Monday, December 21, 2009

the not-so-serene republic

At one point in Assassin’s Creed 2, you receive an item that essentially turns Florence and Tuscany into Grand Theft Auto: La Serenissima Repubblica. So long as you mostly restrict your killing to guards and pickpockets, and can outrun anyone you can’t kill (and if you can’t do that, there’s no way you made it this far into the game), you can pretty much rob and murder your way through the birthplace of the Renaissance. As long as you escape the sight of the guards chasing you, and don’t kill too many civilians in a row, you’re in the clear until you commit your next crime. You can even get on a horse and start running people down in the (beautifully-rendered) Tuscan countryside.

I recently spent about an hour just wandering around Florence, killing guards. After sneaking up on rooftop archers and essentially meat-hooking them to their deaths below got old, I started hiring gaggles of prostitutes to distract groups of street level guards before walking around behind them and stabbing them. I could usually pick off one or two before the others in the group saw me coming for them, too, and I would either have to inelegantly fight them off with a scimitar or run away. Then I upped my civic effrontery when I realized that I could get away with killing just one or two of the guards and then just skulk off quietly into the streets, with the remaining guards still wandering off in the direction of the aforementioned prostitutes. Imagine being so enamored of a lady of easy virtue that you not only abandon your post but also leave your like-minded coworker to die in the street. Apparently Renaissance courtesans really did have it going on.

After a while I got to wondering where all these guards were coming from. I would perform my murder ballet on three guys guarding a house, and the next time I circled back around, there were three more guards already in place...whom I would then murder. Seriously, though, where were all these replacement guards coming from? It was when I listened to (not just heard, but really listened to) one of the heralds’ announcements, calling on all of the city’s “ragazzi” (boys, essentially) to apply for jobs with the city guard! These heralds were luring children into the city’s service, promising them easy lives of stable employment and civic virtue, when really all that was in store for them was getting knifed in the back by some jerk in a red cape procrastinating on his mission of vengeance. Don't I feel like the asshole now....Sigh, back to collecting statues....

No comments: