Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Assassin's Creed 2 Review

    You’ve just been offered 1100 soldini (currency of Florence, Italy during the 1500s) to murder someone what do you do? Kill them of course. Why do this you ask? Because if you don’t get this money you can’t help fund your true creed as an assassin. Murder, thieves, betrayal and espionage are just some of the re-occurring themes of my absolute favorite video game, Assassin’s Creed II. This game was developed by Ubisoft Montreal in 2009 and it starts off exactly where part one left off.

      With out revealing too many spoilers, Assassin’s Creed II is really two stories spanning through history and bloodlines. The primary back-story is there’s an apocalyptic worldwide event that happens in the year 2012 and it’s so bad that Africa is gone completely and Mexico has closed its boarders to American refugees. You start playing as Desmond Miles in the year 2012 and he’s been kidnapped by a company called Abstergo. Abstergo is holding Miles as they think he’s the key to finding “a piece of Eden.” Desmond comes from a long line of assassins dating back beyond 1,100 AD. Abstergo uses a machine called the “Animus” to probe Desmond’s DNA which allows him to mentally go back in time and re-live his ancestors’ lives. Abstergo hopes Desmond’s mind and ancestor’s past will reveal the current location of the “piece of Eden” and other secrets from Desmond’s family.

     Once the “Animus” starts going through Desmond’s blood, you the player, get taken back to Italy 1400 AD where you then play as Ezio Auditore de Firenze, Desmond’s Italian ancestor. I absolutely love the realism and the way this game plays. This game plays in third person view meaning you view the game world from behind the game characters’ body. You can do almost anything in this game when not on a mission. You can buy items to spruce up your Villa and you can take various side missions such as robbing villagers, delivering messages, running races both on and off horseback and inquiring important information anyway you can get it.

      I love the amount of free roaming game play I can do, I can walk, jump across rooftops, horseback ride, swim or even boat ride anywhere I want. This is a lot like the free roaming game play found in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series and it makes the game seem more real to the players. There are also very accurate historical references all over the game. The famous buildings, people, artwork and even major events that happen in the game all actually happened in real life as well. (Where was this game when I was taking world history in HS?). A lot of research time was put into making the background to this game. I also love that as I play as Desmond’s ancestor Ezio in the past, I actually get missions from Leonardo Da Vinci himself!

      The only two peeves I have about this game are the side quests to find certain items (such as those darn feathers!) to unlock more storyline and the multiplayer features or lack there of. It takes a tremendous amount of time and patience (that I lack) in order to find all the items from the side quests. Also, there is no multiplayer mode for this game. But Ubisoft was smart, they knew fans would want some multiplayer capabilities so they made a sequel to this game, not part three in the series but an extension to Assassin’s Creed II called Assassin’s Creed II: Brotherhood. This game can be played as a single player but it’s largely for multiplayer communities and features the same characters from Assassin’s Creed II and then some. Ezio now leads a team of assassin’s and you, with the help of your friends, can be a part of history.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tribeca Film Festival 2011

        The Tibeca Film Festival has been a household name for years thanks to new Yorkers and celebs alike. The success of this festival has led to the creation of several smaller festivals run by the same people who run the TFF. One of these festivals occurred this past Saturday April 30th 2011 and it stretched along Greenwich Street from Chambers street up to Hubert street. The festival was a combination of children’s festival and family sports festival. Kids had access to several booths featuring family friendly games, face painting and coloring in pre-drawn artwork. A lot of kid friendly, soon to be released movie such as the Smurfs, had booths set up to give away merchandise like temporary tattoo’s, bookmarks and postcards. There were free film screenings at BMCC College on Chambers street; a BMX stunt show and a lot of dancing kids on stage.

       The environment was also a big crowd seller as Earth day was the previous weekend, a lot of booths promoted wind energy and other ‘green’ ideas in hopes the kids would understand just how important this planet is to all of us and what we can do to help. Of course whenever you hear the words ‘street fair’ you automatically think of food and there was plenty of it at this festival. Glaceau gave away free bottles of low calorie vitamin water while the TFF booth gave away free bags of popcorn. Almost every restaurant from Billy’s Bakery to Stuzzicheria had a warming station outside on the sidewalks where small plates of food were sold. There were even some local residents who set up some side walks shows with baked goods and home cooked food to sell with proceeds going to the local kid’s sports teams.

