Assassins Creed: Revelations (PC, PS3, XBOX 360)
Has it really been 2 months-ish since my last review? Time really does fly when you’re having fun. Anyway, I’m jumping back to Christmas just gone, during which period I was given a copy of Assassins Creed Revelations amongst other games (thanks go out to Al, Alex & Abi). So for your amusement, Assassins Creed Revelations.
For those who don’t know what Assassins Creed is, Have you been living under a rock for the past 4-5years? If so let me give you a quick overview of the series. Assassins Creed first takes place in the Holy Land during the period of the Third Crusade (1191 to be precise). You play as Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad, an assassin who’s tasked with stopping the Templars from discovering the Apple, an ancient device which would allow complete domination over the minds of the masses. Actually I lie, it’s about a barman named Desmond Miles who has been kidnapped by the evil Abstergo corporation in order to re-live his genetic memories to find the resting place of the Apple, an ancient device which would allow complete domination over the minds of the masses. Revelations and the previous 2 Assassins Creed games are much the same except you’re working with the Scooby Gang and your genetic memories focus on the time of the Renaissance playing as Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, just generally being a bad-ass.
Now the first Assassins Creed was a game of two halves. Alot of great moments within the game spoiled by a few annoyances. For example, the fanatically enforced speed limits of the Holy Land which can force Templars from as far as Constantinople to come and stabath ye arse for mealy running down a street. This coupled with having to travel from the Assassin’s castle to your ancient city of the week makes for some frustrating gaming experiences. On the other hand the free roaming parkour esque running and jumping of ancient rooftops as well as the planning and assassination of targets makes for great fun. Then 2nd instalment fixed the minor annoyances of the first games, which I think made it the best game of the series. Brotherhood took the prized winning trifle that was Ass Creed 2 and started tweaking with it in a Windows esque manor, adding stuff that worked well like a pinch of cinnamon (which in the case of this metaphor is the addition of multi-player) and adding stuff that doesn’t work like Branston Pickle (which in the case of this metaphor is the text based management of your assassin minions), essentially making Brotherhood more like Assassins Creed 2.5 The Borgia Strikes Back.
Revelations continues this trend by being Assassins Creed 2.75 Return of the Altaïr. The main additions brought by Revelations are the white chocolate shavings (which in the case.. blah, blah, blah the addition of a hook-blade) and a blob of Marmite (…blah, blah Bomb Crafting and Tower Defence mini games). The hook blade adds a bit more fun to the runny, jumpy roof top flinging by now being able to zip-line down randomly placed wires, which allows for new roof top routes as well as some humorous assassinations. The bomb crafting and tower defence mini games on the other hand are both boring and unnecessary. The bomb crafting although allows for more tactical choices, it just makes the game less of a challenge, just chuck a bomb, it kills people to walk past undisturbed. The tower defence mini games force you rescue an Assassin outpost if your notoriety becomes too high in an attempt to try and give consequence to Ezio’s constant disregard for Templar right to life, but notoriety is that easily lowered it just becomes a chore and distracts you from what your supposed to be doing.
Speaking of what I’m supposed to be doing, this gives me an excuse to discuss the plot. Ezio discovers that in the Assassins base of operation’s during the reign of Altaïr there is a secret door which is believed to be sealing Altaïr’s secret library and since Ezio cannot leave alone anything to do with Altaïr and the Assassins, he heads to Constantinople in order to fine these keys. There are other sub plots, like the power struggle among the officials of the Ottoman Empire and Ezio getting himself a bit of sweet, sweet putang by finding lost books but much like the main plot are weak at best. Throughout the game Ezio has no idea what is behind the sealed door assuming that it must be something to do with the Pieces of Eden because Altaïr’s involved, although it could be just as likely that behind the door he could find Altaïr’s stamp collection. The whole game gives off a Metal Gear Solid 4 feel. Frantically tying loose ends like David Beckham with the dirty boot bin. Ezio feels as though he’s finding all the keys out of simple curiosity, which doesn’t make for a deep or dramatic story.
At this point I would comment on the multi-player mode but since I haven’t played it nor do I have the intention to do so (not that I think the multi-player is going to be poor, I just don’t like multi-player gaming. Answering the door for my take-away is more than enough social interaction for me).
