At the behest of a friend, and ideally before AC3 comes out in October of 2012 (shouldn’t be a problem), I’m finally working my way through the Assassin’s Creed (from here, “AC”) games1, and I thought I’d review each of these into one large review. So, here we go. I wrote these as I played them, and finished each, rather than all at once at the end of finishing.
The first game starts off a bit weird, and you’re left to figure some stuff out on your own, but in style befitting a Metroid game, you are soon stripped of all your fancy abilities and weapons, and sent to regain them over the course of several missions (each of which culminates in the killing of a specific target). The gameplay feels fairly natural, but the controls a bit complex (especially after just playing Skyward Sword), being broken up to “subtle” and “agressive” actions, and then different weapons, etc. All of this being carried out in the context of retrieving some specific memory from the ACTUAL protagonist, a guy in modern times being “forced” to relive the memories of his ancestors2. Anyway, the goal seems to be to recover enough memories that access to a specific memory can be regained. I’ve been told gameplay is about 10-15 hours, which seems about right at this point…
I finished the game after about 11 hours, and while the story seems compelling, the ending was terrible. I know it’s supposed to lead into the next game, but I have the luxury of having that game already. I can’t imagine having this game when it was new, and having to wait 2 years after that terrible terrible ending. It basically amounts of Desmond seeing something, going “WTF?” and then credits.
Based solely on the gameplay, I’d give this game a solid score. But after that ending, I think I have to remove a star just out of shear spite.
Assassin’s Creed II
Assassin’s Creed II (AC2) started off pretty strong, and fixed all the niggling issues from the previous game (though, still no way to skip sequences that I could find). Until I figured out how to turn on the subtitles, however, the game was like a lesson in Italian (lots of random italian phrases dropped throughout dialog). The game was longer, and felt more and more like some form of Prince of Persia with the assassin’s tombs (basically, big jumping puzzles). The addition of so much side content was nice, though a bit tedious if you wanted “The Truth”… though the puzzles were fun (except when they got way to close to the Myst difficulty boundary).
Time will tell how Brotherhood and Revelations compare, but so far, AC2 was a bit step up from AC1 (just the graphics improvement alone was amazing). It makes me think AC1 was a project being worked on for the PS2 and was quickly ported to the PS3/Xbox360 when they dropped. That, or Ubisoft just got a LOT better at their design between the two. Could also be the Havok engine got that much better.
I gave AC1 a 3.5/5… this is easily better than that. While the ending was decidedly Luc Besson… it was still better than AC1 (though again, it ended with Desmond saying “WTF?!”).
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (AC:B) starts off fairly quickly, with some brief work as Desmond, but soon enough you’re back in Ezio’s shoes. In an opening and equipment loss worthy of a Metroid game (yes, almost as bad as AC1), you’re nearly back at the start of AC2, only with a bit more abilities. The entire game takes place in Rome, and it’s actually better for it. There’s none of the traveling between Cities, and even better, you can ride a horse around town (even better, you can summon a horse pretty much any time you want). The villain of the game is seemingly the son (maybe) of the man you left alive at the end of AC2. And the entire game basically revolves around, you guessed it, the Apple of Eden. And during that time, slowly getting back your items. The graphics appear much the same, but in a quest, no doubt, to make the game easier, everything has again slowed down. After AC1, then AC2, this game just feels like it’s taking place under water. Movements are slow, and ease of stabbing has gotten slower as well.
Gameplay isn’t interrupted really, at all, by exiting the animus. You can exit and live as Desmond anytime you want, but you don’t have to. Basically, the beginning and the end of the game are the only times you’re forced to live as Desmond.
Game time is pretty low if you just stuck to the plot. I took about 5 days to finish the game, and pretty much gave the game 4-5 hours a day. So, A good 20-25 hours should do it. And I could have gone much faster than that, but I spent a good amount of time raising my Assassin minions up to full fledged assassins (level 10). This mechanic, plus the crossbow, make the game exceedingly easy. The only hard parts are the parts where you have to avoid detection. Getting 100% of the game would be extremely time consuming as most of the key missions have a “completion” option, and a “full completion option” that throws an extra challenge in. Like, “Do this” or “Do this, but don’t swim” or “Do this, but don’t kill anyone”. Now, that’s just silly. It’s “ASSASSIN’S Creed”. *sigh* But, it’s ironic, because I’ve lamented that the game was too much Prince of Persia, and not enough Deus Ex. But, c’est la vie (or whatever that would be in italian).
