Just like a recurring memory, Ubisoft has once again awakened the war between the Assassins and Templars in what is sure to be one of the greatest games of 2011.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is the latest instalment in the hugely popular Assassins Creed series. And while the basics to the gameplay remain as rock solid as ever, the updates, new story elements and all-round polish Ubisoft have added breath new life into the tried AC formula, making this the most impressive episode in the series to date. Revelations is also the final game in which you play as Ezio Auditore da Firenze and Altair ibn La-Ahad, and marks a fantastic and fitting send off for both characters.
The story is typically twisted and stunning all in one go, and centres, once again, on the struggles of modern day hero Desmond Miles in the present as well as those of his assassin forefathers in the past. Following the events of the last Assassin’s Creed game, Brotherhood, Desmond lies in a comatose state in the Animus device and it’s here where you can activate the memories that play out Revelations’ story. The main goal for Desmond is to unlock a key memory which links him to Ezio and Altaïr to save his mind and awaken his body into the real world.
Whilst we join our Italian Assassin friend, Ezio, in Masyaf as he attempts to track down a powerful weapon sealed away by his ancestor Altaïr, the trial actually leads him to Constantinople, where the game takes places. And in the midst of connecting plot lines, Ezio uses historical relics to allow you to play as Altaïr as well. It’s a great story filled with twists and turns, and bringing the three tales together is a complex task which Ubisoft Montreal have pulled off fantastically well, weaving together a deep and meaningful story which answers a lot of questions and raises even more.
Simply put, I love everything about the story and the way it is told. Finally we have been given a game that is as good as the hype surrounding it. Hell, the opening sequence is almost good enough on its own to justify your investment. One of the aspects of the story I loved in particular, was the way Ezio has aged. You can see the greying hair and the battle scars on his face. and his words are now full of wisdom. He has certainly developed since we first met him, and is definitely not the cocky young guy he once was. It’s a sign of the character evolving and this actually makes you form a greater bond with him that adds powerful touch to the game.
The gameplay in Revelations has also been tweaked and mastered in this new incarnation of AC. Whilst the controls are the same as previous games, there are new toys to play with, the main one of which is the Hookblade. A mini scythe-like weapon, the Hockblade is first and foremost deadly in a combat setting. I enjoyed using it to sweep enemies from their feet and rip their throats out, but it also came in impressively handy to hook onto the various ziplines around the city, as well as to jump down on to enemies from above and perform a beautifully choreographed slow motion execution.
This Hookblade is at its best when used for climbing as it helps you reach otherwise unreachable ledges and places. Indeed, it’s needed on many of the tallest buildings and is such a perfect tool you will wonder how you played previous games without it. For me, the best way to know if a new weapon is any good, is if it is perfectly and smoothly incorporated in an arsenal, and the Hookblade certainly is that. This new tool gives you a new way to play the game, now not only do just run and climb across the environments, the ziplines make things even faster and just make the gameplay the crucial bit slicker.
Along with the Hookblade, another new addition is the mammoth selection of over 300 bomb variations you can make and, along with the usualswords, knives and guns they help make Revelations’ combat options deep and etertaining. And let’s not forget the awesome parachute which you can glide with then drop down on enemies for more aerial killing.
Another great feature Ienjoy immensely, is the inclusion in Revelations’ structure of the den defence game. It’s a mini tower defence game that has you standing on a rooftop placing your allies (gun men, bow men) and building keeps and walls. You then wait for the attackers in the form of the various factions in the game and see if all you hard work and planning will foil their advances. Its a great way to break up the normal missions and adds some greatly appreciated variety.
While I keeping myself to only a few words, I could write pages No on the combat system in Revelations. The counter system is much more intuitive here and the controls respond sharply to button presses. Whilst I felt Brotherhood sometimes suffered from a slight lag here there are no such problems. It really is a joy to fight of enemies with even large groupshandled well, and once you’ve dispatched your foes, looting the dead bodies to get money and ingredients for potions and bombs as well as other handy items remains a nice touch.
As with virtually everything here, the music in Revelations is utter joy with the soundtrack to playing out perfectly what is happening on screen. The sound effects are much crisper and sharper from previous titles as well as more varied. The voice acting is fantastic; the many different languages spoken are complimented by accurate accents, and the words dance of the lips of the voice actors. The character animations and the lighting are bang on, as are the movements of the crowds and various objects that make up the world. I have to say, there is a believability to the setting and acting that is as close to movie standard as games have reached.
If the long campaign isn’t enough for you, then Revelations has a meaty multiplayer to get into as well. There are various modes on offer here; the main modes from Brotherhood are bought over, but now there are new places and characters to play as. You can start your own club (Guild) with your mates and even have your own coat of arms (shield). Capture the Flag and Deathmatch modes are also here, and while there are no huge advances, Assassin’s Creed’s stealth-based multiplayer was already sufficiently unique to set it apart from the online components of most other Triple-A titles and what Ubisfot has added only helps compliments the features that were present before and increase the depth.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is the perfect way for Ezio and Altaïr to bow out. I won’t ruin the story for you, but let’s just say it’s great fun. Revelations is a more polished game than Brotherhood in every department. The new additions and setting give the gameplay a nice twist and add extra variety and strategy into the mix. Fans will not be disappointed and anyone new to the series will wonder why the stayed away so long. (In extra good news, PS3 owners also get original Assassin’s Creed included on the disk as well). So, to Ezio and Altaïr I say this: I hate to see you go but I love to watch leave.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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