Game trailer: Assassin's Creed: Revelations
Perhaps one of the overlooked accomplishments in gaming is what Ubisoft Montreal has been able to do with the Assassin's Creed franchise.
For the fourth time in five years, the team has put out another title in the series that doesn't necessarily change the combat and gameplay formulas, but pushes Assassin's Creed's historical fiction lore into a more comprehensible and ultimately tighter narrative, all while humanizing the main characters more so than in previous entries.
For me, that's always been the series' Achilles heel; its difficulty in presenting its complexly layered storyline in a cohesive fashion. But rest assured, Assassin's Creed Revelations helps the player wrap his head around what's going on and ties up loose ends where maybe before they'd be left open.
In Revelations, players will continue playing mostly as Ezio but then take over as Altair in certain sections. The connection between the two characters is carefully balanced throughout the game in addition to being an integral part of the narrative.
Graphically speaking, Revelations does an incredible job at presenting a 15th-century Constantinople, with its diverse architecture and sprawling terrain.
Most of the usual game mechanics return in Revelations. Players are tasked with run-of-the-mill recovery and assassin missions, but it does feel like the game offers far more options in terms of assassin recruitment, weapon purchasing, and a surprisingly in-depth bomb creation system.
Revelations also introduces a new mechanic that can only be described as an out-of-place tower defense mini-game that actually breaks up the action more than it helps shake things up. It's not as derailing as I found it to be in 2009's Brutal Legend, but I'm sure players will be just as confused and eager to move on.
There's also a fair amount of gameplay devoted to Desmond's struggle in keeping his memories and sanity in tact as he battles within the Animus infrastructure, outside of course, of playing as Ezio and Altair. However, the disparity between the two modes is often jarring. These levels are composed of flaky platforming and interestingly enough, are totally optional.
Stealth kills are just as fun as ever, even if they occasionally feel too easy to pull off in succession. In terms of overall combat, though, not much has changed. The action is still satisfying, but can suffer from an underlying clunkiness. It's tough to avoid making another direct combat comparison with Arkham City, but just like with what I experienced in Uncharted 3, nothing comes close to the near-perfection attack and counter system utilized by Batman.
Ezio's hook attachment to the hidden blade makes for a few moments of sheer bliss in combat, and especially when traversing across the game's massive map, making use of the otherwise inexplicable zip lines that litter the rooftops.
The multiplayer mode that debuted in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood returns in Revelations with a few alterations, but in my time with the game online I found that I was no match for players of a higher level. There's a fair amount of imbalance here, sort of the same feeling of inadequacy one gets when jumping online into something like Modern Warfare.
Assassin's Creed Revelations marks the tail-end of an ultracrowded holiday gaming season. It's arguably the best Assassin's title yet, but I'm not sure it does enough in the way of innovation to capture the attention of the less-than-hard-core Assassin's Creed loyalist. Ubisoft has built an impressively successful brand with the series, but it's beginning to seem that the workflow of pushing these games out in such orderly succession is finally taking its toll.