Assassin’s Creed Revelations
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: November 15th, 2011
Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox One (2016), PlayStation 4 (2016)
The End of An Era
Assassin’s Creed Revelations marks the final chapter in the journey of Ezio Auditore. While the new additions to story and gameplay don’t stand that far apart from the first two installments of the life of the Italian Assassin, the added weight of Desmond’s current situation makes experiencing what remains for Ezio that much more valuable.
Continuing upon the end of the events of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, we begin with Desmond back inside the animus presumably for his own safety. The continual usage of the machine has left Desmond’s mind in a state of chaos, no longer able to separate his own memories from those of his ancestors. In order to reclaim clarity of his thoughts (what the game calls a “Synch-Nexus”), he must be able to not only sort between the memories of himself and Ezio, but of another familiar assassin in Altair from the very first game of the franchise, who still has much to tell us about his life.
The swan song of Ezio’s quest for closure brings him to the crossroads of the world, Constantinople. As per usual, it’s a constant race against time with the Templar Order, as both sides are searching throughout the city to find the keys to a secret library located in Masyaf, the home base for Altair from the original Assassin’s Creed adventures. Along with the local assassin order, Ezio also is aided by a women Sofia Sartor who not only assists him in his tasks, but slowly becomes a love interest to our hero.
Some of the greatest moments are whenever Ezio is able to obtain one of the missing keys of Altair’s library. With each key you have a chance to take control of Altair once again and put together the missing pieces of key moments of Altair’s life never seen before. The few number of times you get to have these flashbacks throughout the game made me excited each time I acquired another key, knowing that I get to flip through the uncharted pages of Altair’s story.
Through your struggle to obtain the keys you’ll be either running from or into the Byzantine and Janissary soldiers that occupy the city. Coming off the combat mechanic changes from Brotherhood, there’s not much to add on to the feature other than a few new combo kill animations and enemies that may take an extra hit or two to take down. When it comes to escape sequences and memory moments that require you to become anonymous, I found myself running into the same issue that keeps repeating itself in this series with Ezio jumping the wrong direction or missing a ledge that is clearly within his reach. Its the moments of gameplay that require quick choices to be made when trying to get away that were a cause for concern more often than it needed to be.
Where the hiccups in traversal don’t shine the brightest however, the new addition of the Byzantine Brotherhood’s hookblade brings a fresh approach to avoiding conflict and making structure navigation more efficient . Acting as an extension of a hidden blade, the hookblade allows Ezio to use this new piece of hardware to catch ledges and spring off of hanging lanterns like he’s never been able to before. You can make the joke that Ezio, who is in his mind 50s now, needs all the help he can get to keep up with his younger pupils and enemies.
Onto the current day struggles, access to Desmond is done within the animus itself, with memory entrances open to him to explore his origin, and why he left the Assassin Order in the first place. This sections of the animus that you explore are used more as a narrative platform, as the gameplay surrounding it isn’t much to gloat about. Sure, you’ll have to navigate your way over ledges and moving platforms to make your way to the section’s exit, but the soon found-ability to create ramps and platforms at free will takes away any difficulty that may have been presentable.
Okay, back to Istanbul (or Constantinople, or Byzantine, whatever), another addition to the Auditore arsenal is bomb crafting. Bombs can be used as both lethal and descretional means of overcoming enemies, and there are a number of times where they can and should be used when say, must avoid detection to complete a memory, or your optional objectives require you to do so. I usually was able to get through most conflicts without having to dive into the explosive repitiore, but it is a nice little addition when Ezio’s back is against the wall. Also within the Bazaar district of the city, Piri Res proves as another friend to the Order who has bomb-specific missions for the player to carry out as they so please.
By recruiting Assassin’s much like it’d been done in Rome, the grand master himself has the chance not only to train the improve the skills of his students, but can now graduate them to a title in the order parallel to his own. With each region of the city you unlock, a new den is available to take over. With enough experience, Ezio can assign one of his assassin’s to take over the respective dens, which will then allow them to gain further experience to becoming grand masters of the assassin order. The opportunity to allow others to follow in the footsteps of Ezio is a great metaphor in the ending of this chapter of the Italian Assassin, and having him prepare others once his position is left vacated.
Another new iteration in the attempt to control every region of the city is the Tower Defense Game. When under attack, you and your comrades are engaged in a wave based role playing mini game as you attempt to resource manage and use your assassins to stop the attacking forces. There’s not much explain apart from the initial tutorial, and with Ezio having the ability to both attack himself and order cannon fire capable of whipping out numerous enemies at once, there’s hardly any difficulty to this new mode.
After the handful of new toys and games to play with, the city pretty much acts the same as the cities ventured in Italy. You have your faction allies of Romani (equivalent to Courtesans), Thieves, and Mercenaries. Along with your assassins that you can call to your aid at any given moment, the challenges that should be presented to you have too many ways in which to help to breeze through patrolling enemies.
The final chapter of Ezio’s journey has a lot of repeated pages in it, but tops off with a superb conclusion to the iconic Assassin, and not without giving him some new tools at his disposal. While we’re closing the book of his adventures, the same bits we get of Altair are incredibly fun to experience and look back on from the very first game, yet the present day material still lacks any palpable weight of struggle.