Dave has a point. On paper, it’s brilliant.

In the course of the game, you use a long forgotten shout, that causes dragons to temporarily lose the ability to fly. You learn it by using one of the eponymous Elder Scrolls to look back through history, at the final battle between three legendary heroes and Alduin. During the battle, they used the shout and, when it proved ineffectual, they used the Elder Scroll to throw Alduin forward through time, effectively making him your problem.

Kind of a dick move, really…Then again, they didn’t know what the Elder Scroll would do, so I guess you can’t blame them. On the other hand they come from Skyrim, which is populated by morons and assholes, so even if they knew, they probably wouldn’t care….

Anyway, with the help of this shout, you fight Alduin and beat him to the point where he retreats to the realm of Sovngarde, the Nord afterlife. (We’ll just ignore the fact that ONE person made Alduin retreat, whereas THREE people previously failed.)

In Sovngarde, Alduin intends to devour souls and rebuild his strength. To stop him, you have to follow him through a magical portal, enter what’s essentially Valhalla and ask the three heroes who fought him previously to fight with you.

So there, before The Hall of Valor, the three legendary heroes of the Nords, along with the Dragonborn, fight a climactic battle with the World Eater, the God-King of Dragon-Kind, the Devourer of Souls, the Black Dragon Alduin.

Dave: Exactly! Why is that not awesome? What could you POSSIBLY have to complain about with that cataclysmic battle for the fate of the planet?!

Simple: IT’S EXACTLY LIKE EVERY OTHER FUCKING DRAGON FIGHT IN THE GAME!

Alduin fights just like every other dragon! In fact, he is even LESS of a challenge than the other dragons! Why? Because now there’s FOUR of you fighting him, and THREE of you CAN’T DIE!

It’s not a question of “IF” you will win, as much as “WHEN”. There’s no clever new strategy, no feeling that this is anything special. Just the same strategy you use on all other dragons. Run around and fire arrows until he lands (after all, it’s not like you actually NEED the Dragonrend shout to make him land) and beat the shit out of him until he flies away or dies.

So, Alduin is defeated, and the world is saved. Next, you’re taken to The Throat of The World, where all the other dragons are flying around and celebrating Alduin’s death.

Now, in Fallout: New Vegas, what happens once you finish the game?

You get a slide show, telling you what effect your actions have had. You’re shown what the future may be like for the Mojave wasteland. You’re shown the difference YOU have had on the world.

What does Skyrim have? You get a quick chat with Paarthurnax, and then the game keeps going.

It all but says that the main quest-line wasn’t important. It’s just another entry in the quest log. No feeling of accomplishment. No sense that anything you’ve done mattered. Even the Greybeard’s speculate that Alduin may return, since you didn’t absorb his soul when he died. So chances are, you haven’t actually saved the world from Alduin, just postponed his victory. Thank you, game. For a moment I felt like I hadn’t wasted my fucking time….

Compare this to Fallout: New Vegas, where you have 4 different ways to end the game, and several more variations on those, based on your stats, skills, actions and choices during the game.

And the only one who decides if one ending is better than another is YOU. YOU decide what happens to the Mojave. YOU decide if Caesar, NCR or Mr. House should rule New Vegas, or you can go against all of them and take control yourself. That’s the reward you get for playing the game. YOU, a seemingly unimportant courier who got ambushed, shot and left for dead in a shallow grave in the Nevada desert, get the chance to rise up and show that one person can make a difference if they’re strong, or smart enough. And in the end you’re shown the consequences for your actions, good or bad.

THAT is a role playing game.

In Skyrim, you could’ve won the final battle with Alduin by standing back and doing nothing, since the other three heroes cannot die and Alduin is fighting like an idiot!

Now, before I end this chapter, there’s one last thing I found kind of fitting that I’d like to mention…

Once you finish the game, you have the Elder Scroll in your inventory.

And you can sell this item of supreme and unimaginable power to the library at the College in Winterhold.

What, you might ask, is this artifact of amazing power, this sliver of creation, this impossible abstraction-made-real and the namesake of the entire series, sold for?

2000 gold pieces. Not enough to buy an empty house.

I can’t help but feel there’s something strangely poetic about that….

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Assassin’s Creed IV (Again)

I’m going to mention a few more problems with Assassin’s Creed IV, but please understand that I don’t do it because I think it’s a bad game by any standard.

