I want to tell you about the worst design decision of 2011.
In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, Desmond is able to walk through gates and into his "memories." I put those quotations there because you're not reliving Desmond's past, but rather you walk around a bland computer world while the hoodie-wearing protagonist monologues about his life.
Sounds boring, right? You know what can make it worse? First-person platforming. I'm not joking. You walk through these sterile environments with only the jump button and the ability to place blocks in front of you. You don't get to run up walls, jump across scaffolds, or do any of that cool Assassin's Creed stuff.
If you're lucky, an image will show up on one of the hundreds of white and grey walls you walk past, but they're few and far between. Not only is this visually uninteresting, but it actually makes travelling through rooms more difficult since it's hard to distinguish the exit from the entrance. Everything just looks to the same.
These boring segments go on for far too long, but Desmond's constant yammering may actually be more annoying. Anyone who ever took a creative-writing course has heard of "show, don't tell." This just means that the audience will always be more interested in learning about something if they actually see it happen instead of just being told about it. It's the difference between being taught about World War 2 from a text book in a high-school history class and seeing actual pictures from Omaha.
Sadly, Assassin's Creed: Revelations completely ignores this basic storytelling rule and instead has Desmond ramble on about his past to himself. He spends a good deal of time talking about his youth spent in a secret assassin's camp and how hard the training was. Why not actually let us play a level where an instructor is pushing a young Desmond? Hell, make it the first thing we do in the game and call it a tutorial. As big of a cliché as that is, it would be better than sitting through pure exposition.
Look! A picture! Visual stimuli!
Actually, I do know why Ubisoft didn't do that. They only had one year to make this game. They couldn't spend time designing and rendering a whole new setting like that. Hell, I can only imagine how difficult it was to make Constantinople, the title's main city, in that short time span. So when the developers wanted to tell Desmond's back-story but realized they didn't have time to actually show us his past I guess they came up with the whole "first-person platforming in boring, grey rooms" thing.
Unfortunately, the player can tell just how cheap this decision was. These lazy, uninteresting, and overly long segments bog down a game that most people play because they want to, you know, assassinate people. Completionists who loved finding every last secret in past entries in this series will dread having to suffer through another one of these levels.
I sympathize with Ubisoft Montreal. I'm no game designer, but I'm guessing that making a triple-A title in twelve months is incredibly difficult, especially when it takes other developers, like Square-Enix, more than six years (Final Fantasy Versus 13 says hello). But I can't overlook how boring these "memories" segments play. I wish they had just left them out entirely. Maybe it's not better to try and fail rather than not to try at all.