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Good fun but not quite the game we wanted
on 18 November 2011
Once again Ezio takes the main stage. Sadly this wasn't the 3 way split I was hoping for or even a 50/50 split between Ezio and Altair. The main story follows Ezio searching for the keys to Altair's library. With each key Ezio witnesses a piece of Altair's memory allowing you to replay as Altair. The first time this happened I felt a warm feeling of familiarity I got to play the good old fashioned version of the original Assassin's Creed. The memory was short lived however and the four or five that followed with each key became further from being a true assassin as Altair becomes an old man (rather rapidly).
Sadly it was while playing as Altair that I felt perhaps Ubisoft have given us a little too much. Allow me to explain. In the move from AC2 to Brotherhood, we were given new weapons, a remodel of the "upgrade the shop" system, capturing Borgia towers and the addition of gaining Assassin recruits. With this installation we get this and even more. The hook blade is a great addition, allowing quick climbing, rope gliding and flipping over guards (or flinging them to the ground). As a new weapon it makes sense in the AC universe. The bombs however just feel unnecessary (but I'll come back to those).
Then there's the RTS style "den defense" a mini game that I played all of three times (the first being a tutorial). And on top of all that, in replacement for the glyph puzzles there's now the Desmond memory sections where you get to play a strange first person platform puzzle that will have you screaming in frustration (or that might be just me).
Assassin's Creed just seems to offer too much. For example, the side quest for Brotherhood where you sent your assassin's out on missions made sense. It was part of a game that was designed to sit side by side with its multiplayer child but in Revelations it just seems pointless.
Then the bombs, ooooh the bombs. These were supposed to be a big feature but I barely used them. Some people may enjoy experimenting but I never reached a point where I felt the need to use them. On one mission I tried to use one to distract guards but ended up losing my romanies (this game's courtesans) and being spotted instead. So I just gave up.
The story was still good if a little short. I finished at about 12 hours and I'm the kind of person to play around on rooftops for hours on end, avoiding the big exclamation mark. The final mission seemed an odd choice as well, going for parachute mini game, rather than a final test of your assassin skills. Though the end cinematic was fittingly cliff hanger-y leaving me waiting for the next game.
The more I think about it, the stranger I think this game is. It seemed too focused on finishing Ezio's story and playing around with new mini games rather than just doing what it does best. It was about halfway through the game that I realised I hadn't assassinated anyone yet. I felt myself yearning for a more "vanilla" Assassin's Creed, focusing on exploration and hmmm maybe some assassinations? I was disappointed that yet again I was limited to just one city (and one not as big as Rome).
You may have noticed that I gave 5 stars for fun and really it deserves it. All critiques aside, AC Revelations is an immensely fun game. The tomb levels especially offered some fun climbing sections and nothing quite beats messing with the city guards. The multiplayer has a couple of new modes which have made it that much more interesting to play (and now allows you to vote for the next game mode and map between matches)
The Collector's edition comes in a very attractive box, opening with a fancy assassin's seal. I bought mine mainly for the soundtrack which rather than being a soundtrack to this game is a choice selection of the tracks from all the games so far. The art book is a nice edition and the short animated film was unexpectedly poignant and a nice end to Ezio's story (I advise watching it after you've finished the game). Anyone who has played the last game or two but not the first will enjoy the edition of the first AC though it might be rather frustrating if like me you'd already bought it through the PSN.
Overall AC Revelations is good fun but just tries to fit too many different things in to too small a game. There's still enjoyment to be had but sadly I feel I have to be strict and stick to my 3 stars. Here's hoping that next year will see a clean sweep of the side quests and have AC start from scratch with an all new assassin.