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Revelations shows Assassin’s Creed in need of a break

Wednesday, 16th November 2011 09:21 GMT By Johnny Cullen

With Revelations’ reviews on Monday showing a noticeable shock of 7s, should Assassin’s Creed take a break after next year’s game? Probably, says Johnny Cullen.

Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed was originally announced at E3 2006 as a PS3 exclusive, before eventually making the jump to 360 and PC.

There’s been a yearly AC release since Assassin’s Creed II in 2009.

Main titles – AC1, ACII, Brotherhood – have sold 28 million units as of May this year.

Revelations is Ezio and Altair’s final story chapter, but Desmond’s story will continue.

I’m an Assassin’s Creed fan. While the 2007 original got its fair share of kickings, I gave it its due for being a decent game. It would be silly of me to overlook its faults – and it did have a fair few of them, like bugs, glitches, repetitiveness – but the potential was there.

That potential was realised two years ago with Assassin’s Creed II. The sequel was such a turnaround. Jade Raymond, Patrice Désilets and their team at Ubisoft Montreal – mostly comprised of members of the original group behind the PS2 Prince of Persia trilogy – had fixed the mistakes of AC1 and, while it wasn’t perfect, it was in my top three games of 2009, behind Uncharted 2 and the Beatles: Rock Band.

Then, along came Brotherhood, which continued Ezio’s story. Did it need to? Probably not. Yes, ACII left on a cliffhanger, but so did AC1. It was here fans started to express concern that Ubisoft would go down the yearly route that’s been tricky for series like Need for Speed or Guitar Hero. It was the thought that Brotherhood, at least before release, should have been some sort of expansion for Assassin’s Creed II.

And yet, for all the worries, Brotherhood paid off for Ubisoft. It was a fully-fledged game that introduced multiplayer. Despite concerns, Ubi Montreal found ways to fit the narrative around it. If the story was about Desmond, Ezio and the Assassins, multiplayer could tie into Abstergo and the Templars. In a world of tack-on multiplayer, the game was rightly praised.

Revelatory?

But when Revelations started bringing in several in-house developers alongside Ubisoft Montreal, it could have been seen as a first sign of trouble. Ubisoft Annecy
Ubisoft Massive, Ubisoft Quebec, Ubisoft Singapore and Ubisoft Bucharest all helped with development. It shocked me to see the amount of studios coming up in the opening credits of the game. It’s worth noting that BioShock 2 went the same way, with 2K Marin the main dev being helped by five other studios, including the now Bethesda-owned Arkane.

Some of the feature additions this time also rang alarm bells. Is tower defence necessary, or just fishing for “something else”? A nice addition in theory, but it seems ridiculous to have Ezio, a character suited for open world exploratory, rooted to a rooftop. It’s a bit off. My personal experience of this wasn’t the best.

When you have six studios working on one single game, it’s time to take stock. For a series like Assassin’s Creed, it breaks my heart to say that.

Bombcrafting is probably the nicest addition to Revelations, but can be ignored despite the game basically begging you to take time out and make explosives. As good as it may be, you’re basically crafting grenades. Hand grenades. What else do you need to know about it? You pick your shell, then your ingredients to determine what kind of ‘bomb’ you want to make. Lethal? Non-lethal?

Don’t get me wrong; credit should go to Ubisoft for trying new things. It’s partly that reason that allowed Brotherhood to work so well. But I can’t help feel there’s too much unnecessary stuff here even for Assassin’s Creed fans to accept. In fact, it’s logical to believe that all these additions, and the story, could have worked better as a big DLC for Brotherhood, à la GTA IV, with the next full game being Assassin’s Creed III.

I haven’t finished Revelation, but so far 7/10 feels right. Eurogamer, Wired, Edge and Destructoid all scored it in the 7s range this week. So far, Ezio’s grand farewell may just be a farewell, plain and simple. I want Revelations to come back and turn around my initial impression, but it’s impossible to ignore the feeling that the series is turning down a slippery path from which it may not be able to return. We’re not at that stage yet, but it’s getting closer each year.

Ubisoft’s already confirmed a new game for next year, which will end Desmond’s story arc, and I can only hope that finishing Ezio and Altair’s story this year will help creatively with 2012′s release. But what comes after that? If the following year isn’t Assassin’s Creed III, Ubisoft needs to take a break. Plain and simple.

Assassin’s Creed may now be Ubisoft’s biggest cash earner, but it wasn’t made to be a yearly franchise in a similar vein Call of Duty. While multiple studios are working on CoD’s yearly installments – such as Infinity Ward, Treyarch and Sledgehammer – you only have Ubisoft Montreal working on main AC installments.

Which brings me back to my initial point of bringing in those five in-house studios to help out on Revelations. When you have six studios working on one single game, it’s time to take stock.

And for a series like Assassin’s Creed, it breaks my heart to say that.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is available now for PS3 and 360.

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17 Comments

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  1. Razor

    Bring Sony Santa Monica on board to help develop Assassin’s Creed III. Job done :)

    #1 2 years ago
  2. mongbatstar

    With respect, you may want to give this a quick read over again :)

    “should Assassin’s Creed took a break after next year’s game?”

    “Despite concerns, Ubi Montreal ways to fit the narrative around it.”

