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Level Up: Reviewing Assassin’s Creed Revelations

Journey to Constantinople in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

By Tim Janson     December 08, 2011

 

Well as you will see right off the bat the release schedule continues to be slight continuing the usual trend of all the season’s big games coming out just before or after Thanksgiving while most of December features only a handful of games even worth mentioning.  
 
 
IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK
 
New Patch for Skyrim will still not fix lag problem
 
Another new Skyrim patch, 1.3, is supposed to be out by week’s end and may be out as you read this week’s column, yet for those players, particularly PS3 players, who are looking for relief from the ongoing lag problems the wait will apparently go on. A post on the Bethesda blog on 12/6 stated the following:
 
            While the 1.2 update fixed the long-term play issues for most PS3 users, we are aware that is not the case for some. We’ve been reaching out to a number of those users to collect save games, so we can take a look at their specific issues. Right now we know it’s not one thing, but a combination of smaller ones that some folks are seeing, but others are not. Some seem to be the PS3 autosaving in the background (you can turn that off), some may be SPU AI updates, and some may relate to dynamic system memory allocation. These fixes are not in the current 1.3 update that is in final testing, but will be in future ones. We understand how frustrating it can be when your game is having issues, and we thank all of you for your continued feedback and patience. Rest assured we take your gameplay experience seriously and will continue working on this until it’s resolved.
 
 
Now frankly I think there’s a lot of players who might disagree that the 1.2 updated has fixed the issues for most users as reports of lag problems still seem to be frequent. The 1.3 update IS supposed to fix issues like magic resistance not calculating properly and the backwards flying dragon bug. Stay tuned! Until then Bethesda has offered a couple of tips on helping reduce lag. Namely turning off the game’s autosave feature, and clearing space on your hard drive by deleting old data.
 
New update for the 3DS
 
If you’re a 3DS owner you should have seen a new update come through a couple of days ago. The main new feature is the ability to record 3D movies up to ten minutes in length. Heavy StreetPass users will be able to enjoy updated versions of Find Mii and Puzzle Swap. And 3DS owners can now transfer their data (games, photos, saves) to a new system.
 
The unspecified improvements to the eShop Nintendo had talked about previously include faster load times, the ability to queue up to ten downloads that can be downloaded while the system is in Sleep mode, reviews displayed alongside each game's listing, and a way to add only the funds you need. The benefit of the latter is you won't end up with extra money in your account that will never be used. With 3DS game prices ending in $.99 as opposed to $.00, before this update you would end up with worthless pennies in your virtual wallet after making a purchase.
 
Other changes include the StreetPass Mii Plaza now has something called Accomplishments which appear to be Nintendo's attempt to replicate the Xbox 360's tremendously-popular Achievements. There are 78 in total to collect currently, many of which are secret. Others are specifically labeled so you'll know what to do -- make it through a room in Find Mii, reach 100 Miis in the Plaza, or meet a Mii on his or her birthday.
 
Also of note is the Nintendo Zone, a new app downloaded as part of the update that can be used when you're in range of a 3DS Hotspot location, of which Nintendo says there are more than 29,000. Connecting to one with the app will allow you to download freebies like 3D videos, coupons, game previews, trivia challenges, and more. 
 
Playstation Vita Account Limits?
 
Unlike the PS3, it appears that Sony’s new portable unit, the Playstation Vita, will not allow the creation of multiple PSN accounts. Not only does this prevent multiple people from sharing the same Vita and keeping track of their Trophies and friends independently of each other, it also means users can't set up PSN accounts for regions other than their own (thereby cutting off access to foreign PlayStation Stores). With what many gamers consider to be excessive costs for memory cards on the soon-to-be-released system, Sony certainly doesn’t seem to be building a lot of good will for their new portable unit.
 
 
 
News on the next Spider-Man videogame
 
The next Spider-Man is poised to bring the action back to New York City as Activision and Marvel Entertainment announce The Amazing Spider-Man video game, planned to launch summer 2012 tied to Sony Picture Entertainment's upcoming feature film of the same name.  Created as an epilogue story occurring entirely after the events of the movie, the game features the return of free-roaming web-slinging all over the city and evolutionary improvements to navigation and combat, as the newly anointed Spider-Man is plunged into an all-new storyline charged with protecting Manhattan from a variety of criminals.
 
The Amazing Spider-Man is in development at veteran game studio Beenox, and features an original narrative crafted by Hollywood writer Seamus Kevin Fahey (episodes of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena and the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica) that continues young Peter Parker's adventures following the events of the new film.  Using the game's new Web Rush mechanic allows players to pull off a vast array of moves never before possible.  With a story that takes players through many areas all over (and under) Manhattan, fans will feel what it's truly like to be a Super Hero, as they experience the cinematic adrenaline rush of web-swinging through the city and fighting crime using Spider-Man's spectacular acrobatic moves and attacks.
 
Fans can check out the world premiere trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man video game during Spike TV's Video Game Awards, airing live on Saturday, December 10 at 8:00 PM.
 
