Once again players will step into the quiet boots of master assassin Ezio Auditore for some Templar-bashing, before Ezio resigns himself to a pipe and slippers.
It is a sad thing to see the hero from some of the most impressive adventures in video gaming getting old. Assassin’s Creed Revelations has the player, for the most part, playing as Ezio Auditore in his more twilight years, a time when he should be relaxing in front of an open fireplace rather than climbing up the side of towers and fighting his way through armies of Templar lackeys whilst hunting for the latest treasure. Truth be told, he still performs incredibly well considering his age. Sure, he may be a little slower, and slightly more grizzled, but all things considered, he still kicks ass.
There are three main areas to Assassin’s Creed Revelations, much like the previous game Brotherhood. Whilst individually they may be flawed and, in some instances, look somewhat dated, bringing the three different aspects together results in a massively enjoyable package of stealth-based gaming. The three areas are the main story, the sidequests and games, and the multiplayer.
Sometimes it is easy to forget that the main hero of the game is actually Desmond, a modern day bartender who happens to be wired up to a machine that lets him share the memories of his ancestors. Well, Desmond is still attached to the Animus and has to finish his journey with Ezio before returning to his body, otherwise unpleasant things will happen. There will be the occasional jump into the lives of Desmond and even Altair, but for the most part, the player will be playing as Ezio for this adventure.
An adventure which revolves around Ezio hunting down keys that were left behind by Altair that will reveal an item with the power to end the war between the Assassins and the Templars.
The action will take place mostly in Constantinople, a city which has been beautifully recreated for the game. As with previous games, the city is alive at street level, with the hustle and bustle of everday life continuing unabated despite the events that may be taking place amongst them, and infinitely explorable across the rooftops with its spires and domes. The keys for which Ezio is searching are located in dungeons which provide interesting puzzles for the player to work through, offering a break from the stealth and action found in the majority of the game.
Controlling Ezio is much the same as before, which is both good and bad. The combat will still not appeal to button mashing gamers out there, requiring carefully timed button presses rather than slapping the attack button repeatedly until Ezio eventually attacks. Also, the climbing mechanic is still very twitchy, something that has been a slight issue in all of the games, especially when being chased/chasing. Under pressure, with Ezio running, it remains too easy to miss handholds or back-jump away from walls you are supposed to be climbing. When this happens high up the side of a tall building and the player falls to their death, it can be slightly annoying.
However, the introduction of the Hook Blade is certainly welcome. Replacing one of Ezio’s hidden blades, the Hook Blade can be used during combat to evade enemies, or it can be used to extend the distance Ezio can jump from building to building. It can also be used on the ziplines that can be found throughout the city.
The main story is engaging and will please fans of the series. But there is so much more to do in the main game than just follow the story. Many of the elements of the previous games return for the player to indulge in, such as being able to buy equipment from stores, or even buy the stores themselves. There are quests and hidden treasures strewn throughout the city for the player to hunt down and reap the rewards from.
Then there is the creation of the Assassin’s Guild by recruiting and training new assassins in the city. The player can send them away to perform assassinations, or just sit on a rooftop and watch as they take out Ezio’s prey for him, and level them up to the rank of Master Assassin, at which point they can take control of a guild HQ.
This brings rise to a new mini-game within Assassin’s Creed Revelations – Tower defence. The player can take control of various towers around the city and turn them into Guild HQs, but until they have their own Master Assassin, they can be attacked. At this point, the Tower Defence mini-game kicks in and the player has to defend the tower with blockades, assassins and a cannon. Being a fan of tower defence in general, I found this quite entertaining. But I can understand that many players will find this an unwelcome distraction from the proper game.
The multiplayer game of cat and mouse from Brotherhood has been improved and expanded upon this time round, making it feel much less like it was just added as an afterthought. Players will still roam the rooftops and wander the streets looking for their target, which is one of the other players, whilst being aware that they are targets themselves and could be attacked at any moment. Players must locate the target themselves this time around, with only a notification that the target is nearby to aid them. To protect against would be attackers, the player will be given some very subtle indications that they have been spotted and are being stalked, followed by an on-screen warning to defend, which is usually too late.
The player can level up their online persona and introduce some new skills, such as the ability to send out decoys or even throw knives and smokebombs. The game is about the quality of the kills rather than quantity, so the player is scored depending on how stealthy or impressive their kill is, and the player with the highest score wins the round.
Amongst the other modes available, there is also a team-based multiplayer mode in which the teams must locate the opposing teams artefacts and bring them back to safe ground. The multiplayer feels much more involved this time around, with plenty to indulge the most fervent of online gamers. However, it still revolves almost exclusively around stealth (not that some players will realise this from my experience) and gamers who are more used to the quick-paced gameplay found in most other multiplayer games may well find themselves becoming bored of the cat and mouse antics quickly.
Despite a couple of small issues, Assassin’s Creed Revelations can easily stand with the best games of the year. Whilst the multiplayer game has been refined and expanded, it still remains not to everyone’s taste, and the side quests can be distracting. But the main story is where the game really stands out, offering both fans of the series and newcomers an exciting action adventure with one of video gaming’s most unforgettable characters.