Is there anything better in the gaming world than skulking across rooftops to then dive off and land on an unsuspecting victim, giving him a short sharp jab with a blade hidden in your sleeve? If you don’t think so then you’re probably a massive fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. Either that or you’ve been sitting under a rock waiting for such a game to be developed.
With the exception of the original title, Assassin’s Creed as a series has been one of my favourites within the last few years. The story of Ezio has been developed steadily across two games, and now Altaïr and Desmond also get increasing roles in order to start closing up some of the loose strings the players have. Revelations takes Ezio to Turkey in search of the masyaf keys to access Altaïr’s library. In this new land you’re greeted by new assassins and a new assassin leader, Yusuf Tazim. Tazim then aids Ezio in the search for the keys. Revelations also boasts several gameplay additions based on the pieces that felt missing from previous titles.
Borgia Towers are now replaced with ‘dens’. The initial gameplay mechanic works the same: you take out the captain and then light a fire in the tower. However you now have to defend these dens once they’ve been captured, throwing you into den defence mini-games. These are similar to tower defence games with Ezio overlooking a street and ordering assassins on to various roofs under which waves of templars and other guards will attack. You can also build barriers to slow your enemies down, and Ezio himself can shoot his hand cannon to thin the numbers. The addition is a welcome feature and allows for more gameplay than the Borgia Towers in Brotherhood provided, however the feature can become repetitive and even annoying as the defence marker has a habit of popping up just when you’re in the middle of something else. The tedious city renovation still plays a big part in earning money, and the mechanics are the same as Brotherhood, wandering around Constantinople this time, buying up buildings and shops in order to increase your income. This is my main bugbear with the game, and it seems like Ubisoft doesn’t want to stop expanding a game mechanic that is so benign and unnecessary that it’s merely an obsessive compulsive distraction. Looting gets you pretty much every ingredient and piece of ammunition to last you through the game and by the time you’ve got all the weapons you’re literally just earning money to buy more buildings which earn you more money.
The new hookblade is a feature you acquire very early in the game, which acts as a new weapon but also gives Ezio the same faster climbing ability that you needed to unlock in the previous two games. I must say this is a brilliant idea from the developers because introducing skills in one game which you then take away from the character in the next really removes an element of continuity. The other new mechanic is bomb crafting, which lets you choose from a range of ingredients which effects when your bomb explodes, how it explodes and what comes out. This is an interesting addition but after a time you end up just using the same three types of bombs and the crafting mechanic stops being relevant.
It will be intriguing to see how well Revelations deals with the triple layered story, as well as bringing in a surprising character that we didn’t expect to see make an appearance. You’ve heard many references to him but now he appears in the flesh…well kind of. Overall, Revelations is shaping up to be a well refined game that polishes many of the flaws that were noted in Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed 2. The game flows at an unmatched pace and the combat is still fresh and immersive with the new weapons and flourishes available that add a bit more satisfaction.
We’re in Rome and it’s 1500. After his own motivations hinder Ezio in the finale of Assassin’s Creed 2, it’s now time for him to take down the Borgia family once and for all. Meanwhile, in 2012 Desmond and his mismatched crew of thinly personalised ‘friends’ are searching for the Piece of Eden in the hope of gaining ground in the Assassin/Templar war.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood may come across to many as little more than an expansion upon Assassin’s Creed 2. The gameplay’s relatively unchanged, the landscapes aren’t drastically different (minus the landmarks) and the feel of the game gives a severe sense of deja vu. However, is being an extension of Assassin’s Creed 2 a bad thing? Personally, I don’t believe so.
The new mechanic featured is the use of assassin recruits, which comes in two stages: contracts and in-game support. Through pigeon coops and assassin towers, you can now command any assassin recruits you gain to go on contracts, which reward you with a payout and experience for any recruits you send. Secondly, your assassin’s can assist you in the world, from simply calling them in to dispatch a bunch of pesky guards without attracting attention to Ezio, to calling them in amidst a fight to lend extra manpower.
It works…fine. While it’s incredibly useful, and in some cases necessary in order to gain 100% synchronisation, you cant help but feel like it’s a bit of a gameplay cop-out. It’s entertaining to sic a pair of assassin’s on unsuspecting guards, but at the same time it seems unnecessary when you’re controlling arguably the most powerful assassin in Rome.
The game is driven more by the enjoyment of the gameplay than the actual story, which is well written but relatively dull in comparison to Assassin’s Creed 2. There’s also a very distinct sense of stretching about the storyline, reinforcing the rumours that Brotherhood was originally intended to be a DLC pack for its predecessor.
Don’t get me wrong, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood is a fun game, and will not leave you disappointed if you enjoyed Assassin’s Creed 2. Just don’t expect any revolutionary developments.
Oh, and multiplayer…yeah, it’s fun but it’s forgettable.