Developers: Ubisoft Montreal
Plot: While Desmond finds himself trapped in the Animus, Ezio Auditore travels to Constantinople to find a way into Altair’s secret vault.
Assassin’s Creed is one of the biggest gaming franchises out there. With a gripping story, marvellous attention to detail and a great combat system, it is guaranteed to sell several copies on the day of its release. However, like all giant franchises, they are still susceptible to a sudden decline.
Revelations doesn’t do much wrong on the surface. While we still play Ezio Auditore, the only assassin to rack up three games to his name, the setting moves from Renaissance Italy to Constantinople (Istanbul in 1511AD), where he takes on the political power of the Ottoman Empire. As ever with Assassin’s Creed, the story plays very closely to actual historical events. The sons of the Sultan, Ahmet and Selim, are arguing over who should inherit the Empire. However, as Ezio gets caught up in the middle, it soon becomes clear that the Templars have a hand in this conflict. While Ezio tries to discover where Altair kept his vault, he also has to stop the Templars from using the Ottoman Empire to get to it first. It is an interesting enough affair, livened up by a new romance card, firmly positioning Ezio as one of the more interesting protagonists the franchise has, even if his third adventure sees his transformation from young Italian playboy to master of the Creed pretty much completed. However, gameplay wise, Revelations offers almost nothing new to the table. The property angle feels routine now, the novelty of owning your own area now a dull distraction. The Templars slowly evolve into something akin to a Bond villain – their fourth attempt to take over the world feels like another day at work for Ezio Auditore. Revelations is solid enough to keep the fans ticking over, but if you don’t find yourself invested in the story being told, it offers little for you.
When it does come up with something new, it almost feels like it is hitting a company target, rather than honestly cooking up an inventive new direction to take the series. The second Assassin’s Creed had the property angle, which at the time, was ground-breaking for the series. It really created the underdog story of Ezio and also gave the player something personal to invest in. The third game had the Brotherhood side of things, where you could use your recruits to further your dominance over the Templars. Revelations has a tower block mini-game. Hardly the novel approach we are used to. On paper, it sounds good, if a little overused a gimmick by Ubisoft. Ezio could now go out to Templar camps and claim them for the rebels. However, when you rock up to the battle, you find yourself witnessing the fight rather than taking part. You pick a safe distance on a rooftop where you have a clear view of the arena, place a select amount of assassins around the area and then select exactly when and how they attack. It is fun enough the first time around, but then, like all of Ubisoft’s sub-missions, they just end up getting in the way. When you are cruising through the game half-heartedly, because it isn’t as interesting as you thought it would be, the last thing you want to do is go around, extending the gaming experience, especially if it is as lazy an adventure, as something you can get an app for on your phone.
But Revelations clings to its main weapon: as well as Ezio, you get to play as the mighty Altair in flashback sequences. The Altair missions soon become the worst part of the game. For one, Altair is a little blank of a character. He worked for the first game, because he welcomed us into this world and introduced us to the wider story. However, Ezio breathed life into the hero figure, making stepping back to Altair, little more than something to please the fan-boys. His missions aren’t even fun. After the events of the first game, Altair hung up his fighting days and focused more on leadership and keeping the Apple of Eden from the rest of the world. A few mission’s time and Altair is too old to run or jump. When the game promised us playing Altair, it is a little cop-out to give us a shuffling OAP who spends the majority of the mission, inching towards a cut-scene. Desmond is a little better, but even his missions are just expanding his origin story. Trapped in the animus, he finds himself able to unlock his own memories. You end up travelling to a strange Tron-esque platforming game, while narration from your father drones on in the background. It is interesting, but it feels more like a DLC than a game in itself. Desmond’s story has always progressed at a fine pace, but Revelations works at buying time, rather than using it. Out of all of the Assassin’s Creed games, Revelations is the most skippable. Missing this will not hurt the overall experience in the slightest. Even Ezio’s missions, which will become the saving grace here, feel like tying up a loose end, rather than being anything overly crucial. A collector’s item, rather than a must-get piece of gaming.
Final Verdict: Even when Revelations does something well, it still struggles to escape a sense of pointlessness. One for the fans.