Assassin’s Creed: Revelations – The PS3 Attitude Review
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is the third title in the action/adventure series to be released in as many years, and the fourth overall on home consoles. You’d think gamers would have had enough of the franchise by now, but Ubisoft has managed to beat the odds once with Brotherhood, which was released last year to universal acclaim, so can they do it again with Revelations?
The opening of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations takes place in the Syrian city of Masyaf, with Ezio searching for secrets left behind by Altaïr. Ezio discovers the door to Altaïr’s library, which requires five keys to unlock. Suspecting that something important lies behind it, he learns that the Masyaf keys were hidden in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), where most of the game is set.
This relocation from Renaissance Italy to Constantinople allows Ubisoft Montreal to explore a different culture, and also introduce several great new characters; Yusuf Tazim, the leader of the local Assassin Order; Prince Suleiman, the heir to the sultanate of the mighty Ottoman Empire; and Sofia Sartor, the owner of a local bookshop and a love interest for Ezio.
With a name like Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, you’re no doubt expecting Ubisoft to deliver some answers. This is true to a certain extent, because the stories of Altaïr and Ezio are both wrapped up nicely, but the ending itself is still incredibly ambiguous, and in true Assassin’s Creed fashion, actually invites more questions than it answers.
As always with an Assassin’s Creed title, the two main aspects of the gameplay in Revelations are climbing and combat. However, if you’re reading this review, then we assume you have at least a passing interest in Assassin’s Creed, so rather than dwelling on these staples of the series, we’ll be focusing on the new additions to the game.
The hook blade is the first of these to be introduced to the player; a modification of Ezio’s hidden blade which allows him to climb higher and jump further. It can also be used to slide down the many zip lines that are spread around Constantinople, and you can even initiate a kill from a zip line, presenting the player with new possibilities for assassinations.
Do you remember those random items you could find around Rome in Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood? Ubisoft has included an equivalent for Revelations, but this time they’re actually useful. Bomb crafting is a big part of the game, but you must first find the necessary ingredients, which can be found in chests or looted from guards’ corpses.
Each bomb requires an Impact Shell, a type of Gunpowder, and an Effect; there are several types of each ingredient, so a huge amount of different bombs can be created. For example, you could make a traditional explosive with shrapnel to kill a guard on contact, or something more inventive such as a bomb made from lamb’s blood to scare guards into thinking the blood is their own.
Another new feature is Den Defense, a tower defence minigame that allows Ezio to free parts of the city that are under Templar rule. Waves of enemies attempt to break through your defences, and Ezio can call in Assassins and construct barriers to prevent them from doing so. It’s a decent distraction and works fairly well, but it doesn’t quite match the rest of the game’s quality.
Thankfully, there’s a huge amount of other singleplayer content to occupy your time, including the usual slew of collectibles, and more interestingly, possibly the largest amount of side missions the series has ever seen. Many of these secondary missions must be completed for the game’s platinum, so trophy hunters will certainly have their work cut out.
Although you play as Ezio for the majority of the game, you’ll also take on the role of Altaïr and Desmond at certain points in the story. Whenever Ezio finds one of the aforementioned Masyaf keys, he experiences one of Altaïr’s memories, and the player briefly assumes the role of Altaïr, the legendary Assassin from the original Assassin’s Creed game.
These memories span the course of Altaïr’s life, so it’s very interesting to see what he got up to after the events of the first game. Amongst all of the stabbing and general bloodshed, it’s easy to forget that the Assassins are only human. Revelations has several moments of unexpectedly high emotion, many of which take place in these Altaïr sections.
Even though he’s technically the main character, everyone agrees that it is nowhere near as fun to play as Desmond as it is to play as Ezio. It turns out Ubisoft knows this too, as Desmond’s main gameplay sections are not even part of the main story, and are in fact optional side missions that are unlocked by Ezio collecting the numerous ‘Animus fragments’ scattered around Constantinople.
