Another sequel in a hectic period of sequels, Revelations is more of the same, but honed to perfection.
I am susceptible to raving fanboyisms from time to time – for example, I have a Jedi logo tattooed on my right shoulder, and also fall foul of vociferously defending the Splinter Cell series as if my life depended on it (Conviction was immense, people!). But occasionally, my rabid devotion can be tempered by the cool penetration of simple logic, and in the case of Revelations, this review is going to be more objective than I’d probably like. I’ll have a little rant somewhere, though, as I have been declaring this my game of the year since June – it isn’t unfortunately, but that’s only thanks to some sheer brilliance on the parts of Dead Space 2, Batman and Skyrim to just nudge it down in what has been an immense year for gaming. AC: Revelations, then, is the fourth (or possibly seventh, depending on if you count the spin offs) tale of the Assassins and Templars to play out, and the third yearly instalment of the continuing saga of Desmond, Ezio, and even the original assassin himself, Altair. Desmond is trapped in his own mind, and in a blatant homage/rip off of inception, needs to traverse his memories to rebuild his own sanity after the events of Brotherhood. Entering the later years of Ezios life to track down keys to a library hidden by Altair, Desmond can finally learn the true secrets of the Assassins order, and lay to rest his ancestors memories once and for all. If this sounds confusing, you really need to go and play the previous titles, as Revelations opens with a bang and doesn’t really stop to let you catch breath. Whilst I appreciated the maturity of giving the player enough credit to not need to rely on heavy exposition, the storyline is so integral to what makes the series so good that if you don’t start with a full knowledge of the characters history, you’ll probably get quite lost. Similarly, if you played 2 or BroHood and didn’t find them enjoyable, stay well away, as Revelations is more of the same, with added sci-fi hot sauce. If you did enjoy the previous titles, however, get ready for a rollercoaster – the bulk of the game is played out in Constantinople, while in control of Ezio as he searches for the keys to Altairs library of knowledge. When obtaining said keys, he himself flashes back to Altair, letting the player control the grand daddy himself in some truly awesome, Uncharted-style action adventure sequences. It is then possible to flash out to Desmonds mind, lost on a small island of consciousness within the animus, and help him piece together his own mind by playing some odd first-person platforming sections. These bits are a bit weird, if I’m honest – you platform in first person, a la Mirrors Edge, but can build platforms with your mind while getting the skinny on Desmonds past, something that’s only really been touched upon until now. The weirdness of the platforming is countered by the snippets of conversation and internal monologue, but overall, I can’t help but think something that played like the AR training missions in the previous game would have worked just as well.
I have been declaring this my game of the year since June – it isn’t unfortunately, but that’s only thanks to some sheer brilliance on the parts of other titles
So, on to the controls, and Ubisoft have rejigged the buttons around a bit, which does initially lead to a bit of confusion for anyone who has been in since the beginning. However, the new scheme is OK, although you will still occasionally jump sideways off of a tower when you simply wanted to climb along. It certainly is game breaking, but is a bit irritating at the wrong times. Ezios moves are still as fun as ever, and combat still follows the targeting and instant kills of BroHood, with chains of kills quite possible and quite easy. New tricks mainly revolve around the Hookblade, a wristblade with a sneaky hook used to assist climbing and combat, as well as adding in the ability to slide down ropes and cables dotted around the city. This new transport method is great, and the first time you slide along, drop onto an unsuspecting guard and jump onto another line, you’ll realise how truly badass this game can be. I love it, and it’s the best new thing since AC2 added twin blades to your repertoire. There’s also a bomb building strategy tool, whereby Ezio can create different bombs for distraction, murder and general mayhem, but to be honest, most players just won’t need them. If you do fancy a go, though, you can make screamers to distract guards, caltrop bombs to slow down pursuers, straight up grenades and poison bombs for a touch of murder, and many more. Add in different casings and gunpowder types, and the choice is huge, although the planning needed to make the right bomb left me a bit cold. Far better to sneak about doing your stabby thing, sliding through the darkness and playing with all the classic tools of death we have come to embrace as our own.There’s also a new tower-defence style minigame to keep hold of captured territories, but to be honest, it’s not much to write home about. It’s kind of fun, but instantly forgettable and largely easy to ignore. Presentation-wise, its great – Constantinople is beautiful, and character models look better than ever, with even more detail and flourish adding further layers of beauty onto a series already reknowned for looking sweet. However, there’s something about the character models that screams “redesign” to me – Desmond and Ezio look different, and it feels a bit like when different actors play the same character – odd. It’s a very tiny gripe, though, and when backed up with some brilliant voice acting, and a really moving score, it’s easy to overlook and bask in the sheer delight of a game that could have easily been rushed and unpolished. Well done, Ubisoft. Multiplayer next, and it’s more of the same with added knobs – if you played the beta or the MP on BroHood, you know exactly what to expect. Sneaking around trying to kill a target in a sea of similar characters, while watching your arse for someone trying to batter you from behind is still immensely satisfying, and what amounts to a game of hide-and-seek shows that multi player doesn’t need to be merely about squads laying down suppressing fire. Ubi have wisely added some story this time around too, so aside from the expected unlocks and rankings, playing through the multiplayer actually adds something to the lore of the game world, albeit something that you won’t suffer to miss if playing with others just isn’t for you. So now, in classic choose your own adventure style, you have two endings – one for series fans, and one for those who aren
‘t (I’m still having my own scores though). Non-fans first. Assassins Creed Revelations does more of the same, and does it well, but doesn’t add enough to make it particularly fresh. The story is good, but relies heavily on prior adventures to really make it stand out. The controls are still a bit tough to use, often sending you completely the wrong way in times of intensity, and the multiplayer is a bit sedate at times. However, lurking beneath all these niggles is still a damn good game, which simply offers that you put in some time to get the most out of it. As the final part of a trilogy, it works, but it won’t drag most gamers away from Skyrim, Battlefield or MW3. Raging Fanboy ending: So overall, despite not doing a lot to the fundamentals, AC Revelations still manages to be an awesome title, simply because of the sheer brilliance of the series overall. Finally adding some weight to Altair is wonderful, fleshing out the past of Desmond makes him truly relevant, and the closing chapters of Ezios tale are dark yet satisfying. To bow out two great characters in this title is no shame, and although there are a few small, questionable niggles, the latest in the series is the best yet again. It doesn’t do quite enough to stand top of this years gaming pile, but if you had any fun at all in the previous titles, it’s a straight must-buy. A brilliant game, in a brilliant series, only the lack of a few more new twists prevent it being the game of the year.
The Bad: ….and non-fans will find it drags and doesn’t make much sense; controls have been reworked, but are still less intuitive than they should be; don’t even think you’ll understand the game unless you have at least played AC2 and Brotherhood all the way through; Desmond sections feel weird and unfinished, even if they are fun; actual main character design looks different to what we have been used to; lacking the innovation of previous titles