360: The Lost Archive [Assassin’s Creed: Revelations DLC]

Review:

I have mixed feelings about this DLC in the end mostly because I’m not sure what Ubisoft’s intentions were, and that’s not the first time this has happened.  If you liked the first-person gameplay of “Desmond’s Memories” from the main game (Assassin’s Creed: Revelations) then you’re in luck, but the entirety of The Lost Archive is conducted in this manner.

If you’re not familiar, the DLC plays like a FPS except there is no ‘S’ – shooting.  You walk around abstract environments and use a limited number of abilities (all your typical Assassin agility is gone, no climbing, no hanging from ledges, no insanely long jumps, no leaps of faith) to get from the entrance portal to the exit portal.  It’s sort of like Portal, actually, with the main character saying nothing, never seen, and only having a vague sense of direction.

I was not really a big fan of this gameplay, mostly because it runs entirely counter to the spirit of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, and it’s spiritual predecessor: Prince of Persia.  In all these games, you play a character who is incredibly nimble, and sometimes it seems their great asset that makes them worth playing is that they are so very proficient in free running.  But these Memory Archives that you play in Revelations strip that away and replace it with a chunky, tank-like character that doesn’t feel like Desmond or any of his ancestors.  So it’s jarring.

Also, it’s a puzzler, which periodically delivers audio clips of dialog that has occurred in the past, so there is absolutely NO union of gameplay and story.  You simply hear more of the story as you walk past certain invisible checkpoints. It’s not very rewarding.

So let talk about the story.  This DLC gives us the perspective of Clay, aka Subject 16, the formerly nameless Assassin that preceded Desmond in the Animus project at Abstergo and was quite famously driven insane by it to the point that he effectively committed suicide by draining his body of blood and using it to paint the walls of his cell.  It was always a somewhat gruesome tale, that got slightly better as time went on because we learned that Subject 16 had hidden away parts of himself into the Animus to hopefully guide the next poor soul who was plugged in.

This DLC, however, answers a great deal of questions about Subject 16 and reveals that he was not simply flinging a light into the future by leaving details about Those Who Came Before.  Clay, it turns out, was instructed to guide Desmond Miles, by Those Who Came Before.  There is a voice clip of Juno telling Clay to help Desmond, because he was the key.

This is somewhat startling and kind of expected.  As the AC franchise has evolved we’ve learned that June had orchestrated quite a lot when it came to the story playing out for Desmond, and this just show that almost every clue and advantage that Desmond had was put there by Those Who Came Before.

The DLC also answers another much more pressing question that has been bothering me for over a year: Why did Desmond kill Lucy?

I won’t spoil, but I had read some theories online about this question and it turns out a couple people had guessed correctly, though the truth really isn’t very kind with the character.  I had hoped for something more complicated, more meaningful than what it turned out to be, but I guess there are more pressing concerns at this point.  Like Mass Effect 3, the coming Assassin’s Creed 3 will be directly dealing with averting an apocalypse that will destroy life on Earth.  It’s hard to get too broken up about the former potential love interest who ended up dead.

But this raises a larger question regarding the story of Assassin’s Creed.  Ubisoft REALLY seems to want you to play every game and DLC.  Which is kinda nuts.  I suppose I should have realized earlier, when a major character in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood  –  Caterina Sforza – is only introduced in the Battle of Forli DLC for Assassin’s Creed II.  This is further exacerbated by the character of Maria, the wife of Mentor Altiar, who is only ever shown in depth in the Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines PSP game, which I think nobody really played.  Now, however, a revelation about a major event in the ending of Brotherhood is now being revealed in a DLC for Revelations which many people probably won’t play… I have to question the choices being made here.

I’m all for additional elements of a franchise branching out a bit, but it bothers me when those side games are contain exclusive information that can’t otherwise be gained from the main game series.  I know this is all a bid to get people to buy more of their products, but while I DO have PSP, I don’t really like it as a gaming device.  I try to avoid using it if possible.  I probably would have played a Bloodlines PS3 or 360 game, though, so it feels to me that Ubisoft is kind of punishing me for only using one gaming console.

In any case, while I was interested in the story revelations in the Lost Archive DLC, I wasn’t very pleased with the means by which they delivered those details, and probably would have preferred something akin to the ‘Embers’ short movie they produced to this.  The ‘Memories’ sections of Revelations was a good experiment, but I don’t view it as successful and I would like for them to move on from it in the future, and, as such, I don’t recommend this DLC.  Read a summary instead.

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