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How Assassin’s Creed: Revelations ended our love affair

Wednesday, 7th December 2011 05:59 GMT By Brenna Hillier

After years of romantic picnics, long walks on the beach, and candlelit dinners with Assassin’s Creed, the light of love has faded from Brenna Hillier’s eyes.

Having wooed me to the weak-kneed, lip-trembling stage, the game did the equivalent of clearing out the joint back account and running off to Mykonos with the au pair.

Last month, I had a tempestuous affair with Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. It was love at first sight, of course. AssCreeRev, as I call it, is just my type. I adored the first game – the one often described as a failed experiment or a tech demo for the rest of the series. I was blown away by the sequel. I had a ball with Brotherhood, and I fully expected Revelations to deliver exactly what I wanted: more of the same, only bigger and better.

It does. Oh, sure, the tower defence sections are so poor as to be unworthy of the name, and those teeth-grindingly unpleasant sojourns into Desmond’s memories are a strong argument in favour of play testing, but because I love the franchise so much, I invented convoluted justifications for both.

AssCreeRev won my heart. I found elderly Ezio and his low-key romance much easier take than the bafflingly magnetic sleaze of his adolescence. I liked that Ubisoft Montreal, quite rightly assuming that we know what we’re about by this stage, ripped away a lot of the lengthy exposition and slow-build feature glut of the last two games, dropping you right in and handing you all your tools almost immediately. I liked the tactical options offered by the surprisingly flexible bomb crafting system, and spent many a happy hour chasing trophies and thereby exploring their varied uses – something the main quest failed to demonstrate, it must be said.

Unfortunately for the happy family of half-Brenna, half-AssCreeRev children I’d imagined for us, having wooed me to the weak-kneed, lip-trembling stage, the game did the equivalent of clearing out the joint back account and running off to Mykonos with the au pair.

Of the game’s nine memory sequences, I had arrived at the seventh. This had taken a great deal longer than it should have given the relative brevity of the campaign, but as my partner was away for a week I’d indulged myself in daily, five-hour play sessions of collecting all the treasures, buying up all the shops, training my assassin recruits – generally ticking boxes on the way to 100% completion well before it was necessary. I had about 25 hours invested in it. (That should tell you everything you need to know about my devotion to this series, right there.)

The E3 2011 trailer made my mouth water.

My mission was to find a spy. According to every walkthrough I can find on the matter, this should involve approaching a plaza, using eagle vision to identify the target, trailing at a distance, and finally, confronting her.

When I arrive in the plaza – I use the present tense here because I’ve attempted this a dozen times – I use eagle sense on everybody, and nobody is highlighted. Nevertheless, the game eventually decides someone is, in fact, the spy – a nearby doctor. The camera attaches itself to this innocent vendor whenever I use eagle vision and will not be dissuaded.

“Confront the spy,” the game advises me. I tried buying some poison from him a few times, the only interaction I’m allowed; this does not seem to satisfy anybody.

After resetting both game and console a few times I realised that if I moved far enough away from the doctor, the camera would return to normal. A target appeared on my mini-map, and a golden trail showed a path through the streets, Following both, I discovered a female NPC standing in a corner, facing a door, and looking around furtively.

Unfortunately, whatever it is she sees in that corner is so absorbing, she won’t respond to Ezio’s blandishments. I’ve hammered the interact button, despite receiving no prompts to do so. I’ve danced around in front of her. I’ve tried tackling her repeatedly with my feeble old man body, trying to trigger whatever response is due, but she’s as immobile as a rock – more immobile than some. I’ve even tried killing her – the game refuses to acknowledge her as a target, but I’ve piled bombs up around her. No go. She doesn’t even blink.

And that’s it. The end of my 25 hour journey with AssCreeRev. I can’t progress, and when I think about doing it all over again – repeating all my tentative steps towards the Platinum trophy – I’m strongly tempted to snap a control pad.

Assassin’s Creed

Four core entries, beginning with Assassin’s Creed in 2007. Subseqeunt releases in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Another promised for 2012.

Spin-offs include two DS games later ported to iOS and Android, one PSP release, and two more recent mobile titles.

The franchise has also produced five novel and comic adaptations and three short films.

There was a time when a story like this would have elicited some strong emotional response in you, the reader. “Bad luck, old sport,” you’d sympathise, weeping inside for me. “It shouldn’t ought to be this way,” you might add, forgetting grammar in your desire to comfort me.

