Killing things with pointy swords and daggers, climbing buildings with sheer arm muscle. This is Assassin’s Creed. And it has been for the last three games.
If you can’t get enough of the guys in the pointed hoods you’ve come to the right place. If you’re growing a little cloak weary, Brotherhood should really be your last stop.
I won’t spoil the ending of Brotherhood but needless to say I was disappointed with how this game dealt with the aftermath. It’s all just resolved so abruptly in the beginning of Revelations. Desmond is trapped inside the Animus’ operating system along with Subject 16, who appears to be surprisingly normal, a little eccentric, but still a relatively average person. Which is far from the insane portrait we were presented in the first game. Subject 16 was more interesting when he was just a faceless character leaving clues on walls.
The Matrixy-mystical world of Animuses and Gods is still as mysterious as ever, but you’re rewarded with a neat CGI piece at the story’s conclusion. More questions than answers I’m afraid. But you knew that already.
For the majority of the game you play as old man Ezio, but throughout you will get the chance to play as Altair from the first game in his own timeline. Ezio travels to Constantinople 1511 AD (AKA Istanbul). If you’re a history buff there’s plenty-o historical figures and buildings to peek at.
Most of Ezio’s story involves searching for Altair’s hidden discs. Meanwhile the base missions are chock-full of assassinations, swordplay, and dressing up as minstrels. You mightn’t have guessed it, but Ezio has a very impressive singing voice.
Now back to Desmond. Unlike the neat little town in Brotherhood, the “Black Room” is sadly lacking any climbing obstacles. Desmond has some bizarre first-person puzzles to complete inside the Animus OS, but they can only be unlocked with these “fragments”. There’s 100 scattered throughout the giant playground that is Constantinople, and I found less than 10 of them. Playing these levels is all optional and perhaps too easy to miss due to the hunting of needles in a city-wide haystack. As much as Ezio loves jumping into haystacks, these Animus levels are meant for only the truly dedicated adventurer.
So an Assassin’s Creed game, you know the drill, seeing it’s an annual franchise at this point. If you haven’t touched the other games this wouldn’t be the place to jump in. Story-wise you’ll be lost completely. As for gamey things you have the assassins recruitment introduced in Brotherhood, shop renovations, Templars, and other optional things on the side.
As for new shiny things we have the hookblade which Desmond can use to climb buildings faster and catch onto ledges. Ziplines cover most of the city and make for a new fun way to get around. Heck there’s even parachuting to be had.
If you’re daring enough to take on Templars then best prepare for the infamous Den Defence. It is possible to play through the game only doing this once. Basically it’s a tower defence mini-game. Ezio perches on a rooftop and you need to assign units to rooftops to shoot arrows at the soldiers below. You have catapults and other things to make dead certain the soldiers don’t make it to the end of an alley in one piece. The real problem I have with this addition is that it just doesn’t gel with the rest of the game. That, and tower defense was so 2008.
Now for something I was quite impressed with, is the bomb crafting system. You collect different gunpowders and parts, and then put them together in different combinations to achieve different effects. You can make a sticky bomb that releases a large stinky gas cloud, or a highly charged splinter grenade. Whatever your poison. Oh yes you can make poison bombs too.
A moment I remember distinctly was when I tossed a rather powerful grenade into a crowd to take out some guards. It took out much more then just the guards. After the explosion all I heard were screams, and I looked to see a giant radius of townsfolk lying dead on the ground. It was incredibly eerie. In one button push I had turned Ezio from your friendly neighbourhood assassin into a death dealing terrorist.
Besides the usual stealth and flat-out fighting, we also have some action packed cinematic moments; a destruction derby with horses and carriages, escaping a port of burning boats, close calls on fragile structures, and a fist fight in mid-air. It may have felt a little forced, but for some variety in the campaign, I ain’t complaining.
Introduced in Brotherhood, this game of cat of mouse was like nothing else we had seen before in the realm of online multiplayer. It was about blending in with crowds, pretending to be an AI, and at the last second, springing out from hiding and severing an artery.
Revelations doesn’t tinker too much with the original structure but it does feel a lot more fleshed out, especially with all the new modes. Deathmatch is a fun little diversion, and it still retains the stealth of Wanted but confines it to a much smaller playing field. I found the Assassinate to be as fun as Wanted if not more. Instead of the traditional compass and target, you have a general indicator of your opponents, and then you have to spot someone acting out from the norm (eg. running, climbing, killing). Then you mark them, stalk them, and assassinate them. I hadn’t tried it previously but according to the Internets Assassinate is also available in Brotherhood via the Animus Project Update 3.0 DLC.
The core multiplayer experience is still as addictive as ever, but with an improved lobby, perk selection, new challenges and integrated leaderboards, it just makes the package that much sweeter.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is great, don’t get me wrong. But there’s only so much one can enjoy doing the same old thing, no matter how many new coats of paint you slap on top. That’s why trilogies work so well. In my opinion Brotherhood is the pinnacle of the series, and quite frankly, it should’ve ended there. Or at the very least, some more years in development time to come up with some new ideas.
On the multiplayer side, it still feels fresh, and it plays very well indeed. If you were a fan of Brotherhood’s take on stabby-stabby multiplayer, there is much to enjoy here.
This is the last time we’ll be stepping into the shoes of Ezio and Altair. But according to Ubisoft it won’t be the last Assassin’s Creed. Another game is coming out next year. Is that a good thing? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.