March 29, 2012

Game Review: Assassin's Creed II: Revelations

... or Assassin's Creed II:3... if that makes any sense.

Assassin's Creed: Revelations is a game that is really only appealing to people who are already invested in the series. While fun to play, at heart the game really is just a bunch of more of the same sort of stuff we've been doing. The new parts that have been added aren't that interesting and frankly aren't even that fun. If you haven't played AC, ACII or ACII:Brotherhood, the general overarching plot won't make a whole lot of sense so it is not a good entry point. There isn't much in this game that hasn't been done before, often times in a more interesting way.




Overview
For those of you who are invested in the series already, it is fun to be back into the Animus with Desmond stepping into Ezio Auditore's shoes. He is a compelling character to play as and it was fun to see him in his old age... 
"Old" Ezio
... which leads me to my first gripe which I'll talk more about later. Why does old man Ezio move just like 20  something Ezio? Anyway, pushing that aside for now the game is more of the running across rooftops fun you've come to enjoy. Like Brotherhood the world is now one single open world city instead of smaller cities spread out over the land. The location has been moved from bustling renaissance Rome to Constantinople. The city felt smaller than the expansive Rome which was a bit disappointing. 

Pretty much all the flagship parts of the series made a return including upgrading the city for more money, paying of criers when you've done too much crap, syncing viewpoints to see the map, etc. etc. With the whole map open to me, the very first opportunity I had, I immediately went out and started buying as much of the town as possibly could. I managed to buy pretty much all of Constantinople before ever really getting me into the plot, and I was subsequently rewarded with best armor in the game... which made things pretty easy. 

Spread throughout the game are missions that allow you to take control of the original AC's protagonist Altair, as well as some occasional weird First Person segments with Desmond, the real main character of the series. Altair's missions were refreshing, though too short. Desmond's weird Animus segments felt more like a proof of concept than a fully fleshed game mechanic. To unlock Desmond's mission, you had to collect missing Animus artifacts in the game world (there are 100 of them). After finding 5 or 10 of these, you'd be rewarded with a glimpse into Desmond's past via a First Person platformer... which (other than Mirror's Edge) never feel right. What's more, after collecting 30 of the 100 Animus fragments, nothing else happened. Couldn't I be rewarded with something other than gamerpoints for finding all 100 of these things? Bah.

Oh... and multiplayer... it exists.

Story
Ezio's plot wasn't that engaging, but I like his smirky attitude, so I enjoyed it. He got played a few times, found love again in Sofia who's cleavage is much too large and young for someone Ezio's age.
Ezio's still got it.
One of my favorite missions was Ezio had to tail a guy across half the city so that he could find a patch of Sofia's favorite flowers. It felt genuine and out of place. I liked it. 

Altair's missions were engaging as they took place over a century and we got to play as really old Altair who can barely walk, as well as learning more about his fate. The story tied into the mythology of the game much more than anything Ezio or Desmond did, and as such, I was grateful. 

Desmond, meanwhile has been stuck in the Animus for a while and is having conversations with Subject 16 who is a previous Animus user who's conciseness has somehow gotten stuck in the machine. Desmond needs to relearn who he is and where he came from to pull his mind back together, or he'll die. Sounds cool, but really it didn't amount to much.

Controls 
Ezio is still jumping around the city like he's a spry 20 something years old. I didn't like it. I had hoped there would have been some sort of stamina meter or something. Heck, even Link got one in Skyward Sword. Bombs were added to the game, which I used when absolutely required and almost never again. Rooftop ziplines were a great addition though poorly placed as they never seemed to be where I wanted to go. Also Ezio is now a superhero. The dude can take on entire armies of foes with a mere sword and come out the survivor. I miss the days when you actually had to act like an Assassin in Assassin's Creed. Also, Den Defense (aka 3rd Person Tower Defense game) was a poorly implemented and frustrating thing. You could spend 15 minutes killing off hundreds of Templars in a weird mini-game while preventing them from trying to take of the Den... or wait until your Den was completely overrun by Templars and spend two minutes assassinating a captain and setting a tower on fire. You can guess what I did...

Altair's missions played pretty much the same, he even has the same character animations as Ezio until he gets to be an old old man. Then it was pretty much walk to point A, push A button... walk to point B, push A button... etc. So not difficult. They really felt more like interactive cut scenes, which was fine by me for what they were.

Desmond's missions, as I mentioned before were bizarre. I felt like there was some small group at Ubisoft that was working on a pet project that they wanted to test out to the masses, so they stuck it in Assassin's Creed to see how the public would react. They were actually pretty fun puzzles, but they definitely did NOT feel like they belonged in this franchise.

"You know what this game about memory-hopping-global-conspiracy-doomsday-Assassins needs?"
What?
"Portal style block puzzles"
Um...

Seriously. This doesn't belong in this game. Ubisoft should have taken this idea, and made some sort of downloadable shorter game, and made extra money on the side. It was fun, but just way too off for the series. Stick to new and fancy ways of Park-our.

Conclusion: 6/10
Let's face it. Assassin's Creed is fun. Climbing towers, tailing people, hidden blades, etc. just doesn't seem to get old to me. If you treat this game as an expansion pack of more of the same, then you will enjoy it. If you are looking for new interesting stuff... meh. I'm fairly certain that this and Brotherhood were stop gap games that were only made to bring in more revenue without having to put too much into redesigning anything. They were on yearly release cycles and the corner cutting is apparent. However, it is a good chunk of content that is enjoyable to play until ACIII comes out, which has been in production for the entire 3 years since ACII was first released. That is a true sequel that will bring the needed change and freshness the series deserves.