It’s a weird thing, seeing the now-venerable Assassin’s Creed games coming back. Not that they ever went far (what does, really, these days?). The Ezio Collection was announced a while back and while it shouldn’t come as a surprise, it certainly gives one pause. So often, the media we consume is tied into specific times or memories in our life – sad times, happy times, fresh or fearful times. It’s why nostalgia is so powerful and now so pervasive. It’s something that has been beautifully weaponised by media and retail, and our wallets are near defenceless, it seems.
The Ezio games come from a slightly easier time in my life, and take me back to their predecessor, the original Assassin’s Creed game. Seen by many as flawed, it was, nevertheless, a game that I came to love. It was fresh, original, and the feeling of freedom as I scaled buildings and leapt from rooftop to rooftop before diving forever from stunning heights into shockingly meagre piles of hay never ceased to thrill me.
I enjoyed the characters, history, and setting as much as the gameplay and it was a gaming experience that I look back on fondly. As ever, with nostalgia, however, things weren’t as rosy as I remember them. And while time may have healed those particular wounds, at the time they ran deep. Especially the trauma inflicted by the flags. A nightmare for any achievement collector. And I used to be one of those. Not a lemony-whore like our lovely Richie, or someone who would rinse that Hannah Montana game for the cheevies, no, I was a completionist. If I loved a game then I would have to max it.
Those flags were one of my most trying achievements (and that says a lot when you consider that I maxed bloody Mirror’s Edge). But I got them all. Looking back, I suppose that I think so fondly on a very frustrating time, not because I’m a secret masochist, but because it was a happy time, too. And having a place in which to rant about the damn things was pretty special. That place was this place. My flag rants were the first words to go up on here – GamingLives. It was a strange honour and an odd post to have as such an important one. But there it is and I wouldn’t change it.
That’s why the game and the flags now mean more to me than they otherwise would. Because they are now irrevocably tied to the post they spawned, to the words they inspired. To my fond memories of a site that’s been home to my gaming life for almost seven years. A site that Mark started out of boredom one day, and which quickly evolved into something bigger and more important. A place we could all call home, to talk about what we wanted and focus on the games we enjoyed or discovered and were keen for the world to know more about.
I remember writing a 7000+ word piece on the various Alan Wake conspiracy theories and story twists. I remember writing about giving up on achievements, and the pain of struggling with time and apathy with regard to games, and complaining about game boxes. I remember the first games I ever reviewed. I remember the thrill and exhaustion of writing about E3 from the trenches over there (or, rather, a nice apartment and my fave spot at the dining table), and I remember the sadness as I missed out on it over the following years. Not too sad to write Not The E3 Diary 1 and 2 though. Whatever I was feeling or playing, whatever indie gem or neglected adventure I wanted more people to know about, I could set down words. This was a place to lay out my thoughts, explore my feelings, make some jokes and dodgy puns, and talk or rant about games and everything they affected. It was hard work sometimes, especially among the cogs and gears of the place, but it was a good thing. Which is what makes this so hard. But then, anything enmeshed in memories and a web of nostalgia usually is hard to pull away from.
It’s been a hell of a fucking ride and we did, played, and said some fun things. Along the way I had the privilege to meet, talk nonsense with and write alongside some incredible people, many of whom I’ve come to regard as good friends. I can’t really put into words how much the site has meant, or still means to me. In writing and editing for GamingLives I changed for the better and so did my work; I saw the people around me change and grow and move on. Better still, some of them grabbed a few dreams along the way, which made us happy.
We did what we set out to do. We created something pretty special together and it sucks a bag of dicks to have to leave it behind but, for now, it’s for the best. I was going to replay Assassin’s Creed this month, but I can’t. It’s not that I have flagging energy anymore. I just don’t have the heart, somehow, to ripple the waters of those memories, not with the pain of a goodbye so fresh, anyway. Because that’s what this rambling train of words is, really. A goodbye.
To those who read and enjoyed, thank you; to those good folk who were a part of it, and who supported us and the site, thank you more. For our writers and our friends, it’s been totes emosh. And especially to Chris and Richie… thanks for holding the line with us until the very end – it’s been a privilege and an honour, chaps. I did have a cunning plan. A cunning and subtle one. As cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University. But I’m afraid… it’ll just have to wait.
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