Archive for Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed’s Timeline or Full Circle

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2017 by Rabidgames

With Assassin’s Creed Origins just out, why not take a look at the history of the series? For this purpose, we’ll only look at the main games (Liberations not included as it is considerably smaller), and if they’re worth visiting again. For this purpose, Rabidgames has played each game for at least 5 hours.

Assassin’s Creed

The Setting: Medieval Middle East during the Third Crusade. We can explore three cities, Jerusalem, Acre, Damascus, as well as the hub and assassin hub of Masyaf. And we meet a real life Templar leader …

The Story: Pretty much just killing Templars to obtain the Apple of Eden, a powerful artifact (it’s a long story). In present times, we are introduced to Desmond, Lucy and Abstergo, the modern-day Templars.

The Gameplay: Repetitive. The first Assassin’s Creed is 9 assassinations – the good thing is you can do them however you please (to a degree), the bad news is you have to repeat the very same steps leading towards the assassination 9 times. Oh, and you better enjoy gathering a million flags …

The Verdict: Hard to get into now. Essentially a tech demo.

 

Assassin’s Creed 2

The Setting: Renaissance Venice, Florence, the family hub of Monteriggioni and a few more locations. You get to meet folk such as Leonardo da Vinci, Niccolò Machiavelli, Caterina Sforza, Bartolomeo d’Alviano, Lorenzo de Medici, the villainous Borgia and uncle Mario.

The Story: Experience how Ezio turns from spoilt playboy to feared Assassin leader who takes on the corrupt pope and meets members of the first civilisation (who created the Apple from AC1 and lived on earth before humanity). In present day, Desmond meets a few more Assassins.

The Gameplay: More varied, more counters, more tools. If you’re into puzzles, you can explore caverns and tombs, or you can solve glyph puzzles that give you some insight into the world of Assassin’s Creed.

The Verdict: The story is still great, the gameplay feels a bit bare-bone now though. Still worth experiencing though.

 

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood

The Setting: Renaissance Rome, including all points of interests and the outskirts. Also, you can explore present-day Monteriggioni. Most of the cast from AC2 appear again. Desmond gets a bit stabby at the end of the game.

The Story: Monteriggioni is attacked. A wounded Ezio arrives in Rome to take revenge. And take revenge he does …

The Gameplay: Well, mostly a refined version of AC2. Plus you can now recruit and command assassins and send them on missions. We learn more of the perennial bad girl Juno. For whatever idiotic reason, multiplayer gets introduced. Who asked for this?

The Verdict: Commanding your brotherhood never gets old. Still fun to mess around with.

 

Assassin’s Creed Revelations

The Setting: Istanbul/Constantinople. The city looks and feels different from the previous games.

The Story: Ezio travels to Istanbul/Constantinople to discover an important secret. Also, we get to know more about Altair. Desmond is stuck in the Animus.

The Gameplay: More of the same, but with bombs and more mobility. Sadly, no more glyphs but a poor Tower Defense mini-game. Unfortunately, multiplayer is still in.

The Verdict: This game has a same old, same old feeling sadly. Lots of extra stuff not worth your while.

 

Assassin’s Creed III

The Setting: The American Revolution. Set in the wilderness, protagonist Connor’s homestead and rather rural looking Boston and New York. A stellar cast, including Franklin, Washington, Jefferson and many more.

The Story: The American Revolution. However, the game deviates from its predecessors by telling the story in different shades of grey. We also get a bit of a Vader/Luke situation. Also, the end of Desmond’s story and Juno’s release.

The Gameplay: A few changes, but mostly just redefined from previous games. A hint of naval battles and trekking through the wilderness – a highlight in deep snow – as well as hunting gave AC3 a different feeling though. There are also quite a few segments in present day with Desmond. Unfortunately, multiplayer is still in.

The Verdict: Tough one. The story is great, the gameplay can be fun, but it is a few chapters too long and the crafting and economic system are mostly useless. Still, Ubisoft dared to touch this sensitive topic and delivered a game neither neglecting the will for freedom nor how the freedom was exploited quickly.

 

Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag

The Setting: The Caribbean. Pirates. Ships. Your ship. Three major cities; Kingston, Havana and Nassau, a multitude of little islands and your very own hideout island. You meet quite a few famous pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard.

