Posted by Alex Jordan on

I continue to suck at Modern Warfare 2's multiplayer and continue to be adequate at Assassin's Creed 2's singleplayer.

I find both addicting because of a relatively frequent design decision in modern games: collect-athons, the padding of linear gameplay with optional items to collect. Usually, collecting enough of these items conveys some sort of bonus or achievement in the game.

In Modern Warfare 2, the collect-athon is inversed. I'm collecting achievements, and earning items. Accomplishing certain feats in multiplayer unlocks new weaponry and gear. In the first Modern Warfare, that amounted to weapons and perks. In its sequel, however, there is a truly bewildering away of weapons, perks, killstreaks, deathstreaks, callsigns, emblems, ranks, and God knows what else to unlock. It's overwhelming, so I'm doing my best to stick with a few types of weaponry I'm familiar with until I'm better versed in what the game has to offer.

Assassin's Creed 1, meanwhile, was all about the items. For the first game, each city had 100 flags to collect. Their benefit was nebulous and they were ridiculously hard to find, so not many people felt like collecting all of them. Just like MW2, however, AC2 went apeshit with the collectibles. I now have to worry about collecting feathers, Tomb amulets, codex pages, wall glyphs, Roman God figurines, money boxes, and probably a few things I'm forgetting.

And it drives me crazy, because collecting all these things are compelling as hell. In MW2, collect-athons turn me into a murderous badass. In AC2, collect-athons upgrade my villa, earn me upgrades from Leonardo da Vinci, unlock secret weapon and money caches, and - my personal favorite - comfort my grieving mother. It's interesting! Some of the collectibles (the glyphs, in this case) even bring up Da Vinci Code-style puzzles I have to solve to earn bits and pieces of a mysterious movie. Collectibles leading to other collectibles!

I'm enjoying these games, but they drive me fucking crazy because I will never, ever have the time to find all these damned collectibles. All these precious nuggets of gameplay and innovation, mostly out of reach. Dammit.