I’ve been a fan of the Assassin’s Creed franchise since we first joined Desmond and his buddies from the past Altair (and later Ezio) in the first installment of the game. The game made me feel like I was actually an assassin, stalking my prey until finally striking with might and leaving with speed and stealth. I still remember one of my favorite kills in the first game: when Altair is charged with taking out a corrupt doctor (who, in a cut-scene, is shown breaking a troublesome patient’s legs), I waited patiently from the rafters before dropping down and air-assassinating his malpracticing ass. It’s still one of my favorite kills because of how seemlessly it happened. It made me feel like I truly was Altair.
Assassin’s Creed II took away from the shadow that Altair had and gave us a character we could feel some empathy for: Ezio Auditore de Firenze. When he witnesses the entire male-side of his family killed, he must not only look after his now-catatonic mother and his distraught sister, but he must take up the torch and become… AN ASSASSIN. The game added a lot of great mechanics to the series, but didn’t overload you with anything that ever felt terribly unnecessary. Sure, you could skip the town-building mechanic if you wanted, but doing it only gave you more money to buy armor with. Along with adding a lot into Ezio’s story, it added to Desmond, his ancestor who lives in a time where, while the warfare has changed in terms of weapons, the war hasn’t changed (to paraphrase Ron Perlman). It also made use of the starpower from the first game (Kristen Bell, playing Lucy) and added a bunch of comic-relief characters (the cynically sarcastic obligatorily-British Shaun and the hxr-grrl Rebecca). It also let you explore the world as Desmond instead of being roped to Ezio, which was a refreshing change of pace from the hamster-in-a-cage Desmond that was presented in the first game.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (or, let’s give Ubisoft it’s yearly dues) added a multiplayer aspect that, truthfully, I can safely call one of my favorite multiplayers. I have never felt the drive to level up so much from a game before. I quickly hit the required level 50, collected my achievement, and continued to torture players who didn’t have as many perks as I did. I played the living hell out of that multiplayer, and I also played the living hell out of the main story mode, despite the fact that it was pretty much a full-game-priced add-on to Assassin’s Creed II.
Here’s where everything starts to go south. This past November, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was released for Xbox 360, PS3 and PC. I gotta say, I’m majorly disappointed.
The game picks up after (SPOILERS) Desmond and the current-time gang find the Apple of Eden, which Desmond held in the Animus as Ezio, but they had been desperately trying to find in the current time before the Templars did. At the moment he touches the Apple, he loses control of his body, triggers his hidden blade, and stabs Lucy. They both pass out and the game ends, leaving me shouting at my TV screen. (END SPOILERS) You find Desmond in a coma, thrust back into the Animus against his will. He can hear faint voices he’s never heard before (people talking in the real world) and voices such as Rebecca and Shaun. He decides to continue to live vicariously through his ancestors while he’s waiting to wake up from his coma. Or something.
You see, this is where I’m confused. If there were spark notes for this game I’d have them on hand constantly. Ezio’s storyline picks up at his age of 50. That’s really all I can tell you about his storyline. I understand he’s the master assassin and he’s running around training assassins and whatnot, but I really don’t understand why we’re playing as him again. I’m a couple sequences (chapters, levels, what have you) in. In previous installments, they made it pretty clear who the bad guy was and why he needed to be stabbed through the neck. This game, other than the general “Templars are evil”, I’m truly not sure.
On top of the strange storyline, new elements have popped up. First, Ezio gets a hook blade which he can use to jump over enemies and use ziplines found throughout the areas in the game. While the zipline thing is cool (and gives way to more badass assassinations), I just don’t ever see myself using the hook blade. At all. Unless I’m forced under punishment of desynchronization (death), I just won’t.
The worst new mechanic of the new Assassin’s Creed, by far, is the tower-defense minigame. Ezio sits on a rooftop commanding archers, riflemen (because, yes, they had guns back then and FUCK YOU if you don’t believe that) and defenses up while waves of Templars charge through. When I first heard of this, I thought, “Hmm. Sounds cool.” In practice, it’s just not entertaining and feels shoe-horned in. I know that I’m going to be forced to play it should I continue the story mode and I’m, in all honesty, just dreading that. I like tower defense, don’t get me wrong, but I’m playing Assassin’s Creed to stab people, not be a field general.
Finally, the multiplayer… oh my. They added a ton of new modes and a couple new maps. The new modes vary from awful such as… well, honestly, I forget the title, but it’s a mode where you have to figure out which characters are human-controlled, select them and assassinate them. What they don’t tell you is if the person you’ve selected figures out you’re trying to go all stabby-stabby on them, they can stun you (which knocks you to the ground for five or ten seconds), select you to kill and sit there AND WAIT TO KILL YOU. I played this match type a lot, and everytime this happened, I came closer to rage-quitting. Yes, if you’re stupid enough to expose yourself to your attacker, you deserve to die, but if your attacker is just randomly selecting targets and happens upon you, it’s bull and I’m calling it.
Luckily, the multiplayer isn’t ENTIRELY awful. They kept a lot of the best maps and added in a new game style call Contagion, which is where if you’re killed by a contagious person, you become one of them. It’s a last-man-standing, zombie type mode and I can totally dig it. Unfortunately, I’ve played way more of the above scenario than Contagion.
To be frank, the game isn’t AWFUL. I’m probably not going to waste much time with the main story campaign since I’m already lost and slightly uninterested in it. I’ll look up the twist-ending (or ending, whatever) on Wikipedia if I feel so compelled to. But I understand why the game isn’t that great. It’s just at a point in it’s life where the developers are thinking, “What can we do to keep things fresh and interesting?” Developers need to make people feel like they’re not just buying the same game over and over again; they could risk getting called out on it and making the internet angry.
At this point in the game, keeping things fresh is probably thing-number-one for the developer. I know a lot of people who were disappointed by this game and who claim they’re not getting the next game. Hopefully, Ubisoft listens to their fans and takes everything into account for the next game, which, in all honesty, I’ll probably be getting because of how resoundingly badass it appears it will be. As long as they listen to what the fans say, I’ll probably enjoy the game and stop acting so butthurt.