That time is not now. Yesterday Nintendo acknowledged a game-breaking bug in Skyward Sword, a bug which is unlikely to see remedy as the Wii is not a patch-friendly platform. Skyrim may as well be listed in the dictionary with the description “Noun: A glitch which breaks a major questline, thus requiring a reversion to an earlier save file”, it’s become so much of a byword for this phenomenon. I could probably point at any large-scale RPG or open world adventure of the last two years and find a third example, but you get the idea.

It’s easy to sympathise with the developers; the scale of triple-A games means any mission or objective based game is almost certain to contain at least one possible instance of a broken quest (sorry, I mean, a “Skyrim”) which slips past QA. The problem is how quickly – or not – these major issues are identified and corrected. A few days after I gave up on AssCreeRev, I started my PlayStation 3 up and, thanks to my PS Plus subscription, noticed the game had been patched. Delighted, I fired it up. The patch fixed a number of issues including a very annoying problem with how quickly Ezio can pile up cash, but it didn’t fix my bug.

I’m philosophical about this. Sometimes, the first post-launch patch catches the problem I’m having, and sometimes it doesn’t; it’s a bit of a lottery. We can’t all be lucky. But it did mean I switched my PS3 off in disgust, and loaded Skyrim on my PC. I haven’t even switched the console on since then, and I doubt I will until the next big release turns up.

AssCreeRev has joined the pile of games which didn’t get finished in the giddy throes of early love.

What that means in turn is that AssCreeRev has joined the pile of games which didn’t get finished in the giddy throes of early love, and with quality games releasing at a pace of what feels like every six and a half minutes, it’s quite unlikely it will crawl out before the next iteration is expected. For a franchise game, a game that prides itself on being story-driven and sucking the player into a world, it’s a death sentence. I have no motivation to hear the next chapter when I’ve no idea how this one finished.

I bought the Animus Edition of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, with the encyclopaedia and everything, because I loved this series so much. But now, when I think about the forthcoming Assassin’s Creed III, a prospect which inspired foaming fangirlism in me just weeks ago, I’m not even ambivalent. There’s no feeling there. The force which drove me through three and three-quarter games is gone; what’s going to push me to a fifth and beyond?

I think we should see other people, Assassin’s Creed. The love has died.

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24 Comments

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  1. FrankWhite

    You seem to boast a lot about how much you love the game and series, and then when presented with the opportunity to play for 25 more hours, you nerdrage.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Rudderless

    Being a videogame journalist, Brenna probably has very little free time, certainly not enough to make it worth her while playing through any game for another 25 hours. Heck, as much as I loved Skyward Sword, if I’d encountered the aforementioned bug (though it has to be said, you have to do things in a very strange order to trigger it) I’d have had a tough time justifying repeating it all over again.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. The_Red

    There was a similar game breaking bug in AC2 if you quit the game after a certain memory sequence.

    My love affair with AC series ended with previous game and it didn’t need any bugs. I LOVED original AC and mostly liked its sequel but Brotherhood killed my interest in the series. I felt playing the exact same game for the 3rd time and that time (In Brotherhood’s case) the game was actually a copy paste of previous without any story progress. The whole thing was just padding and filler. Goodbye Assassin’s Creed.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. tenthousandgothsonacid

    I’m confused, have you heard of the internet ?

    There’ll be a million youtube videos/FAQ entries on how to get past this problem…

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Christopher Jack

    I know the pain, stuck on a part in Skyrim involving the companions because some bug is refusing the prompt for the next mission, I’ve tried many things to fix it, & so far, none of them are working. Thankfully the companions aren’t a crucial part of the overall game.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Erthazus

    Whats the bug with companions do you have?

    I finished the whole game (finished every quest and i know how to fix major bugs by myself in this game without patch). Maybe i can help you with something.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. silkvg247

    I totally sympathise with you getting caught out by a nasty bug, I do wonder if a respectable site like this making such a bug public will prompt UBI into action? :)

    Just out of interest you mention resetting the console etc. But I wondered does the bug repeat itself if you simply restart the quest through the menu?

    Have you tried targetting her properly? (I think you tap L1 or L2, can’t remember off top of head).

    Hey this has me thinking, you could have a BUG SPOTTING article weekly or monthly, publicising the nastiest bugs out there which people want fixing asap. It annoyed the *** out of me that Skyrim pre patch on PC was riddled with key config bugs but still got 95% and above. An article such as this would have made me wait for a patch before purchase.

