All the big guns have come and gone. The best games are all now on shelves and we’ve just decided on our game of the year. Now we’re taking a look at our 10 favourite gaming moments of 2010. Be aware that these are just my subjective choices – feel free to let us know some of your favourites in the comments below.
Climbing the Pantheon in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood ran the risk of being bloated. It’s as dense as any RPG – with management mechanics, the ability to build up cities, increased inventory, a seemingly infinite amount of side-quests.
Before I played it, I had concerns. Was the core mechanic – climbing – being neglected in favour of an abritary list bullet points? Would the simple thrill of traversing a difficult climb be replaced with a number of pointless design upgrades?
Miraculously, somehow, Ubisoft truly managed the juggling trick of making everything work in spite of itself. The extra parts worked well - I have friends who built up crack assassin squads and remember it as their favourite aspect of the game. For me, however, the simple act of climbing remained, and will always remain, king.
My favourite moment of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood occurred early, and wasn’t necessarily part of any mission. I spotted what seemed like an impossible climb, and I decided to attempt it.
The Pantheon, not as tall as the church in Acre, but incredibly awkward. The dome placed on top was clearly too smooth to climb but surely, I thought, the designers would provide an avenue to help players traverse one of the most striking pieces of architecture in the game?
I approached, and spent a decent amount of time sizing it up – running around the outside, fruitlessly clambering up potential start points only to hit frustrating dead ends. It was only ten minutes in that I realised you could actually walk inside, through the front door.
So I strolled in.
Wandering around inside, I began to notice a number of points that I felt could be climbed, so I tried, and before long, I had managed to clamber about 20% of the way up the building. But then I began to wonder – how the hell would the game allow me to make it up the remainder, to the very top? Surely the inside surface of the dome would be an unscaleable mess?
I was wrong – jutting out of the dome were hundreds of tiny juts, like rock climbing struts. Slowly I began to plot a course, climbing slowly as Ezio’s incredible animations began to adjust to a unique climb. Eventually, as I approached the end, Ezio was hanging solely via his fingertips – legs dangling – desperately searching for hand placements as we made it through the final stretch.
I looked down for a second – we were stark bollocks high, and I had almost made it to the top. I had my eureka moment – this was what Assassin’s Creed was all about. Not team building, not money collecting, not combat – not even assassinations – it was about the simple act of picking a building in the city and somehow trying to scale it.
Like some elaborate, naturally occurring puzzle – when it comes to climbing, Assassin’s Creed allows for multiple approaches to the same problem, and that’s the beauty of it. That’s why I love the series, and that’s why I loved Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.