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Assassin's Creed: Revelations

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This week, Zero Punctuation takes up the hidden blade, hood and faffing about again.

Transcript Edit

I'm starting to get bloody annoyed at the Assassin's Creed series, and not just because I can never remember if you're supposed to put an apostrophe in there. Imagine you're walking to a lovely party with your friend Adrian Assassin's Creed and on the way the two of you find a discarded top hat in a sewer drain, whereupon Adrian puts it on and does an elaborate and spellbinding five minute performance of "Singin' in the Rain" on the nearest lamppost and you are astonished by this sudden display of heretofore unknown talent. But then as you pass another lamppost he performs exactly the same routine. And you laugh good-naturedly and say, "All right, we've had a lot of fun with this, but we really do need to get to this party now." But he responds by launching into the routine a third time, and then you notice a grim, tortured expression on his face and your mutual friend Yolanda Ubisoft arrives and sucks the your money out of your pockets. If Brotherhood was Assassin's Creed 2 and-a-half: Oh No, More Faffing About, Revelations is Assassin's Creed 2 and-three-quarters: Faff and the World Faffs With You.

So after Future Desmond stabbed up his girlfriend at the end of the last game - oh, yeah, spoiler alert, Future Desmond stabbed up his girlfriend at the end of the last game - his mind is trapped within the Animus, and in order to awaken from his coma he must - you guessed it! - relive the memories of an ancestor. Because that's Desmond's solution for everything, isn't it? "Hey, Future Desmond! Where did you leave the salad tongs?" "Hang on, I'll relive the memories of an ancestor to find out."

So it's back into the Winklepickers of Ezio Audacity the Refrigerator, now in his fifties but still as sprightly as ever despite his age and the ever-growing hamper of deadly stocking fillers he routinely straps to his body. This time, he's faffing about in Constantinople looking for the five lost keys to Altaïr's secret library, which Ezio really needs to get into before his overdue fees mount up. Meanwhile, Future Desmond, who's starting to look unsettlingly like Adam Sandler, gets the chance to relive some memories of his own in weird, abstract first-person sections in the hope that he can piece together some kind of personality before he's called upon to carry a whole game by himself. Yeah, not happening, Future Desmond. Not unless you peel off your face and reveal that you've been Columbo all along. Ezio hooks up with the local Assassin's Guild in Constantinople and finds them locked in a deadly struggle - oh, no, everything seems to be fine. The worst you can say is that they've been a bit lackadaisy about their recruitment quota, so Ezio has to do the same thing he did in Brotherhood and hire a new patch of trainees. Ezio Auditore, freelance personnel officer!

The problem with the plot is that there doesn't seem to be much at stake. Ezio's main motivation is to girly slap fight some Templars over the keys to a library, but he doesn't know what's inside or how it will help. There's some political intrigue concerning the succession of the local sultante, but Ezio seems to be only tangentially involved. The closest thing to a driving plot element appears to be our randy Mediterranean friend trying to get some midlife crisis-style roughdee (?) from a buxom wench - a Florentine lady, mind, not a piece of local crumpet. The native Constantinople women seem to spend all their time whining for coins from passersby. I must say, I'm grateful Assassin's Creed II introduce the coin-throwing ability for getting rid of beggars, 'cause it's hard to claim you're championing the downtrodden when you can't walk down the street without throwing one at a wall.

With Assassin's Creed dragging its legs like a leper with a length of rope, Revelations 's idea of innovation is to add one or two new killing devices to Ezio's already ungainly repertoire and call it a day. It's at the point that Ezio could trip on a flagstone or brush his cloak past a doorknob and kill everyone in the room. So if the hidden blade, sword, dagger, crossbow, unarmed combat, throwing knives, other hidden blade, poison blade, poison darts, pushing people off rooftops, and the motherfucking gun weren't quite enough murder variety for ya, then now you get to craft bombs from a variety of materials. There's the classic shrapnel bomb, if you want your victim's next-door neighbors to see what happens when you make poor choices in life; the more subtle poison bomb, if you enjoy sparking impromptu dance parties; and the blood bomb that makes enemies think they've been wounded so you can run up and wound them for realsies. Or just use the poison bomb, you fucking show-off.

But the more tech you have, the more strategic challenge gets sucked out of things. In my day, we distracted guards with coins or hired strippers, not lob firecrackers at their feet that make them all catch Saturday Night Fever. Kids of today, eh? Don't know they're born. Aside from that, Ezio also gets a hook-blade that lets him climb onto things one foot higher - fucking Christmas has come early! It was gonna be two feet, but steady on, guys - save some ideas for the sequel.