These missions are played in first-person, and task Desmond with simply reaching the exit through a number of rooms, while creating blocks to reach new areas and avoiding the raw Animus data. These sections aren’t quite as good as the rest of the game, but they’re still a nice diversion to the main story, and reveal more about Desmond’s mysterious past.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that the original Assassin’s Creed game is included on the same disc as Revelations (although it does have to be installed on the HDD), exclusively on PlayStation 3. The series has definitely improved with each release, but it’s still awesome to be able to see where everything began, especially as it costs up to $20 when bought separately.
Revelations’ visuals are generally very impressive; climbing to the top of an obscenely tall tower and looking at the view is still as amazing as ever, even after four games. Ubisoft has clearly put a lot of effort into making the city of Constantinople feel alive, with birds flying around the skyline, and NPCs who look like they’re doing something rather than simply being part of the background.
Like previous games in the series, despite its impressive draw distance and visuals, Revelations still has a problem with pop-in, with certain objects and textures seemingly appearing out of nowhere. It’s not close to game-breaking (Assassin’s Creed veterans should already be used to it), but it does occasionally take you out of the otherwise utterly immersive world.
Fortunately, the sound design is as good as ever, with fantastic effects that are instantly recognisable as being from an Assassin’s Creed title. The soundtrack has a more Eastern feel to it, which fits perfectly with the game’s setting, and the voice-acting is also superb; it’s particularly good to hear Altaïr speak without his American accent from the first game!
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood boasted arguably the most original online multiplayer component of this generation. One minute we’d be silently assassinating a target, and the next we’d be running flat-out from a pursuer; it was a constant thrill to play. With Revelations, Ubisoft has taken everything that was good about Brotherhood, and made it better.
Revelations’ multiplayer even has its own storyline, which is told through unlockable documents and cutscenes as you level up. The premise is that Abstergo are training Templars, and the best will be officially inducted into the Order and learn its secrets. This expands the mythology of the Assassin’s Creed universe, and gives a great incentive to keep playing
Like Brotherhood, the standard Free for All mode is Wanted, tasking players with assassinating targets while avoiding getting killed by other Templars. Several variants of this mode have also been added, such as Deathmatch, in which you have no compass to tell you where your target is, and Assassinate, in which you are not even given a target and must find one yourself.
The standard Team Objectives mode is Manhunt, also returning from Brotherhood, which has players divided into two teams; one team are the pursuers and the others are targets, and the roles are swapped in the second round. Variants include Escort, in which one team must protect their VIP from their enemies, and Artifact Assault, in which each team must steal their opponent’s artefact.
These new modes are fun, but we constantly found ourselves returning to good old fashioned Wanted. Several Brotherhood maps return, including Venice and Castel Gandolfo, as well as new locations such as Galata and Antioch, making a healthy total of nine maps in all. Brotherhood’s personas have also been replaced with twelve new ones, each with their own signature weapon.
There are too many other additions to list here, but arguably the most prominent is the introduction of Abstergo Credits, which are received after every game, and can be spent on perks, profile options, changes to your persona’s appearance, and much more; there are a lot of customisation options here, allowing you to tailor your experience to your own preference.
If the singleplayer story of Assassin’s Creed is getting a little tired, its multiplayer component is only getting stronger. If you ask us, Revelations is worth buying just for the online multiplayer, which is unlike anything else on PlayStation 3. With accolades and challenges to unlock, and even a Prestige mode, it has the potential to keep you entertained for dozens of hours.
For the second year in a row, Ubisoft Montreal has created a game with the production values of a title with double the development time. The visuals, sound and gameplay are all fantastic, and the amount of content included in the game is staggering. Completionists will easily get at least 20 hours out of the singleplayer campaign, and much more from the awesomely addictive online multiplayer.
That said, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, and with another Assassin’s Creed game promised next year, Ubisoft seriously needs to introduce some major changes to the singleplayer to prevent it from getting stale. Revelations is a lot of fun and answers a handful of our most burning questions, but we’ll be incredibly disappointed if next year’s release is more of the same.