GameCrank: “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” Review

Patrick

 

Assassin’s Creed is the kind of franchise that I originally thought could be fantastic. It was new, it was different, it had the groundwork for a huge, expansive story, and it had gameplay potential. Sure, the original AC game isn’t exactly “great”, but I held onto the promise that the sequel would be better.

Then, “Assassin’s Creed 2” was released. And then “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood” came out. And now again with “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.”

I wish I was happy. I wish I could celebrate now that the developer’s stagnation of imagination is over and Ubisoft is putting out fresh, new ideas again. Well, there are two things getting in the way of that.

First of all, I doubt that Ubisoft is planning any major overhauls to the franchise any time soon. Even though they’ll have to come up with a new protagonist, a new setting, and a couple gameplay tweaks to fit those changes accordingly (don’t be surprised if the gun doesn’t come back), honestly, if people are going to keep buying these games, then I think that they don’t really care whether they’re original or not. It’s depressing, but it’s probably true.

Oh, yeah, the second reason: the truth of it is, well, I actually kind of like “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.” Am I saying this right? Really?

Well, apparently, yes. “Revelations” is actually not bad at all. Not only that, but I’m honestly kind of saddened by it. No, not the usual cynical kind of sadness that tells me this game is depressingly bad, but the sadness that hits because it’s over. Ezio is over. Altair is over. All of these characters are going away forever (at least until the point when they’ll probably have cameos in the last game in the series). The lives I’ve lived together with them are over.

The reason this is so shocking to me is that I’ve been highly indifferent to “Assassin’s Creed 2” and “Brotherhood.” I thought they were fine, yes, but they seemed so flat, dull, and misdirected compared to what I originally loved about the series. Most of all, I’ve been especially indifferent to Ezio. He’s never really been a compelling character to me, which really stunk up the games because their stories were basically centered all around him. They were character studies about a character that I didn’t like.

This time is much different. Ezio has pulled an Indiana Jones/Solid Snake trick, aging up to 52 years old but still somehow retaining the action-hero strength and agility he had when he was 30 years younger. It’s not just his facial hair that’s evolved, though, as this is probably the first time when I’ve felt like Ezio has become a fully-rounded, three-dimensional character. He’s much wiser, reflective, and respectful than he was in the previous games, which finally shows how much he’s grown and evolved as a character. He feels less like an attempted reflection of the game’s main demographic (as he was when he was a perverted, reckless sleaze-ball) and more like an actual human being. Paradoxically, this stray from his former character and lessened emphasis on trying to hook me actually made the game much more immersive than it had ever been.

Okay, I know that I mentioned only one good thing about “Revelations” so far, but I have to put a disclaimer up right now: “Revelations” technically isn’t that good.

Oh, I liked it, of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s an objectively decent game. There so many nits to pick that I hardly think I can pick them all. Most of them aren’t actually problems within the game itself, but rather problems that haven’t been fixed from the earlier entries of the series.

#1. It’s still way too easy. I get that the game is trying to make us feel as though we’re playing a fully realized Ezio. This is supposed to be the point in his life where he’s at the height of his skill and ability. Great, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of challenge. Never once did I die from combat in my entire play-through. The only times I did die were from pancaking myself from missed jumps. Assassin’s Creed is a next-gen series that never truly realized that multiple difficulty settings are usually a good idea.

#2. Mission structure for stealth misisons is still a hidden blade in my butt. Probably the single biggest complaint with the gameplay in the recent AC games has and always will be the stealth structure. It’s nothing that has to do with the controls, or the enemies, or anything else. My problem is that scenarios that automatically make you fail the mission every time you get spotted should be rare and used sparingly. The greatest aspect to the replay-value of the first Assassin’s Creed was the multiple ways you could progress through the main missions. You could charge into the fray like a maniac and carve your way through dozens of bad-guys, or you could take the subtle approach and artfully avoid detection before slamming your wrist blade through the squishy throat of your pathetically mortal target. I hate being penalized for not being perfect, and that definitely applies to video games. Bring back the freedom, Ubisoft.

#3. The new features are all superfluous. Yep, the big one: lack of originality. That’s a common theme among games these days, eh? It’s ironic now that it’s now affecting the series that originally attempted to try and do something interesting and ground-breaking, isn’t it? The only real new features I noticed in “Revelations” were the bomb-crafting system (which I used twice), the tower-defense mini-game for defending assassin guilds (which I played twice), and the hook-blade (which is pretty cool but ultimately doesn’t change the gameplay at all). It’s one thing to have barely any new features, but another thing when those few features aren’t even noticeable.

I suppose I could go on, but then I would just be reviewing “Assassin’s Creed 2” and “Brotherhood.” There’s not much I can say about “Revelations” without referencing “2” and “Brotherhood.” I try to be as thorough as I can in trying out new additions to new games, but there ultimately isn’t much in this game to differentiate itself at all from the rest of the series. Like “Brotherhood,” it still feels like a filler-game, and not even a particularly substantial filler-game at that. If the only real things that I liked were the characters and story, then what the heck was the point of me spending $60 on this thing when I could’ve looked up the cut-scenes on the Internet?

I guess the biggest reason why I liked “Revelations” more than the last two games in the Assassin’s Creed series was because of its ending. The final boss is still pathetic and the big twist isn’t too surprising, but there’s something about it that’s very endearing. It’s actually cohesive. It’s actually coherent. It actually brings closure. These things are more than I can say for “2” and “Brotherhood.” So, yeah, I can’t say that it’s truly a great game, but it is something that stuck with me. I guess that has to mean something, right? Right.

GameCrank is written by Patrick Pontes.

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