March 26, 2010 by Tim

With Borderlands just about in the bag (a few more quests, a couple more levels and Crawmerax to deal with), I’m continuing to claw through my backlog of unfinished games from the fall rush before Splinter Cell and Monster Hunter Tri take over next month.

I decided to go back and play Assassin’s Creed 2. I finished the first game, and it didn’t sit right with me that I’d never finished the second. It’s been a good time so far, and I’ve been able to put to bed all of my original first-impression complaints with the game, except this one.

It does and always will feel a little silly to be surrounded by enemies who are content to charge in one at a time to die. I’m not saying it isn’t fun. It’s a blast to destroy these guys with the flashy and brutal counter moves the game offers.

However it also makes you feel like nothing more than a magnetic blender sucking in these meatsticks one at a time for summary execution. You feel less like you’re outnumbered and more like you’ve got a queue of enemies to deal with.

Games like Assassin’s Creed and Batman: AA have done great things with group combat. I’m anxious to see it taken further. It’s more than just making enemies attack at the same time, you have to give the player the tools to deal with that as well.

I’d love to see enemy attacks doing damage to other enemies. Then if two enemies rushed you from opposite sides, a simple dodge maneuver suddenly turns their attacks against eachother.

Or a double counter. Instead of a single counter move, tapping twice in quick succession when you see two enemies moving in handles both of them with style and flare.

Nobody wants to get bum-rushed by twenty enemies in a game with no way to prevent having your face caved in. And, when swords are involved anyway, multiple enemies rushing in swinging makes no sense anyway. But once in a while it’d be nice to see one enemy make an attack, and then another enemy, encouraged by the first, try to take advantage and press the attack as well.

Not every time… if it happened every time it’d be as predictable and boring as this “one-at-a-time” approach is now. But if you knew the possibility was there… if you really had to pay attention and make sure you were ready for the attack from all angles… I think it would really liven up combat quite a bit.

Standing there holding block and waiting for the big swing that you can see coming from space orbit, just so you can tap the button to counter isn’t all that taxing or exciting.

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