Watching franchise fatigue set into a franchise you love can be heartbreaking. Sometimes, this process can happen in a very short amount of time; should a publisher try and cash-in on a franchise as fast as they can while it’s still hot without keeping the formula fresh. The most obvious examples of franchise fatigue from this generation are Guitar Hero and Tony Hawk.
If my early impressions of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (the third main-line Assassin’s Creed game in three years) are to be used as a gauge, then franchise fatigue is clearly starting to seep in.
While assassin’s Ezio and Altair get most of the on-screen focus in any given Assassin’s Creed game, the true core of the story revolves around their descendent Desmond Miles, who exists in the present. Every entry in the series to date has done a great job of ensuring that Desmond’s story has weight and moves forward in an exciting manner. That is, until this one.
Without going into spoiler-territory, the entire premise of this game feels like it’s designed in a way that doesn’t really move anything forward for Desmond. Though I haven’t played through the whole thing, I’ve heard through the reviews that this is in fact the case. To me, if an Assassin’s Creed game doesn’t move Desmond’s story forward in any meaningful way, then there’s no point for it to exist. I’m fairly certain that once this story arc is all said and done, this probably could have been skipped completely without losing any fidelity to the main story.
Instead, the vast majority of the game revolves around Ezio during his later years in life, which were spent in Istanbul. Ezio is on a mission to unlock secrets sealed off by Altair centuries ago before the Templars get their hands on whatever those secrets may be. The overall quality and execution of Ezio’s fiction so far feels on par with the standard set by Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood, though it starts out a lot slower than I’d like it to. The initial ‘training’ missions gave me a strong feeling of deja vu, and the first setpiece moment involving the horse carriages isn’t as exciting as the game hypes it up to be, nor is it any fun to play.
From a gameplay perspective, the core of what made the last two Assassin’s Creed games appears to be intact. I still had fun jumping around and stabbing dudes. However, unlike Brotherhood, which introduced some really great additions to the core formula, the new additions I’ve seen so far aren’t groundbreaking, and most of the time aren’t very fun. Ezio gets a hook blade to help him get around the city a bit easier, though this doesn’t really feel like a big advancement for the series. Ezio can now make bombs, but it’s mostly just more menus to navigate through. The most heinous addition to me is the Den Defense mini-game. If you’ve been causing too much of a Ruckus and haven’t paid the heralds in time to keep the heat off of you, the Templars will try and overtake one of your assassins dens. Once you’re in this mode, Ezio is stuck standing on a rooftop, essentially acting as a commander in a poorly made tower defense game that doesn’t fit within the context of the game.
So far, the only true revelation here is that franchise fatigue is starting to set in for Assassin’s Creed. This is the third game in as many years, and this one is unfortunately devoid of any major gameplay innovations or main story pay-off from what I’ve seen and heard. I was planning on saving my thoughts about Assassin’s Creed: Revelations for a full review, but my urge to play this game to completion is really low. I don’t know if I’m ever going to finish this game. If I ever do come back to this one and finish it, I’ll post a review, but don’t hold your breath on that.