Fans of the Assassin’s Creed series have had a lot to cheer about the past few years. Assassin’s Creed 2 took players to Italy to explore the life and times of young assassin Ezio Auditore. And Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood used that formula, added a brilliant multiplayer and further refined the game’s controls. And the best part was, both games pushed the story into new and interesting directions both inside and outside the Animus. Does Assassin’s Creed: Revelations continue to celebrate the fine art of video game storytelling? Or are Ubisoft’s yearly releases of the series starting to dilute the formula?
Inside the Animus, Ezio leaves Italy and heads to Istanbul where he scrambles to find hidden relics left behind by Altair, the original Assassin’s Creed protagonist. There, he finds new gadgets, a new flock of assassin’s, and of course, a love interest. The physical layout of Istanbul with it’s landscape pocked with landmarks and its rich history provide a great backdrop for an Assassin’s Creed storyline. However, Ezio’s story this time around isn’t that interesting.
The real interesting story segments come from the Altair portions of Revelations. The flashbacks tell the story of the life of Altair in Masyaf before and after the events of the original Assassin’s Creed. Unfortunately, there isn’t much action to be had within his sections of the game. The result makes Revelations feel unbalanced. Ezio’s portions are action heavy, but story light, while Altair’s portions are the exact opposite.
Graphically, the game is a lateral step from previous Assassin’s Creed entries. The environments are all gorgeous, we do, however, wish they’d cut the fog, rather than obscure your vision it just makes everything look shiny. The facial models are worse. In an attempt to add more detail to their faces, Ezio’s and Desmond’s faces have seen significant downgrades. Desmond now looks awkward, while Ezio is taking on the characteristics of an orangutan. The city is still populated by clones, clones, and more clones.
None of the new gadgetry impressed us. We never felt the need or the desire to craft our own bombs. And we didn’t find their abilities added anything to the gameplay. The hookblade was interesting at first for sliding down ziplines, and reaching far away ledges, but the novelty wore off quickly, and after a few uses we wanted our standard double blades back again.
You can recruit and train your own clan of assassins, a feature that made an unexpected return from Brotherhood. And once again you can send them on individual missions throughout Europe. With your assassins, comes new assassin dens and the single worst part of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations: the den protection tower defense mini game. As you perform villanous deeds like public executions and wise investments in real estate, your notoriety meter rises. If it gets too high, the local Templars attack one of your dens and you’re forced into a tedious and poorly designed game of placing assassins on rooftops to kill storming Templars below. Luckily you can prevent all of this by bribing local heralds or assassinating witnesses, something you’ll obsess over to avoid the horrendous mini game.
Outside the Animus, Desmond’s story has come to a near halt, which is a huge letdown for us. Instead of solving great glyph puzzles, you now unlock the story of Desmond’s past by collecting Animus pieces in the environment. Desmond’s story itself is quite fascinating, but it is delivered in a very dry fashion as you slowly navigate through 3D Portal-esque puzzles that are solved by either placing a flat or ramped shape in front of you. The puzzles are left feeling awkward and out of place, with terrible controls. We would have much preferred glyph puzzles to unlock a fully animated movie to tell his story.
The multiplayer that Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood introduced is back with a few tweaks and new modes, none of which are particularly noteworthy. Most players are currently still flocking to the standard deathmatch and team hunting modes. We can’t say that it’s a huge improvement over Brotherhood, and it’s not good enough to stand on its own to warrant a full purchase.
Without a doubt, this is our least favorite entry in the Assassin’s Creed series. While it’s still a decent game, it’s just not the must-play experience of previous titles. As long-time fans of the series, it pains us to realize this is just another average game with above average production values. It doesn’t hold to the standards that of previous entries. The storytelling feels sloppier. The character models have somehow gotten worse. And the “heart” of the Assassin’s Creed franchise of infiltration, stealth, assassination and extraction have been lost or ignored. You are no longer the one-man mask of death hidden in the crowd.
We aren’t sold on the gimmick of the hookblade. And the minigames of unlocking Desmond’s backstory and defending Assassin Dens are nothing more than a chore. That being said we appreciate the game for giving us more parkour opportunities and for pushing the story outside the Animus along, even if it was only by an inch. The big reveal in the final 15 minutes of Revelations almost make the whole game worthwhile. But with Assassin’s Creed 3 on the horizon, we can’t recommend rushing out and purchasing Revelations at full price. Judging on the celerity of the price drops of Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, you’ll likely find Assassin’s Creed: Revelations at a severely reduced price in the very near future. In the meantime, a rental will suit anyone who wants to discover the next bit of story in the Assassin’s Creed saga.
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Name: Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
Available on: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal
Published by: Ubisoft
Release date: November 15, 2011
EG Score: 3 out of 5 / “Worth Trying”