Sunday, 1 January 2012

Assassin's Creed Revelations Review

Spoilers for the Assassin's Creed series and LA Noire ahead.

Assassin's Creed II was, in my opinion, an excellent game. Its brilliant combination of exploration, thrilling combat sequences and stealthily stabbing rich people in the throat made it one of the best games of 2009. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, released last year, was more of the same. There were no significant changes in the gameplay other than the addition of a decent multiplayer mode, but it was still fun. The main criticism one could give about Brotherhood was that the story didn't really go anywhere, with the protagonist Ezio Auditore mostly meandering around Rome for 15-20 hours before an explosive and dramatic ending, albeit one which could quite easily have been affixed to Assassin's Creed II. Before playing Assassin's Creed Revelations I expressed my hope that its story would not do the same thing, and the ongoing story of the franchise would make a significant advancement towards a conclusion.

Fortunately, Revelations is different to Brotherhood, in that this time Ezio meanders around Constantinople for 15-20 hours instead, a completely different city.The framing device for this is the same as in the previous game of the series: set in the now present-day, generic hero Desmond Miles uses a machine known as the Animus to explore Ezio's memories in the hopes of finding a way of averting an imminent natural disaster and stopping the Templars, a megalomaniacal cult, from controlling the world.
There's not much to say about the story. Desmond's mind is trapped in the Animus, on a virtual island from where he can kill time by delving into the memories of Italian ancestor Ezio, as he searches Constantinople for five keys which will allow him to enter a library built by Altair Ibn La'Ahad, the protagonist of the first Assassin's Creed. This plot thread is sporadically furthered throughout the game. Meanwhile, Ezio becomes involved in a civil war going on in Constantinople while pursuing a relationship with an Italian bird called Sofia. The vast number of different characters makes the story quite difficult to follow; I found myself playing many missions without knowing the reason why despite watching every cutscene which appeared. It does get a bit clearer towards the end, after Ezio pulls an LA Noire and uncharacteristically attacks a load of civillians in a cave, but even then there doesn't seem to be particular reason why Ezio is so invested in finding the keys, or what's happening with regards to the war. Disappointingly, Revelations fails to continue the series' now trademark weird ending, which would in past games continue Desmond's storyline. In Revelations, all that happens is Adam Fenix from Gears of War 3 shows up and tells Desmond something only slightly different to what he was told in the last game, something which Minerva could have told him in Assassin's Creed II and saved a lot of people a lot of money in the real world.

The story may be disappointing, but what about the gameplay? It's still as fun as it was in Assassin's Creed II, consisting of free-running around structures, using stealth and skill to assassinate targets, among other things such as an incongruous mission which sees Ezio picking flowers for his girlfriend two-thirds of the way through the game. A few new additions have been made, including the ability to use bombs, as well as a tower defense minigame which sees Ezio commanding assassins to fight off attacking Templars. The new features add very little to the gameplay, which is basically the same as the last two games. Some missions also see Desmond exploring the memories of Ezio, who in turn explores the memories of Assassin's Creed's Altair in a move worthy of Pimp My Ride's Xzibit. These help to give context to the library storyline and allow players to see what happened to Altair in his old age. The gameplay of them is basically the same as the rest of the game. It's not that the gameplay needs changing dramatically, as it's still a lot of fun, but if the gameplay is hardly different and the story barely goes anywhere, the only reason for Ubisoft making this game is to pad out the series for extra money.

The multiplayer is somewhat different, giving players a more varied wealth of customisation options, as well as a number of new game modes. It's also now possible to enter a game as it's in progress, reducing the amount of waiting around looking for games. As in Brotherhood, the gameplay in multiplayer revolves mainly around being given a player to assassinate, receiving points for killing them as stealthily as possible while using stealth to avoid other players. Techniques such as disguises and throwing knives help to meet these objectives and make games more fun. The multiplayer is laugh, but games aren't very varied and rely too much on luck. It should last for a while for some, but for others it will be a throwaway affair.

Revelations is as fun as the other Assassin's Creed games, if it's the first one you play. For those of you who have played other games, though, it may not be enough to justify the asking price. The gameplay is exciting and the visuals are excellent, but there just doesn't seem to be any point to it other than to conclude the storylines of Altair and Ezio. The series, like its European assassin, is still likeable and interesting, but is starting to get old. Thankfully, it seems like the next game will be better storywise, finally concluding the series. Revelations, meanwhile, is a fun game, but unless you really love the franchise, you may as well just watch the ending on Youtube and save yourself some money.

Rating: 3.5/5

1 comment:

  1. There's a lot of potential in this franchise but sadly, because of an overly complicated story line that we've all but lost interest in, dragging in upset anticipation the gaming community with it, in addition to how you described the general game play of the last two installments as endless meandering, the entire thrill of Assassins Creed has being wasted. Lost.