There’s a tense, deep, and addictive stealth game in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, but you won’t find it in the single-player campaign. It’s tucked away in the multiplayer mode, an addition that sounded so tacked-on I never tried it when it first appeared in the previous game, Brotherhood. For me, Assassin’s Creed was strictly a single-player game: the bizarre, time-jumping story of Desmond Miles and his ancestors’ battle against Templars, or aliens, or something. Assassin’s Creed multiplayer? Probably just an excuse to sell some DLC.
After the jump: Desmond who?
Assassin’s Creed has always been a game built of many interesting parts — free-running through beautifully detailed ancient cities, climbing up towers and leaping off them, hiding in rooftop shelters, sneaking through crowds, and of course, assassinations — but these parts don’t come together particularly well in the singleplayer game. Sure, I could hide in a pile of hay, or find a sneaky route along the rooftops, or use some of the hirable NPC characters to distract the guards, but Desmond is so skilled at fighting enemies that doing anything other than murdering a line straight to my target seems like an unnecessary hassle. Each game in the series has made Desmond stronger, giving him new weapons, abilities, and fighting techniques, until now in Revelations he’s fighting the poor Constantinople police force with hooks, grenades, counter moves, and an entire organization of elite assassins. Because combat is so trivial, there’s little incentive to take advantage of all the options the game gives you. Online, Revelations takes these familiar parts and puts them together in ways that matter, mostly by taking out the dopey guards and putting in a bunch of other humans who want to kill you.
At its core, Revelations is a game about hunting while being hunted. You score points by stealthily assassinating a target player the game gives you. Of course, you’re the target of another player, too. Maybe several. You’re torn between the need to eliminate your target, and the knowledge that sticking your head out means it will probably get cut off. To get close to your target while avoiding alerting them or the other players, you’ll have to use all those underused systems: lurk on rooftops, dive into hay piles, and blend in with the crowds of NPCs. When I first started playing, I was amazed that I had avoided it for so long. It was the stealth game I never knew I had.
The varied game modes shuffle these elements even further. A pile of hay means something different in corruption than in artifact assault. A group of NPCs should be treated differently in deathmatch than in wanted. So it turns out there’s not just one great stealth game in Revelations, there are several. And in this game diary, I’m going to consider what makes them work.
Up next: deathmatchmaking
Giaddon has been a fan of Assassin’s Creed since the very first trailer. While everyone was cheering the Assassin’s Creed 3 E3 video that showed Ratonhnhake:ton blow up an entire British fort to kill one guy, he was scouring Youtube for floor videos of people playing the multiplayer.