Ubisoft Christmas Lineup (Part 2)

Previously on Ready Up hits Ubisoft…

Manic meetings in Leicester Square puzzles Mark’s navigation abilities!

The Cheery Doorman debates other words for an Ubisoft Party like a Thesaurus wielding madman – winner is announced as Hootenanny!

The quest for cake continues…

The purple haze that illuminated the crisp white walls of the Future Gallery in the heart of Leicester Square was mesmerising. Add the fact that I was surrounded by some of the most anticipated games for the Christmas market and I began to feel like an oversized, rather excitable child invading Santa’s grotto; except there was no large man with a furry beard and a large sack asking me to sit on his knee which is always a good thing! The atmosphere was one of anticipation and excitement and due to the rather large dancing platform located at the back of the cosy sized room, also laughter and a lot of loud, but classic pop music; my ability to recognise ‘U Can’t Touch This’ in a couple of bars bemused Mark more than the origin of the cake that seemed to be circling the room, but I stand by my defence that it is still a classic.

The camera neglects to pick up my bouncy excitement!

Our mission to circle the bustling room continued, the glare from the array of screens lighting our way. In between avoiding stray Wii Balance Boards from Shaun White’s Snowboarding demos and shooting aliens in Mark’s Avatar expedition, a little glimmer got my heart racing. The cause? Rabbids. The insane little bunnies make my heart skip with delight! Not only do they help convince people in the same room as me that I’m actually not that loud or barking mad, but they also provide reliable hours of fun. Fact.

As everyone knows, the previous Rabbid titles have always included the appearance of Rayman; finally Ubisoft have realised the manic little critters are the real characters closest to everyone’s hearts and have smashed them out in their very own game entitled ‘Rabbids Go Home’ – sweet! This game serves much like their previous ones; fast paced action and mini game style adventure, filled with bags of humour which can’t fail to crack a smile on the most hardened of faces! Knowing that Rabbids would probably lose any plot given to them, the storyline is simple, almost! Our beloved friends have decided they’ve had enough of wild late night parties, burping contests and the like and want to go home… except they’re not sure exactly where it is they come from. Two Rabbids decide that the lunar pull must be the source of all their madness, and plot to make a tower of junk to reach the moon, and hopefully their home. Ahhh!

So we gamers have a simple quest, help the Rabbids collect anything and everything with the aid of a shopping trolley to keep building that tower to the skies, and when I say anything and everything I really mean it! Grabbing a nunchuck with probably a little too much eagerness I found myself launched into a mini quest with the aid of one of the Ubisoftians (the very helpful yet silent people that anticipated any need for gameplay and enthusiastically shoved a controller in your hand to ease it). I found myself thrown into a sky rise building, with floors of collectibles, passers by, burgers and water coolers. Imagine Katamari meets Supermarket Sweep and you’ll be pretty close to what you can expect! Speeding around the floors to fill my trolley, even running over passers by to mug their clothes; I spent the majority of my time laughing my head of as loudly as the Rabbids were garbling. The level also included a fun mini-race against an office worker around the floor, avoiding carpets and turnstiles in a race to the lift. This game just oozes fun and easily left me wanting more. The animal lover in me is itching for November 6th when it hits shelves, and I can race one home to my Nintendo Wii (also available for your DS players out there too!).

You think they look happy now? Wait till you start getting underwear!

After calmly returning the remotes to their safe spot by the TV screen we were called from one Wii game to another, this time being transported from a mission to the moon, to the futuristic Wild West outback of Red Steel 2. An unusual combination of gunslinger and martial arts swordsman is an interesting mix in anyone’s book, but with a console such as the Nintendo Wii, you can appreciate why they opted for it. Not having played the first Red Steel title, my ability to switch between blade and firearm, well, sucked really compared to Mark’s! I enthusiastically slashed and shot my way through being dragged by a motorbike, and into the backstreets of an area that reminded me of what the set of TenchuZ would look like if hit by a sandstorm. Unfortunately my abilities limited me somewhat in my progression, and any chance of trying to improve were untimely ripped from my hands by what followed. Firstly – free sweets! If there is any way of pleasing a crowd it’s handing out Pic ‘N’ Mix! After helping myself to a Drumstick and Mark to a packet of Love Hearts (which kindly dubbed him ‘Cheeky Boy’) we surveyed the room for our next target.