But there's one major new mechanic apart from new weapons, and that's a tower defense minigame, of all things. I know, that's exactly what I always thought Assassin's Creed was missing, besides maybe a color matching game. Basically, the Templars attack one of your strongholds and you have to stand on a rooftop placing snipers and barricades and directing the battle. But here's the odd thing: you only have to do it once. In the tutorial. It's supposed to happen whenever your notoriety gets too high, but you can bring your notoriety down easily by bribing a herald for roughly the cost of a Twix or killing an official and hey, money for old rope. On top of that, you can make your strongholds immune to attack by powerleveling all your little munchkin trainees to maximum level, so not only is the most elaborate new game mechanic entirely optional, but not having to do it is considered a reward. Well, I'm glad we agree, Assassin's Creed: Revelations, but I feel your efforts could be better directed.

The cynic is an isolationist beast but can always recognize one of their own, and the Assassin's Creed series is getting very cynical. I like the games, but I feel my like is being exploited for coin, and at the risk of devaluing one of my favorite words, it's now faffing about like it's never faffed before. And the faffing is getting out of hand. All of this bullshit - the Championship Manager human resources management games, the Templants vs. Zomsassins - all of this is just more and more layers of flaky pastry between me and the succulent meat of the Assassin's Creed Cornish pasty: one bloke in a bedsheet hopping about on the rooftops carefully planning a stealthy guerrilla assault, to surgically strike like a thumbtack in a McChicken sandwich.

The best thing one could say about Revelations is that it does make the effort to decisively wrap up the stories of Altaïr and Ezio so we can finally move on to some new berk in a dressing gown. Mind you, wouldn't put it past them to hold out for Assassin's Creed 2.875, in which Ezio must defeat the evil Templar nursing home orderlies by shooting blades out of his Zimmer frame.

AddendaEdit

  • Hope I die before I get old: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
  • I do find it slightly disturbing that the assassin trainees all have a body count score like it's part of their report card or something
  • Man I would kill for a cappuccino right now


