(Assassin's Creed Revelations spoilers comin' up on yo grill)
I worry about the Assassin's Creed series, like a concerned mother realizing that her last remaining sensible child has been coming home later and later with mysterious lipstick stains around his mouth. I've always thought it to be one of the better game series of the modern era, and I like the whole stealthy surgical strike gameplay, but it's getting more and more overburdened with more and more features added for no better reason than to pad out new cash-ins.
The series is starting to feel like a kindergarten teacher counting to three. One ... two ... two and a half ... two and seven tenths ... and I just want to say, for fuck's sake, Ubisoft, the entire class settled down at two and a half, and you're only going to lose their respect if you draw this out to two and nine twelfths. And then they won't have enough time to finish the coloring in.
What I would hazard most of us Assassin's Creed enjoyers (I hesitate to include myself as a "fan" of anything) are waiting for is for this damned prolonged three-count to finally end, which gratifyingly seems to be the intention of Assassin's Creed Revelations. We see Altair grow old and die, Ezio discovering his corpse still rocking the ZZ Top beard, then Ezio himself announces his retirement to spend the remainder of his twilight years getting his leg over his newfound MILF-y Florentine crumpet. Future Desmond wakes up and announces very dynamically that he knows exactly what they have to do next. Then he very dynamically flops back down into bed so we can play in the post-credits wrap-ups mode.
Ever since Assassin's Creed 2 I've wondered if the next game will be the one in which Future Desmond takes center stage and we get to use all the fancy assassin skills he's been learning in the shiny future world that has only thus far been hinted at. But in the wake of Revelations, I'm starting to wonder if that's even going to be possible. Firstly, there's the issue that Future Desmond still hasn't figured out how to engage us as a protagonist. He's a bland, generic-faced dope who dumbly goes along with the struggle against the Templars because a bunch of people he doesn't really know have told him to. Giving him a backstory didn't help. Oh, he was raised by a cult. Alright then. Yeah, maybe that explains why he's such a dopey fuck, but I still don't see him being played by anyone other than Keanu Reeves in the movie.
But that's the secondary issue with a hypothetical Future Desmond-centric Assassin's Creed sequel. The first, larger issue is that the series has dallied too long, and now its entire appeal and identity - in all three headings, context, challenge and gratification - depends on the fact that it's set in the past. The combat is based around swords and knives and the sandbox cities are designed for narrow twisting passageways that admit foot traffic but not motor vehicles. And if I know anything about the currently accepted vision of how one designs future cities, Future Desmond's stomping ground is probably going to consist entirely of featureless "modern" geometric shapes that are impossible to climb. The iconic hidden blade isn't going to see a lot of use in a society where sniper rifles exist and you don't even have to be in the same postcode as your intended victim. And the less said about haystacks the better.