According to Oxford Dictionary, the term Revelations means (as a noun) - A surprising and previously unknown fact that has been disclosed to others - (mass noun) he making known of something that was previously secret or unknown / Used to emphasize the remarkable quality of someone or something. Basing on that, the title Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a suitable heading for the third and final instalment of Ezio Auditore da Firenze yet this time, it also tells the story of Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad basically giving both of them the closing curtain call. However, if you want to ultimately see the final chapter, it’s advisable to also see the short film Assassin's Creed: Embers. Nevertheless, even though it’s the final chapter for both of these famous assassins, the game plays out the weakest of Ezio’s trilogy and, unfortunately worse than the first Assassin’s Creed game.
That’s not to say it’s a shoddy game by all means, it’s still quite a decent run as this time it’s based on the Byzantine Empire’s capital city Constantinople. Like the previous game, when it comes to attention to detail, Constantinople is a vibrant city filled with incense, people mingling about with plenty of famous locations like Topkapi Palace, Galata Tower, the Forum of the Ox and the absolute magnificent Hagia Sophia to say the least. So I’m glad to see that the richness is still infused that makes this game impressive as the attention to detail is certainly one of the strongest points thus worthwhile exploring those areas, among others of course.
Speaking of which, there are abundance of side missions to complete along with the main storyline. However, if you decide to complete just the main quest, you will miss the many locales this game has to offer that certainly adds richness so it’s worthwhile to check them out. Some examples are completing faction missions that will unlock benefits and weapons / armour for your collection, discovering secret locations, scaling viewpoints, collecting animus data fragments (a replacement to collecting flags), discovering Ishak Pasha’s memoir pages and of course, locating treasures. Also you can buy paintings and upgrade your arsenal and all of them will unlock certain benefits if you collect them all.
All of these are pretty much transferred from previous Assassin’s Creed games however there are some newer features that somehow pulled away from its predecessors. For starters, Ezio right hidden blade was damaged during the opening sequence and now has been replaced by the hookblade. It’s a pretty impressive tool as you can use this for scaling higher grounds and to zip line across the map. Also you can use this to make scaffold to fall, perform a ‘hook and run’ (with a cool animation), hook civilians to make them fall and able to pickpocket enemies during mid-combat.
The Eagle Vision has improved as a representation of his maturity as it’s now called the Eagle Sense. So instead of identifying enemies, he now can track the enemy’s trail and the game plays this feature a lot during the main / side missions. Also, instead of having just the smoke bomb, Ezio now has a collection of bombs to create from distracting the enemy to end them. All bombs needs to be created in three stages being the type of shell to the effect to the size of the bomb. Personally I felt the bombs, whilst overpowered, really don’t have real use for them as it’s a little too fiddley to construct then use. However, to get full sync in some missions, it’s highly advisable to carry some (especially the shrapnel / poison ones).
Replacing the Borgia towers from Brotherhood are the Assassin Dens. These dens acts like Assassins hideouts and can be attacked if your notoriety rating goes into the red. If so, the dreaded mini game appears where it acts like a tower defence game. I have nothing against any tower defence games nor do I have any issues for trying something new. However in this game, it just doesn’t sit well enough. Yet there is a way to avoid this and it’s by levelling up an assassin to ten and then assign him / her there. Once done, that particular den is free from any Templar’s attack (a.k.a. The Tower Defence Game).
Another mini game presents itself called The Mediterranean Defence. Here is where you can send your assassins abroad aiming to control the Mediterranean from the Templars. There are twelve cities to ‘save’ (thirteen if you unlock Rhodes via multiplayer) and each city has its own quests. Each quest has a difficulty rating and you can assign up to five assassins per quest. The quest itself presents itself in text format and the rewards includes experience points, gold and so forth. There are no level restrictions however if you assign a team of low level assassins, there’s a good chance they will die. My suggestion here is to assign a high level assassin accompanied with a bunch of low level ones and everything should be sweet as.
The concept behind this mini game is decent however, just like the tower defence game, the execution is poor. You will earn an achievement for conquering all twelve cities at once however it’s more of a chore than fun. Why that is is because you can never hit 100% and stay there. Why that is is because, after a while, if no assassins are assigned to missions for that particular country, that country will be slowly overtaken by the Templars again. My suggestion here is get all your assassins to max level, get that achievement then say ‘screw you Mediterranean – I’m outta here’.
There are also random missions in the game like carrying civilian’s items for pittance, people challenging Ezio in a brawl and the stalkers. The stalkers are definitely my highlight as a diversion and a great new feature for this game. What’s a stalker is simply, a normal civilian suddenly attacking you quite literally out of nowhere. To be quite frank, it’s pretty scary when one does however there are indictors when one is close by. The key is the sound as you hear very slight whispers and marginally gets louder until the civilian is in attacking reach. What I normally do is once I hear the whispers, I try to see who the stalker is and stalk them. A very nice cat and mouse venture.
As advertised, not only you play Ezio, you get to play Altair. Altair is my favourite assassin and it’s disappointing to see that all of Altair’s missions are all small in size with a linear path. Man that’s so annoying and what makes it even worse, a good chunk of it is when he’s old and crippled. Also Ezio now has a Middle Eastern accent (lost his Italian accent somehow) and the only other game I heard this type of accent is from Bloodlines (yet that was played by Altair).
Yet there is a winner and that’s the storyline of Desmond. His history finally explained and about time too. Yet the caveat here is you need to locate five animus shards during the main game and only then you get to unlock the first pillar as shown during the opening sequence. Then after locating another five unlocks the next pillar and so on until all five are unlocked (i.e. locating thirty animus shards). All five chapters plays out similar to portal (without the portals) and viewed in first person. The visuals are amazing as local representations like a river for example, is in the form of moving data streams. This definitely is worth your investment considering Desmond is a major player in the Creed universe.
The franchise Assassin’s Creed grew way too fast in popularity as shown during the past three games. The first had a decent storyline and approach whilst Assassin’s Creed II added many more features that made Assassin’s Creed I look like a tech demo. However, in Brotherhood, even though it’s my favourite out of the four, starting to show cracks in the storyline thus using the ‘band aid’ approach, especially when playing the modern day characters with Desmond and those obnoxious kids. Seriously, it was so messed up, the game can do without them. However, this ‘tradition’ carried on into Revelations yet, this time, those kids played a minor role and thankfully, Desmond now has a backstory via the Animus Shards scattered throughout the map of Constantinople.
Revelations, whilst not a bad game overall, is the game that needs to tie up loose ends from the previous Assassin’s Creed games (including the DS / PSP ones). It looks like Assassin’s Creed was getting way out of proportion with its storyline with plenty of ‘WTF’ moments near the end. It feels like Ubisoft have no idea where this franchise is heading too thus making this game the closing chapter and start fresh if another game was in production (for which it was, titled Assassin’s Creed III). If you managed to get on hold of the Animus Edition, it comes with the Assassin's Creed Encyclopaedia explaining the history as best as they can. It’s a worthwhile addition if you want to stitch up the potholes this game has created. I guess the game can be viewed as the scapegoat, the victim of its own success that had to be released to get some closure to this fantastic series.