The lights are on
As I understand it, this is to be the last game focusing on Ezio, which is a good thing at this point. Don't let the title of my review or the opening sentence fool you, I thoroughly enjoyed Assassin's Creed Revelations, particularly the dramatic story that is beginning to come into focus and tie together the three characters we have been following all along. That being said, it was time for the series to reach this point and move on to something new. It is also nice to grow with a character, and Ubisoft finishes up Ezio's trilogy by really demonstrating this final journey within the guild and his own personal relationships, something we unfortunately don't see too much of in games. Altair really shines in the (admittedly small) portions during which he re-enters the story, breathing new life into a character that has long been due a revisit. I would have gladly accepted more of Altair, but it is fitting he should appear only in small glimpses.
Despite my enjoyment of the story, the gameplay did not fare so well in my eyes. The base experience remains polished, but the additions to the single player never really felt... necessary, for lack of a better term. The hook blade made traveling somewhat more streamlined, provided you were going in the right direction, and also acted as a good boost to Ezio's climbing abilities, but it was mostly an attempt to improve what wasn't broken in the first place. I was also rather disappointed in the lackluster gameplay of the bombs. I probably only used a few throughout my playthrough, never for a moment ran out of any ingredient, and just overall felt there were better ways of going about a mission most of the time.
I was happy to find that coordinating assassins remained largely unchanged, and was particularly impressed with some of the missions working directly with assassins that really drive home Ezio's experience and age as mentor. Unfortunately, another addition detracted from the experience, one that is undoubtedly familiar to anyone who has read about the game: the tower defense sections. First of all, I probably partook in two such battles throughout the entire game, making the portions seem even more like an afterthought. On top of that, there doesn't seem to be much strategy to the battle. With somewhat sloppy controls and the repetitious nature, this is one idea that had some promise, but probably should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Beyond these additions, the game largely remains the standard Assassin's Creed experience except for the portions where we learn a little about Desmond's past through abstract 1st person puzzles. These stages were intriguing, especially the later ones, but I feel like they ended without contributing much and the puzzles quickly became boring due to both the lack of variety and the ease with which one can navigate them. I had expected something more along the lines of The Truth of the former game, something utilizing more puzzle-like aspects and 3rd person controls in an abstract world.
My experience with the multiplayer is almost nonexistent, but what little I tried felt as good as the last game. I did not discover any negative changes, and unlocking information about the Templars as one plays seems a brilliant move that is hopefully starting to catch on (like the projected multiplayer impact on Mass Effect 3's story), giving a deeper experience than just mindless leveling up and competition.
I cannot fault Ubisoft for experimenting, and tower defense aside none of the additions really detracted from the overall experience itself. If you want to play like you did in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, there really isn't much stopping you from doing so, and that may be one of the things that both makes Revelations special and indicates the series' need to break new ground. Despite all my criticism, there is nothing that would stop me recommending the game. The story remains solid, the game never stops being entertaining, and multiplayer as well as synchronization challenges offer plenty of replay value.
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