Assassin's Creed: Revelations - Now with 50% less assassinations!
Lord_Tigger wrote this review on .
Like AC2 and AC: Brotherhood, the game primarily centers around Ezio the Italian assassin as he traipses around 16th century Constantinople. The Templars have been replaced with Byzantines, or they are the Byzantines, or something like that. It's confusing because the philosophical and religious discussions are gone and replaced with base plot scripts of people fighting over the throne. The game goes from religious intrigue to Robin Hood. The end result is dialogue that doesn't sound like typical Assassin's Creed writings, and half-way through I lost sight of who was supposed to be the Templars. That problem was exacerbated by the lack of targets as the story progressed. Where AC2 had you hunting targets in droves, AC: Revelations has you killing only a few key players in fairly simple engagements. The game tries to remedy the lack of actual cut-throat missions with side missions of raising and promoting other assassins, the same mini-game we saw in AC: Brotherhood. These missions are laughably simple and, overall, inconsequential to the story. The game also offers up control points across Constantinople where you kill the captain of the guard in that area and take over the headquarters for your assassins, such as you did in Brotherhood. These proved to be the most fun and challenging kills but, again, had no impact on the story. The main story missions, those that involve the hidden blade, are worse than the ones in the Bonfire of the Vanities expansion with simple approach problems, obvious paths, sporadic opposing guards to avoid, and little to no urgency in making a clean escape.
The game also provides dungeon explorations first seen in AC2, and the interior design of massive caves and lairs are certainly beautiful, but there was no challenge to be found. One lair was described as a "puzzle" and you were challenged to "solve" it. That would have been nice, but the puzzle had only one path to follow the entire way through and solving it meant following a carrot on a stick as the camera literally turned and pointed toward the next route take as the puzzle progressed. Solving these dungeons led to a story disk that, when Ezio studied them, transported the player to Altair's untold story line. Finally, a chance to play Altair again, but yet true to the rest of the game, not a single mission involved assassinations. Seriously, you play as the father of the entire series, and not a single of his missions involved assassinations.
To me the theme of AC: Revelations was revealed in its lack of true gameplay; it substituted cheap entertainment over innovation or challenges. The opening sequence involved being drug by a rope and playing demolition derby with carriages; all of which was simple and over in seconds. The ending sequence involved more carriages and an over-long and ridiculous parasailing sequence (that's not a spoiler, Ubisoft touted it on the trailers). Some of the missions gave you no options for stealth and you were thrown into brawls surrounded by enemy troops, andmother missions had you sneaking about but with no target to kill at the end. It almost translated to busywork as you pushed the game toward the next cutscene. That would have been fine if this game was the next Uncharted, but it isn't. This is supposed to be Assassin's Creed where the characters are stoic, the killings are cold, and the purpose is shrouded in mystery. The end result of AC: Revelations is more akin to a circus with extra clowns and loud noises.
Was it worth playing overall? Yes. Constantinople is by far the most gorgeous of Assassin's Creed's vistas, even more colorful than AC2's Venice in the evening sun. The combat is seamless and, somehow, even more violent. It was as though the developers knew the players would spend more time openly fighting than sneaking, and I'm not so sure that didn't add to the demise of the core gameplay. The chases were fun and the exploration rewarding as always. The subterranean stronghold of Cappadocia was incredible to see and navigate, and some of the buildings in Constantinople were more fun to climb than any from previous games. Whoever designed the characters, however, should be flogged severely. For some reason, Ubisoft allowed the art department to give Desmond, Altair, and Ezio enormous noses. Ezio now looks like Al Mualim, and Desmond doesn't look like anyone familiar. Not only does Altair have a pickle-shaped snout, but he suddenly has an Italian accent to boot. He's not Italian! Other graphical issues include a leaning bug where NPC's are at a 45 degree slant until you run into them, blind guards, a target marker that stays on a NPC between missions, and a man walking around with a stool sticking through his chest.
A little past the halfway point of the game, I finally was rewarded with a mission objective to kill a target and make a clean getaway. Guards were everywhere as I flew halfway across Constantinople and could not get far enough away to safely conceal myself. I was on the edge of my seat and was hoping the game was making a turn for the better when suddenly I fell from a rooftop and landed in a plaza. I looked up and was surrounded by guards who closed in quickly. I decided I was done running and it was time to fight. I pulled out my knife for quick group assaults, and the game responded by making the guards disappear. Right then and there the chase was over, and I was in the clear. It was kind of like they gave up. I feel that way about the development team in making this sequel: they couldn't come up with a way to expound on Assassin's Creed's core elements, so instead they just shot for action sequences and cinematics because that's what so many other games do. Despite the name being "Revelations", the only thing this game revealed was that the developers ran out of ideas. It's obvious the series will continue, evident by the trademark empty conclusion, but I hope for the sake of the series that Ubisoft sits down with the first Assassin's Creed and asks what made the series great. It takes more than pretty graphics to impress the followers of Altair.