Assassin’s Creed: (& the complete lack of) Revelations

So (I should really get out of the habit of starting articles with so), I recently rented and finished Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. In a lot of ways it was a bit of a try before buying decision – we’ve played all the Assassin’s Creeds so far. But luckily (or unluckily?) the game turned out to be not worth playing…really, really not worth playing.

Just a small warning: there are going to be some series spoilers. But chances are you either already know because you’ve played the game or couldn’t care less.

This isn’t really going to be a full review. Though you could read Peter’s short review, if you like. The game controls like the previous Assassin’s Creed, and is about as technically competent. If you’ve played and liked the previous in the series, chances are you’ve already played Revelations anyway. If you haven’t yet looked at the series – Revelations isn’t the place to start trying it out. It does assume (after a brief ‘remember the controls’ style tutorial for a few opening minutes) you’ve played and followed the story so far.

I didn’t think much of Brotherhood (that’s the Assassin’s Creed 2 spin-off before Revelations – which is also an Assassin’s Creed 2 spin-off). It felt like a collection of left-over stories from Assassin’s Creed 2 strung rather haphazardly together. With bombs, and a new ‘send assassins on missions’ style mini-game thrown in. Its only important plot point is that Desmond stabs Jenny…which isn’t really a lot to add considering Brotherhood had a £40 triple A style release. It sailed by (in my opinion, at least) on the coat-tails of Assassin’s Creed 2 – which to me has been the best game in the series so far.

So after one spin-off title with tenuous amounts of plot you can imagine my expectations of Revelations – I didn’t expect much (take from that what you will), nor did I get much. The game doesn’t seem to have much of a plot either. It fringe’s on the political plot of Constantinople but has really nothing to do with it. Ezio is searching for five key things to open a door to something he wants. And there’s some chick he’d like to shag…that’s about it.

The sheer amount and repetitive pointless-ness of the mini-games also blows previous instalments out of the water. It still has the ‘Assassination’ mission. It has bomb making, a tower defence mini-game, a capture all the Templar dens element. It has Thieves, Romanies (because that’s better than prostitutes?) and Mercenary HQ missions. Recruit Assassins missions. Find book missions (at least those are related to finding keys and shagging what’s-her-face). It has more side missions and extra game mechanics than real game-play at the end of the day. You could spend hours doing them all – but they don’t give you anything. They don’t unveil extra plot or have a purpose. It’s just stuff to do to distract from the main story. Which isn’t very substantial if you remove all the mini extras.

Adding to this barrage of distracting mini-games the fact that the game feels a lot smaller in terms of scale. Constantinople is a nice sized city – and you do (briefly) visit a few other locations – Masyaf and Cappadocia. But the bulk of your time is spent in the one city, compared to riding as you wish from city to city in previous games. And again I think this bothers me because Revelations wasn’t a budget release – it has a lot less to it, and still costs the same. Not only that, but there’s an optional ‘Epilogue’ movie (Ezio shags what’s-her-face, trains some dude, then dies – the end) that you have to pay for. And I don’t buy things that should have really been included or just on the Internet for free – nor is it very nice for them to try it. Didn’t the game cost enough?

One of the things that did consistently annoy me (alongside everything else…) was how they did shop and building buying in Revelations. Not only is there no simple menu to access all the buildings you can buy, (which was a good thing – making me run around and buy them all individually is just an exercise in time wasting and nothing else) but it now raises your notoriety if you buy shops or buildings. And again all this feels like is another exercise in time wasting…because I’m going to buy shops and buildings anyway. Then I’m going to bride heralds and kill officials until I have no notoriety (because the best way to become more stealthy is to kill some more dudes). Then I can buy more things.

Now that I’ve talked about playing Ezio – how about Desmond? Because the game is still clinging to the notion that we even care about the pseudo science mechanic for playing different characters anymore. They changed Desmond’s character model so he now looks even more dull and uninteresting, while simultaneously trying to actually characterise him some more. There are some unlockable ‘memories’ that play like an unfinished concept that are supposed to reveal some truths – both to us and Desmond I assume is the idea. Only I don’t agree with how the game puts it – they’re pretty much going along the lines of ‘Desmond ran away from his assassin family to go and do some pointless actual living and that’s terrible!’ Except it isn’t terrible…Desmond was in a cult. Even if they are (if you want to look at it in these terms) the ‘good guys’ – he lived in a small, closed off from the world community doing drills as a child, where he was expected to only grow up to be a strong assassin – no choosing his own career, or having a life or even a childhood. Just – you are an assassin. And you’re trying to say it was bad that he ran away? Riiiight…

The final point I do want to make (because as I said, this isn’t really a review – more a catalogue of Revelations sins) is the sheer lack of point to this game. As the titles says ‘Complete lack of’ Revelations. The ending movie reveals that…there was a race before us that both enslaved us and helped us (we knew this). That there was a big bad thing that wiped them out (we know this already too). There are temples that can save the world from another catastrophe. They covered all of this in the end of Assassin’s Creed 2 – Minerva tells you pretty much the exact same stuff. So, what was the point? Was it Ezio’s story? Because after he gets the five keys to…something that he might want (which just turns out to be the Apple of Eden) – he gets there, unlocks the door and…decides he doesn’t want it, and shuts the door again. So there was no point in doing any of it…not even if it’s ‘the journey that’s the important part’. Your friend, Yusuf dies for no reason. You kill the innocent Tarik for no reason. You didn’t want it in the end anyway, you might as well have stayed put in the start room and wait for the cube to resolve. *Sigh*

So, Revelations was mostly an exercise in time wasting and money hoarding. Assassin’s Creed 3 has been announced (the actual sequel to Assassin’s Creed 2) and the sad thing is, I’ll still probably play it – either rented or used after it’s been out for at least 1-2 months, because the premise is still more interesting than your average shooter.

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