 
DUE OUT NEXT WEEK
 
Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights (Konami) Rated E 3DS
 
Doctor Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights will be the game that'll make you pick up a Nintendo 3DS if you don't already own one. And be the game that you always carry if you own one. It's a robust and immersive adventure game with brain bending puzzles that'll challenge both you and your friends. With a unique cast of characters and a storyline that'll engage you from the beginning the challenges that lie ahead will be well worth your time!
 
With the Eiffel Tower under construction and preparations for the Exposition Universelle of 1889 underway, Paris at the end of the 19th century is a lively, bustling city. At the same time, a group of adventurers are preparing to prowl the city's underground in search of "Treasures Animatus" otherwise known as living treasures. They begin their adventure by gathering at a bar called "Le Repaire" located beneath the Palais Garnier opera house, armed with a mysterious treasure map. Only a few of the smartest and bravest would obtain fame and fortune. For the rest, only death awaits.
 
 
REVIEWS
 
Assassin’s Creed Revelations (Ubisoft) Rated M PS3, Xbox 360, PC
 
As popular as the Assassin’s Creed series has been, I’ve always felt it to be rather underrated compared to some of the other popular series and I’ve never quite figured out why. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations doesn’t present fans with new leaps in gameplay but rather it takes what has been a successful formula and a successful game engine and tweaks it with new additions and just enough to safely call this the best Assassin’s Creed game yet. 
 
Revelations once again features the protagonists of modern day Desmond whose mind is trapped in the Animus, Altair, the original hero, and Ezio the Renaissance era hero. Desmond’s mind is fragmented and only through playing through the stories of his ancestors can he hope to finally separate all three personalities and sets of memories. Oh wait…now I know why Assassin’s Creed has never been quite as highly regarded as a series. The convoluted set of characters, personalities and time periods probably isn’t for everyone. 
 
Most of the game is played as Ezio and set within the great city of Constantinople in 1511. Plots abound once Ezio arrives…He finds himself on a quest to unlock Altair’s secrets, he’s caught up in the power struggle between the Ottoman and Byzantine Empires, and also engages in a battle against the Templar order for control over the city’s various districts. And it all takes place in the most expansive milieu yet with a seeming endless supply of items to collect, things to do, and places to visit. It’s this lush, open-world setting that always has been at the core of the AC series success and Revelations is no different. 
 
The simple yet effective monetary system features a multitude of items that are used to manufacture hundreds of different bomb combinations. These run the gamut from lethal, large scale damage bombs to those used for distractions or to aid you in making a getaway. They’ll come in handy for the many challenges that come your way. As in Brotherhood, you can recruit your own army of assassins to carry out your bidding within the city as well as outside of it. Ezio can lead and direct these troops making you feel like you are truly in charge and able to guide the futures of your recruits much more than you did in Brotherhood. As these recruits gain in experience and stature, new content will be unlocked for them. The one new gameplay aspect I’m only lukewarm on is the battling for control of districts which is done through a tower defense style minigame that is repetitive, somewhat difficult to control, and not in keeping with the general style of the game.
 
The most enjoyable addition is the hook blade that you can use not only as a weapon to grab and pull enemies in for an attack, but also for a Batman-style zipline that allows you to navigate the city much faster than ever before. This also helps you to appreciate the sheer beauty and grandeur of the scenery. AC has always excelled at building a setting that was not only believable but gorgeous as well and Revelations continues that tradition with dazzling sights not only of the architecture but also the mundane things like the sun, sky, and water. Animation is as strong as Ezio simply makes some breathtaking leaps and jumps in true parkour style. And of course the actual combat animations are simply superb. 
 
The multiplayer game is generally the same as introduced in AC: Brotherhood but with some new tweaks of its own. New maps, abilities, modes…customizable characters and coats-of-arms, all serve to freshen up multi-player. A new mode called Artifact Assault is the Assassin’s Creed variation of capture-the-flag and even if you are bored of this type of mode, you’ve never quite played it like this. While not a game driven by multiplayer, its actually a pretty nice extra and makes AC: Revelations more of a complete game than say, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
 
While there is nothing earth-shattering about Assassin’s Creed Revelations it is more of what has made this such a great series. Grade A-
 

 
 
NCIS (Ubisoft) Rated T Xbox 36, PS3, Wii, PC, 3DS
 
I’ll admit I’ve never seen the NCIS TV show, not even once but I’ve played the similarly-themed crime investigation games based on the CSI TV series.  While they’re not games that have the widest appeal they do seem to have a core audience that is very faithful.  If you’re like me in terms of a lack of familiarity with the show and its characters you’ll find yourself a bit lost upon firing up this game as it definitely assumes you are a fan of the series…and I suppose they wouldn’t be playing the game if they weren’t. 
 
The game is broken down into essentially four episodes of the TV show where you investigate the murder of an officer in an Iraq Military compound, a casino robbery, and a bank robbery that also includes an Arab embassy break-in.  From this story point of view it is different from the CSI in that it has a grander overall plot but the structure and gameplay is quite similar to the CSI games.  You investigate the crime scenes, gathering both physical and photographic evidence that can then be analyzed in the crime lab.  One aspect that makes NCIS easy and thus somewhat unrealistic is a meter to indicate whether you have located all the clues at the crime scene.  So essentially you can’t miss anything.  While this might reduce some of the frustration of picking apart the scene to find that last tiny bit of evidence, you can’t help but feel like you’re cheating; at least that’s how I felt.
 
