Assassin's Creed: Revelations (AC:R) continues the story of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, who has now risen to the rank of Master Assassin and Mentor of the Italia branch of the Assassin Order. Having grown old, Ezio travels to Masyaf, the Assassin fortress from the original AC, in search of Altair's hidden library. As usual, Ezio runs into a group of Templars looking for the keys of the library (which look like large discs), starting a race between the two orders that leads to the city of Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire. With each key Ezio locates, he is able to view a memory of Altair's past, peeling away the mystery of the stoic man's life.
Meanwhile, Desmond has gone into a sort of mental coma, and has been placed inside the Animus to keep his mind intact. The Animus, however, send him to the Black Room, the safe mode of the Animus, in order for Desmond to piece together his mind, removing the memories of Ezio and Altair from his own memory. By watching the last adventures of both Ezio and Altair, while exploring his own memories, Desmond can escape the Black Room.
Considering that most plot points are spoilers, I won't go into detail there. New characters Yusuf Tazim, Master Assassin of the Ottoman Assassins, Sofia Sartor, a Venetian shopkeeper, Princes Ahmet and Suleiman of the Ottoman Empire, Piri Resi, famed Ottoman admiral and cartographer, and Manuel Palaiologos, heir to the Byzantine Empire and leader of the Byzantine Templars join the game during Ezio's memories, while Clay Kaczmarek, also known as Subject 16, appears as an AI of the Black Room. Overall the new characters are given a lot of depth for only appearing in one game, though it's pretty easy to figure out who is the primary villain. The time spent with Clay is fairly short, but his storyline is expanding in the DLC The Lost Room. But more on that later.
If you want to fully understand the story of AC:R, playing AC2 and AC: Brotherhood definitely helps; the game does a decent job of catching up newcomers to the story, but because the game is based on a massive historical conspiracy, it misses out on some key points.
The Altair and Desmond portions of the game certainly shake up the formula that was used through AC2 and AC:B, and Constantinople is a breathe of fresh air after the numerous Italian cities, but something about Ezio's story feels below the standard set by AC2 and AC:B.
Plot Rating: 80/100
- As a history buff and AC fan since the beginning, I knew that this game would interest me, but there were times when I only wanted to play Ezio's storyline just to get to Altair's. This shouldn't be happening.
Character Rating: 85/100
- The expansion of Altair's and Desmond's character, plus the elder days of Ezio, leave me with a good impression of the main characters. Supporting cast is great, but the bad guys seem fairly generic and easy to spot.
Gameplay Rating: 85/100
Ezio's collection of weapons is back with two special additions; the hookblade and bombs. The hookblade helps Ezio climb faster, as well as you ziplines throughout the city. It can also be used to (while running) roll over an enemy's back and either continue running or throw the enemy. While an interesting concept, the hookblade really adds little to the game, and I nine times out of ten when I wanted to just spin over a guy and keep running I threw him and started a massive fight. The customizable bombs are a different story; rather than simple smokebombs, Ezio can gather ingredients from chests and dead soldiers to build unique bombs. Smokebombs, tripwires that shoot shrapnel, timed coal fumes bomb, and caltrops are among the list of various bombs you can create. Ezio can have three different bombs at a time, split into the lethal, tactical, and diversion categories. Weapons such as the hidden blade, hidden gun, crossbow, and poison make reappearances, though unlike AC2 and AC:B you can pick any hidden ranged weapon or bomb to go with any more visible weapon (hence the crossbow is in the second category).
Also new to the series is the tower defense game that occurs when Ezio is to notorious. Ezio takes command of the assassins of an Assassin den to defend against waves of templars, using barricades, musketeers, crossbowmen, and cannon to eliminate foes. Besides the unavoidable tutorial, I only had to perform the mini-game once, and in hindsight I was very fortunate. The den defense game isn't very well done, and many times the enemy will steamroll your defenses with various greek fire/cannon laden rolling fortresses. I can understand the idea behind having this sort of change of pace included in the game, but it feels forced.
Free running, combat and assassinations are as smooth as ever. The chain-killing from AC:B returns, though Janissaries (the elites of this game) are not so easily killed, and will even back up to shoot you should you merely wait for them to strike. The hidden locations inside ruins and buildings are just as fun as they've ever been, with one particular one (the river chase) standing out as one of my favorites in the entire series. Ezio can still purchase new weapons and armor from stores, as well as books (a new type of collectable) armor colors, and historic landmarks. Animus fragments are also scattered throughout the game. The recruitment of new assassins, along with the Mediterranean defense game (which plays out as a sort of Facebook game; you send your assassin's out to various locations to complete missions and gain resources, with the end result of freeing and maintaining control over that far off city), makes a return in AC:R as well.
While Ezio and Altair share gameplay aspects, Desmond's story is told through a first-person puzzle game, with Desmond moving through abstract rooms by placing down either straight or upward sloped blocks. I personally found this to be a much better change of pace than the tower defense game, but it's not for everyone. I believe you only have to do one of Desmond's five missions as part of the story, but they are well worth a look.
