Heightened Feelings

Originally Published: 5 September 2009

It’s funny, I hadn’t had this feeling for a long time. But there it was again, tugging at my insides. A truly unpleasant sensation, which was made even more unpleasant as I’ve realised that I am one of those people who should pay attention to those warnings on film adverts that claim that the movie contains “a scene of mild peril”. I obviously can’t cope with what’s presented before me.

I’ve recently been playing Assassin’s Creed. I’ve had the game for a while – almost since release, I seem to think. I’d played it a little bit but just didn’t get it. I’d killed, I think, maybe one of my targets before I abandoned the game to that most popular of places, the “you’re not doing much for me right now but I’ll come back to you later” pile.

Writers here at Ready Up! would rant and rave about how brilliant the game is – Anthony and Zoey spring immediately to mind. In fact, I’m fairly sure Zoey mentioned she’d do pretty much anything to get her hands on the sequel. Anyway, people were constantly saying how good the game was and I would still be feeling a little bit “meh” about the whole thing.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, that is. Pre-empting the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum I figured I should play a bit of a stealth ‘em up to get myself prepared for various Dark Knight related shenanigans so in went Assassin’s Creed. The first thing I did was install the game – I had vivid memories of being a bit bored with the load screens when I last played, so any advantage the hard drive could give me was lapped up.

I sat down to play and, at first, was still not getting it. Somewhere along the line, however, I did. Everything made perfect sense to me – the game was everything people had said and more and I played for quite some time.

I fired up the game on Wednesday this week, as a distraction while I waited for the Arcade titles to download. That distraction lasted several hours, and it was during that time that my old Nemesis returned – I have videogame vertigo!

It’s a weird feeling. I first experienced it while playing Tomb Raider many moons ago. Certain areas, if the camera panned over them in a certain way, would make me feel nauseous. Fair enough, it was a feeling which passed fairly quickly, but those virtual drops made my insides tighten like nothing else. It’s a weird thing that, for the most part, I could happily swan dive Lara from a rocky cliff to meet with certain death at the bottom but if the camera was positioned just right, and the drop below me was visible, my heart would be in my mouth.

The same happened with Assassin’s Creed. I was merrily shinning my way up a church with an awesomely high spire. As I climbed I made the fatal mistake as the climb progressed, I moved the camera and the drop below me became visible and, well, my genitalia found a new home in my abdomen. That was okay, but then I lost my grip on the top of the spire (because I was being a little bit over-ambitious with the buttons) and I started to fall. A wave of fear swept through me as I frantically held the grab button down. Luckily my incredibly strong assassin arms managed to stop my fall without much more than a mild grunt and I began the climb again, with the camera aligned so as not to give me palpitations.

So, I have a problem. My name is Jake, and I have virtual vertigo.