Back at the lab you basically have the same type of equipment for analyzing clues that you had in CSI that present similar types of mini-games such fingerprint, chemical, blood, and bullet casing analysis.  These are various relatively simple matching games that once again are a bit too simplified from the standpoint that you essentially can’t go wrong.  You have a finite number of tries and if you don’t complete the task you can simply start it over.  Wouldn’t real life crime scene investigators love to have THAT ability!  And of course there is the usual interrogation of suspects that also is a can’t lose activity.  What a difference compared to…say L.A. Noire where you truly had to pay attention to the suspects you’re questioning.  This however just serves to amplify the game’s main flaw…it’s just too easy.  You don’t feel you’re playing so much as being led along by the hand.  Combine its ridiculous ease with the fact that it will only take about five hours to finish and you’ve got something that’s quite a bit short of being a complete game.
 
On the positive side, the interaction between the characters is quite good and has a much more cinematic feel to it than the CSI games.  The banter between characters is one of the games true strengths.  The graphics are better than average and the character models are decent. The backgrounds however tend to be flat and uninspired.  NCIS is a game that will only have appeal to fans of the series and even then they may be disappointed by the lack of a challenge.  Grade C-
 

 

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
scytheofluna 12/8/2011 5:18:16 AM

  I love the Assassin's Creed franchise but Revelations seems like too little too soon.  Annual release cycles are rarely a good thing & meeting such a demanding development schedule usually results in a sloppy, unfinished or buggy product.  Ubisoft had half a dozen studios across the globe working on various aspects of the game & this mitigates some of the staleness you'd get in an annual sports title or Call of Duty game, but some of the animations in ACR are clunky & collision detection is off in places.   For a franchise that has made a name for itself in terms of animation, this release is a bit of a step backwards.  It's still a great game. But I don't want to see another one cranked out every year.  It fractures the multiplayer community, leaves little time for new ideas or innovations to be developed & results in a rushed product.  Assassin's Creed is Ubi's biggest i.p. and they should treat their prized pony better.  Give us time to savor these games and time to decide we're famished for more.  Eventually even the most a.d.d. addled won't be able to ignore the cracks & flaws if this pace continues.  Burnout on a franchise is not uncommon.  I had barely gotten around toy second play through of Brotherhood when this was released.


jedibanner 12/8/2011 11:31:10 AM

Can you believed I've never played Assasin's Creed???

Somehow the appeal isn't there.

i was curious to try the Skyrim game but by seeing all the problems with the patches, I will wait until all is fixed.

tjanson 12/8/2011 12:59:11 PM

Jedi...don't let that stop you....honestly you can play the game for a long time...many days before you might encounter an issue.  I think I was 40 hours into it before I noticed any lag issues.  and then if you shut it off and restart it goes away for at least several more hours.  as mentioned, turning off the auto save and making sure you delete old, unused game and save data also helps.

jetpackjesus 12/8/2011 3:23:42 PM

The only issue I've yet had in Skyrim is the backward flying dragon (360 version).  This one is a sidequest kill, and when I go to its location it cannot land or attack.  Hopefully this gets resolved with the patch.  Otherwise, I've had a generally flawless experience. There are occasional bugs and glitches with dead bodies or clipping, but they are always minor and brief.  They certainly are not bad enough to overcome the greatness of the game.

In short, get the game anyway, Jedi.  I'm pretty sure you won't regret it.

jedibanner 12/9/2011 6:34:17 AM

Well...X-mas is just around the corner so...will look into it for sure.

scytheofluna 12/10/2011 7:38:47 AM

 The 360 version has a few quests that can break.  I would urge anyone who's playing to do the college of Winerhold quests early & keep a save ready before you do any of the side quests for Brelyna or the bald guy who wants Dwemer Cogs.  The Mage girl's spell hit a wall instead of me (I was helping her with an experiment) there was no way to get her to try again & no way to finish the quest. 

After I brought the bald Mage his cogs he gave me a gem & asked me to use a special low level fire spell & asked me to heat it up in 3 different ancient dwarven ovens.  Unfortunately I had already chosen a perk that made all of my fire spells more powerful thus heating the gem too much in the first oven & making it impossible to finish the quest.

I also wasn't able to buy a house in Windhelm because the murder scene in the city bugged & never happened causing a dialogue loop with the city steward.

 

So at level 55, after 215 hours I deleted all my saves, & started over from scratch.  I'm being more strategic about what order I do things in this time around.  I was proud of my Nordic warrior assassin but shell be better for the reboot.

 

 

 

 

 

scytheofluna 12/10/2011 7:42:09 AM

 So yeah some annoyances on any platform are possible but don't let that keep you from buying.  When I got fed up with my luck on round one & started over I did so right away.  That's how good this game is.  There are some scratches but it's still a gem.

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