Review by DDJ
Review in Brief
Game: The third action-adventure game surrounding Ezio, an assassin now in 16th century Constantinople attempting to find the keys to his predecessor's secret library.
Good: New features are well-executed; excellent initial framing of the stories; still a very fun and unique gameplay engine.
Bad: Very few new gameplay mechanics; odd allegiance to old, outdated mechanics; very little attention to the core conflict of the series; an unoriginal, phoned-in plot; moves far too fast toward the end.
Verdict: The core gameplay appeal of the series is still present, but there's nothing new here, and the plot appeal has basically been entirely lost.
Recommendation: If you still enjoyed Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, you'll enjoy Assassin's Creed: Revelations. If you didn't, you won't. If you haven't played Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, Assassin's Creed: Revelations won't make any sense, so don't bother unless you've played Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood first.
When Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood came out, there was a notable fear among many that it was basically a glorified expansion pack to supply multiplayer functionality. That fear did not come to fruition as Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood ended up adding an enormous amount to the series, both in terms of gameplay and plot. That fear, however, was apparently delayed rather than addressed, because Assassin's Creed: Revelations is guilty of exactly the kind of lack of contribution people expected from Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.
As if the title of this review didn't make it obvious enough, the only way to sum up Assassin's Creed: Revelations is that it's lazy. Gameplay-wise, it adds barely 20% as much to the game engine as Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood added to Assassin's Creed II's engine -- and that's without even considering that Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was the one that introduced multiplayer. Plot-wise, it adds barely 30% as much to the series canon as Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood did, and what little it does add is barely a contribution because rather than build on the previous story, it veers it off in a strange different direction that, up until now, has just been an afterthought. What's more, the plot actually loses a lot of the recurring themes and quests that we've come to expect and enjoy from the Assassin's Creed series. The game has a couple sidequests, but nothing either as massive or as interesting as the glyphs from Assassin's Creed II or the tombs from Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.
That's not to say the game isn't fun; it's still very entertaining, but the reasons it's entertaining are the same reasons the previous two games were entertaining -- not in a "staying true to its roots" kind of way, but in a "forgot to grow" kind of way. It sneaking around the city, assassinating unsuspecting guards, infiltrating areas, sending your assassins to take out a target... it's still all very fun, but it's also all stuff we've played before, and there aren't significant enough plot additions or level variations to justify a new game with essentially the same engine. Recycling an engine is somewhat acceptable when you're adding a lot of new plot content (see Baldur's Gate 2) or when you're using that engine in new and interesting ways (see Super Mario Galaxy 2); however, Assassin's Creed: Revelations does neither.
The result in the end is a lazy, lackluster entry in the Assassin's Creed franchise. I wouldn't go as far as to say they're milking the franchise, but I wouldn't argue against that proposition either.
Typically in my reviews, I spend a couple paragraphs describing the game in an objective way before launching into my opinions and analysis of it. However, in the case of the last two Assassin's Creed games, there is little to no chance someone who tries to enter the franchise now will be able to pick it up very easily and enjoy it, so instead of describing the game from scratch, I'll once again just describe what the additions are:
Constantinople: All-new city, though not nearly as big as Rome I don't believe. It also lacks Rome's varied areas within itself.
New Plot: Again, as with any new stand-alone game, there is a new plot. This one follows Ezio as he attempts to retrieve the keys to Altair's vault in Masyaf, and touches on some of Altair's experiences as well.
Bomb-Making: Grenade-style bombs are a new weapon in the game. The player constructs them from pieces found in chests or looted from guards, and creates bombs that do damage or cause diversions.
Hook Blade: A new attachment for the hidden blade, the hook blade allows Ezio to climb more easily and traverse ziplines.
Bigger Brotherhood: The Brotherhood sidequests from Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood have been expanded exponentially, now involving managing assassin dens and taking over cities (through a menu screen) across Europe.
Epic Set Pieces: Several new fast-paced sequences through changing areas take the place of the old platformer puzzles.
Platformer Sections: Explore Desmond's pass through some abstract platformer sections.
Multiplayer Additions: New game modes (Capture the Flag, for example) and new character customization -- a normal logical step for the multiplayer.
Tower Defense: No, seriously. There's a tower defense minigame. Stop making that face, I'm being serious.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the root of my knocks against Assassin's Creed: Revelations are that it doesn't add enough and it loses a lot of the good stuff, too. However, the previous Assassin's Creed games have been very fun, and Assassin's Creed: Revelations retains enough from them to still be very entertaining to play. Unfulfilling, but entertaining.
