Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Altair Ibn-La’Ahad, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Desmond Miles. The three protagonists who shined the last couple of years in the Assassin’s Creed series and kept gamers around the world clustered to their screens. But also nice songs come to an end, and so does this world renowned Assassins story, that sees its fourth part with Revelations. Is it an end in beauty? Let’s find out!
Ubisoft earlier announced that we’ll see a new game in the series every year, but before that starts, they decided to tie up all loose ends from the existing storyline. Altair has some unfinished business, Ezio needs to take down some more Templars before he can leave for his beloved Firenze in peace, and Desmond Miles still struggles in the Animus with the stories of his ancesters.
The start of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations lays in the heart of this powerful machine. Desmond is trapped deep inside the Animus where he also runs into Subject Sixteen, his illustrious predecessor in the experiments.
This makes that your “freedom of movement” is no longer located in the town in Brotherhood, but an island with strange large pillars which each time form the passage to the next part of the story. This island is the heart of the Animus in which Desmond is trapped and it’s up to him to find a way out. Through a large gate you play new memories from Ezio’s life (but also Altair makes his appearance!), and through the Animus fragments you collect in Constantinople you also unlock memories from Desmond himself. This translates into minigames where you as a bodyless Desmond have to pass through empty corridors and need to puzzle with blocks to find a way to the end, while he sees parts of his childhood. A cool addition to see Desmond’s character deepened, but unfortunately the puzzles also bring along quite some frustrating moments with them.
What also immediately gets noticed is that Desmond looks different, as if he received somewhat of a facelift between Brotherhood and Revelations. We’ll blame old age, as that is also an element Ezio gets confronted with. The smooth Italian who debuted in Assassin’s Creed II as a young man who sets his first steps in the world of assassins has become a silver fox in the second part of his life. Luckily Ezio still has some tricks up his sleeve and he’ll need them in the Constantinople of the 16th Century, the time in which Revelations is set for the larger part.
Honestly, that city is displayed fantastically. The weather looks amazingly realistic, the water leaves wrinkels that flow into your living room, and the buildings almost allow you to feel the bricks they’re made of. It takes a while, also due to the leap of time you go through, before you get comfortable in the city, but once you’re immersed there’s nothing to stop you to completely enjoy the game and explore the city in true assassin style.
One of the best innovations is that you can assemble bombs yourself with parts you find throughout the city. The casing, the kind of gunpowder, and the active part that takes care of the specific effect of each bomb, … you choose everything yourself and then put it together to make a deaddly, tactical or strategic bomb. It quickly lets you forget that you constantly have to move on foot in Revelations (although there’s a tunnel system that allows quick travel) and you no longer can jump on a horse. Oh well, running over rooftops has always been more fun anyway.
The endgoal is Altair’s mysterious library, but that of course needs a key to be entered. Or better: five keys. These are spread over Constantinople and can’t be acquired in just fifteen minutes as the Templars are still on your heels. We all lose our keys, but here things are a bit more difficult. Also the political struggle between the Sultans and the Templars and the fact that Ezio, even as an old man, gets to have a romance with the ravishing Sophia make that the game has an extensive lifespan. In the meantime you get to take over the city from the Templars and this by taking out their commanders and reclaiming the area for the assassins. The game keeps you busy for quite some time and next to the traditional weapons you also get some new ones that give quite some extensive means to take down these Templars.
The many sidequests, the training of an army of new recruits, the renovating old shops that deliver some advantages over time, … it are elements that were present in the previous games and they’re all back. Your new assassins can be sent on missions throughout Europe making them stronger and better. In the end they lead your HQs from which the threat of the Templars needs to be countered. If the Templars do manage to build a decent attack against a certain part of town, you get a minigame that looks a lot like the Tower Defense games. You place different types of assassins on the rooftops and try to hold off the various waves of hostile attacks. A very enjoyable intermezzo and a lot better than getting a dry message like ‘You now have lost area X.’
Another element that returns is the multiplayer. Just like in Brotherhood you can show off your assassin skills online. New characters and modes bring a breath of fresh air even though the same basic concept often returns: identify your target and take him/her out, but make sure to remain unseen yourself as someone else is after you. It remains a constant adrenalin rush.
The new Artifact Assault-mode delivers more of a ‘Capture the Flag’ putting the focus more on the free running and less on not getting noticed.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is more of the same. An ingenious story combined with a more than appealing gameplay and a very immersive game overall. Revelations ties up the current storyline with Altair, Ezio and Desmond, making room for a completely new saga, but I’ll miss these blokes. And until Ubisoft arrives with a new title I’ll keep lurking around as a true assassin on the rooftop of Constantinople, while enjoying the view and taking care of the downfall of the Templars.