ScreenshotsEdit

Ass Revelations 1

Yeah, not happening, Future Desmond

Ass Revelations 2

The classic shrapnel bomb

Ass Revelations 3

The cynic is an isolationist beast

External LinksEdit

Episodes
2007 - 2010
2007
Q3 The Darkness Demo · Fable: The Lost Chapters · Zero Punctuation (Episode) · Heavenly Sword and Other Stuff · Psychonauts · Console Rundown · BioShock · Tomb Raider: Anniversary · Manhunt · Peggle
Q4 Halo 3 · Tabula Rasa · The Orange Box · Super Paper Mario · Medal of Honor: Airborne · The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass · Clive Barker's Jericho · F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate · Assassin's Creed · Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock · Mass Effect
2008
Q1 Super Mario Galaxy · Silent Hill: Origins · Crysis · The Witcher · Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles · Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare · SimCity Societies · Yahtzee Goes to GDC · Uncharted: Drake's Fortune · Devil May Cry 4 · Burnout: Paradise · Turok · Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure
Q2 Army of Two · No More Heroes · Condemned 2: Bloodshot · Super Smash Bros. Brawl · God of War: Chains of Olympus · Mailbag Showdown · Grand Theft Auto IV · Painkiller · The World Ends With You · The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion · Haze · Metal Gear Solid 4
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2009
Q1 Awards for 2008 · Tomb Raider: Underworld · Far Cry 2 · Gears of War 2 · LittleBigPlanet · Thief: The Dark Project · Skate 2 · F.E.A.R. 2 · Spider-Man: Web of Shadows · The House of the Dead: Overkill · 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand · Resident Evil 5
Q2 X-Blades/Halo Wars · Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars · MadWorld · Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X · Siren: Blood Curse · The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena · Valkyria Chronicles · Velvet Assassin · Duke Nukem Forever · Bionic Commando · InFamous · The Second Annual E3 Hype Massacre · Prototype
Q3 The Sims 3 · Ghostbusters: The Video Game · Overlord 2 · Red Faction Guerrilla · Wii Sports Resort · Call of Juarez: Bound in Blood · The Conduit · Silent Hill 2 · 2.5-D Hoedown · Tales of Monkey Island · Wolfenstein · Batman: Arkham Asylum · Beatles Rock Band & Guitar Hero 5 · Darkest of Days
Q4 Scribblenauts · Wet · Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story · Brutal Legend · Washington D.C. · Uncharted 2: Among Thieves · Dragon Age: Origins · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 · Assassin's Creed 2 · Left 4 Dead 2 & New Super Mario Bros. Wii · Demon's Souls · Holiday 2009 · The Saboteur
2010
Q1 Awards for 2009 · Torchlight · Darksiders · Bayonetta · Dark Void · Borderlands · Mass Effect 2 · Dante's Inferno · BioShock 2 · Aliens vs Predator · Heavy Rain · Battlefield: Bad Company 2 · Final Fantasy XIII
Q2 April Fools 2010 · God of War III · Red Steel 2 · Just Cause 2 · Silent Hill: Shattered Memories · Splinter Cell: Conviction · Nier · Dead to Rights: Retribution · Monster Hunter Tri · Alan Wake · Red Dead Redemption · Alpha Protocol · Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands · E3 2010
Q3 No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle · Super Mario Galaxy 2 · Singularity · Crackdown 2 · DeathSpank & Limbo · Shadow of the Colossus · Split Second: Velocity · Transformers: War for Cybertron · Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days · Mafia II · Metroid: Other M · Video Game Voters Network · Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Q4 Halo: Reach · Dead Rising 2 · Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow · Enslaved: Odyssey to the West · Fallout: New Vegas · Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II · Call of Duty: Black Ops · IPhone Games · Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood · Splatterhouse · Epic Mickey · Holiday 2010
2011 - 2014
2011
Q1 Top 5 of 2010 · World of Warcraft: Cataclysm · Fable III · Minecraft · A Shadow's Tale · Dead Space 2 · DC Universe Online · MindJack · Two Worlds II · Bulletstorm · Killzone 3 · Kirby's Epic Yarn · Dragon Age II
Q2 Pokémon White · Yakuza 4 · Crysis 2 · Nintendo 3DS · Portal 2 · Castlevania: Symphony of the Night · Mortal Kombat · Brink · L.A. Noire · The Witcher 2 · Hunted: The Demon's Forge · Duke Nukem Forever (for real this time) · InFamous 2
Q3 Alice: Madness Returns · Shadows of the Damned · F.E.A.R. 3 · The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D · Call of Juarez: The Cartel · Bastion and From Dust · Catherine · Red Faction: Armageddon · Deus Ex · Deus Ex: Human Revolution · Driver: San Francisco · Dead Island · Resistance 3
Q4 Gears of War 3 · Hard Reset · Rage · Kinect · Batman: Arkham City · Battlefield 3 · Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception · Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 · The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim · Saints Row: The Third · Assassin's Creed: Revelations · The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
2012
Q1 Serious Sam 3: BFE · Top 5 of 2011 · Super Mario 3D Land & Rayman Origins · Sonic Generations · Star Wars: The Old Republic · Amy · Resident Evil: Revelations · Darkness 2 · Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning · NeverDead · Syndicate · Mass Effect 3 · Twisted Metal
Q2 Yakuza: Dead Souls · Ninja Gaiden 3 · Silent Hill: Downpour · Kid Icarus: Uprising · Fez and I Am Alive · Prototype 2 · Risen 2: Dark Waters · Sniper Elite V2 · Diablo 3 · Max Payne 3 · Dragon's Dogma · E3 2012 · Lollipop Chainsaw
Q3 Quantum Conundrum · Spec Ops: The Line · Walking Dead · Inversion · The Amazing Spider-Man · Half-Life · Wreckateer and Deadlight · Steam Roundup · Sleeping Dogs · Darksiders 2 · DayZ · Guild Wars 2
