Sunday, 8 January 2012

Assassin's Creed: Revelations (Review)

Having played all of the previous games in the Assassin's Creed series, I was keen to complete the final installment of Ezio's story and get up to date with the epic saga. Despite my interest in the plot and the characters 'Ezio' and 'Altair' I must admit that after over hearing some bad reviews, I was a little bit apprehensive whether I would enjoy 'Revelations', or whether the game would be just another repeat of all the previous episodes.

The game opens in 'Animus Island' a purpose built landscape used to test the Animus (the machine used to recall the memories of the Desmond's Assassin ancestors). Desmond Miles, the present day protagonist, is struggling with the 'bleeding effect' where it becomes hard for a person who has been inside the animus to distinguish the past from the present. To restore his sanity, subject sixteen (the insane subject mentioned in previous games) who's mind is still living inside the animus, explains that Desmond must recall all the memories of his ancestors until all the loose ends are tied together.

Desmond's first memory begins with an engaging action sequence very reminiscent of the Indiana Jones moment, where Harrison Ford is dragged across the floor on the back of an enemy tank. As Ezio, you pursue a Templar leader who only moments ago tried to have you executed in Masyaf (the city where the Assassins were based in the first game). You soon find yourself being dragged at the back of the Templar's horse and carrige, whilst trying to avoid harsh pieces of terrain along the path. Whilst in Masyaf, Ezio also finds the entrance to Altair's library (the protagonist in the first instalment). The Library is sealed by five keys, one of which has been uncovered by the templars, the rest hidden in the City of Constantinople (Istanbul) in Turkey. Here you can begin to explore some of the new features found in the game:

The Hookblade:

One of the first new features revealed is the Hookblade. This allows you to grab ledges from greater distances, perform 'long jumps', and use zip lines to swing from rooftop to rooftop. The Hookblade is particularly fun when used to perform zip line assassinations. On your approach down a zip line, if you find a guard bellow you, at the tap of a button you can drop from the rope overhead and land on the guard with your hidden blade drawn. In one slick motion you have taken down a guard before he has even realized your presence. The only floor in my view is that the Hookblade is rather large and ugly. When performing a ledge assassination, it appears as if Ezio is pulling the guard over the edge with a shoehorn placed up his sleeve. Compared to the hidden blade which is very stealthy and inconspicuous, The hook blade sticks out like a sore thumb. Perhaps keeping in-fitting with the rest of Ezio's tools (throwing knives, hidden gun) The hook blade could have been made to appear more hidden.

Assassin's Dens:

I was also pleased to see that 'Revelations' kept and improved on the management system established in 'Brootherhood', where Ezio can recruit assassins and build a small army. Similarly to the Borgia towers in 'Brootherhood', by capturing and setting alight a Templar den, parts of the city are unlocked. Once the templar influence has been massively reduced, Ezio can restore shops and Buildings to increase the income in to the city vault. Now you can also begin recruiting assassins in the area. There are various challenges to unlock them, examples being a race through part of the city, or by aiding them in a fight against city guards. You can level up assassins in your brotherhood by sending them on assignments in other cities or by calling them to help fight against enemies. Once an assassin reaches the master status, he can assigned to run a den (Templar den now run by the assassins). The Assassins dens you establish however, are under constant threat of being re-claimed by the templars. This gives you the opportunity to watch over your assassins as they defend the den, and use tactics such as buying shooters with morale and positioning them along the rooftops. Morale is earned by fighting off the enemy, appearing in waves. You can also place blockades and call in cannon fire to hinder the enemies attack. The more Morale you collect form your successes, the more assassins you can call in to aid in the battle.

Bomb Crafting:

Another great feature in 'Revelations' is the ability to craft bombs. Various shells and Gunpowders can be found around the city which can be customized in to unique explosives. Ezio at first has three pouches, each of which can hold three bombs. As the game progresses however, you can upgrade the pouches to carry more explosives. Bombs can be used to kill, confuse or distract guards and can also be used to create diversions by engaging the crowds. There are three elements required to craft a bomb: The shell, the gun powder and the effect. You can construct shells containing shrapnel, bombs that stick to surfaces, smoke bombs and even trip wires. The type of gunpowder used also influences the radius of the explosion, so there really is a great amount of customization. Once you have selected the elements to construct a bomb you can test the explosive's effect before crafting, in an Animus style simulation. I believe that bomb crafting is one of the strong and unique elements within game.


