Three of the biggest franchises in video games made their return this month, and gamers everywhere should be overjoyed. Each of these titles is something special.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (Ubisoft; PS3, Xbox 360; rated mature)
It’s only been a year since we first played Brotherhood. Don’t ask me how the development group at Ubisoft Montreal got a new Assassin’s Creed game ready in less than a year. Just be happy that they did, because you’ll appreciate being able to become Ezio Auditore one last time. Especially since this part of his life takes place in Constantinople, one of the most majestic cities of our ancient history. This is an older Ezio, with grey in his beard and a more restrained, if not calm, demeanour. He’s just as fierce when he needs to be, though. The assassin is in the seat of the Ottoman Empire to find a set of keys that unlock a mystery that his ancestor Altair hid there. New weapons include hundreds of bomb configurations and a hook blade, which can also be used with zip lines throughout Constantinople. Included with the game is a 22-minute short film, “Embers”, which is a coda to Ezio’s story. It will bring tears to many, offering just another example of how attached we’ve become to the assassin.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (Activision; PC, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360; rated mature)
Picking up a few hours after 2009’s Modern Warfare 2 left off, this sequel is a heart-pounding, adrenaline-boosting game that moves at a breakneck pace. The single-player campaign, written by Canadian scribe Paul Haggis, portrays a global conflict initiated by Russian ultranationalist terrorists. And your combat isn’t relegated to jungles and small towns anymore. In Modern Warfare 3, you’ll be fighting in the streets of New York, London, Paris, Hamburg, and Prague, among other cities. Dramatic set pieces include a Boeing 747 in free fall and a massive sandstorm. In addition to the Spec Ops challenges, Survival Mode has been added to cooperative play, and major revisions have been made to the competitive multiplayer to better reward players for support and specialist activities. Add to this the launch of Call of Duty: Elite, which brings social-networking features into the franchise and gives players a persistent avatar, and you’ve got a solid and entertaining experience for any fan of first-person shooters.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Nintendo; Wii; rated everyone 10+)
This isn’t the first Zelda title to make use of the Wii’s motion controls, but never before have swinging a sword, firing a slingshot, and raising a shield felt so natural. And you can upgrade your equipment in this game, too. Skyward Sword is the first Zelda game that reminds me of playing the original on the NES in 1987. Plotwise, this title is set before the events of 1998’s Ocarina of Time (which is now available for the 3DS, by the way) and has Link searching for his childhood friend, Zelda. In doing so, he travels between his floating home and the grounded world below. With a variety of environments to explore and a rich, compelling story, this is the best game yet in the series.