The Story: A pirate (father/grandfather of the protagonists of AC3) turns Templar turns Assassin (and stays there). The story actually spans 3 different times, and present day is narrated from the eyes of an Abstergo employee. Juno says hello, and the Sages are introduced.

The Gameplay: On land, not much changed. Except for awful tailing missions, the low point of Black Flag. The naval battles are an absolute highlight though. You are an Abstergo employee in present day – anonymous and clueless. Unfortunately, multiplayer is still in.

The Verdict: Great and different. Sailing the seas and sinking ships never gets old.

 

Assassin’s Creed Rogue

The Setting: The Atlantic Ocean near the Northern American coast, a smaller map with more islands, New York. And your ship. Not much happens in present day.

The Story: You play as an Assassin turned Templar! Nice change, eh?

The Gameplay: Same as Black Flag, plus a few extras here or there. Thankfully, minus multiplayer.

The Verdict: The story ties together the American saga ACs (although the beginning of Unity is related, too). It’s a bit short in terms of story, but again – sailing and sinking. Oh, and fighting Assassins, of course.

 

Assassin’s Creed Unity

The Setting: Paris during the revolution (the French one in case you’re wondering). A very lively and nicely looking Paris full of details and atmosphere. You get to meet characters including Napoleon, Marquis de Sade and Robespierre.

The Story: Entirely forgettable. Not much happens in present day either.

The Gameplay: A few new systems, but fighting was way too clumsy and not intuitive. Co-op missions are in for whatever reason, another thing no one ever asked for. Speaking of shit no one ever asked for – locked chests you could only open with a companion app – a low point.

The Verdict: Broken at release, now Paris is a joy to explore, but a chore to play through. Boring protagonist and the revolution just happens around you.

 

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate

The Setting: London in Victorian times, including the Buckingham Palace, the Tower and Big Ben. And a bit of London during World War 1. Your base is a moving train. You get to meet the likes of Marx, Dickens, Darwin, Florence Nightingale, a young Arthur Conan Doyle and Winston Churchill.

The Story: Two twins take over gangs and take down a Templar conspiracy in London while London oozes Victorian and proto-capitalist (poisonous) air. Something very important happens in present day. And the Assassins save the queen. Obviously.

The Gameplay: Sleek and refined. There are also Hitman-style assassinations and you can develop both characters differently. Diverse and rewarding side missions make sure there’s always something to do in London. Oh, and no more fucking mutiplayer, yay!

The Verdict: The best gameplay, hands down. And a great protagonist (Evie, not Jacob) make the game a joy to play and mess around with gangsters and cops.

 

To sum it up, while Unity can very easily be called the weakest game due to its forgettable story and nothing important really happening (even if we forget about the technical issues at start), it’s difficult to name ONE game to be the best Assassin’s Creed game – story-wise, Assassin’s Creed 2 wins. Brotherhood has the best feeling of being an Assassin leader, while Black Flag’s offer to be a pirate is hard to refuse. And then we have Syndicate with the most fluent and refined gameplay.

Rabidgames ponders: Perhaps Origins really is the best game in the series. That would decide it easily without thinking too hard about the best Assassin’s Creed …

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Of Lootboxes, Micro-Transactions and Ads Telling the Truth for Once

Posted in Gaming these days ..., The Latest with tags , , , , on October 12, 2017 by Rabidgames

Oh boy, we’ve come a long way. It started with the now oh-so-innocent Oblivion horse armour, continued with  pre-order DLC, season passes and micro-transactions, and now we’ve come full circle with lootbox micro-transactions and an ad telling the truth for once about pre-order shit. Ironic.

