Another year, another Assassin’s Creed game. Every fall for the last couple of years, Ubisoft has produced another sequel to the long running franchise, each one significantly better than the last. When Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was revealed, trailers depicted an awesome looking hook blade, a new bomb crafting system, and some pretty sweet multiplayer action. It even promised some improvements to the Brotherhood system, which, while not bad, suffered from a lack of polish in the last game.
So, does it live up to all the promises? The answer is yes, and no. Fans will be pleased as long as they aren’t tired of the same gameplay, or are interested in the story.
Ezio is getting old, and Revelations tells the end of his adventures. With age, he has gained much wisdom, and is just as deadly as ever. He has come to Masyaf, the home of the Assassins in Altaïr’s time, seeking answers to questions he still has. He arrives to find several Templars, kills a few dozen, and heads off to Constantinople on a hunt for the Masyaf keys, which will open the Library of Altaïr and reveal the secrets he left hidden there. The problem is, naturally, the Templars are after the same thing.
The story still delivers, with all of the new characters being wonderfully realized, especially Ezio’s new love interest (sorry, no spoilers today). Technically, the game is following three different stories, but they all tie into one. Desmond is in a coma, with the Animus being the only thing keeping him alive and sane, and his gameplay sequences are a strange but thrilling first person puzzle solving game that reveal his roots from childhood. Ezio is searching for messages that Altaïr left behind, and those are found within the Masyaf keys. When you find them, Ezio experiences a flashback to Altaïr’s life, and you get to play them. Those flashbacks are the third part of the story. They are very well done, and flesh out Altaïr’s character very well, despite the short time it takes to complete them. It was these parts that I looked forward to most in the game.
The game’s graphics are outstanding, taking yet another step up. The only complaint I have is that occasionally, characters’ eyes would glow a strange yellow during cutscenes. This mostly happened to Ezio, making him look as though he had evil demon assassin eyes, and was especially creepy when he smiled. I don’t know if it’s just my system or TV, but it can be quite distracting during a highly emotional cinematic.
Most of the story takes place in Constantinople, which is a nice change from the settings of the last two games, and the city is colorful and full of life. So far, this is my favorite locale for the Assassin’s Creed series. The place is huge and exploring the different districts for treasure is a blast. A few times I found myself wandering around just watching and listening to the citizens chatter amongst themselves, or bargain with shopkeepers.
The core gameplay has remained largely the same. You have a wide variety of weapons with which to slice, skewer and crush your enemies, as well as devastating counter kills and combo attacks. A nice improvement is the ability to add any of your secondary weapons, such as throwing knives or bombs (more on bombs later) to another button on your controller for quick reactions to the situation around you. Combat is never really very challenging, except for a couple types of enemies who can dodge or counter nearly every attack you make, resulting in you trying to defeat them with a deadly controller toss.
There are other improvements besides the secondary weapon hotkey worth mentioning. First off, the hook blade is actually pretty awesome. You can use it to zipline between buildings…
… kill enemies in very brutal ways…
… hook onto someone’s back to flip over them for an escape or a throw, and climb up buildings much faster than before.
All in all, the hook blade is a neat addition, but I honestly didn’t find myself using the hook and run or hook and throw very often. Occasionally I’d use it to get past a wall of soldiers if they were in my way and I was being pursued, but most of the time it was for my entertainment. The most useful abilities of the hook blade are the climbing, ziplining, and counter attacks.
The new bomb crafting system is fun, but I didn’t find myself using bombs a lot, unless I wanted to clear out a large group of enemies, or simply entertain myself. You can craft bombs that explode and kill your enemies, make a loud noise for a distraction to open up a sneaking path, or cover soldiers in lamb’s blood mid-combat to make them think they’ve been injured and leave them vulnerable. There are other types of bombs as well, but the options all come down to killing, impairing, or distracting your enemies. Once again, the new bombs are fun and I like having them in the game, but I really only used them in moments of, “Oh yeah! I have those!”
The Brotherhood system returns, and it is exactly the same as last time, with some small and relatively unimportant changes. Some assassins will actually use different weapons than others, unlike in the last game where they would all have the same ones over time, and you have a couple more options for customizing their appearance, but in the end, it hasn’t really changed. You can still call on them at any time to take out a target, send them on off screen missions to help them level up fast, and they are still a cheap way out of a tough situation. Sometimes you will see them spawning in, which takes away from the illusion and is actually a bit irritating, considering that I never saw that happen in last year’s installment.
Just like in the last two games, you can renovate shops and banks, which will allow you to buy weapons, supplies and generate an income. To be able to renovate a shop, you need to take control of the nearest Templar Den, which functions the same as the Borgia Towers from before. You assassinate the captain of the den, sometimes two captains, climb a tower, and light a fire. This time though, the tower doesn’t explode; it’s just a signal that causes the Templars to retreat and reduces their influence in the area.
Sometimes, the Templars will try to take a den back, and you have the option of trying to defend it. Ezio stands on a rooftop, and you place different troops on the rooftops to fire crossbows and rifles at incoming enemies, who will try to damage the primary building enough to take it back. You can call down cannon strikes or put up extra barriers to slow them down, as well. The problem is that this is completely out of place with the game, and does not function well at all. I found it more worth my time to let the Templars take the den back, and go assassinate the captain and ignite the tower again, making the entire affair a complete waste of time.
The multiplayer from Brotherhood returns, and is just as fantastic as ever. The most popular modes are probably still Wanted and Manhunt, and they remain just as tense and thrilling. The meters that decide if your kill will be silent and receive more points have changed a bit; now it will only rise to silent or incognito when your target is actually in your line of sight and you are staying stealthy. Killing your target can be a bit harder though, because when you get close, they hear creepy whispers to alert them that they are being stalked, and could stun you if they figure out who you are. But targets can mess up and accidentally stun a civilian, meaning their advantage is only useful if they aim well. This is a nice change, because in Brotherhood, one could spam the stun button until their pursuer was close and punch them in the mouth.
New modes like Steal the Artifact and Corruption have emerged, with Corruption taking the cake as the coolest mode in the entire package. In Corruption, there are three rounds of four minutes, and at the beginning of each round two players start as the Corrupted. It starts out like Manhunt; the Corrupted players are trying to find and kill the Uncorrupted. Once an Uncorrupted is killed, they become Corrupted and join the hunt. The more Corrupted there are, the more points the remaining Uncorrupted get for surviving for long periods of time. Stunning your hunters is modified in this mode to allow you to stun many enemies in quick succession, increasing your chances for survival, and matches get incredibly insane when you have one or two remaining Uncorrupted who are highly skilled at making a cunning escape.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a very worthwhile game, and is a good continuation of the story. Despite a few fallbacks (lack of innovation, den defense), any Assassin fan will be pleased, especially with the multiplayer. It’s time to move on though; Ezio is done, and we need a change of pace in the timeline. Hopefully Desmond will finally get to act as the main character when Assassin’s Creed III rolls around. No matter what though, you can bet that rain or shine, we’ll be there to review it.
How did you like the conclusion of Ezio and Altaïr’s stories? Are you excited to see what changes to the story and gameplay will be made in the next installment? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.