Nukezilla Review: Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (PS3)
When we last left Ezio Auditore after Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, he had successfully recovered the Apple of Eden from the hands of the Borgia and allowed present-day relation Desmond Miles the opportunity to gain a message from another of Those Who Came Before. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations picks up immediately after those events: Desmond lies comatose in the Animus, and Ezio works to spread the order of the Assassins in the fight against the Templars.
Revelations sees a much older Ezio travelling to Constantinople in 1511 in order to learn more of the secrets of the mysterious Assassin Altairibn La-Ahad – whom we have not seen on a console game since the original Assassin’s Creed. Altair supposedly possessed an artifact that would forever end the conflict between the Assassins and the Templars, and Ezio must race against the Templars in order to gather the hidden keys needed to unlock Altair’s study and retrieve the artifact.
Meanwhile, Desmond is stuck on Animus Island, a projection created inside of the Animus while those on the outside attempt to heal him. Animus Island acts as a hub for the most part, allowing Desmond to revisit Ezio’s memories at will, but also has a few Desmond levels, accessed by collecting fragments of the Animus in the main game. These Desmond memories are in first person perspective, using different shaped platforms to traverse the level, with occasional narration explaining a bit more of Desmond’s history and how he came to be involved with Abstergo. The levels are completely optional, but are great if you’re like me and are into the Assassin’s Creed series for the story.
Unlike Brotherhood, gameplay has changed – albeit not too significantly – in Revelations when compared to Assassin’s Creed II. For some unexplained reason, some of the established controls have been altered – for example, the key used to synchronize viewpoints. In addition Ubisoft utilized a new motion capture system, resulting in more fluid animation and realistic facial features – graphically, the game is quite impressive.
There are two main gameplay changes worth noting in Revelations. The first is the addition of a bomb-making system: using ingredients gathered throughout the world, Ezio can fashion bombs meant to distract, elude, or damage enemies. For the most part, the game is generous with both bomb ingredients and locations to fashion them. This new element – especially when combined with Ezio’s new hookblade, which allows him to climb buildings faster than ever – seem like a natural and welcome progression to the series.
I have more criticism than praise for the second change: the introduction of den defense. Constantinople has various Assassin dens spread throughout the city, and if Ezio becomes notorious enough, the Templars will attack one of the dens; at this point, Ezio must lead a counter-attack on the invading forces. I found the den defenses to be an annoyance at best, and often went out of my way to reduce my notoriety so I wouldn’t have to deal with them; I found the fact that I had worked three games to raise myself to Master of Assassins only to stand on a rooftop and tell sluggish NPCs what to do annoying, and all I wanted to do was jump into the fray and kick some Templar ass.
Overall, I found I enjoyed Revelations’ story more than Brotherhood’s – it’s nice to see Ezio, in his twilight years, looking back on his life as an Assassin and weighing the risks and benefits of both having a personal life and leaving the fight against the Templars to the newest generation he has mentored – despite the fact that Gavin will hate the ending. It is also worth noting that Ubisoft produced a short epilogue film, Assassin’s Creed: Embers (available on XBLA and PSN), which once and for all closes out the story of Ezio Auditore. As I mentioned in my Brotherhood review a year ago, I’m sad to see Ezio go, but he deserves to retire after three console games and a few handheld spinoffs, and I’m still excited to meet our newest Assassin in the next entry – a woman, perhaps?
This review is Day 21 of The December Review Nukestravaganzagain.