Review by horror_spooky

"Franchise fatigue"

When I played Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, franchise fatigue was really starting to hit hard. Brotherhood managed to salvage some entertainment value thanks to the actual new features it brought to the table, but I knew that if Ubisoft were to continue the trend and crank out yet ANOTHER Assassin's Creed game the next year, that the Assassin's Creed series would see its darkest days yet. Unfortunately, I was right with my predictions.

Assassin's Creed: Revelations is not a complete loss, though, so let's focus on the positive aspects of the game. For one, those that skipped Brotherhood might be able to enjoy it considerably more than I did. For two, it does add significant additions to the franchise. There is now a hook blade which makes platforming a lot more dynamic, and a parachute allows Ezio to glide across rooftops, adding another layer of strategy to the platforming of the game. Another addition to the core gameplay is the Tower Defense segments, which are surprisingly fun and engaging.

Something else I can appreciate about Assassin's Creed: Revelations is the fresh setting. One of the reasons that Brotherhood felt like such a retread was due to the fact that it retained the Italian setting seen in Assassin's Creed II. Revelations takes players all over the place, from parts of Italy to Constantinople to back in time as Altair to inside the Animus. So, at least the environments remain fresh and never get repetitive.

The plot is also acceptable, except for a few moments that made me pause the game and laugh out loud at how ridiculous it was. The first ten minutes of the game really shows off the brunt of the stupid moments in Revelations, but it does permanent damage to the integrity of the series. Without spoiling anything, just let me tell you that in the first ten minutes of Assassin's Creed: Revelations, you will see Ezio fall hundreds of feet onto a dock with such force that it splinters the dock. After this astonishing fall, Ezio gets up and starts running up a mountain, killing dozens of enemies, and then later takes even more physical trauma with little to no consequences. Of course, the Assassin's Creed games have always been a combination of science-fiction and historical games, but they have never taken the characters out of the realm of reality. The games have taken liberties with historical accuracy, but at least all the characters felt like real people, not Saiyans from Dragon Ball Z. Showing that Ezio is able to perform such a remarkable feat makes him feel invincible. Furthermore, it makes him feel unreal, like there's no possibility such a character could have existed, which completely destroys the historical foundation that was set up in the previous games, and maintained so vigorously. These character betrayals is a major part of why I came away from Assassin's Creed: Revelations so disappointed. Not only does Revelations serves little to no purpose from a gameplay perspective, but the game effectively tarnishes not only the reputation of Assassin's Creed, but the legacy of Assassin's Creed as well.

I could rant on and on about how irritating this is, but I do have to admit that overall, the plot in Revelations is far more engrossing than that of Brotherhood, which was completely pointless until the last five minutes. Revelations manages to tell a better story by having a more focused plot, keeping its attention on specific characters, and allowing more time for them to development over the course of the game. There are nice twists, but by the time the game ends, not much is really learned. There are no "revelations" as the title promises. The shifting perspectives between Desmond, Ezio, and Altair helps allows the plot to develop in a unique manner unlike in previous games, but even then it just feels like a big waste of time. Yes, the story is entertaining, but it doesn't do much to continue the story. It's like a side story, and perhaps Revelations should have been promoted as more of a spin-off than the next installment in the series. I bet it would have performed better from a critical perspective.

Moving on from the troublesome issues with the plot, Revelations suffers from having a formula that is almost exactly like the one introduced in Brotherhood. Players have to capture towers in order to free up sections of the map, which was tiring and boring in Brotherhood; why Ubisoft felt like it would be a good idea to retain this weak gameplay mechanic is beyond me. The typical side missions return, and the assassin recruitment system, which I loved in Brotherhood, returns as well to great success. However, having extra content that is virtually identical to what was featured in Brotherhood, except making some of the side content required, makes Revelations feel even more pointless. It's just a retread of the content in Brotherhood, for the most part.

Revelations handles Desmond in a much different manner than the previous games. In the original, Desmond's segments were short, and served more of a storyline purpose than anything. In Assassin's Creed II, Desmond's segments were expanded to be a bit more action-packed, with a focus on platforming. And in Brotherhood, Desmond's segments were used in an attempt to create sympathy for him as he interacted with the other characters, and to allow players to freely explore Ezio's home in the modern setting. In Revelations, Desmond spends most of the game on "Animus Island", which is the "core" of the Animus, as he is in a coma. The only other character to interact with is the flamboyant and lame Subject 16. Desmond is able to explore facets of his memory in odd segments that attempt to combine mild puzzle solving and platforming. These allow fans to learn more about Desmond's back story, but the information is inconsequential. These segments are really odd, not entirely compelling, but a nice change of pace all the same.

Assassin's Creed: Revelations keeps the multiplayer component that was introduced in Brotherhood. In my opinion, though the multiplayer is almost identical between the two games, Revelations handles it better. The online experience in Revelations is smoother, with far less technical issues, and the overall gameplay comes across as far more polished. The biggest downside to the multiplayer is that the game requires an Online Pass, which is a practice that I absolutely cannot condone. Revelations also fails to incorporate any support for local multiplayer gameplay.

Assassin's Creed: Revelations succeeds in the areas where it dares to be different from its predecessors. The change of setting is greatly appreciated, and the new quirks added to the gameplay are certainly improvements, but Revelations is largely a retread of what we've already experienced in ACII and Brotherhood. Revelations has serious ups and downs, and fails to reach the expectations set by the other games. Whereas Assassin's Creed II marks the high point for the franchise, Revelations is most certainly the low point.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 03/21/12

Game Release: Assassin's Creed: Revelations (US, 11/15/11)

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