If there’s anything that can be said about the Assassin’s Creed games, it’s that each iteration is consistently better than the last; Revelations continues that trend by taking everything you loved about Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, and expanding upon it. As much as it saddens me to think that this is the last game with Ezio Auditore da Firenze and Altaïr Ibn La’Ahad in it, it is also quite a joy to see how their stories play out, and how they effect everything else. While I’m really anxious to see where the series goes from here, this is a perfect swan song to send those characters off into the ether.
One thing that really surprised me about this game, was just how open it was. In Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, you were artificially limited from going everywhere at the beginning – you had to wait until the story allowed you to get to a particular area. Now In Revelations, it is in the third sequence where you’re giving free roam abilities, and boy do they mean free. In short, I was 33% done with sequence three (about an hour in for “normal” people), and I had synchronized every viewpoint (except one – the only place locked off to you), bought every business and monument, recruited every assassin (and got them all to master status), and pretty much did everything a normal person would have waited on – curse my OCD.
Taking the time to do all of that will give you some of the game’s best weapons and armor, and really makes things easier in the long run. In effect, Assassin’s Creed Revelations allows the player to set their own level of difficulty. As I mentioned, recruiting assassins is also back, as are the missions that you can send them on – however everything there is extremely expanded upon. Now not only can you send your assassin on random missions in various cities, but you can also lower down the Templar’s control on said cities, and take them over yourself. Doing this gives you extra money every twenty minutes, and a steady supply of bomb creating ingredients.
Oh, what did I just say? Bomb creating?
That’s right – in Revelations, Ezio can craft over 300 varieties of bombs to distract, incapacitate, or just outright kill your enemies. Basically you can think of Ezio as the Batman of the Renissance – if Batman went around and just randomly murdered dudes. Whether it be a caltrops bomb that explodes on impact, or a sticky bomb that blows up guards, or a tripwire bomb that spews gold coins to attract a crowd, you’ll have an absolute blast figuring out what works best in what situation.
Back to the recruiting of assassins, like before you need to control dens in order to gain more followers, and just like in Brotherhood you need to kill the den commander and light a fire to claim it as yours. The big difference there now is that the more you do (buying property, killing Templars, etc), the more notoriety you gain. Gain enough, and the Templars will randomly attack one of your dens. When you go to it, you’re taken to a mini game that reminds me a LOT of a tower defense game – you send leaders on roofs, and then send other assassins in front of them to attack. In order to facilitate this, you need to get morale points to spend (gotten from killing the attackers). You have a number of different units at your disposal, and even barricades that you can build – however once you do it a few times chances are you’ll grow to hate this game.
Luckily, you can bribe heralds, or kill certain Templars to lower your notoriety – or better yet you can level an assassin to 15 and do a special mission for them, and then they will protect your dens for you. It’s definitely a reason to get them leveled up as quick as possible! Something else different about Revelations, is you don’t just have to worry about Byzantine Templars, you also now have the Ottomans on your ass. The only saving grace is that they both hate each other as well, so if you can lure one group to another you can start a rumble and then just sneak on by. Just try not to get caught in the middle, because when one group wins they will inevitably turn on your if you’re still in sight.
Yes Byzantines and Ottomans – Revelations takes place in the city of Istanbul (not Constantinople) during the time of 1511 A.D. History buffs will know that this is around the rise of the Ottoman empire, and Ezio meets a lot of historical figures from this time (Prince Suleiman, and Manuel Palaiologos to name two). The look of the area is a lot different to the Rome that was presented in Brotherhood – from the sun baked sandstone, to the giant bazaar atmosphere – and boy does it look good. Not only has the gameplay mechanics improved from the previous game, but all of the graphics look a lot better – which is a feat considering how good Brotherhood really looked.
In the way of gameplay mechanics other than the bombs I spoke of earlier, Ezio gains a new weapon called the “hookblade”. Basically a blade with a hook on the end (hence the name – genius, right?), it allows you to extend your reach when jumping (or falling), and adds some new flair to the combat combos you can perform. The hook roll is especially impressive, and works great when you’re running from people. Counter kills and counter grabs are also a breeze to pull off, and you’ll find yourself doing them in combos when you want to end combat quickly.
I didn’t get much multiplayer time in before writing this (because I was more interested in the narrative), however I did get to play some. Most of it is exactly what you played in Brotherhood, however there is a new mode called Deathmatch. In deathmatch, there’s no longer a compass to tell you where your target is, but rather a small box in the top right shows you who your target is, and it glows blue when you’re in the line of sight of them. It’s a lot more difficult, because some of the maps are quite large, and it really feels like looking for a needle in a haystack (with other needles trying to jab you in the ass). All in all though, the whole experience is just as fun as it was last time around, and it still feels like one big Turin Test. One thing that was improved beyond a shadow of a doubt is the connectivity. In Brotherhood I has issues out the wazoo with connecting to people, and even though there were only reviewers playing pre-launch, I never had any problems finding a match.
The last thing I feel compelled to mention, is how Ubisoft seems to be on board with the Playstation 3 on this title. Not only did PS3 users get to enjoy the Beta for the multiplayer, but they also get the entire first Assassin’s Creed game for free on their Blu-Ray disc. I know lots of developers are going the console specific bonus route, but it’s nice to see something that big as one. Granted it’s a couple years old, but playing that made me remember where this series had its roots at (as I hadn’t even picked it up since beating it right after it originally came out). I don’t want to get into a 360 vs. PS3 debate here, just letting you know that one has a definite advantage with this specific game.
The Bottom Line: This game epitomizes the way I want every one of my favorite franchises to be done with characters – everything shows a level of polish and detail that screams out to how much they care about Assassin’s Creed.
- The game looks gorgeous – artistically, there is nothing that I would change one bit
- The voice acting is spot on like always
- Desmond’s sections, while odd, are a welcome and refreshing break
- The den defense mini-game loses its fun very quickly
- Trying to remember which enemies were weak against which bombs made my head hurt
- Ezio and Altair are gone after this
You can get Assassin’s Creed Revelations from Amazon for $59.96