Assassin's Creed: Revelations Reviews

AuthorReview
Slackerchan
228,339 (143,680)
Slackerchan
TA Score for this game: 1,185
Posted on 14 November 11 at 17:23, Edited on 15 November 11 at 15:59
This review has 56 positive votes and 13 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Disclaimer: the following review contains spoilers for the ending of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. The ending is revealed in Revelation's opening cinematic but for those who want to start the series fresh off you should consider skipping the third full paragraph. However given the length and breadth of the series, it is not recommended.

Looking back at the six years it has been since this console generation began many things have happened that have helped change the way game development is done. Amongst the creations of things like the regenerative health system, cover-based combat and online cooperative play at home the gaming industry has, above all others, been the victim of an almost undesired innovation: sequelitis. With the rising cost of video games seemingly taking Moore’s Law seriously it is dangerous for a developer or publisher to take a gamble on a new IP. Should it fail it could possibly cost them the entire studio it was made in.

Despite this Ubisoft rolled the dice in 2007 with Assassin’s Creed, a time-bending title whose brilliantly secretive marketing campaign and remarkably unusual storyline drew fans into the fray stronger than most would have imagined. It was two years before we saw a sequel to that flawed title but with it came massive improvements and the series’ woven story, like a knitter that doesn’t know when to stop, turned from a blanket into a tapestry of conflict and revenge. Its sequel last year, Brotherhood, took protagonist Ezio Auditore da Fierenze to Rome to battle the infamous Borgia clan. Ubisoft didn’t think that Ezio’s story was quite done however and as such we have Assassin’s Creed Revelations, the final chapter in his life.

But does the boy who we watched grow into a Master Assassin have what it takes to murder the competition?

Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted
Shortly after Desmond Miles and company discovered and retrieved the Apple of Eden he fell into a coma after being forced to stab his mentor and partner Lucy Stillman. Fearing for his life he was placed in the Animus. Desmond awakens trapped in the Animus, stuck on a construct island designed to test the system’s ability to recreate the world of the past. On the shores of this computative consciousness he finds out that the machine is having trouble differentiating his memories from both Ezio Auditore and Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad and until he can defragment himself from their memories he won’t be able to awaken in the real world. Seeing no alternative, he dives right in.

Desmond finds himself in the shoes of Ezio once again, this time further along in his life than he or his Assassin team had seen before. Five years have passed since he ended Cesar Borgia’s life and hid away the Apple of Eden and in 1512 Ezio, now in his fifties, finds himself questioning the life that chose him and what could have been different. In search of knowledge, Ezio undertakes a journey to Masyaf, the birthplace of the Assassin Order, only to be overtaken by a Templar trap. Barely escaping, Ezio finds the entrance to a hidden library left behind by Altaïr. The door is locked and requires five keys, each of which were hidden in Constantinople long ago. Determined, Ezio leaves for the Crossroads of the World.

The best analogy one can give about the Assassin’s Creed series is that it is the videogame equivalent the popular television series Lost. Every episode, every cliffhanger you experience in the previous games eats at you until you know more. It is almost addicting the way Ubisoft has been able to draw players in with its wonderful conspiracy-laden epic and Revelations is only partially different. Unlike Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood there is a lot less focus on revealing the truth about the secret war that has spanned over a thousand years. Instead what we have here is a far more personal story that tells of Ezio Auditore’s final days as an Assassin as well as what happened to Altaïr after the death of Al Mualim.

It is Altaïr’s tales that most Assassin’s Creed fans like myself are interested in almost more so than Ezio’s. Despite having PSP and DS direct sequels to the original game that detailed his journeys after retrieving the Apple of Eden, it felt like Altaïr was shoved by the wayside in favor of Ezio. Perhaps this was done so the mystery could be deepened but the absence was notable especially after Brotherhood was announced and that Ezio would be returning for not one, but two games. Luckily our original hero gets his just dues in Revelations.

