It is hard to believe that we are already playing the fourth Assassins Creed game in as many years. Most franchises that take the risk to release a yearly entry end up growing stale, but Ubisoft has crafted a truly compelling tale that keeps gamers coming back on a yearly basis. Revelations is the final chapter for Ezio and Altair, and it is a fitting one at that. We finally get to see how this rollercoaster ride wraps up, and of course, topple another city as Ezio and company. The series may be winding down, but this is still one ride worth taking.
Spoiler alert, if you finished Brotherhood you are no doubt wondering what happened in all that commotion at the end. Well, Revelations picks up right where you left off with Desmond now trapped in a sort of limbo Animus. Here, he meets up with Subject 16 who explains what is happening to you. Most of the game takes place as Ezio as you continue to uncover the secrets behind the Apple of Eden and Altair’s codex, but you will also take on missions as Altair and Desmond. The game splits up the three characters very nicely and keeps you invested in all of them.
The story ramps up early and then settles you in midway through. By the end of the game, you are chomping at the bit to see what happens. For a conclusion, there are a lot of excellent additions here. Seeing Ezio sporting the gray beard and just looking generally exhausted really drives home how hard his journey has been. It is fantastic to see it come to a close. The voice acting is outstanding, as always,s featuring some great returning characters, as well as some brand new ones. The storytelling in these games has only gotten better over time, and Revelations is the pinnacle of that work.
At its core, ACR is more a refinement than anything else. The game still works on the same structure as the past two. Missions will have you performing various tasks in order to slowly regain control of Constantinople. Ezio has a plethora of new moves and items at his disposal, most of which center around the new hookblade. Gained very early on in the game, this Turkish concoction allows Ezio to grasp an extra few inches when climbing and to hook ledges when jumping, giving him more range when scaling rooftops. It can also be used in combat to throw soldiers down and roll over top of them. Sticking with the theme of the game, this refinement really fleshes out the core mechanics.
Ezio also gains access to bombs this time around that come in three different flavors. Lethal bombs can eliminate targets, tactical bombs are best used for escaping situations and distraction bombs do exactly what the name implies. You can find items around the world to construct these and gaining new recipes from various missions and characters. It adds another layer to the game and replaces some of the useless collecting from Brotherhood.
All of the rest of the side stuff still exists, though, making this a massive game outside of the lengthy campaign. You can still buy shops in controlled areas, synch towers and, of course, take over controlled areas by killing the captain and burning down the tower. The game is brimming with side missions; a quick glance at the map showcases hundreds of focal points that will take completionists dozens of hours to tackle. The missions are also more varied, making the long trek more streamlined and featuring less cursory tasks to complete.
The theme of refinement spills into almost every aspect of the game. The Assassin tunnels have returned for fast travelling, but instead of having to unlock them, they are open from the get go. Horses have been replaced with the hookblade and ziplines, making travel around the city immensely more exciting and quick. There are now tower defense style missions in order to protect areas from invaders. You earn points to dispatch archers and gunmen and erect barricades. The Assassin training also returns, allowing you to train recruits and call them in to help on missions. As I said, there is a lot of game here, but it has been more streamlined to let you focus on as little or as much as you want without interfering with the narrative.
Multiplayer also makes a return and remains as novel as it ever was. New modes, including an assassin-style capture the flag mode, round out the package, and the inclusion of story segments featuring history of the Templars and Assassins is actually a really cool idea. The online is really well done for a game so focused on single player that I think everyone should really give it a try. It is hard, at first, to get your mind to understand the concept, but after a few hours it really feels like more than a tacked-on afterthought. While single player is, and will always be, my reason for loving these games, the online component really does add a nice layer of depth to an already outstanding package.
Visually, the game looks great, taking the architecture from part two and combining it with some truly grand scale set pieces. The new underground caverns are absolutely massive and all feel unique, which is something the previous game failed to do. Character animations are stellar and seeing Ezio bounce from roof to roof is still impressive. There are some hitches here and there, including weird NPC actions and funny glitches, but for the most part, they don’t crop up too often. As I mentioned earlier, the voice acting is superb, and the soundtrack matches it in quality. These games are definitely built with presentation in mind.
Assassin’s Creed Revelations is a fine end to a fantastic series of games. Sure, it doesn’t change the mold with endless features, but it refines what has become one of the best new experiences of this generation. If you are invested in these characters, prepare for an awesome ride as you close out the Ezio, Altair and Desmond chapters of this series. Here is hoping they decide to take the time to make the next set of games as high quality as these four have been. Coming to close with a massive bang, Assassin’s Creed will remain one of the best franchises to come out of this generation of consoles.
Review copy provided by publisher. Primary play on PlayStation 3.