Faith in Altaïr

Clever title isn’t?

As far as they make some sense, comparisons between things are always valid.

And by some sense it doesn’t necessarily mean that the objects of comparison have to share most of their characteristics. What I mean is that if you want to compare, let’s say, a videogame with a car from the design point of view, then you must have definitions abstract enough in order to compare without having to end talking just to yourself. Nobody wants to hear you talking about why fuel consumption in Mario Kart is so damn high.

For example, you can discuss about user interface design: how the car buttons and shit are disposed relative to their use, and how the game HUD is defined to allow easy user interaction. That comparison makes sense, for me at least. So, I hope you get the idea because I’m about to get to the point of this post:

Mirror’s Edge and Assasin’s Creed. Comparing those games in the way internet is doing it is so fucked up that even it’s not even a bad joke by now.

Let me tell you why.

Awesome Faith cosplay. More clicking the image.

The idiot-proof explanation: comparing Mirror’s Edge to Assasin’s Creed is like comparing Mario Bros. to Zelda.

Most of the comparison is centered in how hard it is to control Faith in Mirror’s Edge and how easy it comes to do the same with Altaïr in Assasin’s Creed.  Mirror’s Edge is basically a platformer, like Mario Bros. the whole idea is centered in reflexes. The control, as inherited from a regular FPS, represents the actual (new) challenge because what’s proposed in the screen to the player. On the other hand, Assasin’s Creed is an Action-Adventure game (like Zelda), the idea is to explore and discover, if the controls are restrictive then the game loses its appeal, and the whole thing just go down to the toilet.

Mirror’s Edge is not worse than Assasin’s Creed regarding that matter, it’s just a difficult title. If you couldn’t win the game maybe it’s because you are bad at it.

I won’t lie, even when I find Mirror’s Edge gameplay idea smarter, Assasin’s Creed is better executed (just taking in account the first title), and I also admit it has some problems regarding the whole First Person Parkour thing that just pops up because a First Person game is dizzy enough in the first place.

Design problems are there. No question about it. But a closer look is needed.

As I said, comparisons are not only valid, but neccesary. Let’s keep the idiotic way to do it out of our minds, moreover if you are interested in game design.

No, no Assasin’s Creed related picture. I don’t like the game that much.

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3 Responses to “Faith in Altaïr”

  1. Juan De Gouveia Says:

    Creo que tienes razón, la comparación está muy fuera de lugar (es uno de los miles de casos, pasa con Final Fantasy y Zelda también).
    Dejando eso de lado, me parece que si bien es cierto que al principio los controles de ME pueden parecer complicados sólo toma unos minutos para acostumbrarse, las frustraciones que vengan después ya forman parte de la dificultad del juego (más allá de los típicos momentos de ensayo y error que, en mi opinión, son necesarios por la novedad que representa el tipo de juego) y prefiero que sea así a que todo sea un simple paseo donde no haga falta un esfuerzo real.
    Particularmente jugué ambos títulos: con AC me fastidié al punto de dejarlo por la mitad pero en el caso de ME me encontré volviendo para superar mejor manera algunos niveles.
    Saludos!

  2. Cristian Says:

    There is a basic flaw in Mirror’s Edge, the gameplay flow. The ‘flow’ is one of the principles of parkour, your goal is to run smoothly throughout the city and improvise your steps as if the concrete is telling you where to go. This is where AC exceeds all expectations, you do find yourself running free through an ever-changing city at some times, and the feeling is quiet satisfaying. On the other hand lies Mirror’s Edge, the only way to run freely and flawlessly around the later levels of the game is only if *you* made them or you know them by heart, and that changes the whole approach of parkour. This feeling of freedom is also magically achieved in Prince of Persia (the open-world-easy-as-hell adventure from Ubisoft that people bashed but in reality was, in my opinion, a great step forward for the franchise, later followed by a pathetic movie-tie-in).

    I won’t compare games, but a good platformer will always deliver a great balance between running free, having control of your character, and being in danger. Those aspects are the ones that had some (infinite) rough around the edges in ME. The game has a great setting, art direction but raises many questions.

    Why does the game uses such stupid cartoon-like animations to tell the story when it has such a beautiful (at the time) world engine? Why do we die so much? If we die so much why do we have these endless loading times? Why are so many closed spaces? Why is it so plain? These we can compare to many games and in a way… to AC.

    Comparing two games has to be a chore specific between two games that try to achieve the same thing. For example: Medal of Honor and Call of Duty, we could even let BF out of the equation, that is a class-based vehicle shooter. And let’s not forget, saying you like a game better than another does not compare them, saying you enjoy something better doesn’t make it better. So we can still be free and don’t feel my hate and Julian’s breathing down your neck when you, dear reader, think you need to have a valid reason to play COD over Portal.

    In the end everyone thinks the same: “we need another ME, but we need it done right. Please”.

    • nicolailobachevscki Says:

      A lot of what you said deserve their own post, but for now I will say something about game flow.

      Leaving outside a minute that we are talking about a platformer, we understand game flow in general as an obligatory smoothly game pacing design, but in fact that’s cutting the real meaning more than a half of its scope.

      Just to clarify, I think that pacing is a local concept (for example, an particular level) and flow is a global one that in general could describe the game.

      One good example of game flow different from the smooth idea in a platformer is Limbo. You get kill almost everytime you encounter a new puzzle (I need to say that I’m waiting the PC version to complete the game).

      The Parkour smooth gameplay was cutted because they were making an old school FPS, not an open world one, which in fact, would be difficultier than the original idea. I’m not saying they did it good, but the reason relies on the fact DICE just makes FPS.

      I think criticizing that decistion chops off any discussion we can make on the game, and that’s what most of the people do on the internet regarding ME.

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