The reason these small things bug me is that the rest of the game is so good. They put so much effort into the details of the game, that these small details that I get annoyed about stand out so much.

And the reason I am writing about it is because if I don’t, I will keep turning it over in my head forever, getting annoyed. But once I’ve written it down I can stop thinking about it. Of course, that doesn’t stop me from feeling like an asshole for pointing out flaws in this great game.

Let’s get this over with quickly, shall we?

First off, I want to talk about the outfits.

The Assassin’s Creed-series have, since the second game, featured different outfits and skins. Be it just different coloured clothing, or a completely new skin, you have the option of varying your appearance to a degree.

Assassin’s Creed IV is no exception, and you have a wide array of different coloured outfits and unique clothing to choose from.

Among the special outfits you can unlock, by fulfilling special criteria, you can find Altair’ outfit, Ezios outfit and Connors outfit. All well and good.

However…

Then there’s the outfit called “Haytham Kenway’s Overcoat”.

To unlock this, you need to buy a toy of Haytham Kenway that includes a code which, when redeemed, unlocks the outfit.

Seems reasonable enough. What is the problem?

I’ll show you. And to this end, I will do something I’ve never done before, and use a picture to illustrate a point.

Here is a picture of Haytham Kenway, as seen in Assassin’s Creed III.

  Note the overcoat.

Beautiful. Aristocratic. Classy. Truly an overcoat befitting the ever pragmatic and charismatic Haytham Kenway.

Here’s the outfit in Assassin’s Creed IV.

What the fuck is this?!

That’s not the overcoat Haytham wears! It’s not even close! It’s just the basic outfit but coloured red and blue! What the hell?! You made every other character specific outfit look like the original! Why not this one!?

You can’t even argue that Haytham made alterations to it, since it’s a completely different length and design! And I wouldn’t be so annoyed by this, if they didn’t call it “Haytham Kenway’s Overcoat”. If you promise people a special coat and charge money to unlock it, don’t try to screw us with a palette swap! Give us the fucking coat!

GAH!

Ok, Let’s change the subject before I have an aneurysm….

I’d like to talk some more about the sword fighting in the game.

Last time, I mentioned that Edward fighting with two swords was stupid, and I stand by that statement. I just don’t understand why they felt like giving him two swords, when he’s pretty much the last person in the Assassin’s Creed-series who should have two swords.

As it turns out, it makes even less sense than I initially thought, since the game comes complete with a set of animations for Edward fighting with just one sword.

All you have to do is, while unarmed, disarm an enemy. Edward will then take their sword and fight with just one.

So why does he use two swords?! How much time and money did they put down into fighting with two swords instead of one, which they could have put somewhere else?

Had they left out the part with fighting with two swords, do you know how many would have complained?

NOBODY!

Granted, not many are complaining about him having two swords, but a pedantic weirdo on an obscure blog on the internet is still more than “nobody”.

I know what you are thinking. “It’s a game. It’s fiction. It doesn’t have to make sense”.

And you are right! I know it’s fiction! I know Edward Kenway isn’t real! But by the logic of this game, we’re supposed to assume he was real. In the context of this game series, he really did exist, so is it so much to ask to want him to act like a rational human being? Again, nobody would go around wielding two swords in the real world, because it’s stupid!

But if they absolutely HAD to have him use two swords, because they put so much effort into it, I can give you a very simple and elegant solution: Have Edward using only one sword, and when he disarms someone while carrying one sword, he takes the other sword and fights with two! And when the battle is over, he drops the second sword.

There! Job done!

That’d make sense on several different levels. You’d get to use all your pretty animations. Using two swords becomes much cooler, since it’s something you have to achieve, instead of something given to you at the start of the game. You’d get the pirate-style scavenging feeling, since the swords won’t match. That in turn would make Edward seem more badass, since he’s proficient with two swords, even if said swords do not match. And it makes all the special swords you can get in the game, like the aforementioned “Captain Drakes Swords” or the “Matching Golden Swords” unique, since there’s only one of them.

That’s all I’ve got.

Other than that, and the other complaints I’ve mentioned, the game is pretty much spotless. It’s just those minor details that, because the game is so good, I feel I have to point out. Any other complaints are either small enough for me to ignore or issues I can rationalize and justify.

Still, I feel really guilty, criticising this great game…. Maybe if I destroy a few Frigates, steal their cargo and spend the money on rum, I’ll feel like less of an asshole…