Under the watchful eye of Ezio, we are ready to learn!
Under the watchful eye of Ezio, we are ready to learn!

It’s of no surprise that the game at the top of everyone’s ‘I want to play… NOW!’ list was Assassin’s Creed 2, but who can blame you when you have a 6 foot tall banner with the game’s new protagonist, the mysterious looking Ezio Auditore da Firenza, glaring over you with a very watchful eye and two widescreen TVs blazing out the breathtakingly good graphics at you so brightly that you go bog-eyed? As soon as we had walked into the room at the beginning of the day there had been no second guessing as to where the location of the demo was, and for a large proportion of the afternoon myself and Mark found ourselves rotating around the remaining games with one eye in the back of our heads in the hope for a potential opening to arise. Finally, after waiting for what seemed like forever, our spot in the masses opened. Like a couple of assassins set to stealth mode, we swiftly moved through the crowd and joined the back of the now much shorter queue.

Our main advantage of being next in line was being able to take the role of those often annoying backseat gamers who peer over your shoulder with a look of ‘I wouldn’t do it like that but whatever floats your boat’ on their face. The optimum word in that sentence being boat, because yes my friends the time has arrived where assassins worldwide can throw their rubber inflatable’s aside and jump feet first into a pool of H2O as… *dons very booming and authoritative tone*… YOU CAN SWIM! As if that wasn’t enough this newly found capacity to become one with the waves (because let’s not forget how many potential Templar leaders could have evaded us last time without it) will also enable you to hijack newly discovered mechanisms called boats to heighten your ability to travel around the city. Given the fact that a large proportion of the game will take place in Venice, the city built on water, thankfully the game’s developers saw fit to bless our assassin with his minnow badge! Thank you Ubisoft – you are wonderful!

In short, the city itself looks insane. The graphics of the original Assassins Creed were one of the main attention grabbers in its early days. The stunning beauty of the landscapes, the attention to detail, all brought to life with the help of abilities such as the Leap of Faith are once again back to show the best of what this latest title has to offer visually, and fans of the original will be pleased to know it looks just as amazing, just as intense, and just as mind bogglingly big as the first! The change in time frame is highlighted in the surrounding architecture, but still feels like a home away from home.

Going for a dip? This assassin won't need a dingy!
Going for a dip? This assassin won't need a dingy!

Other elements are blindingly new. Assassins apparently like to shop, well for upgrades to aid their killing and hunts for information at least. Assassins Creed 2 will now feature both a Blacksmith where a variety of weapons (I drooled over the war hammer’s crunch!) and potions can be exchanged for hard earned cash, and street side Doctors will now be at hand to heal Ezio, rather than the memory sync ability of old alone. While roaming the streets, it was crazy to attempt to take in all the new features of the game, and trying to fit them all into one humble feature is almost impossible. One thing was clear, Ubisoft listen to their game’s players. Any niggles, glitches, or new ideas found by fans of the first title have clearly been attempted to be solved and incorporated. Less repetitive side missions, better combat systems, the ability to hire both thugs and courtesans to distract your targets guards are here and ready for you to use at your leisure. How about poisoning passers by with darts to send them into berserk rages to take your fancy? Smoke bombs to evade your enemy; throwing money at crowds to slip past unnoticed? This game really does have so much to show, and in the 5 minutes that we had seemed to pass way too fast, the only thing I can really say is that my anticipation of the full retail copy leaves me dumbfounded!

Say goodbye to your hanging baskets Venice!
Say goodbye to your hanging baskets Venice!

As Mark and I begrudgingly handed back the controls, we sat to one side, feeling astounded, accomplished and almost gamed out; a Ready Up gamer’s work is never done after all! After hours of taking on Ubisoft’s Christmas line up, I think it’s fair to state ‘We came, we saw, we conquered’. Okay so Mark never did find where all the cake was coming from, but we left with a new found love for marking targets in Splinter Cell: Conviction, stealing thongs for lunatic bunnies. I learned that I should never attempt to be a gun wielding Samurai again without some serious training and that anyone that could ever doubt the epic-ness of Assassin’s Creed 2 should probably get their head checked.

Job done – Ready Up Loz and Mark, over and out!







One response to “Ubisoft Christmas Lineup (Part 2)”

  1. Mark Brown avatar
    Mark Brown

    Yay Loz! ’twas fun, great write up!

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