Now for my final thought. I’m glad to see the back of Revelations. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that it was a bad game, it’s just now the development team can focus on produce another game that does to Assassins Creed 2 what Assassins Creed 2 did to the original Assassins Creed. Do away with the Marmite and Branston Pickle and stuff in more custard, cream and sponge because in fairness that’s all we want from an Assassins Creed game. Although, I’m not sure what to think about moving the series to the era of the American Civil War. I would have thought jumping the rooftops of Victorian London would have been more in place with the series. Meeting influential people such as Charles Darwin, Jack the Ripper, Queen Victoria, Alexander Graham Bell, Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale just to name a few, but that’s just me.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (PC, PS3, Wii, XBOX 360)
Christmas and New Year have come and gone and with it I received a wealth of new games in which to play and share my opinion on. This week isn’t one of them but it was a game that I did get the opportunity to play over the festive period. A game that has a bigger following than Charlie Sheen and OK magazine. The most recent game in a series that started off a bit bland but after a change of scenery popularity rose immediately, only to then become horribly clique and predictable. Ladies and Gentleman. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
The Call of Duty series started as most series around war do with re-enacting the 2nd World War in the most unrealistic and stomach turningly patriotic way. For 3 instalments the series found medium success never really rising above it’s peers, such as Medal of Honour and Battlefield. It was only when the series switched to Modern Warfare in which as the name suggests is about warfare in modern times did the series find that edge that first person shooters were missing. It was the first to really add a story to the first person shooter and bring it to the masses. There was the Half-Life series but that always seemed a bit too snobbish to be mingling with the console playing plebs, but I digress. Previous FPS’s had stories but they just hung around with nothing better to do. Call of Duty 4 actually integrated the story into the game in such a way that it neither outshone or was outshone by the gameplay. This included a scene that I still hold to my heart, the nuke scene, where funny enough a nuclear explosion is detonated in the vicinity of fleeing Rangers to which you quantum leap into the perspective of a lone Ranger slowing dying in the fallout, alone and unloved thousands of miles away from home. Although it adds nothing to the story as an artistic feature it is pretty amazing. After trying to bring what worked in Modern Warfare back to the past with World of War, Modern Warfare found a sequel. Modern Warfare 2 which took the intense raspberry with white chocolate swirls and real fruity bits flavour of the original and made it bland vanilla. Not that there’s anything wrong with vanilla but it is one of the blander ice cream flavours out there. Then came Black Ops which had a story so out of whack I wouldn’t be surprised if the writers were sectioned for it.
Then finally we get to Modern Warfare 3. What seems to be the finale of the Modern Warfare series (I assume this because it’s the only one of the 3 that didn’t end on a cliff-hanger). You’ll be happy to know that the series continues it’s downhill slope from the peak of Modern Warfare. It’s the same game we’ve seen before but with new faces and a slight graphical upgrade. The same old missions are there, the stealth mission, the infiltration mission, the gunship mission, the ambush mission etc. The only real gameplay difference I noticed was that some guns have 2 sights on them. Fuck me, how long do you think it took Infinity Ward to come up with that stroke of genius? Imagine the development meeting when coming up with that beauty of an idea. “Ok, We need a USP (That’s Unique Selling Point for those who have no grasp of product development) for Modern Warfare 3, Go”, “I can never decide between using the Dot of the ACOG sight. Could we have both on the same gun”, “Fuck it, that’ll have to do. Lunch Time”. You really earned your pay that day guys didn’t you?