Good New Features and Subtle Improvements
I've already complained a lot about the lack of new features in Assassin's Creed: Revelations (and I haven't even reached the dedicated section on it, cripes), but I'll give it credit for this: what few new things it includes are executed very well. They merge very nicely into the game engine to the point where I find myself recalling scenes from its predecessors through the engine tweaks of Assassin's Creed: Revelations, and in some cases they do things that the other games should've been doing all along.
Let's start with bomb-making. When I was playing, I wrote down, "This has me worried" because as the skill is introduced, it seems simultaneously overcomplicated, unneeded, and out of place. As the game goes on, though, it grows on you, and the simplicity of it emerges. The game provides you four types of bombs: impact, timer, proximity mine (yes, seriously), and sticky timer. From there, you can choose small, medium, or large effect sizes, and then choose an effect, which can be everything from violent explosions to kill soldiers to smokescreens to cherry bombs, as well as some other more bizarre effects. It ends up being a relatively simple and fun system; my only knock against it is that the game doesn't incentivize using it very often, so realistically you can go through the entire game without ever using any bombs.
The Brotherhood sidequest has also been expanded tremendously, and in pretty decent ways. One of my main complaints about the Brotherhood sidequest in the previous game is that the recruited assassins have no personality or notability; they're just names on the screen. In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, the game takes some effort to put in a bit of plot development for each of the seven main assassins you recruit (you can recruit dozens as long as you assign some to cities, as I'll describe in a second, but seven form the backbone of the Brotherhood in Constantinople). Each gets a couple plot missions, some dialog, etc., and they actually come up in the main plot a bit more. The Dispatch missions, too, are expanded, and instead of just doing random missions around Europe, you actually can convert cities from Templar to Assassin cities. After wasting 10 hours on this sidequest, though, it's actually very infuriating, and I don't recommend bothering with it too much. The mechanics are just too unpredictable to really get a grasp on what's going on.
The game also replaces the Prince of Persia-style platformer sections from the predecessors with more Uncharted-style set pieces. These are fast-paced, action-packed, and very engaging. They make great use of the Assassin's Creed engine to send Ezio hurtling through changing and breathtaking environments. There's not much I can say in words about these, except to say they're incredibly fun.
Additionally, the game fixes some old problems with Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Let me start with one I'm still grateful for, and let me write it in the words I literally wrote down on my notes: oh my god they fixed the notoriety system. The Notoriety System was one of my least favorite things about the previous two Assassin's Creed games because it basically forced you to do an arbitrary and mundane task (ripping down a flyer) every 2 minutes. It was dumb, it was tedious, and it's now mostly fixed. Now, there are no flyers: only heralds to bribe and messengers to kill. More importantly, though, being "notorious" isn't as bad as it used to be. You aren't attacked on sight anymore; the only risk is that your assassin's dens, as described above, might be attacked if you kill more guards, launching you into that tower defense minigame. So, you still want to avoid being notorious, but it's not quite as tedious as it used to be (...well, don't get me wrong, running around to find a herald to bribe is still pretty tedious, but it's not as bad as it used to be).
The developers also seems to understand that some of its old mechanics were getting a bit old, and so there are minor control adjustments. The most prominent example is the hook blade, which allows you to scale tall buildings much more quickly than before, as if Ubisoft understands that the novelty of climbing around the city and taking Leaps of Faith has worn off. You also more clearly have a secondary weapon that can be used, and the weapon-select wheels have gotten more thorough (they're a bit confusing to use at first, but you get used to them).
There's numerous other little enhancements, like adding unlockable weapons for completing the otherwise-random tasks for the thieves, mercenaries, and courtes- er, Romanis, and letting Ezio use his hook blade for zipline travel and assassinations. There's also new (and surprisingly gruesome) kill animations, and the Brotherhood when summoned in battle is far more flexible. These all generally fall under the umbrella of "expected improvements for a sequel", though. Considering how much I criticized Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood for its glitchiness, I also must praise Assassin's Creed: Revelations for its lack of glitches. I did encounter a few, such as getting stuck in a tree planter and getting stuck in a menu prompt, but by and large there were no game-breaking glitches. Frame rate dropped a little too often, though.
This is one of those things I wouldn't say much about if the game had a lot of other stuff to praise, but given that I consider it a pretty weak game overall, I'll give credit where credit is due and praise some of the more minor qualities of the game.
