Review: Assassin’s Creed Revelations

Review: Assassin’s Creed Revelations

While Assassin’s Creed Revelations builds slightly on the established and highly popular Assassin’s Creed formula, I get the distinct impression that this is merely a game that serves as yet more padding between the inevitable Assassin’s Creed 3. Don’t get me wrong though; Assassin’s Creed Revelations is still a very good game, offering closure to a number of over-arching character arcs that have been present for years and delivering a few new gameplay mechanics that freshen up the experience slightly.

The major issue with Revelations is the fact that game doesn’t really build upon the previous games too much. While it has a new locale and a few new game mechanics such as bomb crafting and zipline riding, Revelations feels more like an extension of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood than a new entry in the series that wows and enthrals you. It essentially feels like wading into familiar, comfortable territory, nestling down in a comfortable armchair, putting your feet up and enjoying a familiar experience with characters you’ve been bonding with for years. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Revelations uses too many of the same mechanics as the previous two entries in the series to make it feel fresh and exciting.

If you’re unfamiliar with the premise of Revelations, the game continues the ever-growing and ever-complex weaving narrative strands of three characters: Desmond Miles, Ezio Auditore and Altair. Each of these three men is an assassin from a different time period and at some point or another you’ll be taking control of all of them, experiencing Ezio’s and Altair’s memories through the magic of the Animus machine which Desmond is currently strapped into in a coma.  Inside his coma Desmond delves into his ancestor’s history and the majority of  the  game has you controlling Ezio, who has travelled to the historic city of Constantinople in search of his predecessor Altair’s secrets and finds himself inevitably tangled up in a big political struggle against his sworn enemies, the Templars.

Assassin's Creed Revelations

I Only Wanted Directions To The Docks….

The storyline is not, in my opinion, as strong as other titles in the series. There’s a lot of general missions that seem to do little in the grand scheme of things and while this helps to pad the game out, it feels pretty pointless to do a mission with no pay-off.  This may sound familiar to those who’ve played the other entries in the series as it’s been guilty of doing this before, but, as usual, the story hots up towards the climax and just as it becomes interesting Revelations smacks you straight in the face with a massive cliffhanger.  I was bitterly dissapointed guys. Not because the ending is rubbish (in fact it’s very good indeed) but because I wanted to continue on and finally get myself on Assassin’s Creed 3, which is said to finally give players full control of Desmond in 2012.  Like I said previously, Revelations is merely the padding to ensure that Assassin’s Creed 3 is set up the best it can be and, while it is a fun game, it simply feels like a Brotherhood expansion with a few new elements.

The main new element to the series is the implementation of the hook blade, taking the place of one of Ezio’s trusty hidden blades after it is broken in the opening cinematic. The device itself is a novel new idea for the series and helps to navigate the world better, allowing faster climbing (when it works) and the use of new, handily placed ziplines.Thing is, while the device is a good addition to Ezio’s ever growing collection of items, it feels as if it hasn’t been totally fleshed out and wasn’t used to full effect.  I’m sure if Desmond gets one in Assassin’s Creed 3 it’ll be great fun, but with Ezio the hookblade is let down extremely because of the difficulty of navigating buildings, often not allowing you to use it because you can’t climb directly up above you. It almost feels as if Ubisoft uses the same building structure from Brotherhood without considering how to implement new items that could use the hookblade, and I hope this is rectified with future instalments in the series.

In addition to the hookblade, Revelations also introduces bomb crafting for the first time into the Assassin’s Creed franchise. A novel idea if you’re into explosions, Revelations offer you the ability to make a number of different bombs, each of which can have different effects depending on what components you’ve integrated into the bomb. Examples include using lamb’s blood as a decoy to distract people, laying bombs laced with tripwires and even throwing up trusty smokescreens. The bomb construction system is pretty nice if you happen to like this kind of thing but it really isn’t necessary as a gameplay component, as I basically got through the entire game without throwing about more than three bombs.  I’m just not a bomb person, and I much prefer leaping from the rooftops and plunging blades into the jugular of enemies than throwing bombs at them.

Assassin's Creed Revelations

Bomb Crafting In Action

Bizarrely, Assassin’s Creed Revelations also introduces a new, very unusual mechanic for the series that really doesn’t fit. An Ass Creed take on tower defense, this new mechanic puts you, as Ezio, on top of a roof and challenges you to defend your Assassin dens from the invading templars. To do this you’ll be given a number of units, bought using morale points, which attack any advancing templars and defend your den from their evil ways. I suppose at some level it’s a pretty cool idea and might appeal to someone, but this kind of tower defense gameplay really, really, feels strange in the Assassin’s Creed universe. It just feels like a tacked on idea that they wanted to try rather than being something that will continue, and I don’t feel it’s been very succesful in converting me into liking tower defense any more than I already do. If you’re the biggest fan of tower defense in the universe, you’ll probably love it though. Or be reasonably satisfied.

