Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal
Published by: Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC
The third instalment of the “Ezio Trilogy” of Assassin’s Creed games, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was released in November 2011 and served as the culmination of both Altair and Ezio’s stories before the series would move onto a new protagonist in Assassin’s Creed III. Focusing on the twilight years of both Altair and Ezio’s lives, the story sees Ezio exploring Constantinople during the Ottoman Empire for clues as to Altair’s final fate and his secret crypt. Relocating from Renaissance Italy to Turkey is a surprisingly jarring shift as Ezio is a fish out of water having to adjust to a new Assassin organisation in a new city, and many of the supporting characters from the previous two games are now absent. The plot, revolving around the Templars and Assassin’s vying for hidden keys to access Altair’s tomb, feels a bit hollow and less engaging than its predecessors, especially as the central antagonist lacks any real personality compared to the Borgias.
With the change in locale also comes a change in gameplay mechanics as most of Constantinople located on a slope, allowing Ezio to traverse rooftops on ziplines using his new hookblade accessory. This results in a slightly faster navigation, although I did find it more frustrating when travelling up-hill to reach certain areas. Another new addition to the gameplay is the ability to manufacture bombs from a variety of different ingredients to create different effects, such as a poison bomb, a stun bomb, a distraction bomb or even, a money bomb. It adds a new dimension to the game, allowing players to add some strategy to some of the missions such as decoy noises to lure guards away from entrances, or summoning up a crowd of innocents with an explosion of gold coins. I tended to make use of these items when the game forced me to do so, but rarely thought to make use of them outside of my typical gameplay style.
Coming in at roughly 20 hours’ worth of gameplay to achieve 100% completion, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a much shorter game than its two predecessors and this is most notable in the side missions which are extremely limited. Where Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood had plenty of side-missions with the various guilds, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations focuses purely on the Assassin’s Guild and the other organisations are relegated to optional challenges. There are plenty of collectibles to reward players who love to explore the detailed city streets of the world map, but it feels streamlined in comparison to the preceding titles. The version of the game included in The Ezio Collection does not include multiplayer, so it’s possible that it may feel shorter because more time was spent on developing a more robust multiplayer option. In terms of the plot, there is some attempts to remove the linearity of the missions by allowing players to pursue the hunt for the Masyaf Keys or to investigate the story of the two princes, with the two narratives colliding towards the end of the game.
The game maintains the ‘assassin management sim’ from Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (now called Mediterranean Defence), encouraging players to send out recruits to gain control of key cities and maintain ownership to receive regular rewards. As with Brotherhood, this game resembles popular mobile app games in that players send characters on missions in real time to receive rewards and is surprisingly addictive to play. Another element that makes a welcome return is the ability to build and evolve the city by investing in shops and other buildings to generate an income and buy valuable items. However, districts can be attacked by the Templars if your notoriety gets too high and you must protect your Assassin Dens in a brand-new Tower Defence mini-game. To be honest, I only ever did this mode once in the game during a scripted part of the story. It was an interesting addition, but I didn’t want to be interrupted with constant mini-games so I always made sure to keep my notoriety low by bribing the local heralds. Considering the effort that was put into designing the game type, I am surprised they only included it in one story mission and it might have been better to have utilise the format more in the actual plot.
Another new addition to the established gameplay was the inclusion of Desmond’s memories as the fractured psyche of the comatose Assassin attempted to knit itself back together inside the Animus. These odd first-person sequences involved traversing through a landscape of memories and computer programming using blocks that you could place into the air. Quite a departure from the usual Assassin’s Creed gameplay, these sequences felt more aligned to the Portal series as they revolved around puzzles and platforming. Much like with the Tower Defence side-game, it felt like an attempt to diversify the franchise and rival games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, which have plenty of side-games to supplement the main campaign. While I appreciated the experimentation, I didn’t play Assassin’s Creed to make my way through a virtual dreamscape as a disembodied ghost, building pointless block structures. That’s what Minecraft is for!
Ultimately, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations feels like a game that has lost sight of what made it popular in the first place as it chases after new gimmicks to engage with audiences and justify the need for its annual release schedule. In an effort to distinguish itself from its predecessors and innovate with new features, the game lost some of the magic which made the series so engaging. The game suffers from an odd juxtaposition of introducing lots of new features and game modes, but also paradoxically having less to do in the game aside from the campaign. While the story does bring both Altair and Ezio’s stories to a satisfying conclusion, it lacks the same impact and excitement as the previous instalments – mostly due to uninteresting supporting cast and its relatively boring locale. While my review may seem particularly negative, it was almost inevitable that any game following on from Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood would disappoint on some level, meaning that Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is only a slight misstep in what has been a brilliant franchise so far.
Score – ★★★★
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC from Amazon. It is also available on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One as part of the Assassin’s Creed: The Ezio Collection from Amazon and direct from the Xbox Store.