Review by HoshunMk112
"Fine entry to the series, but something is missing."
As of 12/04/2011, I completed the single player campaign and have dabbled in multiplayer (more on that later). 47 out of 49 achievements attained.
Assassin's Creed: Revelations is the fourth entry in the series. While it takes some risks with the formula, many of them just don't feel right within the series. It's a solid entry in the series, but it's a step back from what made Brotherhood so great.
GAMEPLAY - 4/5
This game feels just like every Assassin's Creed game to date. There are a few new things to do - the hookblade makes its first appearance, and it lands with a deafening "whatever." Functionally, all it does is extend Ezio's reach by about half a foot. It also lets you make use of the ziplines (which are, admittedly, fun to use) and has some combat function but ultimately it doesn't introduce anything that feels "new". It doesn't change the game the same way that parachutes did in Brotherhood.
Combat is somewhat more difficult now. You can still perform kill streaks which trivialize most opponents, but now there are Janissaries - elite guards that cannot be easily counter-killed. Enemies also use firearms which can deal considerable damage, throw bombs, and otherwise make your day a little worse. Combat feels a bit more lively than in previous entries, and it certainly isn't as forgiving as it was in AC2 or AC:B.
Bomb crafting makes its first appearance, and I for one enjoy it. You can make three types of bombs - lethal (designed to kill or incapacitate your target), tactical (designed to slow, scare, or separate targets), and distraction (designed to lure targets). Using different casings, gunpowders, and ingredients results in a number of different bomb types with quite a lot of customization available. This allows you to tailor your tools and equipment to suit what YOU want to be able to do.
The factions are still around, and you can still perform faction-specific tasks to aid them. Otherwise, it's still the same thieves, mercenaries, and Romanies (instead of courtesans) gameplay. However, now there are "guard" factions - Byzantines/Templars and Janissaries. Templar guards will attack you if they see you, but the Janissaries are somewhat neutral. However, if Janissaries and Templars see each other, they will attack each other, giving you ample time to get away.
You start off with a wide variety of tools that the game does not give you an immediate tutorial on. This is a good thing in my eyes - there are many pop-up tutorial opportunities to remind you on how to play. However, for newer players they will find themselves face-first in the game with no clue about how to handle most of the tools at their disposal.
Notoriety sees a huge shift in this entry. Every time you perform a notorious action (purchasing a building, being noticed killing a guard, using bombs, etc), your notoriety goes up. Every 25% interval, you can bribe a herald to lower your notoriety, or you can kill an important Templar character every 50% interval. As you become more notorious, the guards are more likely to notice you and attack you. Once your notoriety hits 100%, you may take part in one of the game's newest additions ...
Den Defense. Arguably the most polarizing mini-game in the series. It's a tower defense-style minigame - you place assassin guards on the rooftops outside of your dens and put up barricades to stop an onslaught of Templar attackers. I personally don't find this fun at all, and judging by the reaction of most of the game's players on GameFAQs, most of them don't enjoy it either. It doesn't fit within the feel of the series, and it has a steep learning curve. You can prevent the need to perform Den Defense minigames by capturing Templar Dens, converting them to Assassin's Dens, and putting a high-level assassin in charge. Once that assassin gets to level 15 and completes their Master Assassin mission, the den is "locked" and can no longer be attacked by Templars. But it can take quite a while to get there, so expect to bribe a lot of heralds.
Mediterranean defense makes an appearance, as well as leveling your "Poke-Assassins" like in AC:B. Conquering Templar-controlled cities in the Mediterranean bestows rewards such as money, bomb ingredients, and experience for your pet assassins. This feels almost the same as it did in AC:B, so it's more of the same.
Long story short (TOO LATE), this game controls much like its predecessor, AC:B, with one step forward (bomb making) and one huge step back (den defense). Otherwise, it's a wash - I like how the series controls so it does the job well enough for me.
SOUND - 4.5/5
The soundtrack is once again outstanding. Jesper Kyd has put together a soundtrack that fits the ambiance of Constantinople. Voice acting seems to be on par with previous entries, with no "It's-a-me, Mario!" moments. Ambient sound like birds chirping, crowds talking, and the like does well to draw you in.
Accents fit the characters without seeming too fake or cheesy. However, fans of AC1 will notice that Altair suddenly has a middle eastern accent. While I understand the logic (the Animus 1.0 from AC1 was less "advanced" than the subsequent Animus used in AC2 and beyond), it draws me out of the game briefly every time I hear it. I expect to hear a stern, serious Altair ... and instead I get something else. It's not *BAD*, but it's not the voice you're used to.
GRAPHICS - 4/5
The game looks as good as ever, however at times it can be very hard to distinguish AC:R from AC:B. It's a little bit of series fatigue I think - instead of everything having a distinctly Italian feel with ivory, brick, and green-colored environments ... instead we have a wash of orange and ochre, earth tones all over Constantinople. The result is that the environments look very similar to Rome, just with a different color palette. Furthermore, while the character models look smoother and better than in AC:B and before, you'll quickly notice that Desmond, Ezio, and Altair no longer look like they once did. The models have been changed and as a result, the faces you come to expect to see are no longer the faces you see.
Animations are smoother this time around, though - lip syncing with dialogue is significantly better than before, and if I'm honest it's somewhat close to what you see in L.A. Noire. The physics glitches from AC:B are still around (random ragdoll effects), but overall the game looks great.
ONLINE PLAY - 4/5
Functionally, it feels like AC:B did. That's not a bad thing, and if all they did was introduce new game modes, maps, and characters it would be a solid 5/5. However, unlike in AC:B you no longer unlock new abilities, skins, and the like by leveling up and completing challenges. Instead, leveling up and completing challenges unlocks "Abstergo points" which can be spent to purchase new abilities, colors, skins, weapons, and the like. I like the idea in theory, but I also like the idea of being properly awarded for my efforts - instead of given currency to spend.
However, I have not fully delved into online play yet, so time will tell if my attitude changes. Should it change, my scoring of this section will change with it.
OVERALL - 4/5
It's a solid entry in the series. It takes equal steps forward to steps back. I do have one thing to say about that, though ...
If AC3 and future entries are more akin to AC:R than to AC:B or AC2 ... the series will start to go downhill fast. Let's hope that AC:R is the teenage years of the series - experimental, entertaining, but hopefully not permanent.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 11/21/11, Updated 12/05/11
Game Release: Assassin's Creed: Revelations (US, 11/15/11)
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