Revelations is a nearly perfect title for this game. As a whole it is a story of discovery of one’s self, the past and the possible future. Taking place right after the events of the previous Assassin’s Creed title, Desmond, the hero of these games, has had his consciousness trapped inside a computer system called The Animus. The Animus is a computer that allows Desmond to relive memories of his ancestors hidden in his genetic code. In the animus he must discover what his ancestors Ezio Auditore and Altaïr know about an ancient artifact known as The Apple, and more. The majority of the game is played out in Canstantinople during Ezio’s later days but does this feel like Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood 2? Is this really a fully fleshed out title worthy of a full price tag or simply a new map with old mechanics? Does this story lead anywhere exciting that you absolutely have to play it?
Ezio’s tale is coming to a close and Revelations is the story of his twilight years as an Assassin. No longer is Ezio truly obsessed with revenge, with the order, but rather with finding out who Altaïr, the hero of the order was. This is his pilgrimage to find everything he can on the man. The main objective in Revelations is to find five discs that Altaïr left behind after he died. On each of them is a memory of Altaïr’s life and Ezio must relive them, much in the same way that Desmond has been reliving both his ancestor’s lives. The discs have a dual purpose, being a set of keys for a doorway that leads to a secret, a truth that’s been at the heart of the entire series. The story is played out with a backdrop of true historical significance, with Ezio meeting Suleiman a young man who would one day be sultan of the Ottoman empire and create one of the largest trading fleets in the history of the world. It’s these real historical figures and events and slamming Ezio into them that adds realism to the story, but Suleiman’s story on it’s own is not very interesting and while it has true political intrigue it only detracts from the real story of Altaïr’s discs, and a budding relationship between Ezio and a woman who helps him by the name of Sofia.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I had played this game four times before. Assassin’s Creed definitely needs a shake up in the way of gameplay mechanics. There are only a few things in Revelations that set sit apart from Brotherhood and they’re some of the worst parts of the game. Playing as Ezio Auditore as he runs around Constantinople in his patented free running/third person/hack and slash style is still there with a few slight changes. Movement wise Ezio now has a Hook Blade that he can use to slide down long cables, he has a parachute that literally has no place in the gameplay, and is now able to use his hook blade to get a bit of extra reach when jumping from one place to another. These mechanics do make sense in the story as they help an older man get around like he would have thirty years ago when he started his adventure. But the biggest play change is a RTS style tower defense game that has Ezio trying to control positions and take over Templar dens in the heart of Constantinople.
Troop management is another returning element from Brotherhood and a completely necessary one. Ezio can be incognito through a large portion of the game if he plans his kills by calling in his assassins to do his dirty work for him. See a target you need taking out? Simply tap left bumper and watch them get an assassin dropped right on their head. This can be fun, but removes much of the combat that I found to be fun in the previous games. Going all out and attacking your prey in a non stealth based way often means losing synchronization with the mission and if you want a perfect play through having to replay the mission later.
As you play the game and get access to Altaïr’s memory discs you relive moments of Altaïr’s life which are one of the highlight’s of the game. Coming back to the castle on the mountain where it all began is a real treat and is actually where the game starts for Ezio as well. Altaïr’s story is one of redemption and reclaiming the order. It’s about his family, his sons, his wife and learning more about how his journey connects to Ezio’s. The gameplay is more attuned to how he played in Assassin’s Creed 1. There are no crossbows, pistols, heavy weapons and it’s largely based around small encounters with key characters in Altaïr’s life and a power struggle over the artifact known as The Apple, which was the central plot device in the first game. Living out the last years of Altaïr’s life is a lot of fun, and one mission has him coming back as a nearly 70 year old man and commanding his troops to reclaim their home. It’s fantastic.
Hidden through out the maps are little bits of animus data that, when collected, unlock special portals for Desmond deep in the animus system. These portals switch up the gameplay entirely to a weird first person puzzle exploration mode where Desmond discovers more about his childhood, who he is and why he’s there. They flesh out his story more and for the first time you get a really good glimpse at his character. The biggest problem is that this is all done with voice over in one of the most boring parts of the game. Desmond is an incredibly interesting character who, while being the main character is often pushed to the background like he doesn’t matter. After all, it’s Ezio and Altaïr on the box art, not Desmond. Personally I feel like it’s time for that to change.
Multiplayer is back with it’s hide & seek style gameplay which can be addicting and fun. As of right now very few people are actually playing on PC, which is a huge detractor. Trying to find matches is spotty at best and if you do find a match, you’ll find yourself playing with hard core dedicated players and noobs alike. It becomes a killing fest against the noobs as they don’t have all the upgraded skills that the hard core players have. Because of this, the matchmaking is currently uneven and will detract even more players from wanting to jump in. I’m sure on console it’s a much better experience.
As a full package Assassin’s Creed Revelations feels like it’s that last bit of story before the series revitalizes itself. It’s story isn’t terribly interesting but it’s final reveal does give away everything that players could possibly want to know and it’s change of scenery for Desmond is an interesting twist. A lot of plot holes are filled and the true nature of what’s up with the great ancestors is finally given away. There’s a particularly well written moment with Ezio at the end of the game that actually wowed me. Not enough new mechanics are present, but I’m sure this is the last we’ll see of these characters in the lead roles and the game does them all justice. If you’re an Assassin’s Creed fan I highly recommend getting this game, but if you want multiplayer stick to console, where it will live longer.