Assassin’s Creed is a Series that has been around for a quite a few years now. The games have time after time been specifically mentioned for their works of historical fiction implemented into the story, as well as their creative assassination mechanics that make them so unique. The series has had its ups and downs, having a shaky start in the gameplay side of things with Assassin’s Creed I, and setting the bar much higher for Assassin’s Creed II. While Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood once again received the similar criticism of its predecessors, does Revelations, the conclusion to Altair and Ezio’s exciting story, do enough to revitalize the series’ great reputation, while in the process sticking to the great formula that makes Assassin’s Creed such a strong and unique experience?
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations does a lot of things right. It is indeed the closing of the “Ezio trilogy” part of the series, so I had specifically high hopes for it. The game starts off leaving basically where Brotherhood left off. Desmond is in a comatose-like state from the events in Brotherhood, and he must now venture into his mind to view the final moments of Ezio and Altair, which will apparently help him to find his way out. In Desmond’s mind, he meets Subject 16, a victim of Abstergo (the modern day Templars)’s early stages of experimentation. He will act as a sort of crazed guide for Desmond while he is trapped throughout the game.
Advancing into his ancestor’s memories, you get a very familiar and good-looking CGI experience of Ezio’s current situation, and afterwards you are immediately thrown into the game.
Revelations is everything from your previous Assassin’s Creed games, but more. You will have the typical Factions, Assassin Recruits, equipment, viewpoints, and shop restoration of Brotherhood that made side quests and completion so fun. Upon arriving in Constantinople, you will meet a fellow Master Assassin, and he will teach you a number of new features.
One of these features is the hook blade, and attachment to Ezio’s standard assassination blade. The hook blade allows for specifically fast transportation in Constantinople, using zip lines, and giving a bit of an arm extension to make harder climbs. The hook blade can also be applied to combat, as you can use it to flip over blockades of enemies that would stop you in your tracks in any other Assassin’s Creed game. Of course, you will also see some awesome new moves Ezio performs with it in regular combat.
Bomb making is also an entirely new feature in the game. I personally felt it would be a mediocre experience to collect ingredients and use them to create bombs, but it was actually a very simple and enjoyable system to use. Bombs aren’t necessarily the most useful method to go about things, but they were definitely fun to use. I was surprised at the different kinds of bombs you could make. Fake gold spewing bomb? Pretty awesome.
Button layout is a bit different in this game. Instead of having your previous eagle vision pinned to the Y button, this button is used to fire secondary weapons like bombs, and poison darts. Eagle vision is no longer called eagle vision btw. Ezio’s wisdom has given him an upgrade (yeah that’s possible) to Eagle Sense. This gives him enhanced abilities both in combat and tailing people. Synchronization of viewpoints as well as eagle sense is moved to the LS button, which involves pushing down on the left analog stick.
The problem most people have with Revelations so far is its sparkling resemblance to previous games. The recurring formula can be labeled as both the games biggest strength and biggest weakness, depending on how you look at it. Personally, I think it is a strength. The formula is what makes the Series so different from other games, and even if it were to change, it would be a terrible idea to do it in the middle of this cycle of Assassins. Could you imagine if Ubisoft tried to implement entirely new gameplay for Ezio’s last adventure? It would look ugly, and the game would receive even more criticism.
If there’s anything to truly hate on in this installment, it’s the new Den Defense game. The new minigame/whatever you want to call it, feels like a very odd and awkward addition to gameplay. Early on in the game, you are given a brief tutorial on how to go about playing it. The objective is simple: prevent the oncoming waves of Templars from destroying the base. Instead of doing any real combat, you stand atop a rooftop, and must use an interface to put up defenses. You can place Assassins and crossbow/rifleman on the rooftops along the road. You also have the ability to setup barricades that Templars have to hack through before advancing.
The main problem with this Den Defense game, is the fact that the Templars will continue to try and take over. The game is not very fun, and the controls are pretty clunky to use. With that said, forcing an unenjoyable minigame on the completion of the game is not very compelling, nor does it feel rewarding in the slightest. There is a way to lock out Dens from Templar occupation, however, it requires raising an assassin recruit to lvl 15 (Master Assassin rank). From there, you can set him/her to occupy the den and prevent it from ever being retaken. This is good, however, it will be a long time before you can even accomplish this.
The graphics in the game are good, but not amazing. I found that the beginning CGI clip, as well as the snowfall in Maysaf, did not run smooth all the time, and on slight occasion yielded a slight lag. This could be something specific to the less powerful Xbox 360 version, so I’m not really factoring that into my overall opinion of the game. Assassin’s Creed supports stereoscopic 3D, and while I don’t own a 3D tv, I’m sure it looks nothing short of amazing.
The soundtrack is also just as good as any other game in the series. While I haven’t found any tracks yet that are motivating and memorable, I know I’ll find them in due time, like with other games (Venice Rooftops ftw). The game uses appropriate music for things like chases, and on occasion pulls altered tracks that we are familiar with from previous games. I am quite the fan of nostalgia, so I welcome things like this with open arms.
Even when the story is complete, and you’ve collected all there is to obtain, you will still have the multiplayer. The multiplayer is a continuation from the Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood’s multiplayer and features more modes, more customization, and enhanced gameplay that make it a much smoother and better experience than its predecessor. Upon entering the multiplayer, you will be put through a tutorial that not only tells you how to play the game, but also gives you a backstory behind the multiplayer itself. The multiplayer is essentially based on the Templars preparing for the inevitable war with the Assassins, training employees of Abstergo (the modern-day Templar home base) assassination tactics through the bleeding effect with the Animus. As you level up, you will climb higher in the ranks, and learn more about Abstergo in the process.
I was pretty shocked at how detailed the multiplayer story is. I figured there would be some cheesy intro and not much else, but Ubisoft has a whole CGI clip, and more to come as you level up. I find that it is a great way to promote and encourage playing the multiplayer, although I’m sure the plethora of multiplayer related achievements is good incentive enough.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations overall is simply a thrilling game. Everything about it feels smooth and polished. Each addition in the series seems to enhance the fundamentals of its predecessor; another reason why I think it is silly to hate on the series for it’s similar elements. With tons of side missions to do, dens to take control of, assassins to recruit and the extremely difficult 100% synch to accomplish, Revelations will be sure to keep you as busy for a long time.
The game is a nice change of pace if you were growing tired of “Shooter Season 2011”, especially in the multiplayer side of things. While some things may hinder enjoyment, like the game’s Den Defense minigame, and repetitive side missions, there should be no reason to not pick this game up if you are a long time fan of the series. If you are new to the series, I recommend picking up the PS3 version, as it will give you a free download of the original Assassin’s Creed, so you can try and get up to speed with the events in the game. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations will close on the exciting lives of Ezio Auditore and Altair, and set the stage for Assassin’s Creed III, the final game in this cycle of Assassin’s.