Speaking of mechanics that don’t work, Reveleations also took a significant gamble by integrating thankfully optional first-person sections that are designed to flesh out Desmond’s backstory. Unlocked by collecting Animus fragments during the main campaign, Desmond’s journey is boring, stupid and entirely unnecessary as a gameplay mechanic and is far too frustrating and dull to invest any amount of significant time into. Literally these sections consist of navigating parts of the Animus by walking and….making blocks. I don’t know exactly why you can make blocks, but you can. You’ll then use these blocks to move around the Animus while Desmond narrates his life, which can be interesting as you’re getting more of his backstory, but I don’t see why it had to be done during these highly mundane first-person sections rather than building up the Assassin’s Creed formula we all know and actually like. Again, another gamble by Ubisoft here, and one that fell flat. It almost feels as if Revelations is the testing ground for new mechanics, and the majority of them don’t actually work very well.

You’ll also get the chance to play as Assassin’s Creed 1’s protagonist Altair at certain points in the gameplay as well, and these missions merely serve as plot points that propel you towards the end, and are, aside, from one, generally quite boring. One of them actually casts you as an 80 year old assassin who moves about as quickly as a tortoise with no legs, so it really isn’t a very fun experience being Altair again, particularly since he controls no different to both Ezio and Desmond.

Assassin's Creed Revelations

Altair’s MIssions Aren’t So Good. Blood Filled Though.

Thankfully though, the core Assassin’s Creed experience is still present, and Ezio has all of his moves from previous entries in the franchise at your disposal. You’ll still be able to climb practically everything in sight, use a wide variety of weapons, upgrade your armour, recruit assassins to your cause, upgrade your assassins and send them on missions and generally do everything else Ezio could do that I missed. Like I said in the opener to this review, Revelations feels less about new ideas and more about familiarity, as the new ideas implemented are seemingly incredibly random and do nothing to further the series as a whole.

Ezio’s new playground, Constantinople, also feels like you’ve seen it all before. Sure the people are dressed differently and the buildings look a bit different, but you’ll still be seeing the usual navigation options such as window ledges, hanging pot plants and other staples of the series. The city is quite diverse though and has a number of nice looking locales, but nothing here is probably going to wow you a lot. Character models are also quite wooden, and lip syncing is a bit off. You’ll see repeated animations regularly in character exchanges and manning a flapping gum when someone isn’t speaking. It’s a crying shame Ubisoft didn’t use more of their full CG cutscenes in the game though, as the one’s that are used are really incredibly detailed and look brilliant. It just furthers the idea really that Revelations is more of a mere expansion pack than a full entry in the Assassin’s Creed series as they don’t seem to have taken too much time perfecting everything.

Outside of the main story quest, Revelations also comes bundled with a multiplayer suite, which I tried with a mixture of trepidation and disinterest as I wasn’t expecting much. Thankfully though, Ubisoft surprised me with the multiplayer component of Revelations, which is robust, varied and above all different from anything I’ve experience before, having missed Brotherhood’s multiplayer last year.

The multiplayer itself is very intelligent. It’s all about planning your next move, about tracking down people and moving in for the kill, all the while defending yourself from an adversary who is hell bent on killing you as well. It adds many a layer of needed depth to multiplayer, really making you have to think about what you’re doing and try to pick out your target against a massive amount of other players and NPC’s. It’s essentially like a game of cat and mouse; you wait for your opponent to reveal themselves by doing something out of the norm, then strike out of the shadows when they least expect it. It’s satisfying, brutal and has a wide variety of game modes, meaning that it doesn’t feel just like a tacked on multiplayer suite but instead actually delivers an interesting, dynamic and above all different multiplayer experience than the usual run and gun gameplay a lot of other games deliver from their multiplayer options.

There’s’ also a lot of customization available for both your character’s appearance, abilities and perks etc. As you play you will level up in typical fashion and collect Abstergo credits, which are then used to buy new things for your character. There’s also actually an underlying storyline tied into the multiplayer which reveals more about the Templars and Abstergo, giving you more incentive to play through it than simply killing everybody in sight. Which you will be doing anyway, but at least there’s a reason for it, right?

The Verdict

I feel like I’ve been overly negative with this review at times, but it is sad to see a franchise I like as much as Assassin’s Creed deliver a lacklustre experiencing after excelling with their previous entries in the series. Revelations would of been much, much better if the pointless new mechanics were removed and more time was spent growing on what was already present in the series instead of doing new things, which is sort of what the hookblade started doing but ultimately didn’t unfortunately deliver on.

That is not to say that Revelations is a bad game. At the core, Revelations is the Assassin’s Creed franchise you know and love with few thankfully optional pointless new mechanics thrown into the mix for good measure. The storyline is decent, with a very good ending, the gameplay is for the most part very fun to experience and you’ll probably have a blast playing the multiplayer, which I find very addictive.

 

Score: 7.5/10

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