I was heartily disappointed when the time came for me to start thinking about my post this week and I did not have an Assassin’s Creed: Revelations review to share with the world. What was wrong with me that I had yet to finish the game? And then it hit me like a deer suddenly appearing within my headlights to destroy my shiny new car: Revelations had fallen far short of my expectations. And so far my disappointment has kept me from grabbing that controller and finishing the game.
A large part of what drew me to the series (especially the last three games) was the plot. I adored the fact that I was able to parade around Renaissance Italy as a debonair assassin with a penchant for revenge. The settings were colorful. The characters were engaging. When Ezio’s family was slaughtered, I was invested enough to want revenge at least as badly as he did. When Cesare Borgia laid seige to Monteriggioni, my heart broke as I watched the home we had worked so hard to build destroyed in one fell swoop. So far, this latest installment, has left me feeling anything but invested. The end of Brotherhood ended with me, for the first time, wanting desperately to spend time with Desmond. Instead, I am parading around the Middle East and running errands for Yusuf Tazim. Yusuf is a little annnoying. Perhaps it is just a matter of time before the game picks up, but as I mentioned above, I have yet to find the heart to get to that point.
Gameplay wise Revelations is more of the same. At times, it almost feels like I am playing through DLC rather than an actual game in which I invested $59.99 and (so far) ten hours of my time. I run here to recruit such and such assassin. I run there to defend a tower from templars. I take a boat across the river to research the mysterious five keys that will open the way to Altair’s library. Instead of a seasoned assassin, I feel a bit like a low-level rogue in World of Warcraft grinding through fetch quest after fetch quest to gain experience.
Still, the developers of the game have seen fit to throw in a variety of new gameplay elements. The most successful of these elements thusfar is the hookblade – which allows players higher climbing mobility and the use of ziplines to travel quickly from building to building. I find the hookblade an invaluable addition as I leap from rooftop to rooftop to reach the next mini-quest. However, players who are visiting the series for the first time may find the hookblade a little difficult to master (as evidenced when I let my sister play through the first part of the game and I felt a little like stabbing myself in the eyes with forks). Revelations also showcases a notable new weapon: bombs. Players are able to use ingredients taken from dead guards or found throughout the world to craft a variety of bombs. Some of these bombs are used to create noise distractions, some are stinky, some are pure damage. It certainly makes for a more engaging combat experience and I wish developers would have added crafting into earlier incarnations of the game. I would have loved to find myself in the lair of an underground blackmarket herbalist brewing the poisons used to coat my hidden blades.
Where there is good, there is always bad, and Revelations brings the really bad in the form of a tower defense mini-game. Once Templar towers are captured and converted into Assassin dens there is a chance that those Templars will come back to claim lost territory. Enter the tower defense mini game. Ezio stands atop a roof and is able to summon various assassin units and construct blockades to stop the Templar seige engines. I can think of nothing further to say than the fact that it is terrible. The screen is hard to navigate as a result of shoddily done camera angles where players are forced to stare at Ezio standing off-center in their screen and can only rotate the camera from left to right. The units are straightforward and lack flavor. The rewards are scarce. All in all, when it pops up on my screen that it is time to take the defensive again I let out a groan of agony.
Once again, Ezio finds himself recruiting more assassins to the cause. This was one of my favorite parts of Brotherhood and I spent countless hours sending out my fledglings of experience, items, and quests. I have yet to spend a lot of time with this game mechanic, but so far the changes seem promising. I look forward to sending out my minions to rid the world of Templar influence across the world.
All in all, I have spent about ten hours with this game and feel that it has yet to live up to its predecessors. I hope that once I build up the resolve to get back into the game that it will live up to the generally favorable opinion it seems to be gaining. I am looking forward to seeing the ends of both Ezio’s and Altair’s stories and can only hope that when I return in two weeks to give this game a proper review that it will, at last, live up to my expectations.