Review: Assassin's Creed: Revelations (X360)

There’s something I love about the Assassin’s Creed series like the fact that I can toss unsuspecting guards off rooftops to freak out the other guards below. Revelations is the fourth main game that continues the tradition of that and so much more.

Assassin’s Creed was a game that turned heads with its stealth gameplay and free-climbing action. The series so far has seen protagonist Desmond Miles playing through the historic memories of his ancestors, Altaïr and Ezio, through the magic of the Animus. The story continues from the end of AC: Brotherhood, and present-day Desmond is comatose, trapped inside the Animus interface. Of course, the only way to regain consciousness is to explore the Ezio’s memories, which take place in 1511 Constantinople (Istanbul), as he attempts to retrace the memories of Altaïr.

The storytelling between the bloodshed is well played, perhaps an improvement over the previous games. It’s nice to see autumn-aged Ezio having a love interest in Istanbul. The main story is split into the various missions the player will see through. Each of these missions have a main and an optional objective, the latter of which requires more finesse to complete and obtain a 100% synch to the memory, not to mention the bragging rights to blazing through a cavern in less than 6 minutes.

The story itself unfolds through cutscenes and there are minor “walking” cutscenes as Ezio converses with his allies en route to a particular destination, and the ability to get go of the controller as Ezio does his own walking is a nice touch. Ezio seeks the keys of Altaïr, and must dig through clues in books and maps to find them. Your skills playing as Nathan Drake will come useful as you navigate dark dungeons to the artefact at the end. These keys unlock memories to Altaïr’s past (it’s kinda like Inception, memories in memories) and unlocks never-before-seen sequences during the original Assassin’s Creed.

Beyond the story, Assassin’s Creed Revelations is packed with new features, perhaps the most important of which is the Hookblade, capable of speeding Ezio across ziplines, drawing enemies closer and making free-climbing so much faster. Adding to Ezio’s obsolete arsenal are crafted bombs, which consists over 100 configurations using “ingredients” found around the city to create lethal bombs, tactical bombs and bombs to create diversions. Players can now also select a primary and secondary weapon at one go with a click on the shoulder button and the rotation of the two thumbsticks.

The other star of the show is the great city the game is built around, a staple of any Assassin’s Creed game. There’s a reason why Ubisoft makes you climb the tall viewpoints to add landmarks to your map. It’s to show off the city around you 500 metres up, and it’s perhaps the most stunning views from the series. Ezio can also be the Monopoly Man and buy, build and renovate shops and landmarks around the city (to the player’s benefit) to earn income in order to buy, build and renovate more shops and landmarks. Before he can to do, however, he has to regain control over the district by chasing away those pesky Templars in a turf war of sorts, which can be accomplished with a simple knife to the throat of the templar den’s captain.

Taking control of these dens also allow you to recruit more potential assassins to your cause. These recruits can jump in to assist you in the assassination of enemies so you don’t have to blow your cover by doing it yourself. They can also, unfortunately, be killed in combat, so it would be wise to train your assassins by sending them around the Mediterranean to complete missions of their own as you slowly diminish the influence of the Templars in the region.

The enemies can take back their dens, a new feature in AC: Revelations. Ezio’s rash actions around the city will force the Templars to attack one of the Assassin’s dens, which unfolds in an overgrown version of a tower defence game. Ezio must command his assassins to take down the invading Templars that come in waves to retain the right of ownership of his contested den. I found this tedious and seemingly out of place. It’s a fun twist to the game, and the interface works, but I found it easier to just lose the den and reclaim it back through stealth killing and acting faster to bribe Heralds to lower my notoriety. Den Defence, as the game calls it, could work better as a Facebook game (there’s an idea, Ubisoft), because it adds nothing to the game, taking nothing but your den in return.

There are also the usual side quests such as assassin recruiting and collecting what is known as Animus data fragments to unlock Desmond’s past. Multiplayer mode also exist for players seeking to assassinate others online or help others protect NPCs like real assassins should.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations adds enough of new to qualify this game as different, but there’s no point in changing a formula that works so well. Combat remains the same like it always has been in the series and you are free to be chased around the large city by Templars with barely any loading screens at all. Revelations is a great addition for fans of the series as well as stealth enthusiasts, especially if you’ve been following the adventures of Altaïr, Ezio and Desmond from day one.

Graphics 9.0
Environments are still as pretty as ever, although there are very minor tearing and lag.
Sound 8.0
Fully-voiced characters in cutscenes and during gameplay coupled with a lively populous judging your moves at every turn.
Gameplay 8.0
The introduction of bomb-making shows what Assassin’s Creed has always been missing. Den Defence gameplay feels out of place.
Lasting Appeal 9.0
There’s plenty to collect, renovate and unlock during and after the game is done. Multiplayer modes also offer players a good time.
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Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is an Ubisoft game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft studios around the globe for the Xbox 360. Also available for the PlayStation 3 and Windows PCs. It is worth noting that the original Assassin’s Creed comes attached on-disc as a bonus on the PlayStation 3 version. 3DTV capabilities were not tested.