    Likewise BF3 (PC); Still can’t rebind throttle down, spot, or mousewheel to anything. Don’t know if latest patch fixes it, took them an age in either case. An article like this might have helped prompt them into action sooner, it was game breaking for folks like me.

    Alice: Madness returns (PC). They *still* haven’t fixed the umbrella bug. i.e. Rebinding any keys at any time makes the umbrella un-usable, and you can’t get past a boss because of it. I actually had to buy a control pad to get past this. Sigh. Also FPS is locked at 30, which I’d class as a bug (have to edit a config file to fix).

    #7 3 years ago
  8. sleepyfox

    Maybe I read it too hastily, but your love affair with the series ended completely in a bug? This in a headline?

    I don’t know how the saving system in the game works, but I assume like in pretty much every other game; you’ve got a ton of different save slots and you’re not using a memory card.

    You only used one save slot (and if not, according to you – 25 hours apart), and never thought about a game/quest-breaking bug, save file corruption etc. which even game sites (assumably also VG247) report now and then? Really?

    You must be new here!
    http://www.hk94.com/hk/uploadgal/gallery/album_195/gallery_1_195_65489.jpg

    #8 3 years ago
  9. Mr-Brett

    @1: I don’t get why some people can’t understand that while you may love a game, you don’t want to repeat it all again. I imagine people are wired differently but I find repetition very dull and having to redo 20 minutes is frustrating let alone 25 hours. Also it’s an entirely different matter if you’re redoing by choice rather than because a bug broke progression.

    @8: The point is that the article highlights a serious issue with modern games. It might not be called “BUG IS GAMES ARE BAD YO!” but the issue is highlighted via an anecdote (which makes a change from straight up news stories). Also Brenna has been here a while, so I can only assume that you haven’t since you weren’t aware of that ;)

    #9 3 years ago
  10. tenthousandgothsonacid

    The FAQ I spent five minutes looking at says to air assassinate her from above :

    http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps3/628357-assassins-creed-revelations/faqs/63377

    #10 3 years ago
  11. sleepyfox

    @9:
    That last bit/image was just supposed to be a witty point about the author’s gaming career/habits, to what I wrote above about save file usage. Not about how long she has been a game journalist.

    I understand that the game bug issue was approached a bit differently today, but I thought it was a bit… harsh, ‘ragey’? …can’t find a fitting word here… that the love for the entire series ended in one bump in the relationship, albeit biggish (which could have been lessened somewhat).

    It isn’t, and never has been, unheard of that there are bugs that break quests, sometimes even the main quests like in this case apparently has happened. I can’t generalize, but I consider it (multiple game file saves) an axiom, especially for tech savvy people and gamers. Well at least those who started on PC gaming.
    Just as that you don’t write an essay on your computer for hours without ever saving it manually (even if there are autosave functions in some cases), or even sending an email/long forum post without Ctrl+C’ing it first before hitting the ‘send’ button.

    About bad bugs on Wii games: I remember Paper Mario on Wii had a game-breaking bug, but you got the offer to change that disc to a new one which had the updated version of the game. It probably wouldn’t be used on many games that has some rare game-breaking bugs, but if it’s really easy to encounter and lots of people has it, maybe then it’s a possibility?

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Kabby

    I still haven’t forgiven Capcom for the broken audio on Hugo’s Stage in SF3 Anniversary Edition. Come to think of it I’ve not bought a Capcom game, personally, since that incident.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Ireland Michael

    @8 Have you played Assassin’s Creed? Because, unless I’ve missed something really obvious, each game has only one save slot and it auto-saves to that one, without any other option to save anywhere else.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Gekidami

    ^ They offer 3 save slots but they’re pretty much like the slots in Zelda in that they hold all of your game, you cant hit pause and save your on-going game to a new slot like you can in Skyrim. At least as far as i know, i cant say i really looked into it.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. OrbitMonkey

    Good article, sums up how I very nearly feel about Skyrim. Lots of fucking niggling bugs, a patch that makes my characters race traits useless and a Blood Dragon who does not attack or die… I had to turn it off. Christ I hope the next patch works… Or the one after that… Or the one after that….

    #15 3 years ago
  16. Freek

    From what I heard on the GiantBombcast this already sounded like a filler game. The story does not progress in a meaningfull way and neither does the gameplay. So just skip this one and wait for Part 3 so you don’t get burned out on the franchise.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Gekidami

    ^ Yeah, “filler” sounds about right. After i beat it i really didnt get what the point of the game was in terms of the overall plot.