Q4 Borderlands 2 · FIFA 13 · Resident Evil 6 · Dishonored · XCOM: Enemy Unknown · Medal of Honor: Warfighter & Doom 3: BFG Edition · Assassin's Creed 3 · Halo 4 · Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 · Hitman: Absolution · Far Cry 3 · ZombiU
2013
Q1 Top 5 of 2012 · Paper Mario: Sticker Star · Black Knight Sword & Hotline Miami · Anarchy Reigns · DMC: Devil May Cry · The Cave · Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch · Dead Space 3 · Aliens: Colonial Marines · Crysis 3 · Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance · Tomb Raider · SimCity
Q2 The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct · BioShock Infinite · Lego City Undercover · Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon · Injustice: Gods Among Us · Star Trek · Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon · System Shock 2 · Metro: Last Light · Next Gen Buyer's Guide · Fuse · Remember Me · E3 2013
Q3 The Last of Us · Deadpool · Animal Crossing: New Leaf · Ride to Hell: Retribution · Dark · Mario & Luigi: Dream Team · Rise of the Triad · Papers, Please & Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons · Pikmin 3 · The Bureau: XCOM Declassified · Saints Row 4 · Killer is Dead · Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
Q4 Grand Theft Auto V · Lost Planet 3 · Beyond: Two Souls · The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD · Batman: Arkham Origins · Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag · Call of Duty: Ghosts · Exclusives Showdown · Ryse: Son of Rome · Dead Rising 3 · Super Mario 3D World
2014
Q1 Top 5 of 2013 · Knack · Killzone: Shadow Fall · Survival Special · Broken Age · Might & Magic X: Legacy · The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds · Dark Souls · Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII · Strider · Thief · Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 · Dark Souls II
Q2 Titanfall · InFamous: Second Son · Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes · The Elder Scrolls Online · South Park: The Stick of Truth · FTL: Faster Than Light · Child of Day-Light · The Amazing Spider-Man 2 · Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure · Wolfenstein: The New Order · WATCH DOGS · E3 2014 · Murdered: Soul Suspect
Q3 Tomodachi Life · Enemy Front & Valiant Hearts: The Great War · Shovel Knight · EarthBound · Transistor · E.T. · Firefall · Sacred 3 · Risen 3: Titan Lords · Daikatana · Lichdom: Battlemage · The Sims 4 · Destiny
Q4 D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die · Hyrule Warriors · Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor · Alien Isolation · The Evil Within · Bayonetta 2 · Sunset Overdrive · Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare · Assassin's Creed: Unity · Far Cry 4 · Dragon Age: Inquisition · Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric · Top 5 Games of 2014
2015 - 2017
2015
Q1 The Talos Principle · Elite: Dangerous · Five Nights at Freddy's and This War of Mine · Lords of the Fallen · Saints Row: Gat out of Hell · Dying Light · Grim Fandango · Evolve · The Order: 1886 · The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D · Resident Evil Revelations 2 · Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number & Ori and the Blind Forest
Q2 Battlefield: Hardline · Bloodborne · Half-Life 2 Update · Axiom Verge & Stealth Inc 2 · Mortal Kombat X · Grand Theft Auto Online · Broken Age: Act 2 · Wolfenstein: The Old Blood · Cyberpunk Double · The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt · Splatoon · Hatred · E3 2015
Q3 Alone in the Dark: Illumination · Batman: Arkham Knight · Yoshi's Woolly World · Cave Story · Godzilla · Rocket League & Tembo the Badass Elephant · King's Quest: A Knight to Remember · Nom Nom Galaxy & Freedom Planet · Everybody's Gone To The Rapture · Volume · Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain · Mad Max · Gears of War Ultimate Edition · Until Dawn
Q4 Super Mario Maker · SOMA · Rock Band 4 · Assassin's Creed Syndicate · Halo 5: Guardians · Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 · Rise of the Tomb Raider · Fallout 4 · Star Wars: Battlefront · Just Cause 3 · Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water
2016
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2015 · Devil's Third · Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam · Assassin's Creed Chronicles · Xenoblade Chronicles X · The Witness & Bombshell · Gravity Rush · XCOM 2 · Firewatch & Layers of Fear · Far Cry Primal · Stardew Valley & SUPERHOT · The Division · Salt and Sanctuary
Q2 Republique · Shadow Warrior · Quantum Break · Dark Souls III · Ratchet & Clank · Star Fox Zero · Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door · Uncharted 4: A Thief's End · Doom · Homefront: The Revolution · Overwatch & Battleborn · Mirror's Edge: Catalyst · E3 2016
Q3 Mighty No. 9 · Inside & Shadow of the Beast · The Technomancer · Furi & Song of the Deep · I Am Setsuna · Headlander & Quadrilateral Cowboy · Quake · No Man's Sky · Grow Up · Deus Ex: Mankind Divided · Metroid Prime: Federation Force · The Curious Expedition & Mother Russia Bleeds · ReCore
Q4 Capcom Five · Clustertruck & Lichtspeer · Paper Mario: Color Splash · Mafia III · Gears of War 4 · PlayStation VR · Battlefield 1 · Titanfall 2 vs Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare · Dishonored 2 · WATCH DOGS 2 · Final Fantasy XV · The Last Guardian
2017
Q1 Top 5 Games of 2016 · Let It Die · Dead Rising 4 · Hitman · Gravity Rush 2 · Resident Evil 7 · Yakuza 0 · Nioh · For Honor · Nintendo Switch & Breath of the Wild · Horizon Zero Dawn · Nier Automata · Ghost Recon Wildlands
Q2 Mass Effect Andromeda · Yooka-Laylee · Persona 5 · Remastered Editions · Outlast 2 · Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 · Prey · Wilson's Heart

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