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Should I Buy Assassin’s Creed Revelations?

assassins creed revelations2

It’s a question a lot of people, including me, have been asking themselves lately.

With some of the years biggest games (and some of ANY year’s biggest games) having just been released over the last fortnight – there is no shortage of distractions to keep you from noticing that a whole load of games launched this week: Halo: Anniversary Edition, Need For Speed: The Run, Saint’s Row: The Third and of course Assassin’s Creed: Revelations.

And out of the lot of them, the Assassin’s Creed series takes the popular vote. And yet there are a few reasons which might cause you to hesitate – excluding your current Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3 or Skyrim coma. As someone who has always been mildly, as opposed to keenly, interested in the Assassin’s Creed franchise – I find myself asking if I really want to invest in this new title, especially considering this year still has some great games to come (Star Wars: The Old Republic).

So I thought I’d clear up my thoughts on the matter, and maybe help you sway your own while I’m at it. As with any title, there are a few factors to consider:

1.       The Scores

As no doubt every game site available on the interweb has mentioned at some point in the last few months, games review scores are increasingly becoming an arbitrary factor. Whether you are one of the people who chooses all their games based on a certain someone’s train-of-thought, one of the people who Metacritics everything they touch just in case or even somebody who only lets reviews sway the tiniest percentile of their vote one way or the other – odds are these (seemingly) randomly generated numbers play some part in your decision. So I thought I’d take a look and see.

Metacritic: 80/100

And the titan of game reviews, that compiler of all that can be compiled, results in a 4/5 – a great score by any stretch of the imagination, even in an industry that seems to consider the review score range to be between 7-10 out of 10 (7 being the lowest possible score a game can receive).

But if you compare this to previous titles, a strange pattern emerges. The original Assassin’s Creed pulled a similar score (81/100) – and was thought to be a great success. This was followed by Assassin’s Creed II pulling in a 91/100, a great improvement which marked a high point for the series.

Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood brought home an 86/100, and marked the first time multiplayer was introduced to the series. Fair enough, this title was a bit risky with the whole team aspect (or gang to be more specific) and maybe people weren’t a fan of this so much.

But for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations to bring the score full circle back to where Assassin’s Creed started out, especially considering this is the first title to let you play as all your favourites (Ezio, Altair and Desmond) in the one title AND it has that mixed-review multiplayer from Brotherhood thrown for good measure – it’s not really the sign I was looking for to continue to invest in the series.

But it’s just a number right? And an 8/10 really is a good score. But it’s also a bit of a warning sign.

2.       What’s new?

I always ask this question when a sequel is released, because really if it’s just the same thing in a different box – I can probably use the box I already have. And Assassin’s Creed: Revelations does have some new things to offer, but are they enough? Let’s take a look:

  • Play Across Time (some more): The Assassin’s Creed series has always played with time with the whole Desmond-Animus element – but this one goes a little further. With Ezio rocking around in the early 1500’s, Altair back in the 1200’s and Desmond in the present we have 3 different centuries represented. If you are into that kind of thing.
  • Constantinople: As one of Europe’s richest cities (in history terms), Constantinople is a great setting and Assassin’s Creed is famous for building awesome sandbox cities. So if you are an architecture nerd you are probably sold right here.
  • The Hook-Blade: Part hook, part blade, part weapon, part transport. The Hook-blade allows you to get some trippy (pun intended) kills as well as introducing some new travel elements. Great if you are in this for the gadgets. Oh and speaking of gadgets…
  • Bomb-making: Customize your bombs in this game by assembling them with a whole range of purchasable/findable ingredients. Money-bombs, grenades, your typical smoke bombs as well as caltrops and a whole range of things. Great if you want to get your Green Goblin on back in 1500 AD.

And that is basically it (note: I may have missed some features, I haven’t played the game in full). The rest of the features are minor improvements on the previous titles experience, whether it’s the climbing or the swordplay – but basically what you have come to expect from the series. So if you were looking for something new in particular, and it’s not on that list, you might be disappointed.

3.       The Development Cycle

This is a big one for me, and I might have to sound a little preachy here for a bit (forgive me friends):

I simply don’t trust games that have a one year development cycle.

Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty are famous for this, and to be honest it comes across as a little needy – a kind of, “hey, let’s release a game a year so we have a steady pay cheque” type of approach. I mean, look at Skyrim, 5 year development cycle and beat the success of it’s predecessor Oblivion – and they were both great games.

Now look at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, I mean (no offense CoD players) if I have to hear someone say “expansion pack” or “Call of Duty 2.5” one more time I might explode.

And I have the same concern for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. Frankly, I don’t understand how you can make a game of this magnitude in a year – a 2 hour movie often takes 3 years to complete. As I’ve said before, the only rational scenario I can come up with is that they have two teams over at Ubisoft – one working on Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood while a team was developing Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and so on.

The issues that rise from this (if that’s the case) is that they are deliberately excluding features that they already had in place, from the previous version. Which is a little disingenuous to say the least. As well it means that different writers/animators/designers are working on the separate titles, which can make cohesion a little tricky.

In short, it worries me a bit – and it’s not an example I’d like to see duplicated in the industry, which would probably happen if Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a smash-success.

4.       The Verdict

Now this is the part where I remind you all that I haven’t played this game fully yet, I’ve just tested part of it, so everything in this post is pure opinion supported by facts that you can Google. But that being said, I’d like to think my opinion is somewhat informed on the matter; so here it is.

This is a game for the fans. If you are addicted to the Assassin’s Creed series, you don’t need me to tell you that you want to get back into that world and start assassinating people – you can just admit it to yourself and move on.

If, however, you are on the fence – it gets a bit more complicated. If you are on the fence because you didn’t like one of the predecessors, then this is probably where you draw the line. This game isn’t different enough to warrant a reconsidered opinion, and from what I’ve read you shouldn’t be playing these games out of order to begin with anyway.

If you are on the fence because you played all the rest of the games and are looking for something new – then maybe this will suffice. I mean, Altair makes a return which will be a great nostalgia fix, and some of the new weapons and kills look awesome. The multiplayer is making a return as well, and the perks system they have integrated is intriguing at the least – so if you enjoyed Brotherhood’s melee you will probably love this as well.

Bottom Line: This is a strong Maybe depending on your fanboy status. For me personally this is a no, because I just don’t have the emotional attachment to the series that I’ve picked up in others.
But if you do have that strong emotional connection to the franchise, don’t let me get in your way.

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