Assassin's Creed: Revelations Review

By Morgan Webb - Posted Nov 14, 2011

Assassins Creed: Revelations is a unique and engaging experience that offers a lengthy and involved single player as well as creative and thoughtful multiplayer, however some new mechanics don't work as well as hoped, and I expect them to be either refined or eliminated from future versions.

The Pros
  • Story leaves you feeling satisfied yet excited for the next installment
  • Seemingly endless array of brutal combat animations
  • Multiplayer is once again fun and refreshingly different
The Cons
  • Overly complicated bomb-making mechanic
  • Poor menu design wastes time

Assassin's Creed: Revelations Review

Fans of the series have been with Ezio Auditore da Firenze for a while now. We first got to know Ezio when he was a happy young man chasing tail around peaceful Italian plazas. We’ve seen him in the prime of his life, and now, in Assassin's Creed: Revelations, we see him arrive in Constantinople with a graying beard and a wise disposition. He’s not down for the count however, and Ezio can still jump, swing, and climb with the best of them.

 

Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted

The story is one of my favorite parts of this game. It’s engaging and satisfying, and, well, revelatory. A newcomer to the series will be able to follow the story without problem, but fans of the series will be excited by the answers and information we receive. This is not to say we now know everything there is to know about the Assassins Creed universe, but the writers did an artful job of both wrapping up the story and leaving the gamer curious and excited for the next game. This proves you don’t need a cliffhanger ending to keep people coming back for more.

You also get to play as Ezio playing as the character in the first Assassins Creed, Altair. Well, I suppose you are actually playing as Desmond playing as Ezio playing as Altair (it’s all very Inception). These Altair segments offer a nice change of pace, and they weave well into the story as a whole. You really feel the deep connection between the events of multiple time periods.

That feeling extends into the present day as well, since you get to learn more about Desmond and his own past in stripped down concrete Animus levels. You get two shapes you can create out of thin air, a wedge and a rectangle, and you solve puzzles with brains, speed, and timing. These were well thought out and executed, and the story reward (and instant load time after failures) keeps you playing until you triumph.

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Nous Avons Des Ennemis De La Foi Dans Le Royaume

Assassins Creed: Revelations has added bombs to Ezio’s arsenal, but they are fairly complicated to create. The first issue is that there are too many options--too many ingredients that basically accomplish the same task. For example, you can choose for your bombs to have a small, medium, or large blast radius, explode instantly or on a tripwire, include fake coins for distraction or a deadly gas for the more brutal approach, but you never know what to pick because you don’t know what situation you will come across next. However, situations that specifically require the use of bombs in general never seem to occur, let alone situations that call for certain types of bombs over others. Who wants to spend a half hour obsessing about all the potential ingredients, shells, and explosive types when you could just walk though the gate with a phalanx of dancing Gypsy's distracting the guards?

You will soon realize that you can completely ignore this mechanic. You get the idea that after Ubisoft spent a lot of time weaving bomb making into every element of the game, they suddenly realized it was neither fun nor useful. They saved it by peppering the streets with black market bomb vendors, so you can buy your bombs pre-made if you want to use them, and then comfortably ignore most of the other elements.

Instead of the new-fangled explosives, I used the more traditional Assassins Creed strategies of sneaking and stabbing. You are very powerful in head to head combat, especially when it comes to counter moves. Master the simple counter system and you will be able to take on almost any foe, and the best part is that you will do it with epic style. The sheer number of combat animations combined with the sheer brutality of finishing moves will keep you surprised and interested the whole way through. Combine this fluid and brutal combat with your stealth and acrobatics, and you feel like Batman without the moral code. You drop in on the Sultan like he was Commissioner Gordon, and clean up the mean streets of Constantinople like they were the back alleys of Arkham City.

Assassins Creed Revelations

Il Va Bientot Arriver Malheur Á Ceux Qui Nous Ont Condamnés Á Mort

Constantinople is a city in desperate need of real estate investment, and thankfully you are there to provide some renovation funds. Like previous games, you can purchase and renovate shops, banks, and landmarks in order to increase the income you earn every 20 minutes. In Assassins Creed: Brotherhood you could buy as much property as you could afford, then leave Ezio standing on a street corner passively earning cash while you had lunch. When you came back you could empty the bank account, buy more property, then leave him on some bench while you went to run errands.

Apparently, they didn’t like this little cheat, so they tried to put a stop to it in two ways. One is that every time you buy a property, your Templar awareness meter goes up, so if you buy a few properties, you have to run around and search for a few heralds to bribe before you can buy more. Another is that there is a Templar assassin always on your tail, and if Ezio stands around without you chaperoning, he is likely to get killed.

The tailing assassin is a fair-enough tactic that I actually enjoyed, especially since he usually carried a fair amount of cash you could loot off his body. However, the fact that buying property raised your Templar awareness meter was annoying, and it kept you from enjoying the feeling of being a real estate mogul. For every three properties you bought, you spent lots of time hunting for heralds to bribe. If they wanted to slow down the accumulation of property, they should have just made it more expensive to begin with.

Assassins Creed Revelations

Non Nobis, Non Nobis, Domine, Sed Nomini Tuo Da Gloriam

If your Templar awareness meter reaches maximum, the Templars could retaliate by launching an assault on one of your assassins dens. This assault takes the form of an odd tower defense mini-game, where you place your assassins on rooftops and build barriers on the streets below. You don’t really do this often enough to understand what the best strategies are, so you just place as many assassins and barriers as you can and hope for the best. I actually made it through the game only having to play it once (apart from the training exercise), and I expect most players will do the same.

While I enjoyed installing assassins into my captured bases and doing their individual master assassin side quests, I did not particularly enjoy sending them abroad for leveling. I enjoyed this mechanic a great deal in Assassins Creed: Brotherhood, however, a large part of the reward in Revelations is access to bomb making materials; since you don’t need them, the missions lose a bit of their lustre.

Something that plagues the entire game is bad menu design. Sending your assassins for leveling takes longer than it should because you are flipping back and forth between menu pages to check information only available on a different screen. The same goes for buying items. On the “buy this item?” confirmation page, they don’t put the price, so you find yourself backing out to check that the item and price is correct. Menus are something cheap and easy for a developer to fix, and they can have a huge impact on the experience of the gamer.

Assassins Creed Revelations

First into battle and last out

Every game these days feels the need to add some sort of multiplayer to prevent even the strongest of single-player games from working their way into the used game store. Usually it feels tacked on and soulless, but I am very happy to report that the AC: Revelations multiplayer is something wonderfully different and entertaining. While the big online shooters get most of the attention these days, we forget that not everyone likes getting cussed out by a 14-year-old while being knifed in the back. Revelations has some fun interpretations of familiar modes, like capture the flag and king of the hill, but I had the most fun with the more basic free-for-all where you are assigned a target to assassinate, but someone else is assigned to you.

You can’t just prance across the rooftops looking for your target, because that would be incredibly obvious. You need to sneak around and be subtle,  but you need to be fast too, because someone is on your tail. You scan every person you pass looking for subtle clues that there is someone real there. Do they move a little differently? Did they just run for a couple steps? If you are intimidated by or uninterested in the fast paced twitchy online shooters, it doesn’t mean you should write off playing online entirely; this game is definitely worth checking out.

Assassins Creed Revelations

It's An Assassin's Life For Me

Assassins Creed: Revelations has a long single-player campaign, a great story, tons of side quests, and unique and engaging multiplayer. The only thing that holds it back are some mechanics that could have either been fleshed out or eliminated. If you are a fan of Assassins Creed, this game is a must buy, and I enjoyed the game so much that I am looking forward to playing it through a second time.