Monday, January 9, 2012

My Thoughts on AC: Revelations

I've taken up assassinations again. That is, I finally started in on Assassin's Creed: Revelations. My initial impressions of the game can be distilled into a simple sentence. It feels exactly how it was marketed. That is, if it were an MMO, this game would have been an expansion. I think there may be a bit of a negative cast to that statement (at least there is in my mind, if it doesn't come through in the text), but I'm not displeased by the game. No, it's exactly what I expected, no more, no less.

I love the AC series. They've been great games, and have a great story.. I knew I was going to pick up Revelations, it was just a matter of waiting until I got my Christmas gifts. With all the other gaming I was doing, it wasn't hard to wait, though I was excited about the game. The beauty of single player games is that they wait on you. Unless it's Skyrim, in which case if you don't start playing it with everyone else, you'll still feel left out (much like an MMO).

In any case, the game looks and feels the exact same as its predecessor. It plays the same. In all facets, it pretty much just picks up where the last game left off. In my opinion, the story-telling is a little clumsier than the previous games, as it sort of just thrusts you back into the animus and I found myself a bit bewildered. It had been a while since I'd played the last game. Still, my feelings likely mirror Desmond's own, so it's not terrible. The game just feels a bit more "gamey" than iterations past, where I've felt completely immersed.

I felt like from the first Assassin's Creed with Altair, to the AC: II... that jump was a legitimate 1 to 2 jump. That is, the game felt updated and improved on from one iteration to the next. From II to Brotherhood, that was the introduction of multi-player, I think. Thus, there was a significant addition even if the game was mostly the same. Revelations has all the same stuff... and it feels like no more. I guess there are some minor things (like the bombs are a fun touch), but it is exactly what they are marketing it as: an expansion in the series story. AC III is in development, and I assume that will feel like a proper "jump."

I feel like my tone is coming off a bit whiny here, and that's not completely my intention. I did have some initial disappointment, but I'm not exactly sure why. Like I said, I don't feel lied to. I feel like I got exactly what I was paying for. And, like all of the games in the series, as I play I find myself drawn in (maybe not as quickly or as wholly as the others, but still significantly). The mechanics and styling all settle in around me like a favorite blanket, and I'm enjoying myself. From randomly bombing guard patrols, to seeking out treasure chests, to renovating the city... it's all familiar and still fun, not tired. I look forward to doing it. I just can't shake the feeling that it could have been better I guess. Or maybe that it was sort of rushed out as they focus on III. Like this was the "left overs" of the story and it didn't have quite as much polish. But I can't really point at any one particular thing. It's still a solid game so far... a little clunky at parts as it tries to immediately pick up where you left off, but solid. Definitely solid.

Now, there is the addition of the Assassin's Tower Defense, so maybe I'm not being completely fair. It's sort of like an awesome, assassiny mini-game. From someone that enjoys the occasional tower defense, it's a lot of fun. Not really a revolution, but fun. I'm glad they added it. Also, there's the hookblade. Same story here. A fun mechanic, but not ground-breaking. Seems like a simple, logical addition.

Maybe there are huge surprises in my future. I've hardly scratched the surface. But I wanted to write it out. Maybe some of you playing the game have had the same feeling and could place it better. Maybe I'm just being persnickety. I do find that it makes me muse about subscription models, downloadable content, and single player games. I'll write a bit about that tomorrow, which is why I wanted to describe this today.

I have absolutely no regrets about buying the game, and I'm having the exact fun I've come to expect from the series. Forgive me, then, if I don't classify it as a "blast." I'm not really feeling mind-blown, or like I'm going to spend long sessions burning through the game. Instead, I'm looking forward to a nice, leisurely walk with my old friend, Ezio. A scenic stroll down Constantinople's ancient streets, bodies lining the gutters, blade in hand. Idyllic, no?


  1. Ubisoft is treating Assassin's Creed as their Call of Duty; as in, they plan to keep releasing new iterations of it every year or so, give or take a couple of months, because it's such a money generator. This will be the new norm for AC games - a couple of innovations, but realistically the same game platform over and over. I've never been a fan of AC games, but I do feel for the AC fans (of which there are many). You're a fan of the cash-cow franchise. Expect the same treatment that COD, Halo, and Madden receive.

  2. I think describing it feeling more like an expansion than a new game is even a little generous of a description. I feel like it's more like a massive DLC of sorts.

    It's, as you said, just a continuation of the Ezio storyline. Slight tweaks to the mechanics, but it's essentially just more of AC:2/AC:Brotherhood. That's not a bad thing, in the slightest. But I can see how it makes you (and myself) feel like the game is a little lackluster. It's not mind blowing because it's not "fresh" content. I'm also midly annoyed that I feel compelled to keep my Assassins busy on missions. That micromanagement takes a bit from the story, if you ask me.

    It's like the last book of a trilogy. Everything is familiar, engaging, and fun. But at the same time, you're looking forward to the story's conclusion. (Or at least I am.) Although I am loving Constantinople.

    In regards to AC:3, if I recall correctly, it will be an entirely new character and era. Revelations is the end of our adventures with Ezio.

  3. @TGTR - Yeah. The key difference here though is that these games rely heavily on the story. They are single player story games. Unlike shooters or sports games, the AC series will still have to at least have a fresh story. It can't rely on multiplayer or repetitive matches to drive sales. So even though the mechanics may stagnate, they should at least have a compelling story. So far so good on that front.

    @Darth - Yeah, DLC is a probably a more apt description, and that's sort of what I'm leading into tomorrow. The question I'm going to ask is basically "why not subscription single player games?" Periodical content is not a bad thing in my book, and I'm willing to pay for it. In some cases, it may even make me feel better to download a level each month for $10 than spend $60 on six months worth of levels (an expansion). That's the idea I'll be exploring anyway.

    I've loved every location so far and find that alone worth the money. Constantinople is no slouch in that regard. It's like playing the history channel. I'm looking forward to the end of the story as well... most important to me: who is Ezio going to get it on with? I mean he has to have a kid or we'd not be there!

    I've seen the same info about AC:3 - namely that it'll be an entirely different setting/character in keeping with the jump from AC:1 to 2.