As the end of the year rapidly approaches, the massive onslaught of big-name games have finally all been released, giving me a chance to go back and play catch-up. With that, I wanted to make sure I was able to finish Ubisoft’s latest entry into the Assassin’s Creed series, Revelations, before my Top 10 Games of the Year video next week. Revelations essentially gives us more of the same with little new being brought to the table, but another epic chapter in the Assassin-Templar war and the impending doom that awaits the modern world.
The game picks up immediately following the crazy events that took place at the end of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, where Desmond is locked inside the animus in some kind of comatose state. Essentially Desmond’s mind when combined with the animus is unable to differentiate his own memories from those of the past, so to wake up, he’s going to have to continue to relive Ezio’s memories.
Ezio’s story continues much later in his life where he is tracking down the secrets hidden in a library by Altair from events that took place following the first game. To unlock the door to the library, Ezio will travel to Constantinople to hunt down a series of Masyaf Keys, each containing memory fragments imprinted long ago by Altair. It’s neat when you find one because the game goes Inception on your ass, allowing you to relive a memory inside of a memory. You’ll get the chance to fill in story gaps between the first and second game by seeing what happened to Altair from his late twenties to his old-as-ballz years. Of course, an intriguing tale of civil war and a struggle for power inside Constantinople will also keep you entertained as Ezio undoubtedly gets caught in the middle.
Another massive cliffhanger prevents you from seeing what should be an epic conclusion to the tale of the end of the world and what Desmond must do to stop it, all in time to sync up with the “prophesized” end of our world in December of 2012. The story of Ezio and Altair is very interesting, especially how they both relate to Desmond – but it’s Desmond’s story that I’m really interested in. It’s unfortunate that the only time we really get insight into what’s going on in the real world at the end of the game.
In my opinion, you shouldn’t play Revelations if you haven’t played the previous entries in the series unless you do some serious research to see what happened beforehand. Luckily, the PS3 version of the game comes with a copy of the first Assassin’s Creed on the same BluRay disc, which is a good start.
Revelations took me roughly 18 hours to complete. It’s important to note though that I didn’t get anywhere near to full synchronization by any means, as I didn’t even touch any of the faction side quests, nor did I attempt to find the majority of the game’s treasures and secrets. Like Brotherhood, the game is just loaded with time sinks, especially renovating the city of Constantinople. See, where Brotherhood took place entirely in Rome, Revelations takes place primarily in Constantinople, and the game world is just as massive.
The graphics and textures are wonderful, especially when viewing the cut-scene sequences, and I loved the art direction of the city and its people. But the great visuals come at the cost of some of the worst and most consistent screen tearing I’ve ever experienced. It’s not as bad with a 60hz television, but I played on a 120hz LED and the tearing really destroyed my immersion.
Minus the Apple of Eden, Ezio will start the game with all of the gear that he earned in Brotherhood like the parachutes and upgraded hidden blade, but will start with shitty armor that must be replaced over time. Ezio will gain access to the local Assassin’s Guild much earlier this time around allowing him to train and level up various assassins to do his dirty work.
Constantinople is divided into several Templar controlled zones, each with a den. Killing a Templar den commander will allow Ezio to build an Assassin’s Den and begin renovations with that part of the city. A new Templar Awareness mechanic alerts the Templars of your presence as you perform illegal activities. When the meter is maxed, the Templars will attack an Assassin den where you’ll be forced to defend it with a fun, and often challenging, Tower Defense mini-game. The only way to prevent Templars from overtaking a den is to train a Master Assassin and assign him to that location.
Mediterranean Defense is the new system used to train your assassins. Templars have control of various cities in the Mediterranean and you’ve got to send your assassins on missions to regain control. Once you gain control, you’ll earn income and resources from that city, but the Templars will actively try to take it back, so you have to constantly monitor these cities and continue to perform missions to hold them. In the end, I found this to just be a micromanagement waste of time as I really only wanted to create a bunch of Master Assassins and then be done with it.
A few new features were added to the game including a new hook blade that allows Ezio to jump further, climb higher, and zip across town faster. To me, this was the coolest feature in the game, but I found the controls to be pretty sloppy at times. More often than not, I simply lost control of Ezio and sent him jumping and climbing areas I did not want him to be, especially in intense and clutch situations. A pretty elaborate bomb system was also implemented that allows Ezio to craft bombs with various effects. Bombs can be used to kill, incapacitate, stun, disorient, and distract enemies, giving Ezio all kinds of new options to take out or sneak around his foes.
Animus Fragments are also scattered throughout the city and when enough are collected, missions are unlocked for Desmond that puts you in a first person perspective game that requires puzzle solving and platforming. The mechanics are kind of difficult in this perspective, but the experience is neat because it reveals a lot of information about Desmond’s past, and his interpretations on what is going on.
The multiplayer system from Brotherhood has returned and while there are several game-type variations, the mechanics, perks and abilities are pretty much the same. Typically you’re going to be hunting down a randomly assigned enemy while trying to avoid being detected by whoever is hunting you down. Much could be said about the complexities and strategy involved in the multiplayer and I’m not the guy to do it. I don’t have enough experience online to say anything beyond simply that it’s fun to play, and if I had more time, this would probably be the multiplayer game that I’d be playing.
In the end, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is really just more of the same. There aren’t that many unique new features to the game; it’s simply the next part of the story. It’s the same mechanics, the same types of missions and the same city renovation. To me, it drew the game out too long. If no new mechanics or features are to be added to a game, why make it 20 hours long? Give me the remainder of the story and be done with it. Length doesn’t make a game good. Now, I’m not saying this game is bad by any means – in fact, it’s quite good. It’s just the same as Brotherhood and was drawn out. Requiescat en pace.
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Release Date: November 15, 2011
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