Review: Assassin’s Creed: Revelations

on November 22, 2011 3:00 PM

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is one of those games that succeeds based on the players’ motivation for purchasing it. The fourth major Assassin’s Creed game in as many years, Revelations lives up to its title, and as we close the book on Altair and Ezio we watch Desmond start on a new journey to finish an old task. As far as sequels go, the game brings much to the table including stunning landscapes and an expanded multiplayer system.

Whether or not you have already picked up the game, ask yourself this before reading on: What made you purchase the game? Is it because it’s part of the infamous Assassin’s Creed franchise, and like so many other series you are consuming it because it bears the name? Did you feel the game failed you in that sense? Or are you someone who invests themselves in the story of the series and the scent of executive money-mongering, of dragging out a series that could have been wrapped up in two games, means nothing to you? Were you expecting something new and groundbreaking with Revelations or do you find joy in the comfort of the familiar gameplay? What is your connection to the series, and will you shoot the messenger if it does not deliver the result you expect?

As you can guess, as someone who invests herself deeply in the literary value of video games, I am the latter. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, while submerging me in a world I truly did not want to leave, did not exactly reach the classic status of its predecessors.

Review: Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Despite the typical sequel syndrome, Revelations presents players with a new and highly entertaining cast of characters (most notably hot bookworm Sophia and the Constantine Assassin Yusuf who is just straight up cool) and tweaks to the free-running and battle systems that make it both fluid and more tactical-intensive. Not to mention we finally know what happened to Altair Ibn-La-Ahad and what Ezio Auditore de Firenze plans to do. Desmond’s interactions with Subject 16 bring a whole new level of bone-chilling desperation to the tale…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Revelations is a dense game. I personally have spent almost every night since I got the game – late on Thrusday, November 10 – from around seven or eight p.m. until four in the morning clocking hours in both the single and multiplayer modes. Just one more Templar captain to kill, one more key to find… The content is generous and sports gameplay ideas introduced in previous Assassin’s Creed titles as well as a score of new ones, making for a challenging mesh of new and old. However, 20 hours into the game I was still grasping at threads for answers and trying to figure out what the hell kind of bombs I needed to use in specific situations.

Before I delve into the gameplay, it is important to not overlook the game’s rich artistic design. The game’s 1511 Constantinople is gorgeous, beautifully plotted and delicately rendered down to the trimming on windowsills. The segments with Desmond in the Animus are a breathtaking wash of shimmering blue and white; players feel as though they are floating or staring into a cloud as they watch Desmond struggle to regain the fragmented pieces of his subconscious.  From the rich, vivid red of Sophia’s hair to the earthy street of Constantinople to the watercolor wash of the setting sun as Ezio sits atop the city’s highest spire, the aesthetic appeal of the series has remained unchanged, and perhaps grown. You step into a time machine and suddenly you are there – it’s any history buff’s dream to walk through streets as tantalizingly rendered as those in Revelations.

Review: Assassin's Creed: Revelations

The story, however, leaves a bit to be desired. It is cliché. Ezio is looking for five keys, each incripted with Altair’s memories, to open a door to a secret chamber in which Altair something something Apple of Eden something. Right. He also needs to kick the Templars out of Constantinople and bang some chick who loves books. It is a predictable formula and I could not swing gung-ho into the foray without a couple head-scratching moments of, “Why should I care?” After all we’ve seen him do, Ezio feels foreign to the game’s plot. Still, the assassination missions offer a degree of fun and can be quite challenging. My favorite is still the minstrel episode, where Ezio must stroll around a party dressed a minstrel in ridiculously tight leggings, singing lewd songs to guests in order to distract them from the swooping attacks of his ragtag band of assassins.

Gameplay remains largely unchanged as well. You run, climb up buildings, swing from lamps, and quietly kill your tagets. Ezio has access to his gun from II, throwing knives, and a crossbow, as well as poison darts that slowly drive mad and kill his targets. Ezio can assemble a group of new assassin’s and summon them to fight with him at need, as well as send them to other areas on the map to level up faster. The latest addition to Ezio’s arsenal is a hookblade that allows him to pick pockets, leap over and throw his opponents, climb just a little higher with every jump and slide down zip lines strategically scattered around the city’s rooftops.

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A High Summoner from the Woods of the North (read: New England), Alexa and her ragtag band of comrades have saved the world from cataclysmic destruction countless times -- you just didn't notice. When she isn't writing or gaming, she enjoys baking, long walks at dusk, and cosplay.