Assassin's Creed has always been a series of nested stories, with the modern-day Desmond story framing the Altair and Ezio stories. At the end of the previous game, for reasons I won't spoil, it seemed like the Desmond frame story would largely disintegrate. Actions were taken that made it unbelievable that Desmond would ever get back into the animus again. However, the story frames his re-entry very well, and more importantly, makes sufficiently abundant changes to the animus interface and visualization that the player doesn't feel like the framing is phoned in.
The game also frames an additional interaction that we had not significantly seen before: Ezio and Altair. A major focus of the game, and arguably the "Revelations" that are mentioned in the game's title, are Ezio's revelations about Altair. Through artifacts that he uncovers, he -- and the player -- is able to see what transpired after the events of the original Assassin's Creed. Those events themselves aren't anything that you'd expect, and are quite fun to play through given that the game lets you actually play through these Altair sections as well. The extra dimensions added here do a great job of framing the overall assassin story through the multiple games.
The interaction between the frame stories also gives the game what I describe as the right sort of tension. Tension is hard to manage in a game, especially when you want the player to feel free to run around, explore, and pursue sidequests. I blasted Batman: Arkham City for having so much side content yet never giving the player a plot-justified time to pursue it, but at the same time, it's hard to maintain tension while giving the player a time to pursue sidequests. Assassin's Creed: Revelations accomplishes this, however, through the frame stories. The tension is supplied by the upper-level story of the overall conflict between Assassins and Templars (or Ottomans and Byzantines as well), and that tension drives the story; however, that means that most of the time, there's not something in the plot demanding that Ezio go somewhere right now. If you're not within a particular event, it makes sense to go pursue a sidequest in the context of the game framing and atmosphere.
Something notable that struck me as I booted up Assassin's Creed: Revelations for the first time was that it just plain felt good to be back in the Assassin's Creed universe. I've given the series a lot of flak over the years (the scores I've given so far have been 6, 6, 7, and 5), but that's largely because I feel like the series misses an incredible amount of potential. It can be aggravating and frustrating as hell sometimes, but it's also doing things that no other game is doing. That definitely deserves some credit.
The entire Assassin's Creed franchise deserves attention for just being one of the most reliably fun games to play. I talk a lot about plot and setting in this review, but that doesn't change that the gameplay is still incredibly unique and fun. In fact, it's almost more a testament to Assassin's Creed's greatness for allowing the focus to be put so heavily on the plot when in reality, it could probably skate by on nothing but unique gameplay. It's ironic, really: I've given each individual game between a 5 and a 7, but I'd give the series as a whole a 9. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.
I also tried to take some time during this game to go back and remember what we found incredible about the series in the first place. Many of those features are still here, but we've just grown to take them for granted over the past four installments. The game still has some of the most realistic crowd mechanics I've ever seen; crowds form and move realistically and form a great backdrop compared to the static pieces of other games. I was reminded also of the engine motivating the NPCs to comment on your actions and react to dead bodies, bombs, and other events, and it's as strong as ever. These have become part of the fabric of the Assassin's Creed franchise, and it's easy to take them for granted.
So now that I'm done convincing myself that a 5 is too harsh a score for this game, let's move on to the criticisms. This is why I always pick a score before writing my review: after writing the above section, I want to give the game an 7. After writing the below one, I'll want to give it a 3.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations is an example of how sometimes a game's greatest weakness isn't what it does badly, but what it doesn't do at all. Assassin's Creed: Revelations is a lazy installment in the series introducing few new gameplay dynamics and ever fewer interesting plot developments, while simultaneously forgetting some of the most interesting things we've even come to expect from the series.
Few Gameplay Additions
I've already come close to beating this to death, but let's talk about it just a little bit more. Assassin's Creed: Revelations adds relatively few features to the engine that Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood left us with. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was a significant expansion in size compared to Assassin's Creed II, but Assassin's Creed: Revelations leaves a lot to be desired. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed: Revelations both give us a new city and plot (though the former's new city and plot are both much bigger), a new weapon (crossbow and bombs, respectively), and new sections (vehicle sections and set piece sections, respectively). But Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood gave us multiplayer, the Brotherhood, Borgia Tower conquests, shop quests, and full sync, while Assassin's Creed: Revelations gave us nothing but slight improvements on some of these and shameless, nonsensical copies of others (and tower defense, but that's not exactly an asset).