Throughout the story of Revelations you’ll collect the five Masyaf keys and each time you do so a part of Altaïr’s story is revealed, each one chronologically showing the various events in his life that both could and could not be shown through the traditional use of the Animus. These vignettes, though short, are actually quite sweet in content and tell you quite a bit about the man who nearly ended the Third Crusade. For a franchise fan like me it was great to step back into his boots and I’m sure my compatriots will feel the exact same way.

What you might be disappointed by though is the overall length of the game. In roughly fifteen to twenty hours a series veteran can complete the main story as well as most of the side quests that pop up. Despite this however the ending is a perfect lead up to next year’s title and is a must experience for fans.

The Apple and the Eagles
Ezio may no longer be the young man he was when he sought revenge for the death of his father and brothers but he still has what he needs where it counts. In fact, it is fair to suggest that he is an even more capable warrior than when he was starting out thanks to a motley of new weapons, items and enhancements. Revelations’ combat system, building on what was used in Brotherhood, keeps the killstreak ability while adding the ability to steal from the enemy in the middle of a counter move. Ezio can also move and use his Eagle Vision at the same time now which is something the series has long since needed.

The biggest new addition to Ezio’s arsenal comes in the form of his new hidden blade: the hook blade. Functioning exactly like a traditional hidden blade, this new version allows for both combat and movement enhancements. For example, one can use it as a tripping tool when charging at an enemy, effective when attempting to knock down, but not kill, a fleeing enemy. It also serves as an aid while climbing and jumping between ledges which make for faster free running. Throughout Constantinople you will also find ziplines that you can use your hook blade on which is especially handy.

Also new to your arsenal are bombs. Functioning much like grenades, you are able to concoct a variety of different bombs using shells, gunpowder and additional ingredients. These resulting effects can vary strongly, from being able to make a loud pop that draw away guards to being able to wipe out a whole squad. The only downside is that you can only hold three of each type before having to buy or construct more of them but they are still quite useful.

As a Master Assassin Ezio is one of the few who are capable of expanding the Assassin Order via territory control and recruitment. Revelations builds on the already great Order creation system this time by allowing you to recruit both random victims of guards as well as specific members who already are skilled such as thieves and the like. Constantinople is divided into a series of districts in the same way that Rome was divided in Brotherhood but unlike the previous game you don’t simply burn down the control tower. Instead, you take it over. These Assassin Dens you can get throughout the course of the game allow you to decrease Templar influence in the surrounding area as well as purchase shops and real estate.

You never had to worry about retaining your territory in Brotherhood after you had conquered it but in this new game it can be one of your biggest worries. If you draw too much attention to yourself and don’t have a den locked down (which can only be done by leveling up the den’s assassin to master level) the Templars may just attack. This triggers what is called Den Defense, a tower defense minigame in which you must hold off waves upon waves of attacking Templar conscripts. During these events you collect morale by killing Templars with assassins from both rooftops and on the ground. You can also set up barriers as well as call in a air strike from a nearby cannon to wipe out large groups of enemies. The result is a fun yet tense mode that, while a small diversion doesn’t happen very often to cautious players, is something you will want to keep coming back to play.

One final item worth mentioning is Desmond himself. Fans have demanded for years that Desmond be given a more important role in the Assassin’s Creed series and Ubisoft partially delivered in Brotherhood last year. This year however, instead of exploring his capabilities you learn more about who Desmond is. By collecting Animus data fragments scattered throughout Ezio’s world you can unlock memory segments from the base construct world. These levels, five in all, give you more information about Desmond’s upbringing leading up to his capture by Abstergo before the beginning of the first game. These levels are told from a first person perspective and are actually large puzzles that have you constructing and maneuvering using large blocks through areas that reflect what Desmond relates in his monologue that spans them. These levels get increasingly harder as you go along but there is no cost to attempting them and you might find them quite informative. If anything they are a refreshing break from the grind of climbing, exploring and killing.

The Blood of a Templar
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood introduced us to multiplayer for the first time in the series and while it seemed initially to be an almost shoehorned in gameplay element the end result last year was a flawed but promising and entertaining experience. Revelations retains much of the same Turing Test multiplayer experience we had last year albeit with strong improvements. No longer does the game encourage conga lines of death: you will find a much more balanced experience here.