So, first, lootboxes and micro-transactions. Middle-Earth: Shadow of War uses them in its fourth act Shadow Wars (how playful, eh?), a series of 20 attacks on 4 fortresses – without story or anything else attached to the grind fest it seems. And the enemies WILL be stronger than your Orcs, pardon, Uruk army so you will have to grind. And grind. And grind more. And keep grinding. To see the “real” ending of the game. Or you buy lootboxes with real money to make it considerably quicker and easier. Well, that is simply fucked up. For Rabidgames, that move alone moves (how playful, eh?) Shadow of War from must-have to probably-later-when-cheaper, although that disgusting behaviour where WB pretends to be oh-so-charitable has also played a part in this decision to be honest. And how a spider “bloated and grown fat with endless brooding on her feasts” can become a hot chick … well, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

And now this; here’s the story of an ad for Assassin’s Creed Origins from Gamestop (US) that might have gone wrong:

This is really unfuckingbelievable. In a fucking ad, they tell you that the “bonus mission” is “blocked”. Probably by accident, we hear the truth about pre-order “bonuses” – that they are cut out of the game because some fucking asshole in a fucking suit decided that’s the way to go fucking forward. It’s nothing new publishers and retailers feast together on the bloody chunks cut out of embryonic games, but wow is it weird to see it ADVERTISED! It might be coincidence AC Origins is the game where a retailer slipped up, but it tells you a lot about the disdain those fucking suits have for us.

Sure, a pre-order mission locked away mostly and merely equals the missions locked away but unlockable once you buy the game new, but this strike against the second hand market is still fucking stupid behaviour. We’ll see what happens now after Gamestop inadvertently told us the truth about this shit. Just don’t expect any of the shit to change.

Oh, you know what? Let’s talk about micro-transactions while we’re at it. There are two kinds: Games like Assassin’s Creed or Ghost Recon: Wildlands come with “time-saving” unlockables (for things you can easily get in the game), you know also known as fucking shit for lazy bums, and then some cosmetic stuff – not great but you can enjoy the games without it entirely, no problem. Other games though, like Shadow of War and most notoriously GTA Online, design the game with tons of grinding on purpose so they can grind you down to make you buy the shit. Fuck, try to buy something in GTA Online and you can imagine how long earning money to purchase it will take naturally. And yet, Rockstar gets away with this shit (and let’s better not think about what this might mean for Red Dead Redemption 2) while Shadow of War is getting attacked by layers of carpet bombing metacritic user reviews – rightfully so, mind you. But it is interesting, isn’t it?

Let’s face it: This is what gaming has become – a fucking predatory capitalist bullshitting industry where there are too many fucking rich idiots around who buy time-consuming games and then buy time-savers so they don’t have to play them … seriously, think about this for a second. WHAT THE FUCK? And by doing so, these morons fuck up games for the rest of us, too.

Rabidgames sighs: At the end of the day, who is to blame: The greed publishers or the stupid consumers? Spoilers: It’s consumers. Without hordes of braindead drones buying all the shitty micro-transactions, this fucking trend would stop quickly. But don’t get your hopes up – after all, we live in an age where even Idiocracy begins to look like an utopia …

Assassin’s Creed Syndicate or Victorian Rejuvenation

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , on November 4, 2015 by Rabidgames

Another year, another Assassin’s Creed. After the disappointment of Unity with the weak protagonist Arno who couldn’t light up Paris, we can now see what the dynamic assassinating twins Evie and Jacob can do in Victorian London.

And it’s a whole lot they’re doing! First of all – there is no graphical downgrade, at least not one you actually notice unless you’re a graphic whore. However, the game runs fine and neat most of the time. Second, Evie and Jacob are way more interesting than Arno – they fight, they have different goals they are going after … To enjoy Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, you should definitely play them differently – a shame Ubisoft gave each only a handful of exclusive skills. Here’s Rabidgames’ formula for fun: Have Evie sneak around and be an assassinating shadow, while Jacob knocks down the front door and bludgeons and shoots everyone in sight, always accompanied by their gang, the Rooks.

Mission-wise, there are a few missions only one can tackle, but most of the time, feel free to traverse London with your favourite. The main missions are nice and varied, and even the side content appears more structured in Syndicate – take over the city to get rewards from one guy, do fight clubs and horse carriage races to rank up with another guy, help a cop here, sabotage Templar stuff there – whatever you do, one person will make it worth your while. Okay, except for collecting flowers, treasure chests, Helix glitches and beer bottles. However, each beer bottle comes with hilarious tasting notes from Shaun, your old Assassin mate, so it’s not too bad here.