Let me put it another way. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood had a surprising learning curve even if you played the previous one. There were long sections devoted to teaching you how to recruit and use assassins, how the Borgia towers worked, and how renovations improved Rome. Assassin's Creed: Revelations has nearly no learning curve if you played the previous ones. Take a couple minutes to learn how to use bombs and you're golden -- and you don't even need to use those if you'd rather not. So, while the game is still fun, it's hard to consider it worth a complete new purchase. The only real reason I can think of to justify a new purpose is if you're a fanatic of the multiplayer, but even it is only improved by about the expected amount; there is nothing revolutionary there, and if you're still finding opponents on Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, I see little reason to "upgrade".
Stuck On Outdated Gameplay Elements
This was an odd sticking point for me. I didn't pick up on this as a general trend as I was playing through the game, but after the fact I noticed a lot of my notes could be distilled down to this: there are lots of dynamics in this game that were introduced based on the plot of previous games that do not make sense in the context of this new game. Rather than abandon these new elements now that they no longer make sense, the developers chose instead to keep them in, either to pad the game's already-lacking gameplay mechanics or, perhaps worse, because it might take more work to take these elements out.
Let's start with the Borgia-... er, Byzantine Towers. Rome in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood introduced an interesting element called the Borgia Towers, where a certain area would be under "Borgia" influence until you killed its captain and lit a flare in the tower. Coincidentally, Constantinople works the same way: there are several districts, each with a Byzantine Captain, and when you kill him, you have to light a flare in the tower to liberate the area. The feature didn't make much sense in the first game, but it makes even less sense when wholesale copied over. What's more, in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, that was a way to restore Rome after Borgia rule had run it into the ground economically; destroying the towers meant you could open the shops back up, and part of your side goal was to restore Rome. Assassin's Creed: Revelations has the same thing: shops must be renovated to be open and selling, and they each give you money every 20 minutes. There's no sign, however, that Constantinople was under the same economic hardships that made that necessary in Rome. It just feels like the developers said, "Well, we did this before, now let's do it again."
The same can be said for thieves, mercenaries, and courtesans (renamed Romanis and now gypsies instead of outright prostitutes). There's a sequence in the game where Ezio basically goes around to all three and says, "oh hey, y'all are here, too!" and from there it progresses as normal with them stationed around the city to help him in his fight. I think the developers forgot how painstakingly Assassin's Creed II justified these factions being on Ezio's side, and instead Assassin's Creed: Revelations just pays lip service to it: it, once again, feels like the developers included them only because they've been there in the past.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining that these are here, especially considering how many things I'm complaining about being stripped out. But the lack of justification for these elements reflects the general lazy feel of Assassin's Creed: Revelations. It feels like the developers couldn't be bothered to justify including the mechanics again, and assumed people would just expect them.
In addition to not bothering to include very many new gameplay features and not bothering to justify some of the old game mechanics for a new setting, the entire plot of the game feels excessively phoned in. To summarize it, there are two plots you are introduced to from the very beginning of the game. For one, there is a library in Altair's old home that Ezio wants to get into, but he needs five keys which are hidden around Constantinople. It's interesting how "Find X many ____" is a great formula for making a game lengthy without putting any thought into it. As we've come to expect, the game is divided into chapters called 'Sequences': here there are nine, and as you can expect, five of them are for these artifacts. When you consider a sequence to introduce the five, a sequence to conclude the five, a beginning, and an end, you can easily see the entire structure of the game.
In parallel with that plot is an ongoing conflict between the Ottomans and the Byzantines. The Byzantines are the Templars (and no, no justification at all is given for this) who are attempting to retake the city from the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans, generally, are on your side, but not so much so that their guards won't attack you if they see you in the city. You inject yourself into a series of conflict between the two, and while some are a little bit interesting, involving deception and betrayal within the royal family of the Ottoman Empire, it's never overwhelmingly twisting and turning. This portion of the plot actually feels somewhat like a sidequest in that, except for one intersection, it has little to do with the driving plot of the game; the only reason I include it as part of the main plot is that in every sequence, you must both find a key and complete one of these Ottoman plot points to move on.
