As a quiet person who tends to hang back in the shadows and has a tendency to sneak up on people (read: ninja), I’ve always felt that stealth-based games came naturally to me. As such, I was not at all surprised when I fell in love with Assassin’s Creed. Since then, Ubisoft has steadily earned my respect by consistently improving on the Assassin’s Creed formula. Assassin’s Creed 2 was a big improvement from the original—introducing a much more varied gameplay experience. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood added even more new elements including a delightful if unrefined multiplayer mode which allowed me to show other people just how awesome I am at sneaking up on people and stabbing them.
GAME NAME: Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC
GENRE(S): Action-Adventure, Stealth
RELEASE DATE(S): November 15, 2011
So it is with a heavy heart that I have to start this new paragraph with the word “However.” Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, while still a quality game which allows me to sneak up on people and stab them, feels like a step backward for the series. The most noticeable thing is the fact that there is just significantly less to do in this game. I was unpleasantly surprised when, after maybe only six or seven hours of getting all the viewpoints and lighting all the Templar towers on fire and micromanaging my team of assassin trainees, there was nothing left to do but the main quest.
Where are all the random dudes who want to race me? Why don’t people want me to run messages for them under a strict time limit? And how come nobody wants to pay me to do random assassination missions for them? I know Ezio is old in this game, but you would think his reputation would still be enough to get him some work. The only job I found in the whole city of Constantinople/Istanbul was some jerk who wanted me to move his boxes around.
There are other things missing from this game, too. No assassinating people from horseback. The Templar towers only spew a fire signal instead of exploding to the tune of really intense weird music. No awesome Leonardo da Vinci inventions to play with. Sure, he was probably in Italy at the time, but how could Ubisoft pass up the opportunity to put Ezio in a 16th century diving suit? Although, you do get to use an early version of the flamethrower once. So I guess that’s pretty cool.
The most disappointing is the lack of secret symbol things that initiate the cool conspiracy-theory puzzle sequences. Those were my favorite part of the last two games, even when they made me feel stupid. They’ve been replaced with odd first-person platforming bits through trippy computer land. Not nearly as fun.
To give Ubisoft some credit, they did add a couple things. Bombs are a big part of Revelations. You can make bombs to kill people, bombs to blind people, bombs to distract people, bombs to make people think they’re dying, bombs to make people smelly—all kinds of bombs. And I have to admit, after shoving all the bomb-making tutorials down my throat, I did learn to appreciate them. There is something very satisfying about killing a guard with a shrapnel bomb, then waiting as several nearby guards gather to investigate, and killing them all with another shrapnel bomb. Also, zip lines were a really good idea. Bravo to whoever thought that up.
They also added a tower defense game. This was a less enjoyable feature. It was a much less innovative and varied experience than Plants vs. Zombies, and frankly just not fun at all. Luckily, if you keep yourself from becoming notorious, you only have to play it once.
The Assassin training feature has been nicely beefed up. You get missions each time you assign an assassin to a den (at level 10) and again when that assassin reaches level 15. These missions are mostly based around your assassin screwing up and you having to explain to them why they’re incompetent and make them fix it. You do a lot of tailing in these missions. Nothing too exciting, but you feel like you’re making a difference in the Assassin community.
What is exciting is that Ubisoft did exactly as I’d hoped they would do and have expanded and improved the multiplayer mode. It was pretty clear in Assassins Creed 2: 2 that Ubisoft was basing their multiplayer system on Call of Duty’s multiplayer, and in Assassin’s Creed 2: 3, it’s blatantly obvious. However, I am absolutely okay with this, because Call of Duty does multiplayer right. I love customizing my characters. I love creating emblems. I love being able to create a set of abilities and perks for each of my favorite multiplayer modes. My only complaint of Revelations’ multiplayer mode is that it could be more like Call of Duty’s.
Ubisoft has doubled the amount of available multiplayer modes, including Artifact Assault (capture the flag), Corruption (zombie tag), Steal the Artifact (Oddball), Escort (multiplayer escort mission (more fund than it sounds)), and Deathmatch (simple version of Wanted). I particularly love the Deathmatch mode, which is Wanted without the compass in a much smaller area, so stealth is very important. Nothing annoys me more than games of Wanted where all the other players want to run around on the roofs like a pack of monkeys.
They’ve also added new characters (though kept some favorites from Brotherhood—all hail the Doctor), new abilities, new maps, and new perks. Though all I really need is smoke bomb and Templar vision. Still, the general amount of fun you can have in multiplayer has doubled along with the content. It’s everything I ever wanted in a game, really. There’s still room for improvement, of course, but Ubisoft is getting there, and getting there fast.
Revelations also has a story of some kind. After the jaw-dropping events that the last game ended on, Desmond is in a coma. His fellow assassins managed to save his life by hooking him up to the animus, in which he is now trapped with crazy ol’ Subject 16. Spoiler: Subject 16 is not as interesting as you might expect. Also they don’t talk at all about his past or how he was able to put all those neat glitch things in the animus.
The only way for Desmond to get out of the animus is to finish Ezio’s story. Ezio is now an old dude, but he’s still awesome at killing and his voice is exactly the same, which is a little unsettling. Anyway, Ezio needs to open Altair’s library, but the Templars want to do the same thing, and so they all go off to Constantinople/Istanbul to look for the keys.
Constantinople/Istanbul is actually dominated by Assassins, but they’re hounded by a group of rogue Templars who are always trying to take over their dens and abuse the citizenry. Business as usual. Oh, and romantic sub-plot. The basic story is pretty par for the course, with some political intrigue and the expected betrayals and kidnapped women. However, the platforming bits mentioned earlier come with Desmond back story. Desmond has finally morphed into a kind of interesting character. Even his face is more interesting. He looks kind of like Nicolas Cage now. It’s not often you have an ugly protagonist in a video game who isn’t a gruff scarred-up old man, so that’s interesting.
Probably my favorite parts of the main game are the Altair memory missions. You get to play through the rest of Altair’s life post-Assassin’s Creed 1. All of this back story answers a lot of questions, and the end of Revelations wraps things up nicely for both Altair and Ezio, and sets up for the next game with a serious expression and “I know what we need to do.”
Even though Revelations isn’t as good as Brotherhood, if you’ve already played through to that one, we both know you’re hooked on the story and you’re going to buy the third installment of Assassin’s Creed: The Adventures of Ezio. But you can rest assured that the purchase is still well worth it, especially if you enjoyed the multiplayer mode in Brotherhood. Hopefully the reason for the lesser content is that Ubisoft is just gearing up for Assassin’s Creed 3 (not that it’s any excuse for laziness, Ubisoft), and the next game will be everything that I have come to expect from the series. The best part about Ubisoft is that they seem to take criticism well. I can only hope they’ll take all of mine and ignore everyone else.