And thankfully, there are the Dreadful Crimes, murders to be investigated by our Sherlock and Watson … or rather the twins, sorry although there is a connection with Sherlock Holmes there. Besides this person, you can also have a chat with the likes of Dickens, Darwin or Bell, just to name a few, in Syndicate. And some of the conversations are actually hilarious. Oh, and we even get to meet royal blood!

With the variety above – and from sneaking to horse races to playing Froggers on the Thames while stealing stuff from boats there is quite some to be had – Syndicate feels fresher than Assassin’s Creed has felt for a while. Of course, novelties like the arcady but still fun horse carriages or the grapple hook (known from Batman or Just Cause) help making the game more fun. One letdown though is your headquarters – a moving train. Sounds lame, IS lame. A proper mansion would have been way better.

There’s one question left, right? How’s Syndicate’s London? From a Londoner’s perspective, it is doing okay – of course, some famous sights are easily recognisable, but the geography is not really accurate (to put it that way), and some areas feel rather bland. This might be historically accurate, who knows, but if there’s no difference between rich and poor areas, something feels a bit off. Apart from that though, the city feels like a breathing city in Syndicate – yes, there are less NPCs than in Unity, but train stations are still busy, and many NPCs roam the streets doing something, sometimes drunkenly beating up each other, especially at night when Syndicate’s London looks and plays at its atmospheric best. However, there is one thing that’s unrealistic – London is too bright and sunny, there should be more smog, fog and rain!

It’s fair to say Syndicate is more polished Unity, not just in case of bugs, but also in terms of gameplay elements such as streamlined activities, inventory or icons on the map. It all feels more organised and more accessible – although the fighting is more dynamic this time – and swordless, of course. But most importantly, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’s protagonists are more engaging and interesting, and last but not least, the game itself is more diverse and, simply put, fun.

Rabidgames cheers: Yes, Syndicate is a successful evolution of Unity’s formula – less clunky, less confusing, more fun, more possibilities. And unless the ending sucks Templars’ balls, it could be up in the competition with the likes of Brotherhood and Black Flag. Excuse Rabidgames now, off we go to to explore the streets of London!

Assassin’s Creed Rogue or Same Old with a Twist

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , on November 24, 2014 by Rabidgames

Let’s say what we’re all thinking. The Assassin’s Creed double release insanity was idiotic. Period. Because of that, many, many people will probably miss out on Assassin’s Creed Rogue because opting solely for Unity … a big shame.

Arguably, Rogue could well be the better game – sure, there is not much innovation at first glance, and there are no massive crowds to be found, too. But Rogue runs stable and solid, and it ingeniously combines the wilderness of Assassin’s Creed III with Black Flag’s naval battles. And then, there’s the twist: After you think “more of the same stuff”, all of a sudden, a tragedy occurs (and believe Rabidgames, it is a proper tragedy, not just the usual “ooooh my family” routine) and our dear Irish protagonist Shay Cormac turns his coat and joins the Templars! (No spoilers here. You know that already.)

Thankfully, fighting Assassins introduces new gameplay mechanics in Rogue – you’re not just the hunter, you’re the hunted now, too. Just as we’ve been doing for years, Assassins now lurk in bushes and hiding spots searching for you. Taking down a “boss Assassin” has him fleeing, throwing smoke bombs and stealth attacking you, so stealth should be priority here.

Apart from that, Rogue is a big basket of fan service – synchronising viewpoints? Check. Collectibles (more than ever this time)? Check. Raiding warehouses? Check. Naval battles? Check? Your own fleet? Check. Taking control of areas? Check. If that’s good or bad, well, up to you. Mind you, there are small changes to the formula – there’s more verticality, some new or tweaked weapons (for Shay and for his ship, the Morrigan), and some new sidequests.

Besides, there are lots of areas in Rogue to discover and explore – you have a pretty big portion of New York, the Arctic Ocean resembling Black Flag’s map, substituting tropical flavour for icebergs and snow, and finally the River Valley; waterways and lots of wilderness and almost as big as the ocean map … and a tiny, oddly familiar location named Sleepy Hollow, among other things.

So far, Rabidgames has only found one complaint with Rogue: Some sequences are too heavily scripted, and one storywise important section felt exactly like ripped out of Call of Duty History Warfare. But if you don’t mind Rogue feels like a best-of with the best parts of the series, this should be your “safe” Assassin’s Creed to get this year – at least until Unity is properly patched.

