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Assassin's Creed Revelations Review

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On 11/14/2011 at 12:00 PM by Chessa DiMola

An unfortunate misstep that won't soon be forgotten.

Only fans of the series should bother, but only after some time has passed. There's not enough here in the way of story to justify an immediate purchase, nor enough new gameplay to make it enjoyable so soon after Brotherhood.

Out of every game I’ve played this year, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is without a doubt the biggest disappointment. For a series whose name automatically garners praise and adoration from the gaming community, this title is a blemish on its reputation. All of the passion and soul created by carefully weaving the ongoing plotline into evolving gameplay feels abandoned with Revelations. Without it, all that’s left is a game with a convoluted story and gameplay that is practically identical to Brotherhood.

While more of the same isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Brotherhood relied heavily on its side quests to provide the majority of gameplay content in order to compensate for its lackluster story, which couldn’t live up to the standards set in Assassin’s Creed 2. Considering this, and the fact that it released only one year ago, redoing the EXACT same things just isn’t appealing.

Perhaps rebuying every tailor shop, blacksmith, bank, bookstore (Revelations’ art shop), and landmark would have been a bit more enticing, had the new area – Constantinople - been a bit more intriguing. It’s no fault on part of the developers, by all means the locations are beautiful and well-constructed - they just all look the same. The vast open areas featured in Assassin’s Creed 2 and Brotherhood are nowhere to be seen, and the lack of notable landmarks makes it easy for locations separated by long distances to look exactly alike. As such, I never felt as though I was exploring a new world. This feeling was only exacerbated by the locations’ extreme similarity to that of the first Assassin’s Creed.

In all fairness, a few new elements have been added to the core gameplay with Revelations: a hook attachment to Ezio’s hidden blade, bomb crafting, a Tower Defense sequence, and a few first-person sequences. The hookblade is an extremely useful and versatile tool whose main purpose is to allow players to climb easier and grab onto buildings when jumping that they would have previously missed by an inch in previous Assassin's Creed titles. It was a common frustration in past titles, to miscalculate a jump by a small margin and wind up falling to your death, or lose a significant portion of your health. Thankfully, the hookblade alleviates this issue. Additionally, it's useful in battle (you can launch yourself over enemies), making it a very welcome addition.

The bomb crafting on the other hand… not so much. One of the things I always loved about Assassin’s Creed, even from the very beginning, was its wide variety of strategic elements. If you were the type that preferred to battle from a distance, you had long range weapons, throwing knives, and bombs. If you preferred to play aggressively, there were always people gathered or hay bales to hide in, or a faction of people ready to hire. While Revelations mostly keeps the unique play style intact, it makes it harder for players who like to take on situations aggressively to be successful.

Going back to my original point, Revelations strongly encourages players to use bombs in situations where many normally wouldn’t. With my own personal Assassin’s Creed play style, I never used bombs or the crossbow unless I was specifically instructed to by the mission itself. While forcing players to become acquainted with a new item isn’t so bad, the bomb crafting is the highlight of Assassin’s Creed Revelations, and to be honest, it isn’t interesting at all.

In previous games, as players would explore and open chests, they would usually find useful items, like medicine, or treasure. Now, players can expect the majority of chests they find to contain a wide variety of bomb ingredients. Remember the bird cages in Brotherhood? Now there are bomb crafting stations next to each birdcage, in which players can craft bombs of a few general types (some are intended to distract while others are made to harm). Of these overall types, players are able to combine their found or purchased ingredients to make an overwhelming assortment of bombs. Here’s the problem with this, the most basic bomb of each type is more than sufficient to get players through the game successfully. As such, this big grand addition to the game that stands out as the new highlight can easily become quickly forgotten; unless of course you enjoy attacking from a distance and have a compulsive need to craft each and every combination. If you’re that type of Assassin’s Creed gamer, than you’ll love it.

The gameplay only gets worse when players have to manage all of their Assassin’s Dens. As players defeat den leaders, they will acquire the den for their own, and can appoint an assassin to lead it. But that’s not where the management of all these dens ends. While players are trying to complete the main storyline, they will often have the revisit previous areas in order to lower the Templar presence in the area. To do this players can do a few things, such as kill a look-out or bribe a herald, but I strongly urge everyone to do whatever it takes to keep their dens under their own control, or else they’ll be subjected to a tedious tower defense segment that’s glitchy and boring.

The segment has Ezio planted on a rooftop shouting orders to his Assassins. Players can place barricades on the ground, and a few types of assassins on several rooftops.  It works like most typical Tower Defense experiences, without any of the elements that make normal Tower Defense segments fun. To start, there are no strength or weakness elements, just assassins that cost more points than others. Secondly, players never have any idea how many enemies will be coming at them in any particular wave, so they are left to guess where to place their assassins and how many to place. Finally, players can successfully slaughter every enemy wave that comes through and keep them from reaching the den, and then be easily defeated by an embarrassing margin by the final enemy wave (an armored battering ram). Three times in a row I lost one of my dens due to the game simply not unlocking an adjacent rooftop, allowing me to expand my assault farther down the line. Combine this with the constant freaking out of the assassins (tower) selection menu and I finally decided it would simply be easier to lose immediately, kill the den leader again, and relight the fire at the top of the den tower.

And the game doesn’t stop going downhill there. Like Brotherhood, players can exit Ezio’s memories, however, as anyone who played all the way through Brotherhood knows, Desmond is in a coma and trapped within the Animus. Since he can’t unplug and go roam around the real world, developers have crafted the Animus Island and some first-person segments. During these sections, Desmond will explore what was explained to be the inner workings of the Animus; abstract locations comprised of seemingly thrown together blocks. As Desmond explores these areas by platforming or creating his own platforms he will recount his earlier memories as players trudge through the odd and very unentertaining segments.