    There are possibly more.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. Patrick Garratt

    D’oh. That’s my bad. Sorry. I’ve fixed those.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. OrphanageExplosion

    The multi-studio arrangement has been in place since AC2 for what it’s worth, though I’ve no idea if the amount of studios has increased, decreased or whatever.

    #4 2 years ago
  5. YoungZer0

    @1: Yeah, i don’t see any problem with that.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Zana

    In any case, you are right. It’s still a great game but it’s seriously time they move on. The list of Ubisoft studios at the beginning of the game felt quite ridiculous to me. Maybe to them it shows how dedicated to the AC project the whole company is, but when you think about it, even Activision didn’t put the development of the last Call of Duty into so many hands…

    #6 2 years ago
  7. Christopher Jack

    I think the biggest issue was that it was just more of the same, shame that CoD barely gets criticized for it, hypocrisy. Although I do think true sequels need at LEAST 2 years difference, since Revelations & Brotherhood aren’t true sequels, I don’t see the issue, similar to how Activision does a Modern Warfare game through IW, then a random timeline game with Treyarch.

    I still think they’re overdoing it but you can’t compare it to all the annual sports titles out there. What I do think is that annual releases need a discount, sadly annual games are the biggest sellers regardless.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. Anders

    #6: Then again, every Call of Duty title has two years in developments whereas the AC games have one. Infinity Ward developed Modern Warfare 3 (2011), Treyarch developed Black Ops (2010), IW developed Modern Warfare 2 (2009), Treyarch developed World at War (2008), IV developed Call of Duty 4 (2007), etc.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. Superfrog

    “But when Revelations started bringing in several in-house developers alongside Ubisoft Montreal, it could have been seen as a first sign of trouble. Ubisoft Annecy, Ubisoft Massive, Ubisoft Quebec, Ubisoft Singapore and Ubisoft Bucharest all helped with development. It shocked me to see the amount of studios coming up in the opening credits of the game.”

    Almost the exact same constellation was in place for AC Brotherhood. And it worked out impressively well, no one complained. That means that Johnny’s article is rather pointless.

    In my opinion, ACR is of the same high quality as ACB was. I think both games are a good 8/10. It’s the reviewers who seem to be jaded by all the 9-10 out of 10 reviews of the past few weeks. Take EG for example: they rated ACB 10/10 just to drop down to 7/10 for ACR, stating that “the series shows its age” just one year later. Considering that ACR even improves on a lot of things ACB did (including graphics and mini games), that’s ridiculous.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. Maximum Payne

    Only thing that I want from Ubisoft is that Assassin Creed III need to be little re-boot or major upgrade.Just like it was with GTA III was ”first” and then Vice City and San Andreas were ”spin off”.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. The_Red

    Thanks for this article. Ubi is slowly killing a great franchise that I used to love (AC1 and 2). Haven’t played Revelations yet but did finish Brotherhood when it came out… and that was my 2nd choice for the most disappointing game of 2010. It was nothing more than a DLC with bad narration, pointless gameplay additions, filler storyline and a super cheap ending sold at full price.

    Anyway, glad to seen another great original article on VG. Keep em coming :)

    #11 2 years ago
  12. kupocake

    “Take EG for example: they rated ACB 10/10 just to drop down to 7/10 for ACR, stating that “the series shows its age” just one year later.”

    Different reviewers. Unless Eurogamer turned into some kind of amalgamated consciousness.

    If EG were a Borg, it would be Eight of Ten.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. Psychotext

    “If EG were a Borg, it would be Eight of Ten.”

    \o/

    #13 2 years ago
  14. joshua nash

    having read all the comments above me i happen to agree with most of them, though to be honest i haven’t really started to play revelations yet busy with skyrim, but i look at brotherhood and revelations more as spin offs of AC2, which is okay but seriously i do think that ubisoft might be starting to over reach with the AC series, i mean if its true from what i’ve read that the “den” defense gameplay is complete crap then i do think that they need to stop with the yearly releases, stop putting mp on the disk and treat it more like battlefield 1943,as in release the AC MP as its own game on live and PSN, that way they have more space on they disk to focus on the SP game being great and not so fucking rushed as the last part of the brotherhood SP felt

    #14 2 years ago
  15. PEYJ

    While I agree that the series will need a break after next years finalization of the story about Desmond, I do believe that some of the fatigue is more of a reviewer problem. There are so many big and great games out this quarter that sometimes too much of the good stuff can be hard to digest. It’s actually quite normal in our everyday lives and jobs, and I don’t see why it should be any different in this line of work.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. DuckOfDestiny

    I have to agree, me and my friend are both massive fans of the franchise and yesterday we both asked each others opinions and we both agreed that it had lost it’s spark, this coming from two people who loved Assassins Creed 1 despite all it’s flaws.

    Take some time out and really change things for Assassins Creed 3. Perhaps a new time period other than the Middle ages and Renaissance.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. bpcgos

    And yet, most reviewer are very forgotten towards COD despite its the same formula every year ( most of them even use ‘this is what we expect from COD’ as an excuse and not ‘this is what we expect from AC’ from AC review)

    Please, get rid of the score right away!

    #17 2 years ago