Rabidgames nods: True, Rogue is fan service, but hey, it’s what we wanted – less tailing, more naval fun, lots of ground and water to cover, and after all, refined gameplay that feels mellow and relaxed and invites you to experiment with all these well-known tools. Since it’s also the swansong on the old consoles, it’s a gentle goodbye … with the twist of a blade, of course.

 

 

Assassin’s Creed Unity or Between App Insanity and Failed QA Lurks a Great Game

Posted in Gaming these days ..., Hands On with tags , , , , on November 20, 2014 by Rabidgames

First of all, Ubisoft should be ashamed of themselves. Google “Unity bugs” in youtube, and you know what Rabidgames means. Fuck it, just watch this shit:

To be fair, Rabidgames has not had that massive problems with Assassin’s Creed Unity, so maybe a day one patch has cleaned up the biggest mess already. But still – how is that possible? Can Ubisoft actually spell QA? (Well, it seems so, Rogue and Far Cry 4 running relatively fine after all.) And furthermore, the loading times can be a joke, too. And don’t you dare to access a menu … unless you want to have your PS4 sound like a plane during take-off!

Apart from technical aspects, there’s another major annoyance which makes the name Unity a joke – in order to get every weapon, armour etc. the game has to offer, the game is not enough: you need the companion app, Initiates, Unite and, of course, Uplay as well. That’s 5 different fucking things to meddle around with, and we’re talking about fucking exclusive things here!

But despite all that, Unity is still a good game beneath all that; Paris looks incredibly detailed, the crowds are massive, everything from dirt in the street to bushes, trees and buildings really looks good … Paris feels like a breathing, living being. Plus, there’s shitloads of stuff to do … assassinations, rebuilding your HQ, investigations, collectibles and many more things, including the awesome rifts. It doesn’t get boring during a revolution, that’s for sure. The missions themselves are pretty diverse, too, and while the new climbing and stealth of Unity feel weird in the beginning, they’re quite comfortable when you get used to them.

Rabidgames sighs: Ironically, Unity is not an unity. The technical fuck-ups and the device insanity mar the good gameplay considerably. After some sequences, Paris still feels fresh, but there’s also the stench of rushed release and microtransactions lurking around. Let’s hope the scent of fresh gameplay will be the lasting impression …

 

 

November Will Be Gamergeddon!

Posted in Gaming these days ..., News with tags , , , , , , on September 13, 2014 by Rabidgames

So far, this year has been a game drought … We had Watch_Dogs and Wolfenstein, but that was more or less it, wasn’t it? But come November, we’ll all be drowning in games – long, big games …

Let’s have a look at Rabidgames’ wanted list:

11/11
Assassin’s Creed Unity
Assassin’s Creed Rogue

18/11
GTA V
Far Cry 4

21/11
Dragon Age Inquisition

So … who can afford to buy 5 AAA games, 5 big releases, let alone play them, if they are released within 2 fucking weeks? Let’s not forget there’s also a time before November with FIFA 15, Alien Isolation, The Evil Within, Shadows of Mordor, Sherlock Holmes, Raven’s Cry and WWE 2K15 looming …

Honestly, are publishers dumb? This question goes out to Ubisoft especially: How stupid is it to release two Assassin’s Creed games at the same fucking day? And even more stupid to release Far Cry 4 one week later … Have they lost their mind? But in general, why the fuck are there virtually no games during summer, but comes September, the gaming world gets crazy?

Mind you, these are just the games Rabidgames is interested in … there are more out there …

Rabidgames is scared: Most likely, one or two of the above games will not make it on the day 1 purchase list. Why? Because no one on earth has the time to play 5 games at the same time, of course! Different publishers too dumb to take a look at schedules – fine. But Ubisoft is just insane … makes you wonder how they’ll justify that decision …

Risen 3 – Titan Lords or Of Black Flags and Walls of Texts

Posted in Hands On with tags , , , , , on August 13, 2014 by Rabidgames

Remember Risen 2? A good foundation of a solid story, a cool tropical setting and good (as in not too cliché) humour, albeit hampered by tons of glitches and bugs and a pretty much boring combat system (to put it mildly) …

The bad news is that the combat system still feels a bit boring in Risen 3 – Titan Lords, at least until you can finally upgrade it once a couple of hours in. Still, fighting the same set of enemies over and over again feels rather bland and boring – especially if you go the melee way. Magic and guns are better implemented though, but it’ll take quite some time to get there. Hint: Do many escort missions early on and let your companions do the fighting – you get the glory aka experience anyway.

