Old Guys Can Still Kick Ass
Thursday, December 1, 2011 1 Comment
Nerdvember just passed, so that means there is a multitude of killer games hitting store shelves. And I’m not talking about Call of Duty or Battlefield 3, or any other over-hyped shooter. On the 15th, the crack team at Ubisoft Montreal released Assassin’s Creed Revelations. With less than a year in development, it was going to be interesting to see what they did with the game, and the direction the story took. Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood came out at this time last year, also after only one year of development, and that game kicked ass. So did Ubisoft pull off another masterpiece in a relatively short time? Yes, they totally did.
To recap the story of Assassin’s Creed would be like reciting an entire novel, and I just don’t have the patience for that. Besides, there would be way too many spoilers for the previous games. Those of you who played the previous games know that the story is equal parts Sci-fi, historical fiction, drama and action. So I’ll just skim the surface of the basic story. Assassins are an elite fraternity of killers that secretly protect humanity from corruption by murdering those who abuse power. They prefer chaos, as long as humanity is free from tyranny. The Assassins are at war with the Templars, a shady group that wants to control the world through politics, economics, society, media, etc. The two factions have been at war since ancient times. You play as Desmond Miles, a modern day Assassin who basically has a really shitty life. By using a machine called The Animus, he can live the memories of his ancestors. In the first game he lived as Altair, his ancestor from the Crusades. In AC2 and AC Brotherhood, he lived as Ezio Auditore, an Italian nobleman during the Renaissance who was forced into the Assassin order. Throw in some crazy conspiracies involving the Catholic church, plot twists, ancient artifacts, conversations with the gods who created the universe, and even a 2012 doomsday prophecy, and you’ll get the picture. The story is freaking insane to say the least.
Revelations takes place immediately following the events of Brotherhood. Due to some chilling events, Desmond is in a coma and is put back into the Animus to keep his mind intact. The machine recognizes that something is wrong, and enters Safe Mode. That sends Desmond to Animus Island, a sort of limbo full of raw computer data. His consciousness is trapped there while his body is in a coma. He can’t leave Animus Island until he finishes living as Ezio. Desmond learns this because someone else is trapped down there with him: Subject 16. It would take too long to explain who that is, so please just play the previous games.
Desmond finds a Sync Nexus, which is basically a portal to his ancestor’s memories. This allows him to live out Ezio’s memories and try to get the hell out of Animus Island. On Ezio’s end of the story, things aren’t pretty either. The year is 1509, he’s now in his late 50’s and controls the Assassin Brotherhood. Even though he single-handedly took down the Pope and the Borgias in Rome, the Templars still control pretty much all of the world. Ezio must travel to Constantinople to uncover 5 keys to Altair’s personal library. He arrives to find the city under Templar control, and must take the city back while searching for the keys.
Now that we’re all caught up (somewhat), let’s talk about the game itself. Many key improvements have been made to make things easier and just plain fun. The core gameplay is still there, so why fix what isn’t broken? The AC frachise has always been heavy in the free-running aspect, and Revelations is no different. However there is a new addition to Ezio’s arsenal that makes the (hardcore) parkour easier. He receives something called a hookblade, which is a hidden blade that doubles as a hook. Constantinople’s rooftops are covered in ziplines, and the hookblade allows Ezio to gracefully zip across the city. Additionally, the hookblade makes climbing much simpler. It can be used in combat, to grab or evade enemies, and Ezio can even assassinate people from a zipline. Additionally, Ezio has become more of a badass. He still has his hidden blades, poison darts, crossbow, dagger and sword, but he can now use them in much more deadly ways. The executions he performs are downright brutal. If you get the Signature Edition of the game, you’ll get Vlad the Impaler’s sword. Along with dealing vicious amounts of damage, it allows Ezio to kill people in an especially violent manner. I found myself laughing like a little girl upon seeing Ezio stab a guy in the face and twist the blade to break his neck, or slicing a guard’s throat and grabbing his head so the blade slowly cuts deeper. And there is a lot more blood in Revelations. It’s awesome.
Another great gameplay improvement is bomb crafting. Ezio can create three types of bombs: tactical, diversionary and lethal. These come in handy quite often for example, you can throw a cherry bomb to distract guards, or deploy a smoke bomb to make a quick escape. For each type of bomb, there are several different variations, including trip-wires, bombs that dispense fake money, and (I shit you not) even stink bombs you can use to clear an area of people. Experimenting with different explosives in the game is more addictive than it sounds.
The strangest addition to the game is the Tower Defense. Much like Brotherhood, there are Templar dens that you can take over, but they changed it up a bit in Revelations. You can take over a den, but the Templars will try to take it back. This is where the Tower Defense gameplay kicks in. You’ll be standing on the rooftops, telling Assassin archers and marksmen to shoot the living hell out of the attackers. You can build barricades, call for cannon air strikes, even shoot the Templars yourself with Ezio’s hidden gun. It’s a fun and interesting addition to the game, but it’s also freaking difficult. You WILL lose some of your Assassin dens because of this, which doesn’t even seem worth it after a while.
If you want to take a break from being Ezio, you can exit the Sync Nexus and wader around Animus Island. There you’ll find five doorways you can enter. This is where the game takes a turn for the weird. These doorways take you to a section of the Animus that is incomplete, and Desmond’s shambled mind fills these areas with his own memories. The game switches to a first person view, and you basically have to create a walkway using floating shapes to reach your destination. Desmond is narrating the entire time, telling the story of his life. How he was raised as an Assassin, how he ran away from home and became a bartender in New York, and how he was dragged into the war between the Assassins and Templars. Creating walkways with floating ghost shapes and dodging lasers feels a lot like Portal. I seriously was expecting GLaDos to pop out of a wall and call me fat. It’s strange, but it’s worth it to hear Desmond’s story, and it’s actually pretty fun.
Of course, there are some things they could have done better. You’ll run into some gameplay glitches. That’s to be expected; you can’t make a game of this size without having a few faulty controls and graphical errors. Also, as the game progressed, I found myself less interested in Ezio’s story. I cared more about what was happening to Desmond, and that was a bit lame because you’re playing as Ezio for 95% of the game. I’m not saying Ezio’s part of the story is boring, it’s just not nearly as gripping.
The multiplayer is generally the same as Brotherhood. You play as Templar agents who are strapped into an Animus to be trained in the art of killing. Abstergo (the Templar corporation running these training exercises) is trying to build an army, and this is the first step in doing so. The gameplay is exactly the same as the game’s story mode, but the object is much different. In Deathmatch, you’re given a picture of your target. You have to find and kill that target before you are killed, because you are someone else’s target. Plain and simple. There are some other modes like CTF and team-based Deathmatch, but the regular Deathmatch is clearly the most fun. There are new weapons and tactical perks you can obtain, but nothing too different from Brotherhood. The multiplayer is fun, but like all other games, it can be tough to get into if you’re not an experienced player. Higher level players have an unfair advantage over lower level ones, and that’s something they could have fixed.
To sum it all up, this is a phenomenal game. The gameplay is fun, the story is as great as ever, the voice acting is perfect, the graphics are amazing even while running on an outdated engine, and the multiplayer just adds to the high replay value. I love the fact that Ubisoft added different gameplay aspects like the Tower Defense and the Desmond Sessions. It shows that were thinking outside of the box, and didn’t want to just make another Brotherhood. If you’re a fan of Assassin’s Creed, you HAVE to buy this game. If you’re not a fan and want to try it out, I’d recommend playing the previous games first, otherwise you won’t have any idea what’s going on. Ubisoft has done it again, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll do next in this epic series.