Considering the majority of gameplay was borrowed straight from Brotherhood, and anything new only drags down the experience further, I was hoping the story would compensate for all of Revelations shortcomings. But, as I mentioned right from the get-go, the story is boring, unfocused, and mediocre as can be.

Revelations begins in the same place where the series itself established its roots, in the place where the brotherhood was reborn, Masayf castle. While it may look a bit different to veterans of the series, being covered in snow and all, the interior is nearly the same. Upon finding a strange locked door, Ezio learns about the existence of five keys, known as the Masayf Keys, which were scattered throughout Constantinople.

In the first hour or two, players will be introduced to several different characters; all with their own unique storyline, that eventually intertwine into a coherent – though uninteresting – plotline. For the first few hours, I had absolutely no idea what was going on, and was so distracted by all the random occurrences that by the time I had the opportunity to find my first key, the main plot of the game had already been forgotten.

After finally completing the game (in a mere nine hours) just half an hour or so ago, I can only honestly recall the very end of each story point. And as far as what happened at the very end of the game…well I am just speechless to be honest with you all. Revelations tried to end on some sort of epic enlightening note, giving players a glimpse into the past of Those Who Came Before, but only managed to create more confusion with its grandiose and very out of place over-the-top cinematic.

And what happens after this grand finale you may wonder? Nothing. Nothing at all happens. The player is warped right back into Constantinople to finish up any sidequests they have yet to finish.

By the time Revelations ended, the pieces of the story were finally fitting together, I had all my keys, Ezio had a much younger woman interested in him and that seemed to be going well, and then…nothing. Well, unless you want to count the fifteen minute credits. With its incredibly weak storyline, Revelations desperately needed to compensate for its shortcomings in other elements of the game. Unfortunately, it never lived up to such expectations.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the segments with Altair, after all that was one of the main attractions to Revelations in the first place. Well, as players find each Masayf Key, they are able to experience one memory from Altair that was stored within the key. These keys contain memories that span a large amount of time, from when we last saw Altair, to his death as a very old man. With five keys, come five memories, all of which end far too quickly. If there’s one highlight to Revelations, it is recounting the crucial moments in Altair’s life, and sadly these sequences are the shortest of them all.

No matter how you look at it, Assassin’s Creed Revelations is an inferior experience when set beside its brethren, and it has destroyed some of my own confidence in the series. It’s an uneven adventure that tries to cram way too many other elements into an experience that already had a firmly established identity. As such, the core elements were pushed to the wayside and suffered the consequences of such misguided ambition. Assassin’s Creed fans - do yourself a favor and skip over Revelations for now. Let the absence of purchasing buildings, taking over dens, sending your assassins off on missions, and jumping from ledge to ledge really get to you before you bother with more of the same in Revelations.

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In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

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Esteban Cuevas Staff Alumnus

11/14/2011 at 12:27 PM

Wow. Great review but really disappointed by the outcome. I didn't expect this to be an amazing game since this is the third in three years but I suppose Ubisoft has truly run this series into the ground.

Jon Lewis Staff Writer

11/14/2011 at 12:33 PM

Interesting. I did not expect this ill say. I still havnt played Brotherhood (i still have it backburned) but after being surprised by how good AC2 was and hearing how great Brotherhood was, I figured Revalations would continue to do justice to the series. That said, Im not entirely surprised because the yearly release schedule does wear the series thin. An extra year would probably do them a lot of good. Honestly though, I could have just waited for AC3. ill probably pick this one up when its cheaper


12/01/2011 at 07:17 PM

Having played and finished Brotherhood almost a year ago to this day, I'm glad I don't have the desire to pick up Revelations. I felt that lots in Brotherhood was just filler, like sending the Assassins out on missions. While it was a nice addition, it became waaaay too easy to level up your guild. Out of the 40 plus hours I put into the game's single and mp, I only ever lost a single assassin after sending them out.

It just wasn't a challenging game, and Revelations sounds like par for the course.


12/02/2011 at 07:02 PM

I think your a little harsh.. I can tell you are a player of the series, but you seem more biased at the fact that your own expectations of the game were diminished and not what the game DID offer up aside from the points you mentioned. Ubisoft was able to bring out a game sequel a year. Something that should not be looked down upon. I will not disagree with your scoring as I would rather see content like this at a 30$ - 40$ price tag as DLC. That way, I don't feel cheated as you go through the game and come to the reality that all they wanted to do was keep the story going, but add only a few elements to keep the overall flavor somewhat new. It is like adding mundane love story in the midst of weird military torn world......(oops sorry FFVIII ) just didn't work. Or at least it didn't work well enough to warrant the multitude of players feeling let down. Seriously, I think they recreated the FLAG FINDER situation all over again. For those who remember, basically in AC you found flags strategically placed around the world and when you found all of them what did you get? Nothing but the same level of disappointment, and some personal satisfaction.

But I digress,

forgive my rambles... I am still the new guy..



02/13/2012 at 08:38 PM

I just finished the game and I waited until the price came down before purchasing, I really enjoyed the earlier versions where you visited various cities in Italy, and even met DaVinci and saw some of this inventions.  Just like going back in history.  Revelations was pretty boring to say the least, I agree, wait for the next 'version' to come out and wait for comments from others as to how good the game is before purchasing.  IF  they are just mass producing games to make money and letting the quality go downhill, then it's time to just walk away from any future Assassin games.

That's my take on it.

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