Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Review (PS3)
After Assassin’s Creed II, Ubisoft made the decision to release Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood just one year later and that had many folks concerned. Once Brotherhood came out everyone was very pleasantly surprised more so by the depth of the single player story and game play, especially seeing Ubisoft spent most of the year talking about only the multiplayer aspect of the game. Then Ubisoft announced that only one year after Brotherhood they would be announcing yet another Assassin’s game, I think most people felt pretty good about it. That new game in the series is Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, the third game in as many years and the fourth in the series. Although the story is once again very well done, in-depth and the additions to the multiplayer that help keep it refreshingly different from the everyday shooters that are out there, there was a lot done here in Revelations that is too much and completely unneeded.
The main story arc that drives the Assassin’s Creed series is very complex as a whole and constantly ending each game with a cliff hanger. I don’t think any amount of explanation is ever giving it the justice that it wants. Do not expect this series to be one that you can come into late and figure it out as you go. Although this is the forth game in the whole series, it is also the third and finale of a trilogy inside the Assassin’s Creed series, starting with Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood in the middle and of course Assassin’s Creed: Revelations ending it. That however, is not the end of the series as a whole, Ubisoft had said as much when they announced an Assassin’s Creed III.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations starts out with a little back story, a “previously on” situation to help get people back on track with where Brotherhood ended and Revelations picks up. Once again you start out as Desmond Miles, an average guy that before all of this was simply a bartender. After the events of Brotherhood, Desmond is in a coma of sorts with his mind broken up between his own existence and experiences and that of his assassin relatives Altair and Ezio. Desmond clings to life simply with nothing except the help of the Animus that his mind is stuck in. Desmond awakes to find himself on an “animus island” and here he meets Subject 16 literally face to face for the first time. Here is when the main plot to the game is laid out, when Subject 16 tells Desmond that he needs to see both Altair’s and Ezio’s life to their conclusion or he will never wake up.
Although the game completely takes place within Desmond’s mind, he once again is hardly mentions. For the most part the game is following Ezio as par for the last two games, but now there are chunks of game that tell the story of Altair, the protagonist from the first Assassin’s Creed. The story in the game for both Ezio and Altair intertwine together and are laid out as one continuing story arc. However there is some side missions if you will, that give some light to the back story for Desmond. There is five portals in total that can be found on Animus Island, each telling a small chunk of story has your journey through them. These are not done in normal Assassin’s Creed style at all. They are in first person, which right away can feel devastating. I don’t like when my third person games mix with my first person games at all. You want to give players a choice, that is fine, but don’t make it the only way to play a mode or level. This section is also somewhat of a puzzler. You have two different shapes to choose from to drop down in front of you to use to walk across to make your way through each section. You have a straight four piece shape and a ramp type shape to be able to move upward at an angle. There are obstacles of different variations throughout each section that pose a threat to get through each level, but most of them are simple enough to get through on the first or second try. Some do take some very fast reflexes and timing. Unfortunately all of this combines for a bad experience, and most of the time you are playing more attention to trying to get through this than paying attention to the narration by Desmond and the few and far pictures on the walls. This is just one of many things that Ubisoft added to Revelations that was either completely unneeded or badly done. Thankfully this whole Desmond side story is not mandatory at all and wise to skip, you want to learn more about Desmond, it is easier and arguably more fun to do so online.
The focus of the game is primarily on Ezio, now an aging man with a little salt and pepper in the beard. The Assassin’s fight against the Templar has now lead him to Constantinople, where he is set out on a path to find five keys that are required to open the library of Altair back in Masyaf, before the Templar find them. On the larger scale this being the main plot; it seems like nothing more than an elaborate fetch quest. There are a few side plots however that do help break up that one story element. You have the local Sultan’s family, that is dealing with some political and war issues that you help out from time to time. Also there is a very lovely librarian that Ezio becomes very fond of that helps him out with the search for the keys in return of help finding books and taking care of small petty situations.
The keys that Ezio must find kind of look as if they perhaps came from the same place as The Apple, maybe even made out of the same stuff. Each key that Ezio finds, he is given a look into the past at different situations in Altair’s life. To make this even more confusing, as Ezio lives through these glimpses into Altair’s past, so does Desmond. When Ezio has these visions you take on the role of Altair and live through what seem to be key moments in his life that happen starting from the end of the first Assassin’s Creed game and onward. Unlike the open world of all the games so far in the series, these moments of playing as Altair are very linear and straight forward, for the most part take place only in the small town and the castle area of Masyaf, where the guild called home in the first game. These parts are very limited and cut off, more so than I think anyone would have assumed and more so than Ubisoft lead people to believe. With that said, after living through those snippets into Altair’s life, if did feel fulfilling and there was a level of closer to that character, much more so than what the first game gave to us.