Now when people think of the Modern Warfare series, people tend to think of controversy and pushing the moral boundaries. Man dying slowly and painfully in nuclear fallout in the first is defiantly a moving scene, although the game could have done without it, its inclusion defiantly elevated the game to a higher plain. In Modern Warfare 2 there was the shoot up of civilians in the Russian airport that got every anti-games activists knickers in such a twist that some of them are still trying to remove the knots to this day. This had the greatest in game effect out of the 3 scenes because never before in any modern game were we asked to take a gun and mow down innocent civilians. The strange thing about it was (for me anyway) was that I had no moral guilt in doing it. It didn’t have the same effect as the scene in Heavy Rain where you have to cut off the end of your finger or throwing the Companion Cube into an Aperture Science Emergency Intelligence Incinerator. I think it’s due to a lack of empathy towards the gunned down civilians of Russia, to us they are just pixels which we have been told to kill. Unlike my previous 2 examples where we have spent the game playing through the perspective of the character in question or we have had empathy towards the Companion Cube drilled into us through GLaDOS’s messages, telling us that the cube loves us and that we love it. Returning to the matter at hand we have the 3rd scene where we see a child explode in front of us. Although in truth the child basically disappears as soon as the explosion appears. This scene unlike the other two probably worsened my opinion of the game (not due to the killing of children, that’s a completely different kettle of fish). The main reason for this is it’s irrelevance to the game, if it were removed from the game it would not hamper my gameplay experience in the slightest. Sure I could play it in media sensitive mode “aka Pussy mode”, but the niggling thought would still be in the back of my mind that that scene is still there and is only there as a shock awe tactic and to try and generate media attention to which it ended up doing very little of both.
I’ve neglected to mention anything to do with the actual gameplay throughout this review mainly because if you’ve played any of the Call of Duty games past Modern Warfare you know what the gameplay is going to be like. Infinity Ward like to stick to what they know and by the looks of it Infinity Ward have been glued, stapled, riveted and welded to the Modern Warfare formula. The single player is horribly short and can easily be completed in an afternoon. The multi-player is exactly the same as Modern Warfare 2 but with a few extra gameplay modifications and game types, which is the same as Modern Warfare but with a few extra gameplay modifications and game types. It seems Infinity Ward can release an update for their multi-player and charge £40+ for it because it has a singleplayer campaign hanging off it like a tumorous lobe. Infinity Ward may not be great game developers but they are master business men. What does interest me though is the Special-Op missions. I must have spent a good couple of days or so with my brother trying to 3 star a lot of them. Like a series of puzzles that need solving, once you start you won’t be satisfied until you get all of them.
To be honest Modern Warfare 3 was never going to go down favourably with me anyway. I’ve always seen the Modern Warfare series as the very pinnacle of what I despise about the gaming industry. Soulless corporations having the ability to release any kind of mind numbing bile and have it lapped up by the unthinking masses. I like to have faith that people will buy a game because it’s good rather than because it’s adverts are plastered everywhere. Modern Warfare is one of those games where you cannot escape the adverts for it. It was plastered all over television, all over the internet, hell it was plastered all over the buildings in the city centre. This is why I usually try to rely on user reviews on how good a game is before I buy it. Professional reviewers I find are too eager to hand out good reviews to games that really don’t deserve it. I don’t really like the use of scores, even though in a perfect world they can give us a direct comparison between one game and another, but it’s just that, “In a perfect world”. All scores are based on personal opinion, for example I would give a game with a better story a better score than that which had better gameplay. Not only that, the sheer amount of criteria that has to be taken into consideration to give a fair score is massive. Then to top it all off scores will change with the passing of times. As the years pass opinions change and as they change scores would change.
Now my final thought. The Modern Warfare series reshaped the first person shooter genre giving it that artistic flare previous FPS’s were missing. Although the first game struck gold in the end this proved to be a disadvantage to the development team. Both games that followed seemed to try too hard in trying to prove their worth over the original and both fall flat of their faces. Although this has never been a bother to Infinity Ward since each game has made enough money to pay the Dalai Lama to run through the streets of Kent, bollock naked, singing “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush”. Lets just hope that this is the end of the Modern Warfare era, because if I hear that Modern Warfare 4 is in production which includes Captain Price and Soap have full uncensored gay sex I will not be happy. Even less so knowing Soap died in the 3rd game.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (PC, PS3, XBOX 360)
The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (PC, PS3, XBOX 360)
Valkyria Chronicles (PS3)
Now to the final point, If you are Japanese or love anything from Japan, get it because you’ll love every minute of it. Those who don’t might get a see it as being somewhere between alright and an offence to all 5 senses.
Batman Arkham City (PC, PS3, XBOX 360)
Resident Evil 4 (GameCube, PC, PS2, PS3, Wii, XBOX 360)
Final Fantasy XIII (PS3, XBOX 360)