New to the experience are several modes that help to balance out the hide-and-seek oriented gameplay we’ve previously played. Artifact Assault is a take on classic capture the flag in which each time attempts to retrieve the opposite’s First Civilization relic. Treasure Hunt functions much like a traditional domination gametype but probably the most interesting is Deathmatch. Much like how you would have first envisioned Assassin’s Creed multiplayer to be, Deathmatch nixes replicated NPC skins in the world as well as your compass. This forces you to rely on your observation skills and the result is quite fun.

There’s more to find than just new maps and modes though: the entire experience has been overhauled. Matchmaking seems to work faster and better than it did previously and players will now be rewarded points if they die should they attempt to stun their attacker. You can now unlock and choose different primary and secondary weapons to use in addition to the various perks you could use before. Players call also build clans (called guilds) for organized competitive play. An entire profile can be built now and expanded upon by spending cash earned in-game based on your performance. It is clear that the system is built to last but given the amount of competition the game is facing it is questionable how long it will hold your interest.

Probably the most interesting integration to the multiplayer is its focus on being more narrative driven. Periodically as you increase in rank a cutscene will play before a match begins that sees Warren Vidic, the series’ main Templar antagonist, talking to you and informing you of the Templar’s plans for the world. Some of the characters from the multiplayer actually appear in Ezio’s story as well so you can now understand more about how Abstergo is able to train their forces. The integration of the multiplayer more into the overall experience is a nice touch but the addition of singleplayer explaining, in part, the characters in the multiplayer is quite intriguing.

Overall the multiplayer seems much more enjoyable than it was with its freshman outing so for those looking for an alternative to traditional run-and-gun gameplay this might just keep you coming back.

Victory Lies in Preparation
Assassin’s Creed is a series that we are four games into in the span of five years. Several series can lay claim to such a statement but few still can say they are AAA, story-driven experiences. Ubisoft is already hinting that a new game awaits us next year and while the series doesn’t seem to want to be an annual franchise the past three years have been yielded quite a bit of evidence to the contrary. Regardless of this Revelations serves as a departure for two well known and enjoyed characters and if the great ending’s indications are proven true then next year’s title may just be the Assassin’s Creed III we’ve wanted since 2009. In the mean time however Revelations is a great singleplayer experience that, while not exactly newcomer friendly, is still a great time to be had for those looking for a god story. It is the best title in the series to date and a must own for series veterans.
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Hurball
419,262 (191,695)
Hurball
TA Score for this game: 2,691
Posted on 30 December 11 at 15:09, Edited on 11 June 13 at 21:22
This review has 17 positive votes and 11 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Edit: I completed the game today, and felt it necessary to make some changes to this review - including raising the score by half a star. Lesson to be learned, never review games until you've played them right through...!

Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Another year, another Assassin's Creed title from Ubisoft. Adventuring in the Animus is becoming as clockwork as EA's FIFA series, and whilst many out there have a lot of love for Ezio and co., the same could once be said for one of the gods of the last console generation, Tony Hawk.

But never judge a game by it's cover, or whether it seems as if Ubisoft are intent on running it into the ground in excange for our Florins (or Akçe this time around - it's different already...!). Judge it on it's own merits. Or a lack of.


The Plot

After the events of the last game, "protagonist" Desmond Miles finds himself trapped inside the Animus, and must replay his ancestor's (Ezio Auditore's) memories to get out. It's a premise that sounds all too familiar, but one that you can hardly blame Ubisoft for using, and to be honest it's a fair idea, if a little convoluted. With Desmond trapped, there is no "real world" to exit to this time around - instead, a mysterious island within the Animus serves as the hub, from which converations above can be overheard, and extra memories accessed.

After the initial few scenes, Revelations quickly sets down in "faff around" mode, this time with Constantinople as its locale. Ezio arrives in search of five keys needed to open an impenetrable vault back in Masyaf, but soon becomes embroiled in political battles, rumours of treason, issues of the sultan's successor, and suchforth. So much so that the driving plot becomes lost in the mess. There seems to be little reason for Ezio to become involved in these affairs other than to simply waste time.

