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Jeremy Jastrzab
15 Nov, 2011

Assassin's Creed: Revelations Review

360 Review | Destiny and answers revealed.
Even with a fairly mixed critical reception and confused censure from the gaming community, the hype behind Assassin’s Creed was enough to drive a viable franchise. So viable that the 2009 sequel, Assassin’s Creed II, went as far as creating Grand Theft Auto: Ancient Italy to try and please everyone. And that worked. What couldn’t be foretold next was that Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood would then come along a year later and provide the strongest title in the series so far… discounting the last two memory sequences of course. Assassin's Creed: Revelations has a lot to work towards.

If you haven’t figured out the overriding story by now, it’s best just to say that a 2012 release for Assassin’s Creed III is a pretty safe bet. This unfortunately leaves Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a tricky spot, as its primary purpose is to complete story of Ezio Auditore Da Firenze, which seems to have required three separate games. A trilogy within a trilogy… Thankfully, completing the story means recounting what happened to Altaïr ibn La-Ahad, following the events of Assassin’s Creed and (rather cheekily but necessarily) the events of Assassin’s Creed: Bloodlines on the PSP. That’s not all though, as there is an insight into how Desmond got to where he is today, as well as a pretty definitive direction for the next, and in all likelihood final, title.

At the end of Brotherhood, the battle between Assassins and Templars raged on between both time periods. Ezio was left tired and disenchanted following the prolonged struggle with the Borgias, while Desmond has lost his coconuts following more insight into the events of the past, and been dropped into the animus to try and save him from a comatose state. Revelations picks up at the turn of the 16th century, where an older but disillusioned Ezio has wandered into Constantinople following a failed attempt at accessing Altaïr’s library in Masyaf (from the first title). Here, he’s meant to find the keys to the library, which were taken before the fall of Masyaf. Through out, Ezio continues his foray amongst the well-known historical figures of the time, as the story unfolds in a familiar way. While pretty confusing and convoluted by now, Revelations actually does a very good job of tying things back together, while rounding off the stories for both Altaïr and Ezio, and bringing all three protagonists together.

No... After YOU!

No... After YOU!
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Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is in an unenviable position to try and top the heights of Brotherhood, which in all frankness, it doesn’t manage to do. It at least manages to avoid the embarrassing finish of its predecessor. It does just about everything that its predecessor does, but with the focus on completing this arc of the story, none of the additions to the game are anything more than incremental. That being said, while you’ll have just about all of the features coming together from the previous games (minus any additional ingenuities from Leonardo Da Vinci), the two most pertinent additions from the outset are the hookblade and bomb construction.

As a series made famous by its parkour potential, the hookblade allows Ezio not only access a new set of moves, both for combat and parkour, it also allows for quicker travel, as you utilise ziplines around Constantinople to get across rooftops quicker and to climb faster. Bomb construction is a nice suggestion but hardly a necessity. There are actually a large number of varieties to types of bombs you can create (divvied between lethal, tactical diversion categories), which do give you an extra edge for tactical consideration. However, as with all of the titles in the series, that extra edge is only a suggestion, as it’s still just as easy to get through the game with brute force. But if you do pull off the tactics, they can be satisfying. Other minor additions include the tweaking of 'Eagle Vision' to become 'Eagle Sense', and the reassignment of controls for a slightly more comfortable scheme.

Just about everything that came into Brotherhood has made it through to this game too. Ezio has reset up ties with the Assassin faction in Constantinople, and will again have the ability to call assassins to help back him up. Your interaction with these assassins is beefed up as well, with more many more places for your assassins to conquer, while initiating the promotion of a master assassin is a much more personal affair, with specialised missions. This is tied in with conquering Templar dens. Those sly Templar devils will try and take back their dens, if Ezio causes too much commotion. This will initiate a tower defense mini-game, Den Defense, that’s quite well put together, very engaging and easy to control and learn.

Welcome back, old friend.

Welcome back, old friend.
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Altaïr’s memories, despite being not very long, make sense with the context of the story and are more action orientated. In the end, they get the job done with tying the story together. Desmond also has an overworld of his own and his own memories are something entirely different. Described in the PR as “Dali-esque first person platforming”, they’re unlike anything seen in the series, as Desmond walks through an abstract version of his memories - a strange concrete jungle that look inspired by Portal and/or Mirror's Edge - and narrates to us how he ended up in this current position. Occasionally, these levels will do a good job of recreating Desmond’s memories and feelings as he’s narrating them. Other times, these levels seem like they’ve been thrown in as a first person reflexive puzzle platformer for the sake of adding something different.

Otherwise, on paper, there is just as much to see and do around Constantinople, as there has been in the previous games, and just as much history. On paper, because it does to an extent feel a little smaller. Not because you can travel a bit faster, but it just doesn’t make the same transitional leap of progression that there has been from each of the last two games. It just the little things as well, such as being primarily confined to one city, the removal of the wanted posters, the smaller number of ‘dungeons’ (the highlights of the last two games) or the smaller amount of paraphernalia to find that make it feel like the development teams ran out of gameplay ideas to fill in. And for the first time, the objective driven nature of the game makes the game feel less like a sandbox than it should.

Still, Assassin’s Creed Revelations is a title that’s most rewarding when you do stop to smell the roses, making sure a single play through goes over the 15 hour mark. It will take much more to see everything and complete some quite nefarious challenges. It’s still the kind of game where you can feel like a total bad arse, where despite Ezio being long in the tooth, you can pull off some fairly amazing manoeuvres when you’ve got the hang of it. Yes, you can still look like a tool when you fail, but easy to pick up and continue playing. The primary issue to it all is that it’s reached a point where this just isn’t enough and the series is dying for a proper sequel now, as opposed to an incremental refinement.