The good news though is the rest of Risen 3 – Titan Lords. Yes, there are a few bugs and glitches although the 360 version at least runs relatively stable even prior to a day 1 patch. And yes, it is not really polished in places (the frame rate comes crashing down during each and every autosave), but the atmosphere, the heaps of dialogue and the sarcastic humour make up for it. Speaking of the dialogues – prepare for some reading and listening. By some, Rabidgames means walls of text everywhere … After all, this is a proper RPG! Sometimes, Risen 3 actually tests your reading comprehension – so better don’t click away everything …

Fighting aside, there is much variety to be had in terms of gameplay: You can transform into a parrot or a monkey to reach otherwise inaccessible places, you can talk, blackmail and intimidate your way around the tropical settings of Risen 3. You can have some fun in mini-games such as knife throwing or arm wrestling if you like, too. There are also 3 different magic schools to “research”, different melee and distance fighting styles and your usual alchemy/smithing skills etc. One of the selling points of Risen 3 is that you can explore to your heart’s content (each of the 6 islands has caves, hidden paths and sometimes even puzzles on offer).

It is the exploring that reminds Rabidgames of Dragon’s Dogma, plus the story that some demon rips your spirit out of your body in the beginning (granted, it’s not a dragon ripping out your heart, but the similarities are still there). Oh, and the tropical pirate setting and some sequences where you control your ship make the game feel just like Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag … There’s also some Dragon Age Origins/Mass Effect 3 feel to the story arc “unite all the factions against an overwhelming fiend” – but it all works out fine in Risen 3, partly because the game doesn’t take itself too seriously at times.

Here’s the catch: You can only join one of the three factions in one playthrough! You’ll be on friendly terms with the others, yeah, but you’ll miss out on some decent skills and abilities. Coupled with the ability to be a kind spiritless man or a soulless terror, there are 6 possible ways to tackle Risen 3. You can join a native tribe to practise some voodoo on your enemies, you can join proper mages who teach you elemental magic, or you join the Demon Hunters who focus on melee with a hint of underworld sorcery, the choice is up to you. Just remember you’ll learn the other stuff in yet another playthrough. There’s also the choice of being a benevolent spiritless dude by being nice to your fellow humans – or you don’t give a fuck and slowly turn into a soulless demon yourself – again, this is up to you!

The scope of Risen 3  is also satisfactory: Rabidgames is already 20 hours in, and it feels like one third of the way … Nice to see some game that dares to devour our time instead of just having bare minimum content for 8 hours. There’s also an achievement for completing 300 quests – that looks like it would take a while. While some subquests are more of the fetch category,  they are still presented with some background, sometimes coupled with choices.

One word about pre-order DLC: True, it is not as bad as Sacred 3 and a whole class hidden behind the paywall, but two areas of Risen 3 are blocked off for gamers who feel like buying it used – yet another dick move. Yes, there is enough content anyway, but it is time developers and publishers stop this bullshit! We don’t need day 1 DLC – under absolutely no circumstances!

At the end of the day, Risen 3 can be a rewarding game with tons of contact if you like reading shitloads of text and if you don’t mind the rough edges. Expect AAA gaming and you’ll be disappointed though. But for anyone who wants to play a RPG with a different setting and for anyone who wants to spend dozens of hours with a game, Risen 3 might be just the game to go to.

Mind you, after 20 hours, Rabidgames is far from finished with Risen 3, so there might be more to come story-wise, who knows … but so far, it has been a fun journey on the southern seas and islands.

Rabidgames applauds: Finally, a proper RPG for consoles, after some years’ wait. You, know, the old-fashioned kind: Stats matter in combat and everywhere else, tons of dialogue where the “evil” option is not always at the bottom, and the tropical setting makes Risen 3 stand out from the fantasy worlds of yesteryear … While it is not polished as it could be, it is still time for some good old RPG fun, if you ask Rabidgames!