Not everything here is pointless, however. The search for the keys does give rise for some missions of interest, in particular the playable memories of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad many years prior. And accessible from the island hub are unusual sections of the Animus, playable in first person, that give much-needed insight into Desmond's past. It's in these segments Revelations is strongest - when it knuckles down to do some storytelling of relevance, touching upon something in the process that too few games have - soul.

In fact, it's a peculiar thing with Revelations, in that the largest parts of the game feel the least necessary, at least in terms of the story. The Constantinople missions, whilst decently varied, only really serve as filler - whilst the brilliant Desmond puzzles, Altaïr flashbacks, and the ending sequences are all of the highest quality. Simply put, anyone who's had an investment in the Assassin's Creed tale these last few years won't be disappointed.


Gameplay

Naturally, the core gameplay is indentical to before. Why fix what isn't broken? And naturally, no sequel can be allowed to have fewer items than its predecessors, so there's a few new introductions here. Some good, some not-so-good.

On with the good. Rather than his standard hidden blade, Ezio now has a "hook blade". Identical in every way, except that it can be used to extend his reach when jumping and climbing, and it can be used to slide down ziplines. Though it feels a bit cumbersome at first, it soon becomes a flawless addition to the game, bringing a breath of fresh air into the free-running sections - allowing jump after jump to zipline to assassination with such grace and ease that you can't help but smile. It's got some combat functions too, but they're essentially a waste of time. Why hook-blade over a soldier when you can barge right past him...?

The Assassins minigame has had a slight overhaul, with a Risk-like continental takeover objective imposed upon it, in addition to being able to train new recruits right up to a point at which they can run their own dens. It's not much, but it does give your army of recruits a little more personality.

New in Revelations is a tower-defence styled minigame, whereby Templar attacks on an Assassin den have to be repelled through placement of barricades, riflemen, crossbowmen, and more. Its frustratingly difficult at times, but thankfully (and weirdly) it can be avoided completely, save for the initial tutorial. The only explanation for this mode's inclusion is that Ubisoft felt they had to do something new to justify the new game, but game modes for the sake of game modes are never a good thing, as proven here.

The same can be said of the weaponry. Ezio now has his hookblade, crossbow, gun, poison darts, lethal bombs, tactical bombs, diversion bombs, fast-acting poison, sword, heavy weapon, dagger, and throwing knives. And if all those fail, he can use his fists. The bombs are another new addition, as is the ability to craft them yourself (though this does mean that nearly every treasure in the city is yet another bomb component, and the bomb crafting points outnumber everything else by far, as if to force you into using them). It's a decent addition, but it wouldn't be missed if it was removed entirely. And the weapon system is in dire need of an overhaul. Guards have never really posed a threat in the entire series, but now they're nothing more than fodder to experiment on.

Overall, in gameplay terms Revelations is simply a reiteration of what came before, with some more thrown in for good measure. It's starting to feel pretty bloated, but in fairness this doesn't impact on the fluid gameplay the series excels in.


Design

One area in which the Assassin's Creed series has always done well has been in its design, and although Revelations is a little weaker in places, it's still strong overall. The clear whites and blacks of the Animus design are gone - replaced with blacks and greens to represent the "broken" state of it. It does make the map a little harder to follow, but it works well from a stylistic point of view, giving the game something of its own identity.

The controls are as solid as ever - though using Eagle Vision now inexplicably requires a press on the left-stick, which can be awkward, and doesn't really free the Y button up for anything new. That aside, the combat is more of the same, and the free-running is improved thanks to the aforementioned hook-blade.

Further praise needs to be reserved for the soundtrack - another strong point for the series. Whilst it meanders calmly around as backing for the most part, in some of the more poignant sequences it provides the perfect accompaniment, hightening events in the way only music can.


Multiplayer

I've never been a fan of games having multiplayer just for the sake of it, and whilst the Assassin's Creed multiplayer does offer something different, it still doesn't appeal to me. Each to their own though, and since multiplayer isn't (yet) a key part of the game, it hasn't been used in this review's score.

