Before I even finished Brotherhood, and days before I started its corresponding post, Revelations was installed on my 360′s hard-drive and waiting to be played. I planned on doing at least one game between them to keep these posts from being back-to-back, but after coming off the typical cliffhanger that the Assassin’s Creed games finish with, it was obvious what my next single player assault would be. By the time the last SPS article was on the site, I was already getting into the groove of the next game… unfortunately, that groove was too irratic and shallow to fall into for long and, thus, the game and its post took a full week to struggle through.
In past AC entries, it has always taken a while to find the game’s sweet-spot and play in the way I will get the most enjoyment from it, but Revelations never quite felt like it hit its stride. In Brotherhood I spent tons of time doing side-quests, finding treasures, renovating 100% of Roma, and working my Assassin’s up to their highest levels. I did everything I could on the map before begrudgingly moving on to the next story mission that was available, knowing that after it was over I’d have more side-stuff to do again. New shop items, new side-quests, new missions for my badass team of Assassins.
Revelations, however, felt much more empty. During the entire game, each of the three guilds had just one or two missions and then I never heard from them again. Opening new shops meant that my awareness meter would shoot upwards, so I was very careful about which to open and would immediately find a herald to bribe; the fear of being in the red for too long and having to repeat the horrible tower-defense minigame was all pervasive and so I did everything I could to stay under 25% at all times. Aside from the one manditory defense mission, I never had to touch it again but it also meant that I was nowhere near a 100% renovation of Istanbul when I finished the story.
The Sofia memories, on the other hand, were very sweet, light-hearted, and remeniscent of the memories you relived with Christina in Brotherhood; I was always happy to see more of her in the story and rushed around the map to clear the broken-heart icons. The master assassin, Yusuf, in Istanbul was also a blast to have in the cut-scenes and I found myself wondering why he couldn’t play a more prominent role in the game. The change in design and controller layout was nice and the controls especially made sense, once getting used to them. Even the first-person Desmond memories were pretty fun to play, although they did feel like a Portal ripoff in some ways (perhaps it’s impossible to do a first-person puzzle game without that happening, though).
There were too many highlights to call it a bad game, and the story and gameplay was as addictive as ever… but there were so many missteps, failed attempts to innovate or push the game’s boundary a little further, that I kept pausing to wonder what was happening over at Ubisoft during Revelations creation.
That’s not to say I found the series perfect before this. Anyone who has touched the DS and PSP versions of the Assassin’s Creed franchise knows full well that they are able to fail on a pretty epic scale within such a wonderful world/setting. However, I always held out hope that it was just the challenge of a less powerful, portable system that was tripping them up; not because they required a new strategy, but because of fundamental differences with the console and portable gameplay styles.
Nevertheless, I pushed through the weak spots, reveled in the highlights, and even though it took a good deal more time than the previous games (despite being a shorter campaign), I came out of the end cutscene begging any deity or demon within earshot to let October get here as speedily as possible.
Perhaps that is the series’ strength. Ubisoft found a way to capture the last few pages of our favorite books and comics, the foreshadowed reveal of TV season finales, the cliffhanger cutaways of movies betting on sequels, and successfully work them into a videogame; creating their own hype for whatever is next, so that as soon as you finish your brand-new game, you are already looking forward to the next release.
Single Player Summer game count: 2