It is rare I get to post two blogs in as many days, but this week, it appears I am close to posting three in three days. Last night saw me finally complete Assassin's Creed: Revelations
, a task I have been putting off for a little while. Part of this was down to being undecided as to which version to play; the Xbox 360 version I picked up at launch, or the Steam version that wrangled its way into my possession after a particularly generous Steam sale and a fancy for replaying Assassin's Creed II. In the end, I went for the Xbox 360 version, which sports stereoscopic 3D, but I'll get to that later.
I also last night completed Serious Sam: The Second Encounter on PC, but am holding off on writing about that until I finish Serious Sam 3, a task which I believe is a mere 3 hours of gameplay away, so something to write about tomorrow night.
One way I was thinking of improving these backlog blogs is tying it into a parallel and relevant topic of discussion. Yesterday, I critiqued Dead or Alive: Dimensions, but decided that the game aroused various thoughts on the state of portable gaming. I hope to do this a lot more often, and I have an idea in mind for today�s blog (I generally write as I think, and do little editing, so having a vague point in mind before I start is probably a good idea). However, while I'm on the subject of yesterday's blog, I feel I may have been too dismissive of the blockbuster console-esque RPG and action game. Of course, many people loved the PSP for its RPG's, which probably led to the PSP hardly being a failure, despite being second place in the portable war with Nintendo. I do however wish to point out that gamers who enjoy this type of game on a handheld and likely forego portability in favour of this level of depth are very much in the minority, and the PSP could have done with a lot more portable friendly titles for all ages. And better marketing than those fucking squirrels.
But on to today's game and topic; Assassin's Creed 2.8 and characters.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations has been crafted as game to finally bid farewell to Ezio and Altair, who after three and two games respectively are possibly due retirement. The game focuses primarily on Ezio as he tries to unravel the mystery of the Altair�s library, whilst simultaneously sorting out Constantinople's problems. This latter plot point at no point managed to truly excite me; missions and characters were slightly dull, save one stand out mission where, disguised as a lute player, Ezio serenades the crowd with his old Italian voice and tales of his exploits from previous games that brings a wry smile to a fan of the series face. He even breaks the fourth wall, stating that anyone still pressing an action button to hear him sing should surely have something more important to do than listen. It was a rare touch of humour which had previously failed to rear its head in an otherwise serious story. Besides this though, the game was generally more of what we've seen in Italy and the previous two games, only in a less interesting locale and with no real new additions to gameplay other than bomb crafting and the hookblade; a new version of the hidden blade that allows you to navigate the city with ease, so long as you find one of what seemed like only twelve freaking ropes to slide down. The characters within the main plot are all forgettable; no real bastard villains like the Borgia's from last time round. The only stand out characters in this one are Ezio himself and love interest Sofia. This was actually a very well done part of the story, and you felt a genuine relationship building in the few cut scenes where these two were together.
And thus comes a conclusion; one of the best things about the Assassin's Creed series are the two assassin's you play as. Altair had a real character arc in Assassin's Creed 1, starting off arrogant and all powerful, before being stripped of his possessions and rank, and working his way back up, learning humility and the true meaning of his creed as he went, becoming one of the best aspects of that game. Ezio too started off as an arrogant though slightly cool womanizer of a nobleman, but grew on his path to revenge, and discovered a true purpose and belief in something bigger than him. Indeed, he even comes to realise that his primary mission is to merely be a messenger to someone in the future called Desmond (who we need to note really needs to pull his finger out and become awesome in Assassin's Creed III, because even in this game, he's something of a non-entity). This realisation of Ezio's is actually quite tragic, and a sign of history repeating itself, because even Altair had prepared for someone in the future to hear his story through his Apple of Eden crafted Memory Keys. The Altair sections, whilst brief, were a nice touch, and helped bid farewell to what to many was a beloved character. Thus comes the tragic element; both of these moral, respectable and generally awesome men devoted their loves to something they knew they would never fully understand, and experience tragedy and love along the way. Ezio in particular is a very strong character. You can sense a real deserved respect for him when his followers are in his presence. Other examples of strong character moments include Altair's reluctance to kill the impersonator in the first game (who eventually becomes his wife) and Ezio's guilt at killing an innocent man in Revelations. How rare is that? A game featuring strong violence and themes of war and religion, and we have examples of guilt? It's a testament perhaps to either the weakness in other games at portraying truly human characters, or just how good at it Ubisoft Montreal are. In one game, Ezio is charming, commanding, sad, victorious, determined, amusing, saddened, guilty and awesome, and stands in the parathion of gaming history as one of its best, most well rounded characters, despite his day job of whooping Templar's.
Aside from the strong character of the protagonist(s) and his love interest, there is little to add in favour, except that assassinating your way through ther renaissance era is as fun as ever, with sprinting, jumping and guard evasion generally being the order of the day. I didn't care much for the tower defense mini-game, but then from what i hear, not many people did.
As one game, I reward Revelations with a 7
, its few additions to gameplay and its locale rather hampering any true excitement. However, 6 of those 7 points I give it are for the plot and the protagonists, and the feeling that Ubisoft Montreal have done very well to round out the Assassin's Creed II trilogy and the life of Ezio, and to a slightly lesser extent, Altair. The other point goes to the combat. I really quite like the combat.
Tomorrow (or Sunday), shit gets Serious...
...and Second Encounter