Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Assassin's Creed: Revelations Review

Out of all new franchises which have been created in this generation of consoles, Assassin's Creed is by far my favourite. Unlike other franchises, Assassin's Creed toys with history and pulls out pieces of information from our actual past and crafts an elegant story of action and adventure. The assassin's are such an interesting, yet mysterious group and getting the chance to play as one fulfills so many of my interests. In a world which is now cluttered with FPS's that take you through a collapsing world, it is nice to be able to go back into our history and see some of the great civilisations in their prime.

Revelations is the final farewell to Altair and Ezio Auditore da Firenze, the main character of the first then second and third titles respectively. While the modern day character Desmond will be continuing into Assassin's Creed III and beyond, this game wraps up the story of Ezio specifically while also providing flashbacks into Altair's life. Despite saying that they would increase the time between releases to allow for more development of the series, Revelations came out only a year after Brotherhood, which in turn was a year after ACII. Assassin's Creed III again is due out in 2012. The game is slowly becoming annualized, something many people don't want. Has shorter development time or the fact that 6 studios from around the world built this game affected the evolution of this series? Yes, but the majority of it is positive.


I have always been impressed with the attention to detail placed in the Assassin's Creed games. Even though the original title is dwarfed in respect to the more recent additions to the franchise, the ability to create multiple huge living and breathing cities which have distinct features was super impressive at the time. Three games later and Revelations is taking a similar approach to Brotherhood. Instead of having multiple cities to travel to like in AC and ACII, Revelations is set in Constantinople which is a vast empire just like Rome in Brotherhood. This is a good thing for the series as they can streamline a story experience around that particular area and period in time rather than trying to incorporate the history of many different cities all at once. Since only one city needs to be created, the developers are able to add greater detail and create unique zones and areas within the city to symbolise slums, market areas, meeting zones and general wide open expanses all in a single location. The city looks spectacular and it is a great testament to the developers that they manage to construct it with so many citizens in frame, while having the game continually run at a smooth rate.

Missions in Assassin's Creed always start with and often include in-game cut scenes. These have improved spectacularly since the first title. Quite often textures would pop in and out, characters would have body parts that would move for no reason and some of the camera angles looked clunky. Thankfully this has been gradually improved over time and they are top notch in Revelations. The cinematic start to Revelations is also a first for the series and is used to great effect, setting the scene perfectly for the opening battle at Masyaf. The player models are as always, strong as ever.

The assassins have always been gifted and received special attention is making sure that every animation is as smooth as possible. With new additions such as the hook blade the amount of actions available has been increased and all previous animations have been given a nice polish over. When in combat you can perform some quite awesome finishing moves which slow down the action and provide a close up of the insane ability of Ezio, this is quite cool but happens probably a little bit too often for my liking. Interaction with other people isn't as clunky as before and reacting to people in your way as you walk through a crowd definitely looks a lot better.

Before launching into Revelations I went back and played the original Assassin's Creed to refresh my memory on Altair's story as it was quite a while ago. It astonished me to listen to an American Altair, something I never really paid attention to back in 2007. It is good to see that the current Altair finally has an accent and voice actor that does him justice, as does every single character in the game. Every single voice actor fits the role perfectly, the dialogue and tone of each actor perfectly matches the personality of the character. Ezio is now much older than previous titles and the experience and wisdom which surrounds him when he speaks is magnificent. The musical score is also pretty memorable and sets the scene perfectly when making your way around Constantinople.


Assassin's Creed is a story held together by Desmond, but primarily revolves around his ancestors. While everyone thought Altair's story was over once he recovered the piece of Eden from Masyaf, he has been brought back once again to assist Ezio's final quest. The storyline is thrilling and kept me hooked right from the beginning. As with every Assassin's Creed title to date, the ending left me gob smacked and gave a feeling of joy and sadness as the tale of Ezio and Altair wrapped up. Not all sections of the game were great, Desmond's bizarre Animus sections did provide a bit of variation from the standard assassin formula but not much in terms of story. The game does assume that you know Ezio and Altair's past adventures and those new to the series may find themselves a bit lost for the start of the game at least. This is an ongoing franchise and seeing how the two main characters have been featured before, experience is required.

Ezio is a pure beast with the blade now and can now dispatch enemies with ease. Compared to the original Assassin's Creed, combat and assassinations come easy to the player. Being introduced to a new city and lifestyle has brought with it new tools for Ezio. The hook blade is a fantastic addition which makes climbing buildings and using zip lines found around the city a breeze to use. You can now craft bombs which all have specific qualities depending on what items you put into them, which can be found by looting bodies and finding chests. All of the great abilities from past games return and some have been improved such as the ability to create a Brotherhood as you send assassin's around the world to perform missions in order to rankup. Some new features of Revelations don't hold up to the high standard of the series however.

Quite early on into the game you will come across Den Defense, a mode which is basically another take on the popular tower defense formula. Den Defense plays out as you stand on a roof and control where and what type of soldiers or assassin's are placed on the roof as you try to defend an area from oncoming soldiers. This becomes a tedious process that completely reverses the style of play which the series is known for. It is slow, a bit clunky and adds nothing what so ever to the experience. If it continues into future titles a serious overhaul of it needs to be done, if anything is should be a small optional area of the game, not streamlined into the main story.

Multiplayer was first introduced into Assassin's Creed last year with Brotherhood. While it was a lot of fun, the load times to get into games was simply horrendous and the menu layout didn't make it an enjoyable experience. This year a lot of improvements have been made. Matches are now a lot easier to get into, new games modes are exciting and mix up the pure stealth formula of the past year and a story has been added. This is a nice addition, having a story which unravels are you progress through the levels is a clever way to keep you playing if the unique action isn't enough to take your fancy.


By no means is Assassin's Creed: Revelations a bad game. The game looks better than ever before, the story is probably the most thrilling yet and is an ode to fans who have been living in the world of Altair and Ezio for the last 5 years. Some new features such as Den Defense don't make a positive impact like planned, but that does little to detract from the great experience you will gain from Revelations. Sure, some people may complain that they have kept the same formula and run with it, but if it ain't broke don't fix it. Multiplayer on top of the single player is a great way to keep living in the assassin world long after you farewell the two current assassin's from the series before a new one is welcomed next year when Desmond faces yet another huge challenge. This is a game you must play.

Graphics - 9.5/10
Sound - 9.5/10
Gameplay - 9/10
Overall - 9.5/10