      And speaking of sports, there was also an entire section towards Hubert Street that was devoted to the NY sports teams in an effort to keep our NYC kids in shape. The NY Rangers set up a mini floor rink where kids could practice their slap shots; the Knicks had a mini basketball court set up, our WNBA team and Soccer team had inflatable playpens set up for kids to explore. A few ex NY Knicks came to show their support of this event as well though I wasn’t there when they arrived, I had heard about it later.

       On every block of the festival there was a main stage set up and performances ran usually by the hour. They had some great dancing contests for the kids to win tickets for a Broadway musical; there was yoga for kid’s demonstration, story time for those kids that didn’t want to participant in the sports games just yet. This festival featured the best of the best when it came to event planning. Everyone had an amazing time, young and old alike.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Did I really just crash the Harry Potter Discovery Times Sq red carpet event? Yea, I kinda did

  On Monday April 4th 2011, I left my job promptly at 4pm and was on my way to SOHO when I received an e-mail about the premiere opening for the Discovery Times Square’s latest exhibit for Harry Potter. Discovery Times Square is a new attraction that hosts different showcases filled with artifacts. They recently had an Egyptian exhibit featuring artifacts from King Tut’s tomb that once they left America, they would never leave Egypt’s museums again.

      Currently, Warner Bros, the company that produced the Harry Potter movies, has given Discovery several props, items and clothing from all eight Harry Potter movies to be placed on display in three floors worth of interactive exhibits. On Discovery’s opening night, during the premiere, I headed downtown and arrived at the Discovery building around 5:30pm. There was a section with bleacher seats directly across from the entrance that were set aside for die hard fans only. Everyone else just crowded around on the sidewalks.

      I decided to stand with a small group of people that were by Bowlmore Lanes Bowling alley, next door to the Discovery building. I figured I could see more as I was closer to the entrance of Discovery. I waited patiently for the 7pm start time as more; very well dressed people arrived and began standing where I was. Turns out I was standing in the VIP ticket holder’s line for those lucky enough or with the right connections to be invited to the premiere. I waited and waited and when the VIPs were let in, I sauntered my way towards the main door and the red carpet.

     They would only let the VIPs inside in groups so my group was stopped right by the doorway. A security guy told me they needed to clear the entrance so he asked me if I was VIP or press? I promptly replied “I was press” figuring I’d have a better chance as press don’t need tickets just credentials. He then led me into the press only area where I stayed right behind the MTV camera the entire night! I’m used to being on the red carpet as I get invited to a lot of events like this, so I knew proper etiquette for the night. I never asked for an autograph, if another press person was trying to get a shot (like the gentleman from mugglenet.com), I politely moved out of their way.

      Once the celebs started to arrive the crowds went insane chanting “cross the street” as fans tried to get the actors to come say hi. A few did but it became too crazy and unsafe so the security guards asked them to not cross over anymore. As the celebs came down towards my section, they were ushered to every press person for an interview. I was even asked by someone, her publicist maybe, if I wanted to say hello to Bonnie Wright, Ginny Weasley from the film, and I said sure! I talked with her briefly and then I talked with James and Oliver Phelps, Fred and George Weasley from the film. 

    I met quite a few people that night but sadly, ‘Harry’,’ Ron’, ‘Hermione’, and ‘Draco’ weren’t there.
Everyone was super nice, including the other press people there and I enjoyed networking and talking to them all. Every time I tell this story to my friends and show them the pictures I took while there, they’re amazed at how bold I was that night. It wasn’t my plan to crash the premiere and be on the red carpet but everyone who knows me knows I’ve always been overly bold, quick thinking, always had incredible luck and karma on my side. 

      I’ve never been one to pass on an opportunity and I’m glad I didn’t pass on this. My only regret is the press wasn’t allowed to view the exhibit itself as I’ve always loved the exhibits at Discovery Times Square. I would’ve loved to end my night with a free Harry Potter or Pompeii preview! Guess those reviews will have to wait for another article!