One of the things that made Assassin's Creed: II and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood so memorable is the way they used actual history as their source material. The Medicis, Machiavelli, the Borgia, the Pope were all real historical figures, many of whom we learned about in school. Assassin's Creed: Revelations does that as well, but unfortunately, it does it with an area of history that most people are not nearly as familiar with; for whatever reason, I do not recall ever learning about the Ottoman Empire in school, and I do not think characters like Suleiman I, Manuel Palaiologos, Shahkulu, or Piri Reis are nearly as well known as Niccolo Machiavelli, Rodrigo Borgia, Lorenzo d'Medici, or Leonardo da Vinci. Similarly, we're all familiar with many landmarks of Rome like the Coliseum, the Vatican, the Roman Forum, and the Pantheon, but how many people are familiar with the Hippodrome, the Bayezid Mosque, Hagia Sophia, or the Topkapi Palace?
While the plot is phoned in, I do have to give the game credit for its characters. Assassin's Creed: Revelations has the most memorable cast of characters of any of the games, in my opinion, with at least three standing out as prominently as any character in any past game. Still, however, characters are only truly useful when they play a critical role in an interesting plot; while these characters are critical, the plot isn't interesting.
But in my opinion, the most damaging and unforgivable oversight in Assassin's Creed: Revelations has to do with its lost identity. This is a problem that began in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, where the Borgia were basically labeled "Templars" from the beginning and that was that, but it becomes even more notable in Assassin's Creed: Revelations because the Desmond-level plot isn't giving the same amount of information about the modern-day struggle between Assassins and Templars.
From the beginning, the Assassin's Creed franchise has been about the conflict between the Templars and the Assassins throughout history. It began with Altair building up the Brotherhood, continued with Ezio battling the Templars that were attempting to gain power through the Roman Catholic Church, and led to Desmond being captured by and then fleeing from the Templars in modern times. Assassin's Creed: Revelations, in many ways, seems to completely forget about this plot. As with its predecessor, from the beginning of the game, the antagonists -- the Byzantines -- are labeled "Templars", and that's that. There's no further development regarding the conflict between the two, what the Templars' goals are, or why they are interested in Constantinople. There's no explanation of why they're commandeering the Byzantines to try to take the city instead of infiltrating the Ottoman Empire. None of that matters. It's as if, in the efforts to use this conflict as the game's backdrop, the writers just said, "Oh, and we'll call them Templars." There are times in the game where Ezio throws around the word "Templar" so casually that it's actually humorous -- at one point, he spies someone acting suspicious, and he refers to them as a Templar, as if they wear a badge proclaiming it.
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood did something similar, blanket labeling the Borgia as Templars, but that had a little more meat to it. For one, the Borgia were involved with the Roman Catholic Church (with one of them being Pope Alexander VI), so the alignment was fairly straightforward. More importantly, however, the glyphs found around the game world illustrated the modern-day conspiracy regarding the Templars, reemphasizing that as the primary driving conflict. Similarly, in Desmond's timeline where most of the plot development takes place, there is ample discussion of the Templars' plans.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations lacks all of that. The only developments in Desmond's timeline are framing his reentry into the animus and a trip down his own personal memory lane in his upbringing with the assassins. The ties between the Byzantines and the Templars are extremely shaky at best. Most crucially, there are no glyphs to explore that shed light on the modern conspiracy. There is basically no attention paid in the entire game to the Assassin-Templar war.
So where is the attention? If you haven't yet played Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, it might be best to stop reading here; I'll try not to spoil anything, but it's a bit hard to talk about this without doing so. At the end of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, the game veers into talking about the origins of life on earth, focusing on some creator gods. This encounter foretells a great calamity that will affect mankind that Desmond is destined to thwart... somehow. The plot in Assassin's Creed: Revelations focuses mostly on this side of the spectrum rather than the Templar-Assassin dynamic, to the point where I'm starting to think they're treating the Templars as just a distraction from the true goal of saving the world from whatever is about to happen. It comes across as a complete betrayal of the core dynamic that's made the game so interesting. We don't play Assassin's Creed because we want a science fiction account of the origins of life, we play because the historical fiction rooted in real figures is so intriguing that it draws us in (or, because the gameplay is fun, whichever). It's a disastrous direction for the plot, and one I hope is rectified in the next game.
Beyond that, the game also puts a really significant focus on the animus itself. I don't know about you, but I've never given too much thought to the animus. It's one of those things that is so unbelievable that any attempts to explain it using real science or principles only serve to draw attention to how unbelievable it is.
