Attack of the Fanboy

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations Review

by William Schwartz

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations has been billed as the Assassin’s Creed that answers the burning questions of the fans. The story has spawned into one that has gotten harder and harder to keep track of as we’ve gone down the rabbit hole, and into the bowels of Abstergo Industries. It  is one that spans multiple generations, characters, and storylines. The franchise has continued to not only expand the premise of the original over the years, but has offered new gameplay twists, plotline deviations, and a mysterious backstory that Ubisoft has never quite been forthright with. What has now become a yearly event for Assassin’s Creed fans, how does Revelations stack up to its predecessors, and more importantly, is it worth your time and money?

Well for players that have been following the Assassin’s Creed franchise, Revelations is an amazing game.  Ubisoft has made good on their promises to clue in the fans with key story points that were glossed over in the first three games.  By allowing the player to take control of Ezio, Altair, and Desmond this time around, you get a more cohesive experience to the overall storyline of Assassin’s Creed.  That’s not to say it’s not still confusing.  You’ll be controlling Ezio Auditore in Revelations, and the majority of the story is told through flashbacks into his life as he searches for answers about his lineage, mainly by taking control of the protagonist from the first Assassin’s Creed, Altair.  Here you’ll get answers about the transition from Assassin’s Creed 1 to Assassin’s Creed 2, but keep in mind, that Ezio’s whole ordeal is being lived out in the Animus program.  There, in the present day, Desmond is stuck in a state of limbo in the bowels of the computer with his memory fragmented, the only way out is to complete these memories and bring together all the pieces of the puzzle.  It’s quite interesting actually, the theme of the game is answering questions and Ubisoft made good on that promise but they definitely make you work for those answers.

Side missions and gamemodes offer a nice break from the main story.

Exploring a whole new world in this triple headed story, Ezio is a much older and wiser assassin, who’s travels have brought him to Constantinople.  The ongoing struggle between The Templars and The Assassins is still front and center, and many of the games more open world mechanics have returned to highlight this struggle.  As the franchise has evolved, the sheer amount of things to do in Assassin’s Creed has as well.  Controlling multiple assassins guilds, promoting and training new recruits, and upgrading Ezio’s arsenal of death dealing weapons, are all supplemental to the main story at hand.  They are vast in number, and little hasn’t returned from the last game, with the addition of a few new mechanics that offer a nice break from the main quest.

Being the older and wiser assassin of the bunch has its benefits for Ezio.  He’ll now be able to command his troops in battle, call on assassins to eliminate enemy threats, and even lead them in battles in a new mode called “Den Defense”.  Den Defense is the touted inclusion of a tower defense style meta game within Revelations.  Setting up defenses and allowing archers, gunmen, and long ranged canon attacks to take out the onslaught of the Templar Army your objective is simple, but it’s not quite as fun as it sounds. Weird camera angles, and iffy controls really limit the fun, and the notoriety meter that governs how often these attacks occur can prompt quite a few of these battles.

Ezio’s new equipment upgrades are outstanding.

While the Den Defense and Mediterranean Defense modes might not have worked out for the best in my opinion, the new combat and equipment options are certainly welcome additions.  The new hook blade is a phenomenal inclusion that helps in both traversing the environment by allowing Ezio to glide down zip lines, and give him an extra bit of reach when scaling tall towers.  It also provides new combat functionality and allows Ezio to barrel roll over his enemies if he’s trying to make a daring escape.  Bomb crafting is also one of the new tools in Ezio’s arsenal,  and there are a ton of combinations to craft and try throughout the world.  Searching bodies or chests found throughout the world will always keep you stocked with potential munitions, and can give you a few alternate routes to take when trying to complete specific objectives.  Using different ingredients will cause different effects some more powerful than others.

When it gets down to it though, and you follow the path of the main storyline, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is a clearly more cinematic and exciting experience than it has been in the past.   New camera angles give some of the missions a sense of scale that hasn’t been seen before in the franchise, and there’s a great deal of variety when searching for the Masayaf Keys that unlock Altair’s memories.  Each one found will let you take control of Altair in the moments after the original Assassin’s Creed, which include some of the answers to those open questions that fans had after the first game.  The central storyline is once again fantastic in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations eventhough some of the gameplay within can come off feeling a bit scripted at times, even while it rarely cuts away from user controlled action.   The two key components in the main storyline will shed light on the Assassin’s Creed lore, but the trifecta is only completed if you do more digging.

Surprisingly, the action doesn’t quite pick up where Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood left off.  Leaving fans with plenty of questions, I know I for one wanted answers when I fired up Revelations for the first time.  But as I said, Ubisoft’s going to make you work for that.  Desmond plays a central role in the story of Assassin’s Creed, and Revelations is no different.  Though this time around, Desmond is trapped in the Animus after suffering from what is described as a fragmented memory.  The only way out, is to capture the Animus memory shards that are strewn throughout the game world.  Collecting a set amount of shards will allow you to unlock memories of Desmond that reach as far back as his childhood, and tell the backstory to the character through a playable memory sequence that we haven’t heard about up to this point.  You’ll need to do some digging to find all the shards, using your Eagle Vision can help, but you’ll certainly want to keep an eye out for them in your travels if you want the whole story.

What is best described as the best bonus in gaming at this point, The Assassin’s Creed Multiplayer suite, returns for its Sophomore effort.  New gamemodes headline the major improvements, but the game has been tweaked considerably since Brotherhood.  Feeling more polished all around coupled with the additions of new game modes, the value that this very unique twist on multiplayer brings to an Assassin’s Creed game definitely can’t be ignored.  After last year’s surprising first attempt, Ubisoft really has it figured out when it comes to the science behind the mode and advancements to the scoring system behind the game.  The inclusion of a standard deathmatch mode and a capture-the-flag type mode called Artifact Assault will have you grinding through levels to unlock character dossiers that unravel the mysteries behind Abstergo Industries even further.

The Verdict

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations isn’t a huge advancement over last year’s great Brotherhood effort.  While the multiplayer is refined in nearly every way, fans of the single player won’t see vast improvements.  The real hook for the long time fans will be the back story explanation that is had by digging into the nooks and crannies of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, but expecting any drastic changes in terms of graphics or gameplay could leave you disappointed.


  • Available On: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
  • Published By: Ubisoft
  • Developed By: Ubisoft
  • Genre: Open World, Stealth
  • US Release Date: November 2011
  • Reviewed On: Xbox 360
  • Quote: "The real hook for the long time fans will be the back story explanation that is had by digging into the nooks and crannies of Assassin's Creed: Revelations, but expecting any drastic changes in terms of graphics or gameplay could leave you disappointed."
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