Assassins Creed Revelations Review

Ok, after the cliffhanger ending that was Brotherhood, I didn’t really know what to expect coming into Revelations, and it seems…Desmond’s completely lost it. He’s been in the animus so long that he is starting to have trouble differentiating the real world from the world of his ancestors, sounds quite similar to subject 16’s story…and surprise, all of a sudden subject 16 is alive, and well, inside the (safe mode) core of the animus…waiting for…us apparently. He tells us that the only way to get out is to separate the realities, so let’s hop into the animus portal and do just that.

Wow, Ezio’s really just about getting too old for this stuff, but he’s nothing compared to poor Altair. He’s ventured off on his own from Rome in the hopes of discovering the long hidden secrets that Altair has left…somewhere.

Oooh...Pretty!

This time we are sent to visit Constantinople, after Ezio discovers the hidden door deep inside the old Masyaf fortress from AC1 that is sealed by 5 special keys. The year is 1511 as we join Ezio in exploring Constantinople (Istanbul). Overall Constantinople has a middle-eastern feel to it, as well it certainly should. It is a city that is split up into two major districts on either side of a river, and Ezio uses boats to travel between the two districts, perhaps you can swim across that gap (I haven’t tried yet). Thank heavens it is a free journey or that would get pricey really fast, because you have to go back and forth between the two districts really frequently. The northern section of the map contains the main hideout, while the vast majority of the game takes place on the southern/lower part of the map.

The fundamental mechanics of the game have so far remained pretty much the same as Brotherhood and 2, but there is a neat new option to revisit the training room and practice any of the moves that you may have forgotten how to use since the last time round, each time you perform a new action the game usually gives you the option to practice the move in order to refresh your memory. In the first level you are introduced once again to the fortress that was the main setting for the first game and you spend a lot of time chasing ghosts around, Altair’s ghost, to be specific. Guns apparently play a larger part in this game because as you are scaling the walls of the fortress you get shot at by ottoman (snipers)? The level of detail and the environmental effects have always been stunning when it comes to assassin’s creed, and Revelations certainly doesn’t disappoint. The snow particles and wind/snow blowing in gusts over the walls and rocks really adds to the atmosphere. The fatality moves have been slowed down more and still look pretty cool. Ezio seems to have many different finishing moves depending on what weapon he is using and what angle he attacks the enemy from. The newest additions to the assassin’s creed formula are the introduction of the hook-blade, and the vast amount of raw materials you can collect from any number of places to construct home-made grenades and bombs…fun!

Constantinople

All of the features from Brotherhood and 2 seem to have returned, like all of the merchant shops you can buy to increase the total amount of income you get, and the renovation options for the monuments which are still incredibly expensive, at that price they’d better give one hell of a turnout for spending that much on renovating it ^_^. You still can recruit assassins to join your different guilds by helping out random (not so random actually) citizens who are being harassed by military or otherwise. Also making a nice return are the different armor sets as well as the ability to change the dye color on your armor, although for some reason, my favorite black dye from Assassin’s creed 2 is mysteriously absent…although there are plenty of other colors that seem to make up for it. There is a color seeming to be black that is labeled as “ash”, but it doesn’t have the same deep dark black color as the one from 2 did.

The hook-blade is an interesting piece of equipment which helps Ezio climb faster than normal…it also allows him to zipline around on the various wires that are strung up on the roofs around the city. When you jump in midair you can also use the hook-blade to slightly increase your range when trying to grab onto something. The hook-blade can be used during combat in order to vault over enemies, and you can use it to flip them over. The hook-blade might be a useful addition later on, but right now I am so used to the older methods from the previous games that the hook-blade isn’t really getting much use from me, and I don’t notice the opportunity to use it much unless I am on a rooftop and I see a wire to somewhere else. If you time tapping the jump button while you are climbing you can use the hook portion of the hook-blade to climb much faster than before.

The home-made grenades/bombs are a very cool addition. They are introduced to Ezio by Yusuf, who tells us that the technology for making the bombs came from (surprise) the Chinese. He says that the habit of making custom bombs has really caught on in Istanbul, and he helps Ezio learn how to make his own bombs. Originally there were only smoke grenades in the previous two games, but now there are a whole variety of different grenades that can but used, to distract enemies, to kill enemies, and to create diversions. Ezio later meets someone in the grand bazaar who is a military aid to the Istanbul army, and he introduces Ezio to some more advanced grenades/bombs. The most useful one I have found so far is the bomb that acts like a gas grenade. In the previous games I would stock up on the poisoned knives and I would carefully snipe most of my enemies from a distance and then watch as they slowly collapsed, but now with this new grenade, you can knock out a whole group of enemies with a single grenade, it’s pretty cool.

Once you have taken over an assassin’s hideout, which is accomplished by killing the person in charge of the area and lighting the torch in his tower, you can enter the hideout and build your own grenades. Unfortunately, just because you liberate the area once doesn’t mean that they won’t attack it again, and you will often be summoned to defend your hideouts. The defense of the hideout is something new to the series. It adds a tactical edge to the game, it plays kind of like a tower defense from warcraft 3. You have a wide stretch of road, through which enemy soldiers rush, and on either side of the road you have buildings and rooftops where you can place defenses in the form of crossbows or snipers. On the ground level you can build barricades and later on you can build mounted flame throwers. Your objective is to stop the enemy from reaching the hideout, and the enemies will come in waves. Ezio stands at the corner of one rooftop and you direct all the reinforcements from that point. At the end of the defense there is always a big ass ram type enemy, which takes a lot of work to destroy, and this thing goes through the barricades in almost no time at all. Later you get access to defenses that include a cannon barricade, which is a huge help against the rams.