Overall, the game just doesn't feel significant; perhaps that's the best way to describe it. Its two Ezio predecessors felt significant because they dealt with real recognizable historical figures, because there was a thorough conspiracy plot that leveraged modern-day politicians and parties, and that real events were woven into the thousand-year story. This one misses all of that. The historical figures are unrecognizable, the conspiracy is barely mentioned, and the only notable even that coincides between the game and history is the 1509 earthquake in Istanbul. It just comes across very lazy that the writers didn't go to nearly the trouble to weave the story together as they had in the past two games.
Too Fast Toward the End
This is one of the more minor criticisms, but since it occurs at the end of the game, it feels most natural to put the criticism at the end of the review. I'm holding Assassin's Creed: Revelations even more responsible for this given that Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood did the exact same thing, so Assassin's Creed: Revelations should've known to correct the mistake -- instead, it makes it even worse.
Most games have a point at which you, the player, know you're taking a step down the roller coaster that will end the game. It's clear to you that if you want to do anything else, you need to do it now, because once you start that next event, the game's on its way to the ending. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood failed at this by having that moment occur when Ezio's just been told, "Hurry to this location!" Assassin's Creed: Revelations fails at this by making the "last step" event relatively innocuous and incredibly early. If you know the game has nine chapters, when would you consider it prudent to make sure you've taken care of all the sidequests and other content you want to do? In my opinion, beginning of chapter nine, or end of chapter eight to be safe (assuming it's clear when chapter eight ends). It's the end of chapter six. There's a brief interlude at the beginning of eight where you could, but the game encourages you to hurry to the next mission, so it's near the end of chapter six when you have your last 'reprieve' before the end of the game. Chapter seven takes place entirely outside Constantinople, chapter eight is incredibly short, and chapter nine also takes place outside of Constantinople. It feels like the game is over when you expect to be about 70% of the way through.
Plus, the game jumps the shark like crazy. I said that about Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, but that was the plot jumping the shark. Here, the gameplay jumps the shark. There's a scene where you parasail from the back of a horse-drawn carriage and assassinate guards on horseback. Seriously?
My last complaint (which doesn't really fit in this section, but hey) is that I'm still not entirely sure what the Revelations in Assassin's Creed: Revelations were. You'd think there'd be one or two major things, but... there aren't. There are revelations in the ending, but they're so far unrelated to the beaten path of the series' plot that it's hard to think of them as changing much since they don't address anything that's previously been stated. There's Ezio's revelations about Altair, but those aren't terribly major. I'm just not sure what the driving point or takeaway of the game is supposed to be.
The plot at the end does leave room for the third installment to tie it up nicely, but it also leaves room for the third installment to leave so many ends untied that it begins to resemble the rat's nest of wires sitting behind your computer desk. Here's hoping Ubisoft surprises me, but they haven't since Assassin's Creed II.
The Assassin's Creed formula, both in plot and gameplay, is still one of the most unique and entertaining formulas in modern gaming, and for that reason alone Assassin's Creed: Revelations is a very entertaining game to play. They didn't add much to it, but what they did add is actually very fun; the bombs can be fun to use, the fast-paced platformer sections are mind-blowing, and a couple of the new sidequests and game mechanics are decently fun. Largely, however, the appeal of the gameplay is the same as its predecessor, with nothing groundbreaking introduced.
The plot, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired, and seems to completely forget what Assassin's Creed is all about. It doesn't heavily tie itself to historical events or figures, instead basically merely borrowing names. It nearly forgets about the Templar-Assassin war, and instead focuses on the bizarre sci-fi side stories that were introduced previously. Generally, the entire game just feels lazy: they didn't give a lot of thought to constructing a good plot, involving the series' themes and motifs, or justifying old and new gameplay mechanics. The elements that set the previous games in the series apart, helped them transcend, are completely absent. The game is fun on the basis of its core gameplay, but it isn't a step forward for the series as a whole.
If you thoroughly enjoyed Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, I have to highly recommend Assassin's Creed: Revelations. I'm still disappointed in it, but that doesn't mean it's something to pass up if you're a fan of the series.
If you found yourself getting tired of the series with Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, then Assassin's Creed: Revelations certainly isn't for you. It's more of the same. If you like the same, great, but if you're getting tired of it, skip it.
If you haven't played an Assassin's Creed, it doesn't matter. Nothing about the gameplay or plot will make any sense unless you at least start with Assassin's Creed II, so go for that before even considering Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Assassin's Creed: Revelations (First Print Limited Edition) (US, 11/15/11)
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