Revelations brought back much of what made Brotherhood such a great game, like the building of the assassin’s organization to Constantinople. Much like in Brotherhood, you send out assassins to do your bidding and they level up by doing so and you can once again call on them as needed for taking out guards and what have you while you roam around the city. There are some changes made here, but not at all much. Once one of these members level to be a master assassin, you no longer have to swear them in and go through a mini cut scene over and over like with Brotherhood. However once a member hits level ten, you can put them in charge of a tower or assassins den if you will and from there on out they will level up to master assassin. Once you put an assassin in charge of a den, you can go to them and do missions with them. These missions are short and meaningless, but to add a bit of depth to the other assassins that you have recruited. You can also buy up local shops once again and have money stored in the bank that you have to go and collect every once in awhile. Luckily this time you don’t have to collect random things to unlock certain weapons and armor from specific shops like there was in Brotherhood.
With a few things being the same from Brotherhood and most being very welcome, Revelations does add a few systems to the game, most (if not all) are useless, complicated or simply not well thought out. In Revelations, the simplest addition is that of the hook blade. What does the hook blade do? It is just what it says, a hook with a blade. This was brought in to make climbing faster, but really does nothing different than the extra leaping up ability you learn in the second game. The hook blade also is there to get around the city fast by way of all the ziplines that seem to be on almost ever roof top. The hook blade is also used in combat, but again nothing special. When fighting every so often Ezio my trip up a guard with the hook and then stab him and the fighting as a whole is not much changed from Brotherhood. Still fluent, but you can get choked up when in the middle of bashing one guy after another and a third guy comes in swinging and bashes you. It can be annoying, but more realistic. After all why would all the guards just stand around waiting for their turn to be stabbed? Also Revelations brings in bomb crafting, which seems fine at first glance. In Assassin’s Creed II they gave us smoke bombs and they were cool and fun to us. However in Revelations there is more to bombs than simply smoke bombs. Now you can make bombs and there seems like a endless amount of different bombs you can make. You can have huge explosive bombs, medium bombs and small simply distracting bombs. Each of the three different bombs there seems to also have an endless amount of type of bombs to make. You can have as said, smoke bombs, caltrop bombs; you can even have bombs that let out skunk oil to make enemies run away. Out of everything added to Revelations the bomb crafting is probably the most useful, but that does not make up for anything. You can not go five feet without finding a bomb crafting table, parts or items to put into bombs. The bomb making seems so in your face that it is sickening. I don’t (and I assume most don’t) come to Assassin’s Creed to be a terrorist, much more rather be a silent killer. Lastly and arguably the worst addition to the game is the tower defense mini game. Like in Brotherhood, there is Borgia towers that you must take over to be able to unlock different parts of the city. However, this time Templars can attempt to take them back. When they do it opens up a tower defense mini game were Ezio simply stands in one spot and tells assassins what to do. Be it jumping down and kill attackers, shoot at them or put up barricades. It is all a waste of time, it is easier to let them take it over and simply go back kill the captain and then take it back once more. The worst part of the tower defense is it completely takes you out of the story aspect. This continued war between assassins and templars has been very secret and hidden away all these years. Somehow they manage to keep it on the down low with all out battles in the middle of the streets for these towers.
Revelations brings back the multiplayer aspect from Brotherhood. I have not had much time to play the online, but I have noticed little changes to the multiplayer, nothing too specific or at least that I have noticed. There is a small change in how you pursue people that at first can seem odd, but after getting use to it, it works very well. I wish I could say more about the multiplayer, but I really can’t. There is some new game play options (that I haven’t tried yet) and few new feature to characters to kind of help you customize them, but don’t worry, who ever you pick to play as all the copies in the game will look like yours. With the small amount I have played I think anyone that liked the multiplayer in Brotherhood will really enjoy what Ubisoft has done in Revelations. For better or worse, the multiplayer is very refreshing and very excepted when most games with multiplayer are only shooters.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelation has a descent story that does a good job of creating a more companionate look at Altair that the first game did not do at all. It also gives closer to Ezio nicely, for the most part. It ties off any open ends to his life, but unfortunately Revelations spends so much time spinning its wheels with back story for Altair, Ezio and even Desmond in the mini puzzle games, that it never takes any leaps forward for the series as a whole. Combine that with all the poor additions to mechanics and game play and you don’t have much of a game. If you are a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed series then you should play this game, but don’t run out and buy it, save your money and hopefully Ubisoft can hit it out of the park again with Assassin’s Creed III.
Final Score: 3/5