Ubisoft has finally finished out Ezio’s story with their new Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, the final installment of the trilogy spawned from Assassin’s Creed 2. This new adventure brings Ezio to Istanbul and Desmond to a nowhere world within the Animus, and sees a lot of old mysteries from the previous games finally being explained. Istanbul brings Ezio new challenges and even greater enemies as he tries to sift through the Order’s greatest member – Altaïr – and the teachings he left behind.
Storyline wise the game dumps you into the middle of last game’s ending. I won’t spoil anything here for those yet to play the game, but suffice to say there were major occurrences at the end of Brotherhood. Due to the intense Animus sessions and other things, Desmond finds himself trapped on an island within the Animus’ core. From there, he must figure out how to extract himself from his own convoluted mind – his time with both Altaïr and Ezio have left his mind a shattered mess through the Animus’ bleeding effect. On Ezio’s side of matters, he is led to Istanbul based on texts left behind by Altaïr; he seeks for a way to access a vault within Masayaf, the ancestral home of the Assassin Order. There he suspects there is information key to possibly taking down the Templars.
The gameplay is nearly identical to the previous games, especially Brotherhood. You have a variety of weapons at your disposal as always, though this time the weapon selection is handled much differently. You have two wheels – those being instant use items and melee weapons, and the other seems to consist of secondary weapons like the hidden gun and poison darts. By selecting any distance-based weapon, a separate button is used for them either during a fight or outside of one. It’s a weird change and I miss the streamlining of the last game; honestly. They also changed up the combo system in this – it’s not as easily used as the previous title, of which I’m glad. It's not difficult to initiate a combo in this if you just keep tapping the attack button between kills, but it’s just more annoying in that sense. They’ve also added some new things, like the Hook Blade. This new grappling tool lets you both do the neat zipline maneuver seen in the trailers as well as adding some boost to Ezio’s climbing and ability to take down enemies.
There is also the inclusion of all of the games’ previous bits – the missions you can give your Assassin Order, the ability to call them in the midst of fights, etc etc. The biggest new item however would be the tower defense minigame they’ve brought in. During den sieges by the Templars, Ezio will sit atop a roof over a very linear street leading to the den and direct his fellow assassins in its defense. While I normally love this genre of games (just look to the Dungeon Defenders game we at SBN put numerous hours into), it feels so forced within the confines of Assassin’s Creed. The camera angle is awkward, the siege weapons the Templars bring to bear can be absolutely ridiculous, and the way it’s all handled can be a joke. There were a few times where the defense of the den took me a few minutes when they never broke the first barrier I erected. There were other times where the Templars’ siege engine they brought against us would rip apart the barriers with a single glance and then proceed to demolish any chance I had of succeeding. The minigame is fun in theory, but it needs some work. There is also the multiplayer aspect of the game, which is much like the previous iteration – go online, blend in, and assassinate others. It’s still a fun addition to the game and thankfully it doesn’t feel like the central focus, which is perfect. I recommend it for those looking to add some replayability to their game – it can be really fun, especially with friends.
I have very minor issues with the game. There are some glitches that have popped up from time to time, and other than the very rare mission glitches, they are harmless. My biggest complaint with the game is that there seems to be too much going on at once to keep an clear head about matters. At any given point, you can have 4 side missions to do, a couple of main missions, and you’ll have a den under attack as well. Topping all of that off are the Assassin Order missions – if you neglect these set of missions, you can potentially lose other cities and countries that you’ve worked on obtaining. It takes a form of micromanaging to keep everything in check, which is an absolute pain if you’re also trying to handle the game’s story missions and progress things along.
Graphically the game is nearly about the same as its predecessors. Here and there are some improvements, especially with facial animation though there are points where Ezio looks like an absolute ghoul. The game is much more colorful in my opinion – the Middle Eastern setting just looks so much vibrant than the previous games. I will say this – there are some points in the game that did leave me a little shocked at how well done they were. I won’t spoil anything, but I can say that they are very different in gameplay style and aesthetic than other sections of the game. Music was also a huge plus for me in this game. Once again Ubisoft has done a great job at providing Ezio and Desmond with fantastic backdrop music that keeps the pace of the game. From the points when Desmond is contemplating his existence and Ezio is sneaking around, the game does a great job of keeping the tempo right and making the player feel it.
Ultimately the game is fun even with some minor downsides. I definitely recommend it to those that want to finish out the series (or at least Ezio’s series) before the next actual Assassin’s Creed 3 comes out.Note: Assassin's Creed: Revelations was reviewed on Xbox 360. A physical copy of the game was purchased by SelectButton.