    I guess it was to show Desmond where the apple was… But didnt he already find it? So wait, there are two apples? I mean Enzio has one, and he hides that one and Desmond finds it, then Enzio goes looking for the one Altair had… So there was indeed two. Wait, so did Enzio hide his one before or after he went looking for Altair’s one? ..And when he finds it, he just leaves it? So what was the point of doing all that?

    Seriously, this games plot makes no fucking sense.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. Tamo123

    I’m not sure about everyone else, but for me I loved 1,2 and revelations. I absolutely hated Brotherhood.

    Revelations for me was about Altair’s struggle in his life to save the creed despite losing his family and passing the apple on because he understood he had no greater purpose.

    For Ezio, it was his struggle to make sure the knowledge Desmond needed was given to him. Sure Revelations wasn’t anything majorly new, but I enjoyed training and using assassins (it had more uses and felt worth it compared to Brotherhood) and I overall loved the game.

    I think people expected too much and I am really glad they didn’t discard the first game after its reception and instead chose to expand on its story and tie it into Ezio’s life as an old man.

    Regarding the apples, it has some obvious significance in the next game for Desmond. Ezio knew he did the task he was given and chose to leave it to Desmond.

    The overall story was never intended to advance. It was to tie up the past to Ezio’s present with some minor advances here in there in small ways. I also enjoyed collecting the 30 animus fragments to play through Desmonds childhood, it gave him as a character more depth to his past.

    Revelations for me had meaning. Brotherhood did not. Each to their own though.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. Ireland Michael

    I wouldn’t discount 3 either. Every clue so far suggest that AC3 is definitely not going to be a “filler” game. New character, new location (won’t spoil it, but it definitely has tonnes of potential), probably a completely redesigned combat system, and plenty of advancement in the story.

    Did Ubisoft admit they wouldn’t keep releasing this every year after 3? That the series would be get at least a two year break after? I can definitely see them closing up Desmond’s story in the next one. After that, we’ll probably move on to different Assassin’s with different ancestors around the world. The scope is virtually limitless in that regard.

    I didn’t feel like Revelations was filler myself, personally. Especially, I like Constantinople as a city far more than I did Rome. All the tight alleyways, elaborate rooftops, and snugly placed landmarks. It makes for a far more interesting and intimate experience, and it was a place I felt like I could can actually learn the design of, unlike Rome, which just felt like miles of the same randomly placed buildings.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. DSB

    I always thought it was pretty boring. The first one was interesting because it showed off the mechanics and an interesting setting, but it didn’t really do anything else. Convoluted justifactions would be the only way I could really enjoy the other one I’ve tried.

    I tried to get into Brotherhood since it came with a gfx purchase, but ultimately the characters were too mindnumbingly naive and chipper to really make me care about the threat of capture and death hanging over their heads, and there’s just no way I’m entertained by bog standard Tomb Raider climbing sections or little ballista shooting galleries. It doesn’t really add flavor, it’s really just half a feature trying to earn my time without really giving any kind of satisfaction.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. DarkElfa

    I’m playing this game right now Brenna, if you’d like me to tell you what happens when I’m done. let me know.

    #21 3 years ago
  22. Samuel

    Swearing off a game, and it’s entire series, over something like this sounds pretty foolish to be honest. I don’t see how it’s warranted. Sure, it’s a frustrating incident. But especially after saying how much you loved the games, one thing like this and it’s over? Sounds like an angry over-reaction.

    #22 3 years ago
  23. HighWindXIX

    Brenna, I understand your pain. Its not that bug made you angry, its that you can’t imagine starting over and suddenly, the feeling isn’t there anymore. I was enraptured with Fallout New Vegas till I went and got myself locked in a vault on a broken quest. Sure I had another save file 15 hours back but the spark was gone. There was no motivation anymore. The love died. I don’t hate New Vegas. I enjoyed my time with it but I doubt I’ll ever go back to it.

    #23 3 years ago
  24. Psychotext

    I’ve had this happen to me. I hate doing something more than once at the best of times. But doing it more than once because of a bug? Fuck that… especially if “that” is 20 odd hours.

    (I can barely manage 10 hours for gaming lately, let alone 20 just to get back to where I was with a game)

    #24 3 years ago