Review by Caravan_Girl
"Revelations? Yes, but only about the state of the game... (Single Player only)"
Assassin's Creed Revelations is the third game in the 'Ezio' trilogy of games, beginning with Assassin's Creed 2; in effect, a trilogy inside a trilogy. How does it shape up as the third entry? Is it Return of the King, or just a needless sequel?
I'll say that this review deals with only the Single Player content, as I don't have access to Xbox Live at the time of writing.
General First Impressions
As a game, AC:R looks fantastic. The game engine has clearly been tweaked oncemore, and the level of detail has far surpassed the blocky, flat surfaces and textures that plagued the first few games; don't get me wrong, the buildings have always looked fantastic, but this time around the clothes and weapons and smaller details really help to give the world character. Each location is packed with high-quality textures and littered with details - libraries have open books, candles, and pots of tea, and even the Assassin's Dens feel homely enough.
Hand in hand with the graphics is the sound, which has also had an overhaul - walking on a roof will this time provide a variety of sounds, depending on your weighting during landing and whether you step on tiles or wood - even the individual sounds vary like a real surface, and it's amazing how such a simple touch can give depth. Walking the streets of Constantinopole is an experience as well: peoples conversations play out as you walk past, the place seems lived in, and the echo of a herald booming up from the streets below seems to bounce of buildings.
The only downside to the graphical improvements are the updated character models - Ezio looks a little different, even if he is older.
Getting around, Assassin Style
Moving about Ubisofts sandbox worlds is now more pleasant than ever. Ezio's new hook-blade attachment makes climbing much more smoother, and makes sense - Ezio is older and probably wouldn't be able to match the climb speed of his younger self. Hilariously, he manages to move even faster, but it is a joy to chain together his frenzied leaps up a tower without pause for breath. The parachute feels much more stable, and as such feels usable for once as a tactical choice.
As far as combat goes, it feels like an all you can eat buffet - with so many options, it's easy to go back to the bread and butter way of playing the previous games, but if you do you'll miss out on the new bomb system, which, whilst not quite as expansive as Ubisoft led us to believe, is a fresh addition. In some ways, it feels forced upon the player - certain sections are ridiculously skewed toward using a bomb - but if you're willing to give them a go, they are rewarding, even to the stealthy Assassin, who will love the Smoke Screen which makes the old smoke bombs look like child's toys.
Combat feels as smooth as ever - veterans of the series should have no trouble, and if anything might find the game a little easy. I managed to play it with the standard issue armour from the offset without ever purchasing more. The counter kills have been expanded to include new animations which keeps things fresh, and the bombs help a little with that, but if it isn't broken, why fix it?
Mapping out Problems
The game falls short a little in the design of the game world. At times, the map can seem to have large sections utilised for nothing more than empty space, devoid of any shops or bomb crafting tables. This can be annoying when planning a mission out, or planning on the fly, as you can find yourself taking huge detours to accomplish a simple task; the 'tunnel' system is back, but the entrances are placed just annoyingly out of reach of ideal locations, so again, a little frustrating.
Viewpoints don't feel strictly necessary this time, either, as most of the map is revealed during the taking over of Templar Dens, and most items and collectibles can be found using in game maps purchased from book stores.
Historically not a problem...
One of the main draws of the series, for many people, is the historical setting. In the latest installment, however, it just seems a little flat. Sure, Istanbul is mapped out beautifully, with all of its main buildings and locations. But the history behind them, and the options for expanding gameplay are just missing. The collectibles in this game seem to take up the 'hidden tombs' side-quest branch during the main story, so aside from that there is nothing meaty on the side - the rare armour is obtained from collecting glorified feathers/templar flags, the location of which can be bought at a bookstore, so it hardly even feels earned. The culture of the city isn't explored much either - in Italy we had the Renaissance as a main driving point behind the plot, but in Constantinopole we have no such thing. Even the supporting characters lack the wit of Leonardo da Vinci.
The biggest Revelation of all
As far as Revelations go, the main story of the game sheds little on the plot, and I can count on one hand the amount of people I truly 'assassinated'. It was cool to have Altair's and Ezio's stories wrapped up, but there was not much of a 'bang' to the ending, and the game doesn't deserve its title.
Or does it?
If one were to play solely the story missions, this game could be finished in a very short amount of time. In AC2, we had a fantastic long story that served up pathos and a rollercoaster journey. In Brotherhood, we got side missions, and the building of our Brotherhood, but the story itself was still well balanced. It is only when, in Revelations, the balance tips toward side-missions and optional content that the problems arise. It is not actually necessary to recruit any assassins, take over any templar dens, or play the den defence mini game, or even the Mediterranean Defence game (which in itself is poorly designed and has an extremely lacking user interface).
Don't even mention the poor, Portal rip off that is the 'Desmond Sequence' - uninspired, to say the least.
The sole purpose of that content, it seems, is as a distraction from the short but oh-so-sweet main story of the game. Want to play more of the game? Oh wait, you did something. Here's some increased wanted level. Oh, a group of guards attacked you en route to lowering your awareness meter? Let's make you play Den Defence to drag it out even more!
The one defining thing about Revelations that will stick with me is that I have no desire to replay it, a desire I have acted on with AC2 and Brotherhood (Less so AC1).
The ideas are all there - the unique Assassin Recruits missions were a nice touch, and the gameplay itself can't really be blamed - but the size of the game was questionable. It's been a bad year for threequels, in relation to single player. Let's hope Mass Effect 3 bucks the trend.
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Story - 7/10
Innovation - 6/10
Replayability - 6/10
Average - 7/10
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 12/07/11
Game Release: Assassin's Creed: Revelations (EU, 11/15/11)
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