If you count the Director’s Cut of the first game in the franchise, I haven’t played an Assassin’s Creed I didn’t like. Brotherhood felt like a cash-grab after the announcement, but once I actually played it, I ended up liking it more than its predecessor. Ezio’s allure was starting to wear thin, but his role in Brotherhood was compelling enough to the point where I really thought like Ubisoft could keep that train running at least one more time.
Unfortunately, nothing is bullet proof, and the newest Assassin’s Creed game, entitled Revelations, proves it.
This time around, Ezio will be joined by his ancestor Altair in a giant journey through Masyaf and Constantinople, as the duo attempt to unlock more assassin and templar struggle mysteries. Ezio takes the spotlight in particular, as Altair’s portions are more ancillary to the plot, only showing up every so often to help shed some light on Ezio’s happenings. It sounds like an intriguing formula for sure, but it actually plays out in a much less compelling manner.
The key is, we didn’t need three whole games on Ezio, and Altair, although interesting enough for the flagship game, does not deserve more of a spotlight. At this point the series needs to move on and invent new characters to care about — not cling to its old ones. After all, Ezio was a new concept at some point before he became a fan favorite. It’s also extremely tiring to see yet another Desmond subplot, and I’m starting to get really tired of him and his crew.
It’s definitely cool to get some closure on Altair’s saga (and Ezio’s for that matter) if you’re a fan, but the brief moments spent on anything poigant could probably be explained over the course of a few minutes, tops. Whereas Brotherhood was a worthy and justified companion to Assassin’s Creed II, Revelations feels wholly unnecessary — almost venturing into fan game territory. As a result, the game feels like an Assassin’s Creed title simply going through the motions, barely justifying its existence. There’s a tiny bit of extra lore here for fans, but not much — it’s easy to see that this game initially was planned as a portable spinoff.
The good news is gameplay is relatively the same, which means that the freerunning and combat systems are still as tight as ever. All new “Desmond Sequences” are basically first-person puzzles, Mirror’s Edge style, and add a new dimension to the gameplay — perhaps the only unique addition in Revelations. Because alternatively, the other additions really fall by the wayside. Like the new “hookblade,” an item that extends your grip and initiate zipline moves, which sounds neat at first, but it’s hardly an item worth paying full retail price to acquire.
A new tower defense style game is incorporated, and without putting it lightly, it’s awful. The gist is you need to slowly defend various points of the city by way of a minigame, which is extremely cumbersome, and unfun. Revelations attempts to add some sort of zone based conflict to the mix with an enhanced focus on controlling Constantinople and your assassin brotherhood, but it falls flat compared to efforts already made in the first two Ezio games.
Thankfully, multiplayer helps soften the blow of the campaign, as it’s a worthy expansion of the online modes found in Brotherhood. New modes and characters make an appearance, as well as an improved meta-narrative that gives the mode a bit more purpose and personality. At its core it’s more or less the same, but that doesn’t make it any less fun, and like the original addition I still maintain that it’s one of the best multiplayer modes out there right now.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is the type of game that only fans should bother exploring. It doesn’t really do anything new, and it doesn’t really do a lot of things particularly well. It kind of just exists, and serves as a great delivery system for the expanded multiplayer element — which is the main reason you should be picking up this game, because it’s that good.
This review is based on a physical copy of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations for the Xbox 360.