As before, players have to hunt down and killing a selected target, whilst trying to avoid detection themselves. With a complete overhaul of the modes, classes, and menus, the attention to the mode is admirable, but whilst it's okay for an hour or two, it does gets repetitive soon after. The problems prevelant in the last game are still there too - how are you supposed to silently kill someone who's running around on rooftops (and this happens alot)? Why is the stun function so picky, in that even when you can tell someone's chasing you, it feels random whether it works or not? Why is it so geared towards the higher levels, with poison, guns and the like unavailable to new players? Why isn't it any real fun? On the whole, it's a nice idea, but a frustrating experience that the series would almost certainly be better without.


Conclusions

So, having played this, which is the best Assassin's Creed game? Chances are, you're in the majority thinking Assassin's Creed II right now. Yet on paper its immediate sequel, Brotherhood, is a better game. It has far more weapory, more side missions, minigames, online multiplayer... Except that having more doesn't make a game better. It's a curious phenomenon, limited solely to the videogame world, that every new title in a series must have the same and more, the same and more, the same and more. Musicians don't hire orchestras to record second albums, or feel the need to have one more track each time.

I digress... The essential point here being, that Assassin's Creed doesn't need more. If anything, it needs refining down. Brotherhood felt a little top heavy at times, and it's worse, if anything, in Revelations. The Animus initially served as a brilliant plot device for messing around in the past, but at times here it felt like an excuse more than anything...

To be completely honest, this all seems a little harsh. It's still a very good game, and well worth playing. But this series is one of my favourites of this generation, and with every iteration, I slowly forget what made it brilliant in the first place. The joy of free-running around Renaissance Italy has been slowly replaced with what at times now feels like a checklist. Renovate all the shops, buy all the monuments, complete all the missions, counter all the guards, 100% the game...

But, as mentioned, it does have its moments. The compelling backstories of Altaïr and Desmond make this a worthwhile purchase to fans of the series, and it's essentially the same game holding it all together at the centre. If you're not a fan though, this won't convert you. If you want to play the series, go play II first instead. And if you've already played the rest, you probably already own this.
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Ganghis87
88,059 (49,578)
Ganghis87
TA Score for this game: 2,691
Posted on 01 March 12 at 05:04
This review has 4 positive votes and 6 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Assassin's Creed Revelations

This is a great story, and the developers held nothing back in giving us another installment to the franchise.

That being said, I feel as though I must comment on the newest DLC.

Come on Ubisoft, really? We finally get a single player DLC and you make the entire thing the stupid block maze crap? Don't get me wrong, it is kind of interesting, yet to pay $10 to jump around on a bunch of blocks...

Why not just add on to the story?

Instead they want us playing 1st person block jumping instead of 3rd person Ezio doing fun missions.

Sorry Ubisoft, I appreciate the achievements and all, but this is a big swing and an even bigger miss, than I could have ever anticipated.

Crap DLC... And don't even get me started on the fact that the total gamerscore of Revelations after the DLC's is 1490?

Stephan
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DiZzY fUn
88,072 (57,617)
DiZzY fUn
TA Score for this game: 2,147
Posted on 30 November 11 at 14:23
This review has 1 positive vote and 6 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Revelations seems to be a fitting conclusion to the stories of Ezio and Altair (at least in videogame form). While the game itself was not a revelation in gameplay, it was never really advertised to be. I think the game did what it was set out to do; finish the story and improve on the mechanics that were already part of the game in previous iterations. I was also impressed with the soundtrack going through the game. It made me feel much more immersed than in the previous games; the music sped up and slowed down along with the onscreen action so my heart was beating faster at the appropriate times.

I continue to really appreciate the multiplayer part of Assassin's Creed. When I first heard about it in Brotherhood, I was a little wary, but I love its uniqueness, and am a real fan of the Assassin's Creed interpretation of capture the flag.

The only "major" addition could be the Desmond's Journey missions. It was nice to be able to know more about Desmond's history and the puzzles were fun, I am not sure how it all really fit into the game. I have the same criticism for the Den Defense missions; it seemed like a decent mini-game that was forced into a game that it did not really match.

All-in-all, I thought it was a fitting conclusion and a game that did what it promised.
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