Written by Patrick Maginnis
Running at full-speed, I leap off a building, extend my hook-blade and catch myself on the ledge in front of me. I drop down to the ledge below and break my hip.
Welcome to Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, Ezio Auditore da Firenze’s final story, which in my opinion, is about goddamn time. I love the Italian Renaissance, but the setting has gotten a little old, and so has Ezio. The game takes place in 1511, meaning that Ezio is 52 years old. As much fun as the game is, it’s sometimes hard to feel like a badass when your avatar is well past middle aged.
Try not to look so serious, bro.
At the beginning of the game, you once again step into the shoes of Desmond Miles, the character in the series no one really needs to care about. You are stuck inside the Animus (a machine that allows you to relive the memories of your ancestors). You find out that Desmond’s mind is trapped in the Animus and the only way to get back to his body is to push forward and see the rest of the memories Ezio has to show him.
When you enter the first sequence as Ezio, he is on his way Masyaf, the original home for the assassins. He is hoping to access a library left behind by Altair (the protagonist of the first game), but instead finds Masyaf to be overrun by Templars, who are also trying to access the library. The Templars are already in possession of one of the five keys used to unlock the door, so Ezio must travel to Constantinople and find the others before they do.
Each key, however, also contains a memory of Altair that Ezio gets to relive. You switch back and forth between Ezio and Altair every time you find a key, making for a narrative that is very engaging and interestingly told, even if it starts off a little slow. It was a very satisfying ending to Ezio’s story. The ending however, as with all other Assassin’s Creed games, is very strange.
The visuals in the Assassin’s Creed games have always been breathtaking. As with all the other games, I found myself perched on top of a building, taking in the scenery. Ubisoft beefed up the engine for this game and it looks better than any of its predecessors. Character models look great and the majority of the animations are fluid. However, the Anvil engine is becoming a bit dated when compared to the other games out today. Fire and explosions don’t look nearly as good as they could and there are the occasional texture pop-ins.
“Oh god. I’m going to have to climb all of those buildings, aren’t I?”
Constantinople is enormous. It is the biggest city in the AC games yet and it is extremely well done. As with the other games in the series, you can press a button to get a synopsis certain historical buildings when you are near them. They do a great job of making you feel like you’re in 16th century Constantinople. There are ferries and underground tunnels to get from one side of the city to the other, which is nice if you’re in a hurry. Most of the time, I would rather run from mission to mission or glide through the city on ropes with my hook-blade.
The combat and game-play in general has never been all that challenging in the series. For the most part, this is true for Revelations as well. You still only have to hold down two buttons to free run and climb things and the combat is mainly waiting for enemies to attack you so you can counter them.
A change to this in Revelations is the aspect of guns. A large number of the guards have guns and if you do not attack and interrupt them in time, they shoot you and take a number of bars of your health. This is especially frustrating when you’re fighting fifteen or twenty enemies at once and half of them have guns. I recall a time when I went from full health to near death after being hit by multiple shots. I then proceeded to run for my life, only to be gunned down.
Something that has been added to free-running to make it more interesting is the hook-blade. With the hook blade, you can leap from an edge and if you fear you are not going to make the jump, press a button to extend your reach with the hook-blade and grab onto it. You can also use it to fling yourself upwards, glide across the ropes strewn all around the city, and trip people.
Yeah, you’re pretty much dead.
The mission structure in Revelations is a large step up from Brotherhood. There are still the occasional tailing or escort missions, but for the most part the missions are varied and enjoyable. The pacing is also nice —you don’t feel like you’re on a rollercoaster every second of the game, but it also keeps you engaged and entertained.
The addition of bombs is also very interesting, with a large number of crafting combinations. The three different types are lethal, tactical, and diversion. Diversion bombs are ones like cherry bombs and gold bombs, which can be used to draw guards away from an area or to cause a rush of citizens scrambling to pick up coins. Then there are tactical bombs, which can cause smoke or a spray of blood. And of course, there are lethal bombs, which have varying radii and can launch shrapnel or poison. The casings for the bombs include ones that explode after a few seconds, explode on impact, trip wires, and bombs that stick to NPCs and other surfaces.
As you could in AC Brotherhood, you can recruit new assassins and call them to fight by your side. It is a cool concept, but one that I never really liked because they are all evidently hiding in the bushes where ever you go. You press a button, the assassin jumps out of a bush, bail of hay, or climbs up a wall, and kills the person you are targeting, before running off and disappearing.
Stealth makes a stronger return in this game than it did in Assassin’s Creed II. There are certain missions where if you are detected, you will outright fail. In these missions, you must rely on watching the guards’ line of sight, use diversions, and blend in with crowds to reach your objective. These portions are still fairly few and far between; most of the time, you can just sprint towards your destination and kill the dozens of enemies in your path.
I also felt a strong lack of actual assassination in Revelations. Sure, there are a few times when you have to assassinate someone, but mostly the game was just running around trying to find the keys for the library. This of course is very different from the first game, where the entire story line revolved around assassinating nine men.
Multiplayer is back in Revelations, and it’s better than ever. When multiplayer was first introduced in AC Brotherhood, there were excessive matchmaking problems—so many that I hardly even touched it. It was very good idea, but executed poorly. They fixed these server issues in Revelations and added in some new things. There are eight different game types: Deathmatch, Wanted, Assassinate, Corruption, Escort, Manhunt, Easy Deathmatch, and Artifact assault. I have not tried many of the other game types yet, but Deathmatch is a blast. It is done on confined maps and the premise is to kill your target while avoiding being killed by others. The multiplayer is enjoyable enough to provide hours of entertainment after you’ve beaten the main story.
Get back here!
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a very enjoyable game. Though not much has changed about Assassin’s Creed since the first game, and it suffers from some of the same things it always has, Revelations is a fine addition to the franchise and a large step up from Brotherhood.
Overall Score: 79
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a fun and engaging tale that is interestingly put together and flows nicely from start to finish. It has some drawbacks and the engine is becoming a bit dated, but with a fun multiplayer that will keep you entertained for a while after the game is over, it is definitely worth a buy (or at least a rent).
Genre Score (Action-adventure): 80
Combat still remains fairly dull and there are many other games in the genre that do things better, but that being said, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a lot of fun.