- Aside from the terrible den defense mini-game, the gameplay is diverse enough to keep you interested throughout. The only issue is that most of this gameplay is the same gameplay from AC2.
Combat Rating: 90/100
- The Assassin's Creed series has perfected the art of combat, and has even address the issue of it being too easy by making the Janissaries challenging enough. A diverse arsenal makes Ezio a walking army.
Multiplayer is back in AC:R, a carryover from AC:B. Combat revolves around cat and mouse chases between predator and prey, with every player having a different loadout to suit their own tastes. Disguises, hidden guns, and smokebombs are staples of multiplayer, helping players either blend in with the various NPCs walking around or find their targets in the crowd. As you play, you gain points to spend on new abilities, customizable parts for the various characters, and profile enhancements. For a more in-depth look at the multiplayer, take a look at my bro's AC:B multiplayer review
; aside from a few new gametypes, everything that is true about AC:B is true for AC:R.
Multiplayer Review: 90/100
- Fast paced and frantic, the numerous gametypes and loadout combinations make every match a new experience. It doesn't change much of the revolutionary AC:B formula though.
Should You Buy Assassin's Creed: Revelations?
Ezio does not approve of arrow jokes.
The thrilling conclusion of the Ezio trilogy. It isn't the bold new game that AC2 was, and storywise it is not as refined as AC2 or AC:B, but the gameplay certainly has become a polished product at this point. Ubisoft took some risks with the newer content; while the den defense was horrid and the hookblade irrelevant, the custom bombs, Desmond's puzzle platformer, and Altair's segments all stand out on their own. If you are an AC vet deciding on purchasing the game, I believe that is it worth taking a look at. As a newcomer to the series, however, I will point you towards AC2; if you enjoy AC2, you will like AC:B and AC:R. All the plot points from the original AC will be covered in AC2, you will get the feel of the gameplay, and if you do enjoy the game you can move along with the rest of the story in the correct order without missing out on content or having plot points spoiled.
Overall Rating for Assassin's Creed: Revelations: 85/100
I hate you Warren Vidic
There are 69 achievements in AC:R, with 49 in the regular game and 20 in the DLC packs. 20 achievements (including all ten of the first two DLC achievements) are multiplayer as well, but all of them can be boosted in private matches, and many of them can be performed against NPCs. Singleplayer achievements include completing each of Ezio's and Desmond's sequences, collecting all the Animus fragments and books, and 100% synchronization for every sequence. A few achievements are designed around using the new customizable bombs, whether building a total of 30 of them or using them in specific ways during combat. Only one achievement is tied to the tower defense game, but it can be done by replaying the tutorial thankfully. The Lost Archive's achievements are discussed in the DLC section; just know that you will hate "Impress Warren Vidic."
Achievement Difficulty: 4/10 - Singleplayer achievements are simple and multiplayer achievements are boostable (and for the most part will occur naturally). "Impress Warren Vidic" is the only controller/keyboard-breaking achievement in the game.
AC:R has three DLC packs; the Ancestors Character Pack, the Mediterranean Traveler Map Pack, and The Lost Archive.
The Ancestors Character Pack adds four new multiplayer characters, along with an achievement for each one; the Corsair, the Brigand, the Privateer, and the Gladiator. Likewise, the Mediterranean Traveler Map Pack adds six new multiplayer maps; three original maps and three maps imported from AC:B. As with Ancestors, this DLC comes with an achievement specific for all six maps. There is currently a free three day trial available on Xbox Live Marketplace; I would assume this is true for the other systems. While both of these DLCs are nice additions to the game (I really enjoy playing as the Gladiator and Privateer), unless you play a lot of multiplayer I would suggest holding off on these.
The Lost Archive, however, tells the story of Clay Kaczmarek; why he has an AI within the Animus and how he ended up as Subject 16 of Abstergo. The gameplay is the same as Desmond's story, in that it is a first-person puzzle platformer, though with more variety in the obstacles and types of blocks you can place depending on the level. It is also noticeably longer than Desmond's sequences, coming in at seven levels. The story itself is very interesting, with a massive plot twist near the end, but if you are not a fan of the Desmond sequences from AC:R then it may be better to just read a synopsis. This DLC comes with 10 achievements, with most either coming from completing the story or gathering the collectables. Two achievements involve completing a section without failing, and so help me "Impress Warren Vidic" made me rage for three days. Seriously, this achievement is just about the only rage inducing achievement in the entire AC series.
The Lost Archive also includes some of the preorder bonuses, such as different outfits for Ezio, weapon capacity upgrades, and the Vlad the Impaler's Prison secret location. If you aren't interested in the main portion of the DLC, however, these additions aren't worth the cost.
The Lost Archive Rating: 92/100 - If you like the Desmond sequences, you'll love this. If you hate the Desmond sequences, stay away. It's that simple.
Current Xbox Live Prices
Ancestors Character Pack - $4
Mediterranean Traveler Map Pack - $10
The Lost Archive - $10