It’s fair to say that the Assassin’s Creed IP is unlike any other franchise in gaming at the moment. The series takes you back to times and places that no other series can offer and, to be honest, I’m a massive fan. The fourth game in the main story line, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was released just under a month ago [at the time of writing]- and I was incredibly excited.
The game takes place in a magnificently recreated 16th century Constantinople (now Istanbul) and continues and concludes the stories of both Ezio Auditore and Altair Ibn La ’Had, the stars of the previous games.
The game does well to continue the magic of the previous instalments with some fantastic set pieces, interesting characters (and accents), engaging gameplay and a genuinely exciting multiplayer. However there are some flaws in this game which I cannot ignore, most of which are linked to the story and pacing of the game.
I’ll start off with the good, of which, to be fair to Ubisoft Montréal, there is a great deal. As with all the games in the series Revelations’ gameplay is great; the controls feel tighter and more slick, and no game makes you feel quite as badass as one in which you race across rooftops in a far off land.
The combat itself is still really enjoyable, there have been a tweaks since the previous instalment, notably some awesome brand new finishing moves and a switch of focus to the counter-kills that populated AC 2, as opposed to the button bashing style of Brotherhood. For me this was a welcome surprise and one that I was glad to see, as the play-style of ACB didn’t feel that comfortable for me.
The platforming and free-running mechanics have not changed significantly, they just feel more fluid and more fun; this is mainly due to the introduction of the hookblade. This addition allows you to glide between many of Constantinople’s buildings of special zip lines, potentially assassinating guards as you do- the hookblade also allows for an improved version of Brotherhood’s long jump. These small differences just expand the action slightly, giving the controls some fun variation.
A brand new addition to the Assassin’s Creed formula is the introduction of the first person, puzzle platformer sections known as ‘Desmond’s Journey’. The sections are entirely optional but I highly recommend them. They go a long way to expanding the usually fairly boring character of Desmond; expanding on a lot of little hints that we got in the first game.
The sections are not particularly challenging but certainly offer an entirely new experience in an Assassin’s Creed game.
The game looks fantastic, straight up. I’ve long considered the AC franchise overlooked when it comes to graphical prowess but they always seem to deliver real flair and style to their locations, the individual colour schemes of each game and the overall sense of place that the art style creates has always astounded me. This is maintained in Revelations as Constantinople is beautifully rendered in a blend of sepia and purple hues, the city is teeming with life and it is easy to be swept up in the hustle and bustle of the games many civilian-based side quests. Many of the set-pieces look phenomenal.
There are less large linear dungeons than previous games but the ones that are there are often breath-taking, as are almost all of the set-pieces- the blazing dock in particular stands out in my mind. Characters look great, and the attention to detail in things such as costumes and weapons is consistently impressive.
Finally I come to it, writing what I’ve dreaded writing from the moment I finished the main storyline of this oh-so-close game. My big problem with the game lies in its pacing, especially the latter quarter of the game. I say that, although even THAT I can’t be sure of, as I didn’t even realise the game was close to ending until I saw the final epic cinematic scenes. There was no sense of progression through the story, I had no clue that the final battle(s) were round the corner or that this would be the last hour I played as Ezio.
This problem, in my opinion, comes from what’s a very cloudy story- it lacks the direction and focus that drove the narrative of the previous games, I had no real clue who the main enemy or faction I was fighting was, or what their aims were. I’m not saying that all games need to have a clear, linear structure- but the formulaic nature of Assassin’s Creed kind of does, it encourages you to explore the rest of the world and become drawn in to the story more.
This was lacking in Revelations and so I never really connected with it, Ezio’s final story that is; Altair’s segments were different, and truly great. This wouldn't be so annoying for me if I didn’t really enjoy the AC series’ stories and characters. All that said, the very final moments of the game were well executed and were fitting endings to these characters that I love so much- I just wish I’d had one last great adventure with them.
Roll on the next game then, hopefully a clean slate will regenerate a series that, whilst still holding much appeal, does seem to be beginning to drag. 7.5/10