Most annoying, by far: I finished the game with 43% completion. That’s just silly. You mean I beat the game, and I had only completed 43% of the content? That can’t be right. It seems you have to get all those extra bits of challenge done to get a higher rate, but no idea what percentage that would even give you. Nevertheless, you should NEVER beat a game with less than 50%. Ah well.
All and all, the game was solid, if a bit easy. I think I liked it better than AC2 because of the minion mechanic, but all the extra silliness reduced that score back down to the same aggregate as AC2.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (ACR, or Revelations from here on) is an evolution of AC2 and Brotherhood. In a way, this is kind of cool of Ubisoft. They’ve taken game development and moved it more toward software design. They introduce something in one, and “perfect” it in the next. Take the crossbow. In Brotherhood, it was a game changer. Basically, once you bought it in the game, the game became extremely easy. You could snipe people off, and they’d never even see you. But, occasionally, you’d miss a target that was right infront of you, and not know why/how. Revelations fixed this, seemingly, with the ability to aim better. You can aim like you do the pistol in Brotherhood. Missing is a thing of the past. Also, the things you do with Minions in ACR is much more polished. You can actually accomplish something with them: “conquering” Europe. Mind you, you never actually succeed, and it still needs handholding, but you do get some sense of satisfaction out of it.
The thing that really breaks the game, though, is the “Master Assassin Armor”. You get this by assigning assassin’s to specific locations, and then walking them through extremely easy missions. Once you do all 7 of these (1 of which is done early in the game), you get the second best armor in the game that is unbreakable. You can do this, at least as early as Session 3 (where I got it). At that point, the game is pretty much over. No one can kill you unless you’re really careless, and all but the absolute highest falls will not kill you. The “hook blade” (sounds like someone played too many Final Fantasy (Gunblade), Kingdom Hearts (Keyblade) games) is a nice edition since it seems to make leaping and grabbing a bit easier, though they further complicate the game with extra stuff you can do with it (long jump, jump over people, etc).
Anyway, the game takes place in Istanbul, while Ezio is off looking for the keys to Altaïr’s (the guy from AC1) library. The contents of which no doubt have something to do with the Apple of Eden (what seemingly is the true antagonist of all the games). After recovering each of the keys, Ezio gets to relive a memory of Altaïr (which is a bit annoying since they used a different voice actor for him, and having just played AC1 a month ago, is a bit distracting). Most people probably didn’t notice since it’d been 4 years between the two games. My only complaint about the game (at this point) is that some of the areas you have to go to retrieve the keys are incredibly dark… so seeing where you have to jump next becomes somewhat of a guessing game. But jumping along areas at this point is almost automatic, so once you get going on a path, you barely have to do anything but keep running. Gone are the days of AC1 where a slightly off center jump would result in death (desynchronization).
The worst part of the game is the tower defense “mini-game” where you protect your bases from Template attacks. But, you’re “rewarded” by not having to do it at all (other than the first time) by completing 6 additional master assassin missions (after the ones you do to unlock the Master Assassin Armor listed above). The second missions might actually be easier than the first missions, and as an added bonus, you get the best sword in the game (Altaïr’s sword). After doing all these missions, the den’s are no longer able to be threatened, and you can basically ignore your notoriety.
Other than these things, the game is quite good, albeit, short. Both Brotherhood and Revelations are pretty short if you don’t take the time to do any side quests, or mini-games. They’re almost short enough to be more like DLC, though if you include all the side stuff, probably not.
While there are 9 sequences (like the previous games), the final one is basically just the end sequence. And before that, the final boss was not so much a fight, as a game of whack-a-mole. But, it closed the story, and the end was the end. And for once, the game didn’t end with Desmond saying “WTF!?”, it ended with him knowing where to go for AC3 (due in October of 2012).