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A Critique of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Sequences 7-9

Time has finally come to conclude my analysis of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. In case you missed them, please read through the previous articles on Sequences 1-3 and Sequences 4-6. The goal of these articles has been to express the problems in game design and to see if these problems were addressed in the upcoming Assassin’s Creed III, which is slated for an October 30, 2012 release date. Without further ado, let us see how the end of the game stacked up against the previous sections.

Sequence 7

This Sequence begins with a Memory entitled The Hidden City. Ezio is taken out of Constantinople and brought to Cappadocia, a completely new city located underground. Unfortunately, while remaining in Cappadocia, Ezio cannot command his Assassins abroad because there are no pigeon coups. While I understand the lore reasons behind not allowing Ezio to do this, it would have been nice to receive a warning prior to heading out. The player spends a decent amount of time in Cappadocia, especially if he or she decides to collect Memory Fragments, and that is a lot of wasted opportunity to have Assassins earn experience, gold, and other items.

In Memory 7, Passing the Torch, the player takes control of Altaïr. Story-wise, it is an excellent Memory because it fills in missing information regarding Altaïr’s actions with the Apple after the events of the first Assassin’s Creed game. However, gameplay-wise it is incredibly boring. Altaïr cannot attack anyone and cannot run at full speed. All he can do is walk through the town and hit his magic everyone-falls-down-now button. The art of designing a game is weaving together the story and gameplay to form a seamless tapestry of enjoyment. This Memory sacrifices all of the gameplay to advance the story and it feels poorly done.
The art of designing a game is weaving together the story and gameplay to form a seamless tapestry of enjoyment. This Memory sacrifices all of the gameplay to advance the story and it feels poorly done.

Sequence 8

Memory 1, Discovery, places Ezio on a rooftop and tasks him with trying to get across town. Everyone in Constantinople is looking for him so they will turn hostile immediately. Trying to think outside the box a little bit, I decided I would climb over the wall separating sections of the city in an attempt to avoid the guards on the street.

My progress was blocked by magic fog though, which somehow solidified and prevented me from going anywhere the designers did not want me to go. I always hate it when invisible walls are used to limit players because it feels incredibly lazy. Come up with a creative solution or just allow players to do whatever they want.

In Memory 2, The Exchange, Ezio has to rescue Sofia. Ezio climbs a large tower, thinking he is saving her, only to realize the real Sofia is located quite a distance away and she is being hanged from a tree. The full synchronization requirement is to “Rescue Sofia before she loses 50% health.” The first issue I have is that the only way to reach Sofia before she dies is to have a parachute. If the player does not have one, one will be provided for the purposes of this Memory. Much like adding invisible walls, this feels incredibly lazy because there should be a way to reach Sofia without the use of a parachute.

My second problem with the full synchronization requirement is that too little time is given to jump off the tower. When the player first sees everything happen, it is shocking. The player needs to orient him- or herself to find what direction Sofia is in and then figure out how to get there. Any time spent thinking of a means of getting to her will cause too much time to pass. There is little to no variable in the time it takes for Ezio to glide towards her. It all depends on how long it takes the player to jump. I think it is unfair to expect players to immediately know they have been given a free parachute and there is no other way of getting to Sofia.

Memory 3, End of the Road, has players repeat the horse and carriage bumper car match from the beginning of the game. Thankfully though, that section of the Memory is short lived in favor of a parasailing section where players need to steer Ezio around buildings. I might have found fault with this section too, but being able to assassinate guards on horseback from above was just too much fun.

Sequence 9

Recall how I said the Passing the Torch Memory discarded gameplay in favor of storytelling? Sequence 9 makes that Memory look like an adrenaline filled roller coaster ride. All the player does in Sequence 9 is walk, complete a door-puzzle, and walk again. I am not oversimplifying it.

In Memory 1, Homecoming, Ezio walks Sofia through Masyaf to complete the aforementioned door-puzzle. There is interesting dialogue along the way, but absolutely no combat. The door-puzzle was poorly thought through, and by no means challenging.

Memory 2, Lost Legacy, has Ezio walk down a hallway to discover the remains of Altaïr. Upon interacting with the wall behind Altaïr, this Memory ends and the next one begins.

Memory 3, The Message, is 100% cutscene.

That is it.

When I began writing this series I criticized Ubisoft for having Memory 1 of Sequence 1 be nothing more than the initial cutscene. The only reason I could come up with for doing that was to pad the numbers and make it appear that there was more content than there really was. After completing the game, I decided to look at how many memories were in each Sequence.

…yea. What happened at the end there Ubisoft? Now I know that each Memory is not created equal. Some Memories are obviously going to be longer than others. Even so, there is absolutely no excuse for Sequence 9. It is appalling that Ubisoft had the gall to pass off these sections as independent Memories and Sequences.

Conclusion

Overall I had a very enjoyable time playing Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. If I had to pick my biggest annoyance, it would be the inability to revert to the last checkpoint after failing a full synchronization requirement. While I understand that full synchronization is something that is supposed to be challenging, that challenge should come from completing the objective and not from game design issues.

I would like to say I look forward to Assassin’s Creed III, but lately, between DRM issues, DLC, and now the realization that Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was padded with misleading content designations, I have little faith in Ubisoft. As time goes on, it feels as though Ubisoft is trying to take advantage of consumers more and more. It recently came to light that Ubisoft is going to be taking pre-orders for a season pass item that gives consumers access to the planned DLC. I have put up a mirror of the Kotaku article here and of the Ubisoft message to Gamestop here.

It just bothers me tremendously that a publisher is looking to get pre-orders for the game and the DLC at the same time. I feel like the game should at least go gold before DLC pre-orders are a thing.

I think it is a shame too, because I really enjoyed the game. This could be a situation where Ubisoft’s greed ends up destroying an otherwise great franchise.

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