Since its inception in 2007, the story of Desmond, a lowly barman turned assassin, has become one of the most interesting and captivating tales gaming has told - a tale of political intrigue, historical events and vengeance. Thanks to the Animus, a machine that allows Desmond to walk in the shoes of his ancestors via memories stored in his DNA, we have been introduced to two of this generation's most-loved protagonists: Ezio Auditore da Firenze and Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad.
In this, the fourth addition to the Assassin’s Creed
franchise, Ubisoft set out to conclude both of their stories, but have Ezio and Altair been given the farewell that they deserve, or is Ezio not the only thing showing signs of age after his third outing in as many years?Story"Bring me the answers and the road that leads to the truth. Reveal to me once and for all, how all of this will end."
- Ezio Auditore da FirenzeAssassin's Creed: Revelations
begins shortly after the final shocking events of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood
. In an attempt to save Desmond and maintain his consciousness, he is returned to the Animus. When he awakens, he finds himself on “Animus Island”, an early test program of the Animus that consists solely of weather effects and basic physics. He is greeted by one of the series’ more intriguing characters, Subject 16. 16 informs him that the Animus is having difficulties separating his memories from that of Ezio and Altair. If Desmond is to return to his body, he must find a key memory that connects the three men, or like 16, he will remain trapped in the Animus forever.
The journey begins with the return of Ezio. Five years have passed since the events of Brotherhood
in which Ezio battled with the Borgia throne in Rome, and at 52 years old, he begins to reflect on his life as an Assassin. Embarking on a pilgrimage to the homeland of Altair, he discovers the area is overrun with Templars who capture him and try to send him to an untimely death. Luckily Ezio escapes by the skin of his teeth, and it is at this point where we first take control of Ezio.
A thinly disguised tutorial leads you to Altair’s library, only for you to discover that the door is locked, and the only way to gain entry is to locate five keys that have been hidden long ago in Constantinople, the crossroads of the world.
Once you arrive in Constantinople, the game starts to take that oh-so-familiar look and feel of an Assassin’s Creed
game. This city is extremely well created as you would expect, but whilst the streets and rooftops seem new and interesting, many aspects remain very similar to those of previous games in the series, most notably Brotherhood
One underlying, recurring theme among all the Assassin’s Creed
games is its brilliant narrative, and Revelations
is no exception. Trying to construct a story containing three main characters across three different periods in time could have ended in disaster, but it’s a testament to the series’ writers that it all fits together seamlessly.
Whilst the main body of the game sees you playing as Ezio, part of the story also reveals a great deal about Altair. As you work your way through Ezio’s story and find each of the five missing keys, a new playable memory of Altair is unlocked. Although short in length, each visit reveals more information about his life before and after he killed Al Mualim, not only helping to tie up many of the loose ends that the original Assassin's Creed
left, but also appeasing fans who have been craving to see his return.
Desmond also has a playable role that reveals more information about him up to his capture by Abstergo Industries. This takes place in the form of puzzles viewed in first person perspective and can be unlocked by collecting data fragments (basically the same thing as feathers in previous games) throughout Constantinople. As you work your way through the puzzles by creating and moving shapes, Desmond talks about past moments in his life, revealing a little more of his back story. The initial experience is slightly strange, but unlike some of the other new additions, it does tie in to the overall story and provide a change of pace to the more frantic gameplay of both Ezio and Altair.
One of the franchise’s strongest points in the past has been its ability to improve the gameplay with each new release. Whilst Revelations
does have a number of new additions, they don’t seem to really improve the gameplay in quite the same way as was apparent between Assassin’s Creed
and Assassin's Creed II
, and even Assassin’s Creed II
. They even sometimes actually detract from the game’s core - its brilliant story.
One of the first things you will notice is that the button mapping has slightly changed. In previous games, one weapon wheel contained everything from your crossbow to pouches of money that when equipped could be used by pressing the X button. Revelations
now features two separate wheels; all your major weapons are contained in one wheel, again triggered by hitting the X button; the second wheel contains items you can throw, which is now assigned to the Y button. It’s not a major change for sure, but it does take a little bit of getting used to. A few times I tried to turn on eagle vision only to throw a knife at someone.
The main reason for the additional weapon wheel is the new ability to craft bombs. As you loot victims and open treasure chests, you will pick up items that allow you to build bombs at various points around the map. You can combine the different components to concoct a large variation of bombs that can be used to distract, escape and cause harm. Whilst useful at times, I almost forgot that I was even carrying them on many occasions, and killing a guard with a bomb doesn’t quite give the same satisfaction to that of a stealthy assassination.
Probably the best new addition, and the one you will use the most, is the hook blade, which can be used as both a weapon and a mode of transport. Replacing the hidden blade from previous games, the hook blade offers some new alternatives when fighting. Sure, you can use it in the same way as the hidden blade to perform more discreet assassinations, but it can also be used as a non-deadly weapon to trip up targets before quickly jumping over peoples' backs if you need to make a hasty escape. Used when scaling buildings, the hook acts as an extension of your arm, allowing you to jump higher and across larger distances. Once you reach the rooftops, you can also use it to quickly cross streets on one of the handy ziplines that litter the skyline.
The ability to recruit Assassins to the cause makes a welcome return, and this time with added reason for doing so. In Brotherhood
, the city of Rome was divided up into districts, each under the control of a Borgia tower. Once you had taken an area, shops and guilds became available to purchase; the same is the case in Revelations
. You can capture a district by killing the Templar in charge of the area and scaling the tower to light a torch at the top, but this time, if you become notorious whilst working through the game’s story and side missions, the Templars will attempt to take an area back, disabling all the shops until you can fight them off.
When I say fight them off, I don’t mean in the usual Ezio way. Returning to the area will trigger a mini tower defence game that sees waves of Templars try to recapture the area. The Templars attack in waves, increasing in number each time. To stop the oncoming attack, you can place blockades along the road and use archers, guns and cannons from the surrounding rooftops. Each killed Templar earns you morale that can be spent to increase and upgrade your defences until you either successfully defend the den, or lose control and have to take it back again.
The mini game at first is quite pleasing, but as they recur they become an annoying distraction to the missions. The only way to stop the attacks is to increase one of your Assassins rank to Master Assassin. Again similar to Brotherhood
, Assassins can be ranked up by sending them out on missions that will mean they are unable to assist in any skirmishes you may find yourself in for varying amounts of time depending on the difficulty of the mission you have sent them on.Multiplayer
biggest success is the improvement to the multiplayer that was in some people’s eyes Brotherhood's
biggest down fall.
Multiplayer now comes with its own story mode, with short cut scenes as you progress in rank revealing the Templars' plans for the world helping to bring the multiplayer and single player aspects of the game together.
A number of new games modes have been added to suit every playing style possible, from the frantic Artefact Assault – an interesting take on the traditional Capture the Flag style gameplay seen in many multiplayer games – to Deathmatch, which is a slower paced game that requires patience and concentration to stalk your prey.
A wealth of new character and skill customisation is also included to help suit your style of play. Guilds allow you to create online clans and an improved interface helps make Revelations
multiplayer seem like a more well thought out addition to the game.Final VerdictRevelations
is not without its flaws. The addition of a defence mini game acts as an unwelcome distraction from the compelling storyline, and whilst the series is well known for its improvements with each game, Revelations
certainly feels the least innovative title yet.
That being said, it’s a brilliant finale to not one, but two of this generations best loved characters in Ezio and Altair. The new gameplay additions work well in the main, and the improvement in graphics, story, and multiplayer could make this arguably the best game in the franchise so far.