The lights are on
If I had to name one thing Assassin's Creed Revelations does right it would have to be sticking to its name. Ezio Auditore da Firenze returns as the star of the show once more. As he embarks on a quest for answers in Masyaf and Constantinople he will also share the spotlight with characters from previous iterations, Desmond and Altair. To keep things as spoiler free as possible, Desmond experienced a very traumatic event at the end of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and his mind is now completely broken. He is suffering from the bleeding effect, which essentially means he can no longer discern reality from the memories of his ancestors which he has lived through via the animus. In order to remedy this Desmond must live the final days of Ezio and Altair's lives as assassins so that they have nothing left to show him stopping their memories from bleeding into reality. The story is intriguing and ties together all the loose ends of both Ezio and Altair's stories in a very satisfying way while also pointing the way forward for Desmond's story.
The missions in Revelations are more varied than ever. The standard tail your enemy and assassinate your enemy missions are still here and are as fun as ever. The great platforming segments from AC2 and Brotherhood return as well with even more flare than before. However where Revelation differs is it's set piece action sequences. Though some of them are poorly executed (such as the two bumper wagon sequences in the game) others are video game gold. I don't want to spoil anything too big for my readers so you'll just have to play the game for yourself to experience the awesome missions.
Of course the main sequence of mission objectives is only one component of the Assassin's Creed franchise. There are plenty of things to keep you distracted in Revelations including the returning economy system and assassin recruit system as well as the many faction-based side missions. There are also 100 data fragments hidden throughout the game's landscape which can be fun to hunt down if you like the parkour action of the game. I would highly recommend getting at least 30 of them as these fragments unlock the Desmond segments of the game which give him more backstory and makes him a more rounded character. The gameplay in these optional segments however is questionable to say the least. They play out as first-person platforming/puzzle sequences with no focal point. If you get dizzy from a game like Mirror's Edge (which does have a focal point) you're going to get really sick of these segments really fast. Even if you they don't make you dizzy they are still extremely lacking in the fun department with very little challenge and no replay value.
Another of the games missteps comes in the form of tower defense. When your notoriety fills up one of the 7 dens which you can unlock to house your assassins becomes contested. Then you have to make your way across Constantinople to wherever the den is in order to start the tower defense minigame which will determine if you get to keep your den or if you lose it to the templars. The gameplay isn't bad in the very first battle however it isn't fun wither. In subsequent battles the tower defense quickly becomes unbalanced (in the templar's favor) and frustrating. Gameplay issues aside it also compromises the idea of a secret war between templars and assassins which had been previously established. When a templar army charges through the streets and assassin's kill 100's of them from the rooftops in a single battle it is no longer a secret war. Although these sequences can be avoided by keeping your notoriety down throughout the game, this task isn't exactly pleasant either, requiring you to constantly find heralds to bribe or officials to kill which distracts you from all the fun the game has to offer.
The new equipment introduced in the game is more compelling addition to the game. The hookblade makes navigating the large city easier and more exciting while also bringing some new combat options to those who like to use the hidden blades in combat. Bombs are another fun addition to the roster allowing for quick and deadly hit-and-runs as well as more tactical applications such as distracting guards. The bomb crafting however is considerably less exciting. There are hundreds of possible combinations of ingredients but for the most part only 1 of the 3 components that make up each bomb will really determine how you use it so it's hard to get excited about making new combinations.
The excellent multiplayer from Brotherhood returns in Revelations with some new tweaks which only add to the fun. The new deathmatch and artifact assault modes are fun additions, joining the ranks of the previous modes from Brotherhood. The maps are expertly designed though if you are playing a private match with only a few friends it may be hard to find each other on some of the larger maps. As you progress through the ranks you learn secrets about the templar order which is a cool incentive for story driven players to check out the wildly addicting multiplayer.
Though Revelations attempts at setting itself apart from its predecessors didn't pan out as well as they could have, the core gameplay is still fun. Revelations is another worthy installment in the Assassin's Creed franchise and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one.
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