Stolen Pixels

Stolen Pixels #10: Gameplay Tutorial




In Assassin’s Creed you play as the world’s most helpless and docile assassin. Captured by an evil corporation and subjected to experimental technology, Desmond retaliates by whining and asking questions until he’s told to shut up. Princess Peach is a more rebellious prisoner than he is. Something has gone horribly wrong with a game when my in-game persona is an even bigger wuss than I am.

Desmond’s captors put him in a machine that lets him relive the memories of Altair, his medieval assassin ancestor. As part of the gameplay, Altair must sometimes pretend to be a scholar to bypass the city guards. Hang onto something here: You’re a gamer playing on a computer pretending to be a mopey emo assassin using a VR machine to pretend to be an awesome assassin who is pretending to be a scholar. A nerd playing a douchebag playing a badass playing a nerd.

I understand why the game doesn’t just let you give your captors a knuckle sandwich and walk out. There wouldn’t be much of a game if they did. That would be like letting the Lara Croft say, “To hell with this climbing around and poaching animals, I’m going home and watching Oprah.” But the game really needs to have someone else guarding Desmond to explain why he doesn’t at least try to throw a monkey wrench into their plans. Preferably someone who is armed with more than a clipboard and a scowl. In terms of raw danger and visceral thrills, being held prisoner by a young girl and an old man is right up there with taking eleven grocery items through the express checkout . Maybe this is the set-up for the sequel: Assassin’s Creed 2: Give me Back my Lunch Money.

Shamus Young is a programmer and writer by trade, videogame nitpicker by inclination. If you have the patience for more of his ramblings, they can be found at

About the author