akamike (2007-2010)

Mini-Reviews of My Christmas Games

For Christmas, my lovely girlfriend bought me three excellent games for my Xbox 360. Call of Duty 4, Assassin's Creed and Crackdown are all I have been playing since Christmas, doing pretty much everything I can (getting achievements)! In the interest of mixing up the topics here at akamike, here's my brief take on each game.

Call of Duty 4

I love this game. Simple as that. It has gorgeous graphics, a good cinematic plot, it's damn fun to play and it's also the first xbox 360 game that I have gained 1000GS (all achievements) on. Online play is keeping me playing, leveling up my ranks and tweaking my perks/chosen weapons to suit my playing style.

One of the things I love most about CoD4 is that there is no online achievements, in the traditional sense of adding to your Gamerscore that is. Instead, CoD4 makes use of a "Challenges" system as part of the ranking system, where completing challenges gains you EXP for your rank. This means I am not forced to play online to "fully complete" the game, even though I do enjoy playing online.

I have a gripe with some of the online mode, which is to be expected since there's plenty of morons to be found in online games, but one particular annoyance is with "Free-for-all" mode. This has got to be the biggest camp-fest I have seen in a game, and I'm (usually) a CS:S player! People will sit in corners for the entire match, praying that you will blindly walk by so they can pick you off. It's not "just one player, every few matches", it's almost EVERY PLAYER EVERY MATCH. I know, I know, this is a typical "strategy" for people in online games, but when everyone else is just sitting in some of the most stupid places (i.e. down an alley right at the back of the map which no one would think to go to) it's very difficult to enjoy a this game mode.

Overall, this is definitely one of the best games of the year (if not THE BEST, considering how much I have played and see myself playing in future). However, words of caution: veteran mode will make you rip your hair out, and don't bother with free-for-all online.

Assassin's Creed

This is a wonderful, very pretty and very accessible stealth game. You don't have to be the perfect assassin to get the most out of this game, unlike some other stealth games where the slightest wrong move will destroy the game. Hey, I screwed up an attempt at a stealthy assassination and it ended up with me in a huge fight that I enjoyed every minute of, unlocking two achievements along the way. The graphics are stunning, particularly when you are sitting on top of the tallest tower you can find and just look around. The story is good, not the best but it's enjoyable and the gameplay is excellent, despite being a bit too repetitive. After you get past the confusing intro scenes, you find yourself climbing up walls and hanging from ledges like the most agile acrobat. There's a huge world to explore, and how you carry out missions is up to you.

As you get into the game, you find yourself repeating tasks over and over: Eavesdropping, pick-pocketing, interrogating, working with informers and saving citizens. These are quite fun to do the first few times, but as you work your way past the middle of the game you start getting the feeling that there should be more to do. Sure, you can go kill Templars or collect flags, or even push those annoying beggars, but you can only do this so much. Eventually you succumb to, what I like to call, "GTA syndrome": Mindlessly causing chaos for the hell of it hoping that something interesting or new will happen. GTA players will know what I mean, where you punch someone in front of a cop, get a 5 star rating and try to lead them all to your base where an epic fight will ensue until the game gets bored of you and forgets that it ever happened. Then you realize that you just wasted 30mins doing something that doesn't progress the game or your life for that matter and you switch it off.

Despite this, I still think this is a great game that anyone can get into. Oh, and you can ride a horse though it's illegal to gallop in the country, apparently!


I have wanted this game for so long. You're a super-cop who has remarkable skills in firearms, agility, explosives, driving and strength, with RPG elements allowing you to increase them further. You can take on hordes of puny enemies who can't jump nearly as high as you or even pin-point specific body parts to send your weapons flying. Plus, when you really piss them off they will send out cars of hit squads to take you on, which you can just pick up and chuck in the sea. What's not to love? Come on! You can kill people with a giant globe from the planetarium and then throw their limp body at people on the streets below!

OK, it's fun. The cel-shaded graphics are nice and it has a lot of driving music. While the main storyline isn't that inspiring/interesting and tries to drop a bombshell at the end which, really, who didn't see coming before? Like GTA when you finish the main missions, you can go out and collect things (orbs), pull stunts and have the occasional rampage. Though, if you haven't maxed out the skill you are using to kill then you will suffer a penalty. There is also co-op mode, so you and an online-only or second system buddy can take on these crazy streets together for increased "super-powered" madness.

It's just good fun, and it's definitely a great addition to any gamers collection. Like any open style game, it's great for bursts of stress relief insanity and offers challenges for you go complete alone or with a friend. The lack of local co-op sucks, but then again they'll just slow you down, right?

Collection Achievements Drive Me Mad

Both Crackdown and Assassin's Creed have achievements that require you to collect a large number of items, Orbs and Flags. In Crackdown's case there is in-game benefit to collecting the orbs (skill increase), but Assassin's Creed is just a straight up achievement. They are both equally time consuming and, after a certain period of time, very annoying. At first you're completely content climbing, jumping and exploring the world to find these collectables in between main game missions, but since they all just accumulate without any individual identification it becomes a real grind to go back and find the last few. You can't ask for help either since no one can say "Oh I know where the ones you need are" without checking every single known location, and when there is as many as these games feature it's a very boring task, almost a chore!

I don't mind collecting things. Call of Duty 4's intel laptops and Al-Asad speech TVs had me was completely reasonable and I would be willing to go a bit further in games with more open environments. But without some form of unique identification for each collectable (even "Hidden Orb 001" would do just fine, at least I have a number to match the location!) then I draw the line at collecting of this magnitude. Though I will say I don't mind racking up offline kills in games like Dead Rising, because I'm probably going to do that for the hell of it.

...Guess this post isn't so mini after all!


Chris Hamilton

Nice write up Mike.

I've been thinking about picking up CoD4 and Assassins Creed so it's good to actually know someone who has played them both.

From the sounds of the write up CoD4 would be the one to go for first.


Thanks Chris, we should party up sometime once you get it :)