Supposedly, once the assassins you recruit gain enough experience, they are able to take command of a den/hideout and you will no longer have to worry about that particular hideout being attacked by Templars. So far it seems that every hideout I’ve unlocked is being attacked except for the main one, but perhaps that’s because I haven’t fully completed the requirements for the assassins yet. When you assign an assassin to a particular den, there is a rite of passage mission you must help the assassin complete before he/she becomes a full assassin and is able to command the outpost on their own. Ezio is able to directly control what the assassin’s you have control over are doing by accessing special assassin boxes that are scattered around the city. You can send your assassins to different cities just like in brotherhood and this will allow them to level up, ultimately becoming master assassins. The missions you can send them on usually give you a financial reward, but sometimes have other perks as well, like giving you ingredients and other materials.

Ezio Auditore da Firenze, Master...Cantadore?

Ezio does end up donning a couple of disguises again, this time an Italian minstrel and a Janissary.

Ezio’s songs while he was disguised as an Italian minstrel are actually pretty funny. There are songs with crude sexual humor and references, like the song about Lucrezia and only being satisfied by her brothers O.o (clever reference to Brotherhood), or the one where Ezio sings about how he met a woman who was all business, and how her business ended up being his pleasure…entertaining. He also has another disguise where he pretends to be a janissary and infiltrates their camp in order to get to their leader.

Money is a lot easier to come by this time around, after buying up every shop I’ve seen so far I have already managed to get an income of around 12,000. Considering I am still in the second mission I think that’s pretty impressive. It took me a very long time to get that much income in Brotherhood and in #2. It is interesting to note however, that each time you buy a particular store, your notoriety goes up considerably. That didn’t use to happen…huh. The money you accumulate can be used to buy things like upgrades to the amount of weapons you can carry, or the different kinds of dye’s you can use to change the color of your armor. The most noticeable difference in the stores is that instead of having stores that sell paintings, there are now stores that sell rare books instead. There are also black market dealers spawned randomly from whom you can buy materials to make grenades. Otherwise, the money thing is very similar to Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed 2, and you get a deposit every 20 minutes, the amount depends on how much of the city you have bought.

At some point, quite recently, animus fragments suddenly begin to show up on the map, as do other important clues to finding things. I think once you hit 40-45 animus fragments it said something about unlocking more of the map, I didn’t notice an immediate difference, perhaps that is because it didn’t expand the surface are of the map, per-se. Before the upgrade it was pretty difficult to gauge where you would find the animus fragments and I collected them quite randomly as I found them climbing around stuff. The animus fragments are used to unlock Desmond’s memories on the Animus Island. As far as I can tell, the memories represent flashbacks that chronicle Desmond’s story so far.  (I haven’t actually gone into one of the fragments yet, so I don’t know.)

An elusive Animus Fragment. Gotta catch 'em all...

Although it feels a bit shorter than Brotherhood did (story-wise), Revelations has some very nice choices that wrap up Ezio’s story and flashbacks that completely wrap up Altair’s story. Pretty sad ending for Altair (sigh), but I guess it is kind of fitting. The music is quite nice, although I noticed one song in particular that seems to be replayed much more than others.

Finished Revelations today (Dec 3rd), I’ve put in somewhere around 15 hours, although the story certainly didn’t feel that long. Revelations felt less like a completely new story and more like a large expansion to Assassin’s Creed 2, which is pretty much the same way I felt about Brotherhood. There are some cool new features and different scenery, but the fundamental design of the game hasn’t really changed much from 2. I got more than 75% total synch and unlocked most stuff, got about 60 of the animus fragments and bought 14/15 on all the shops. Perhaps I’ll drift around later and try to completely finish all those off.

Ultimately I would say it was rather interesting as Ubisoft decided to tie in Ezio’s story with Altair’s, and Ezio’s with Desmonds. I always wondered what had happened to Altair, and now those questions are pretty much answered. They also managed to tie the loose ends in Ezio’s story up and now we know a little more about the mysterious glowing figures from brotherhood and 2, and we have a solid hint for where the next game will be, as well as a definite sign that there will be a next one.  If you have enjoyed any of the previous Assassin’s Creed’s, then I would definitely recommend this one as it builds upon all the previous games and takes us to a completely new location, and it has an interesting story.

A blast from the past...

Upon finishing the game you unlock access to Old Altair as a costume choice…there are still 2 other missing costumes, I wonder what they are.

Update: One costume seems to be Desmond, and the other is a Ottoman medic costume, both are pre-order bonuses). (Old Altair apparently is only unlocked if you achieve 100% synch on the final chapter.)

Oh, and man that was some long credits >.<. If I had known it was going to be that long, I would have gone to get a glass of water or something. Come to think of it, the credits for Brotherhood and 2 were also pretty long, and there wasn’t any special ending worth waiting for O.o. Games don’t really do the stay till the end of the credits thing much like movies do. There are a few games that do it, like…MGS2, 3, and 4…but I can’t really think of many others off the top of my head that do that.

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~ by kain243 on February 14, 2012.

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