Some of the better levels make an appearance here.

Some of the better levels make an appearance here.
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The multiplayer mode introduced in Brotherhood returns in Revelations with a few notable additions. In particular, it’s more story orientated, where it’s not just a matter of training Abstergo agents in the Animus, but you’ll be rewarded with more information on Abstergo itself as you play. Furthermore, much asked for modes such as Deathmatch and Capture the Artefact have been added. The former turns out to be very messy and ill-intentioned, but the latter is actually very well suited to the style of Assassin’s Creed. While it’s disappointing that everyone has been turned into an assassin in a different skin and some of the maps are fairly small, the interface is cleaner, and there is a lot more content. It’s a mode that wouldn’t be missed if it wasn’t there, but it’s got enough effort put into it to be more accessible and enjoyable in bursts.

Assassin’s Creed was arguably among the first titles to really show the potential of the HD generation, and each of the titles in the series has been a visual show piece, for the strength in detail and ability to bring historical locations to life. You wouldn’t say that Revelations does much more than Brotherhood, but it does bring a new flavour with the recreation of Constantinople and some very impressive level designs. Mind you... that does mean a fair bit of brown as well, but that comes with the territory. Once again, the sound track takes its place appropriately in the background, while allowing everything else to take centre stage. The voicing remains of quality, but often hard to take seriously.

As a means for tying up the stories and fates of the three main protagonists for the franchise, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations does everything that it ought to. It actually puts everything together into quite a neat package, along with some incremental additions and improvements that manage to further refine the gameplay, which is great considering the quality reached in Brotherhood. Unfortunately, it can’t quite shake the feeling that more could have been done with it, and that the team ran out of ideas for this final stretch. Ezio well and truly deserves to be put out to pasture now. That, and the series is at the point where it’s desperately crying out advancement over incremental improvement. At least if the direction of the story is anything to go by, the fourth quarter of 2012 will reveal the true revelation.
The Score
Assassin's Creed: Revelations ties in the fates of the three protagonists very well, and makes some good improvements on the way. But the real revelation will be if next proper sequel manages to improve rather than just polish an ideas pool running low.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Assassin's Creed: Revelations Content

Assassin's Creed Revelations Extended E3 Trailer
27 Sep, 2011 Because everything is better once it's extended.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations 'Animus Edition' trailer
29 Aug, 2011 A look inside the collectibles.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations Gamescom demo with commentary
24 Aug, 2011 In search of an old friend.
9 Comments
2 years ago
god so pumped for this, even with the complaints you made all I'm really hoping for is basically brotherhood with more desmond story.
2 years ago
Yeah, even if it doesn't improve in leaps and bounds from here, Desmond's Creed is where I'm at.
2 years ago
It maybe pretty much the same game they've released as the past two now, but at least its a good one with an interesting story.

I know I will buy it but with Skyrim (which consumes all my time) and everything else I've bought but haven't barely touched yet, I'll probably get through that first. Then Saints Row is meant to be pretty good too. God damn it!!
2 years ago
Pretty much what I was expecting. Brotherhood didn't leave alot of scope for series expansion. Glad this is where we leave Ezio, who really has been dragged out one game too long. I do expect next years to be the follow-up we want it to be. Wisdom says (with so many AAA titles this Nov) this purchase can wait, as its pretty much more a series closer then series advancement, but I will be getting this afternoon thanks to my appranent need to have all the CEs in this series.
2 years ago
Animus Edition is sitting pretty at my feet now. Just need to find the time to play it...
2 years ago
Seems like the one game a year thing they have going might be starting to cut down the quality a bit. They need to slow it down.

In any case I'm still pre ordering this for PC because I'm a sucker for the Assassins Creed environments and story and runny-climby-jumpy gameplay ^_^
2 years ago
PixieGirl wrote
Seems like the one game a year thing they have going might be starting to cut down the quality a bit. They need to slow it down.
Publisher obsession with yearly iterations is an express train to killing a franchise. It's the easiest way to burn out customers and stretch game concepts far too thin.

Unless it's got the appeal of something like Call of Duty I don't think its ever worth it. Give the team some time off, shuffle staff and have them work on other projects, then let them all come back fresh and inspired with new ideas. Just one year can make a huge difference.

If Ubisoft did this maybe we'd see similar leaps and expansions over Assassin's Creed 2 as that was over the original. It will be interesting to see how next year's Assassin's Creed 3 shapes up. If it will be something really new, or yet another remix of the establish mechanics with a few extra trimmings.
2 years ago
Jarrod wrote
PixieGirl wrote
Seems like the one game a year thing they have going might be starting to cut down the quality a bit. They need to slow it down.
Publisher obsession with yearly iterations is an express train to killing a franchise. It's the easiest way to burn out customers and stretch game concepts far too thin.

Unless it's got the appeal of something like Call of Duty I don't think its ever worth it. Give the team some time off, shuffle staff and have them work on other projects, then let them all come back fresh and inspired with new ideas. Just one year can make a huge difference.

If Ubisoft did this maybe we'd see similar leaps and expansions over Assassin's Creed 2 as that was over the original. It will be interesting to see how next year's Assassin's Creed 3 shapes up. If it will be something really new, or yet another remix of the establish mechanics with a few extra trimmings.
Another way it could work is you set up A and B teams. A handles the major releases with large changes in content or engines. B handles the in-betweens with mainly just asset and scripting work involved.

Not that I have any idea how Ubi/AC have their teams laid out.
2 years ago
In an interview they said they were actually kicking themselves for the whole yearly release thing and that they'd kind of painted themselves into a corner since AC 3 has to come out in 2012 or it throws the entire story out.

After it they're going back to taking their time with the games.
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