Since the end of the second game, the introduction of what seems to be an advanced all-knowing alien race has given the Assassin's Creed series an even stronger science fiction theme along with the ancestral memories of Desmond. The clues given at the end of revelations are very hard to piece together, and seemed to raise more questions than answers. Throughout the story, each Masyaf key uncovered unlocks a memory stored by Altair. The keys themselves seem to be created form alien technology, again keeping this strong science fiction twist. These memories all take place in Masyaf, at different decades throughout Altair's life. He is cast out from the creed to finally return as an ageing mentor, kill Abbas who originally cast him out, and be hailed leader of the assassins. As Altair, you eliminate Abbas using the hidden gun technology used by Ezio, showing that Altair has been granted knowledge to tools more advanced than the time he was living in. Through possessing one of the apples of Eden taken from Al Mualim in the first Assassin's creed game, Altair seems to be a bearer of greater knowlege stored by the advanced alien race. After unlocking Altair's library and realising there a no books containing all the answers, but just a final memory key held by Altair's skeleton body, Ezio uncovers Altair's 'apple' and somehow addresses present day Desmond. Desmond is then met by 'Jupiter' from the 'First Civilization.' He explains how they researched ways of saving the earth from destruction in the past and stored the research in vaults, but where too late as our planet was destroyed by a solar flare. When Desmond awakes from the Animus, he claims to know what has to be done.

The ending definitely gave a lot to think about. It would seem that this Alien race we see ocassionally emerging were once destroyed many years ago, and then had to re-build our planet from the ashes left by the solar flare. I have heared strange theories of aliens shaping our existence. Theories like these often tie in strongly with religeon, claiming that many religious experiences and contact with 'God' and angels are the result of alien contact many centuries ago. This kind of approach would fit with the theme of templars and their constant search for knowledge and greater understanding. With the knowledge of the vaults, I imagine in future games Desmond will tract down the information required to change the fate of the earth. With a fifth Assassin's Creed game already due to be out some time in 2012, it will be interesting to see if Ubisoft choose a new era to focus on with Desmond's ancestral memories, or whether the game will be set purely in present day, Desmond utilising his skills gained from the bleeding effect to fight modern day templars.



After completing the single player campaign, I was keen to sample the multiplayer game types. I briefly played online on 'Brotherhood', but this time I planned on spending more time online in order to give a thorough all around review of the entire game. Similarly to 'Brotherhood', online you play as a Templar inside an animus as part of a large Astergo plot. The information you are first given is very sparse, but the online game mode runs like a campaign and as you level up, cut scenes are introduced that explain more about the Templar's intentions. Before each game you select an assassin to play as and are spawned in to a map. You navigate amongst AI characters as well as other online players, meaning that you can try to blend and hide from pursuers. Sometimes you can even blend with AI sharing your appearance, causing your pursuer to sometimes kill a civilian and loose their contract. Their are various game types, but the general basis of most is that you have a contract to find and kill an assassin, but at the same time someone is contracted to kill you. There are variations where you are given very little on your display, making it more challenging to identify your target. There is a game type where you must track your target using very little aid on your display, and then once you believe you have a identified them correctly, allocate them yourself as a target. On top of this there is a game type were extra points are awarded for the style in which you eliminate your target. In one game type, If your pursuer fails to be stealthy on their approach, a chase is triggered where you must loose their line of sight and hide to become anonymous.

There is also a team objective mode. Some of the extra game types include recovering artefacts, which is basically capture the flag where you must return the enemies' artefact to your base. There is a game type where you must work as a team to secure a chest, and finally a mode where you work to protect an assigned VIP within your team. In all game types, you can attempt to cancel out an enemies' attack by 'stunning' them. This is not always fully successful, but you are rewarded points for an honourable death if killed. In the VIP game type, when your team is being pursued you can use this stun to hinder the enemies attack on your team leader. A stun is achieved by punching an enemy to temporarily disorientate them.

There is also some degree of customization Online. With each character you can unlock different clothes and emblems which can be bought with Astergo credits earned by playing online. You can also customize your own classes, with perks and abilities that aid you in pursuing contracts and also avoiding the players contracted to kill you. One of my favourite abilities enables you to transform and momentarily gain a different appearance, confusing your enemy.

What I find very effective about the Online mode with 'Revelations' is the ability to blend with similar AI bots. It creates a sense of paranoia, causing the player to scan around the crowed knowing that amongst the wave of AI, another online player is stalking them ready to perform an assassination. I am often more captivated by a good campaign, and was merely testing the online mode in order to complete my full review of the game. I found however that I was captivated by some of the game types and will definitely be returning to level up and uncover more about the Templar plot.

In conclusion, along with the Desmond's memories (extra puzzle sequences which can be accessed from Animus Island, unlocked by collecting animus fragments as Ezio) and the online mode accompanied by another side plot, 'Assassin's Creed: Revelations' is one of those games that's lifespan expands well past the main quest. Even without the online game types, you can re-visit the city as Ezio and eliminate the templar dens in order to expand the Assassin's control and reclaim the city. You can continue to level up your assassins and assign them to captured dens, sending them on assignments in order to subdue the Templar's influence in other cities. Although I was slightly sceptical about the game, I thoroughly enjoyed the campaign and will no doubt continue to be enthralled by the online mode.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

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