I was very lucky in that at Christmas this year I got exactly what I wanted and one of those things was Assassin’s Creed Revelations (or as I like to call it Assassin’s Creed 2.2). Carrying on from Brotherhood, Desmond is now stuck in the animus and in order to leave he has to seperate his conciousness from Altair’s and Ezio’s, and he does this by reliving some of Ezio’s life. This is the final Assassin’s Creed featuring Ezio Auditore as the main character in which he travels to Masyaf, from the original Assassin’s Creed (still not sure if there should be that apostrophe there or not), searching for library of Altair. Why he’s searching for it isn’t really explained other than the fact that it contains lots of delicious wisdom.
Anyway, while in Masyaf he is attacked by Templars (led by evil-bald-guy-with-a-cape) and the cinematic trailer takes place. The game itself starts right after the cinematic trailer finishes and Ezio then kills a bunch of bad-guys with his awesome and discovers that he needs 5 keys to open the door to Altair’s library. So off he heads to Constantinople (today called Istanbul) in search of the five keys and while there he has to liberate the city from the Templars and pretty much the rest of the Mediterranean via his apprentices.
As well as all this there is a new love interest for Ezio with whom he absolutely alpha as fuck and wins he over by just being a boss and Ezio himself views or relives the life of Altair via the keys which are actually some futuristic recording device provided by those-who-came-before.
All in all the story isn’t actually bad. It’s not amazing, but it isn’t bad. There are twists (if predictable) and it does seem to have the right sort of feeling and flow of a story. Naturally I wasn’t expecting Mass Effect standards, but it’s better than pretty much ALL shooters. The biggest surprise of the story was right at the start when you kill evil-bald-guy-with-a-cape who turns out to be a very minor character and very low in the Templar’s hierarchy.
Before I go anywhere further I want to start off talking about the biggest problem of Revelations. Simply put, Revelations IS Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, which by the same standards IS Assassin’s Creed 2. There are differences with the games but really Ubisoft have been repackaging the same game for the last two releases and are getting dangerously close to the style of games I hate above else. The Mario Syndrome (also known as FIFA Syndrome) where every game is exactly the same and uses the same premise and is essentially a cash cow for the developers. Now naturally it’s NOWHERE near as bad as either FIFA or Mario with the syndrome, but the beginnings of the symptoms are showing.
So I am clearly exaggerating, but the point does stand. Assassin’s Creed Revelations has so few differences to it’s predecessor it is a bit annoying. Allow me to sum up the differences right now: you can craft and use bombs, and you get a hook on the end of one of your hidden blades. Yup… That’s it!
Now the hook-blade is actually reasonably nifty, climbing is quicker in some places and you can use it to make Ezio use zip-lines which IS a cool idea. But really that’s all it does. The bombs are crafted from a myriad of ingredients you can buy or loot from enemies and either distract, confuse or kill enemies. Now it is sound in principle, but unless you go out of your way to use the bombs, you won’t… AT ALL. I used them about three times throughout the 10 hour long campaign and in doing so used two of the over 50 variants of bombs you can make. They are absolutely pointless and were simply new for the sake of new.
And the irritation with Revelations doesn’t stop there. Oh no. There is another new thing. In Brotherhood you would go around liberating areas of Rome from the Templars by taking over Templar “dens” (which then allowed you to renovate the city and become richer than the Pope). This same system was used in Revelations, only now if your “Templar Awareness” level (or Wanted level) gets too high there is a chance that the Templars will attack one of your Assassin dens. When this happens you have to head to the defence and perform a Tower Defence mini-game.
That’s right… A tower defence… IN ASSASSIN’S CREED!
As tower defences go it’s actually all right I suppose. A variety of assassin’s placed on roof-tops, waves of enemies steadily getting harder and the more defences you do the harder each subsequent one is.
However, first of all, tower defences are usually boring and NOT my type of thing at all. Secondly, a tower defence relies upon enemies taking ONE set route towards the end point and simply running through fields of enemy fire regardless of their own health. In a serious game like Assassin’s Creed where the soldiers ought to have human feelings and emotions there is no way it would work like that, EVER. Even if it was one of the best tower defences I’d ever played I’d still say that having it in the game is absolutely bloody stupid and whoever’s idea it was ought to be punched in the head.
But wait, aside from the first den defence you perform (the tutorial of it) you never have to do it again (unless you aim for achievements and 100% completion) and it’s actually fairly easy to avoid. You can either easily bring your “wanted” level down to zero again or level up your assassin apprentices in charge of the den so that it becomes immune anyway. So not only is it annoying and bad, apparently the developers seem to think that most people playing the game will agree with that. So the why the hell is it there?
There are some sections outside of the Ezio story arc in which you play as Desmond and find out more of his past in order for him to try and build up some semblance of a relationship with the player before Ubisoft is forced to make a game with him as the main character. It’s unfortunate that the final game hinges on Desmond as the main character because he is undoubtedly the weakest of pretty much all of them, even after hearing his sob-story while traversing a psychedelic section of the animus.
Despite all this it IS still a good game. Technically (ignoring the tower defence) I would say Revelations is the best Assassin’s Creed yet, it’s just the fact that the improvements from it’s predecessors are so minor that make it not such a great game. All the Assassin’s Creed goodness is there; the killing, the excellent multiplayer, the killing, using the apprentices and more killing. Also while the plot of the game isn’t particularly strong the end is actually really rather moving and finishes both the stories of Ezio Auditore and Altair with a warm feeling of happily-ever-after (sort of) that actually left me feeling very impressed by the amount of emotion they managed to squeeze out of me.
It’s also worth saying (while on the subjects of improvements) that the characters actually look a bit better now. Instead of being the wooden puppets from Assassin’s Creed, and the plasticine puppets from Assassin’s Creed 2 they actually seem to have proper facial expressions and the lip synching was definitely better. But yeah, it’s not massive so I mention it only so I can defend the game in SOME way.
In fact let’s be honest here. The important part about Revelations is Ezio Auditore. He is by far and away one of the best video game characters I have ever come across. I really invested emotionally in him and have genuinely never felt more connected to a character. He is the sole reason a lot of people buy the Assassin’s Creed 2 trilogy and he holds it together with all the flair and awesome we have come to expect of the Italian boss. I really do worry that Assassin’s Creed 3 will simply not have the same draw as 2 simply because Desmond IS NOT AS GOOD as Ezio. And that is a great shame.