Sunday, July 6, 2014

Review #126: Assassin's Creed - Revelations

 And thus ends Ezio's Trilogy.
 Right after the events of AC: Brotherhood, Desmond falls into a coma, so his present-day allies decide that the only way to repair his psyche is to... plug him back into the Animus. Once inside the Animus, Desmond finally meets Subject 16, that guy that kept leaving cryptic messages since AC 1! As for Ezio, now he is older and wiser than before, and for the first time, his story is not about revenge, but about knowledge. This time around, Ezio's adventure is on Constantinople, with a cast of entirely new characters. I know I always mentioned how I didn't really like the present-day segments, well, there are almost none in this one, although you do get to hear them every now and then when transitioning through chapters, and frankly, it's a bit of a shame as I grew attached to Shaun and Rebecca! At least the new characters in Ezio's story are fairly interesting, some rather amusing personalities aid him through the game. The story itself is also fairly good, with the addition of five, very short, Altair sections that tell the story of what happened after Assassin's Creed 1 and Altair became a Mentor. And we never get to see Altair wearing "Altair's Armor", but hey, at least every assassin is missing their fingers now! About time!

 Gameplay is basically the same as AC - Brotherhood, with a couple of tweaks and gimmicks. As of Brotherhood, Ezio is now a mentor, and the game does a fantastic job as portraying him as one. Walking near ally assassins in the HQ will result in them paying their respects to Ezio, and just as it was in Brotherhood, you can recruit Assassin's for your Creed and then send them on missions or using them to aid you in battle. One of the coolest aspects is that you can assign them to Assassin's Dens, and then turn them into GrandMaster Assassins, these transformations come in the form of missions in which you can see Ezio actually teaching this Assassins in person, it's a really cool touch that helps drive the point home that Ezio is a mentor now.
 The game introduces a couple of new gimmicks to... varying result. The first new gimmick are bombs. Bombs can be crafted at benches spread throughout the town using the various materials that you find from chests or corpses. The fun comes in the way of the many different effects that you can create, smell bombs, caltrap bombs, explosive bombs, sound bombs and many, many others, they are very useful but at no point are they a requirement, you can get through the game perfectly fine even if you ignore them completely. The other new gimmick is... Tower Defense. Yes. They shoe-horned a turret sequence in the last AC, so they might as well shoehorn a Tower Defense mechanic now. These sequences are played when one of your dens are under attack, and they are obnoxious and feel out of place. They aren't even fun, and sometimes Ezio's position obscures places where you can place assassins, which is really dumb. There's absolutely no reason as to why they felt that this fit in the world of Assassin's Creed, and they didn't even make it fun.

 Speaking of dens.... remember the Borgia towers from Brotherhood? They quickly grew old after the fourth one... and they are back, now going by the name of "Templar Towers". At least, they are not as high in number as before, BUT(of course there had to be a but) they were made more annoying than before. Now you have to find your target using Eagle Vision, and if your target escapes you have to wait a whole in-game day before trying again. Because waiting is so much fun to attempt this annoying sidequest again. It gets better, the "Notoriety system" is now called Templar Awareness, and if they become aware... they might attack one of your dens, so now you must fight to reclaim your den in the tower defense minigame, lose the minigame and... you must claim the tower. Again. Who.... who thought that this would be a good idea? No, really, who thought that it would be fun? The fun doesn't stop here, Templar Awareness now increases while renovating Constantinople again, because having virtual obstacles to prevent me from just spending my earned money is so much fun. Sure, you can renovate to your heart's content as long as you don't mind the risk of having to play that annoying tower minigame again. Oh, and posters are gone, so the only way to reduce the Influence is by completin certain missions, bribing Heralds, or raising the awareness so high that Officers spawn.
 The game is also rather light on content, there are less sidequests than previous Assassin's Creed games, and even the main story is short. They tried to compensate it by having a ton of "Guild Challenges", that actually unlock worthwhile rewards, but it doesn't help much. As for collectibles, there's chests, books(Instead of paintings), 100 Memory Fragments(The worthwhile unlockables stop at 40 anyways) and 10 Ishak pages(To unlock the Ultimate Armor, one of  two anyways). Constantinople is also rather small, and not as beautiful as Rome, at least the new architecture is a breath of fresh air. Speaking of new, there are five very weird unlockable first-person platforming levels as Desmond, just as with the Tower Defense minigame, this feels a bit out of place and aren't very fun. It also retcons Desmond's past, turns out he was trained as an assassin since he was young, funny how he didn't recognize the word "Assassin" during AC 1.

 Combat received further polishing, and it's probably the best it has been yet. You can equip projectile weapons to the Triangle button, which allows to mix ranged weapons during your fights much more easily. Guards now possess different weakness, which they always did to be fair, but now there are a couple that can only be hit by countering their hits, so mashing isn't the answer to everything anymore. Regardless, if you play the way I did, you'll have the best armor and the best weapons by chapter 3, making battles a trivial affair. The game also introduces the Hookblade, a nice tool attached to the right Hidden Blade that extends Ezio's reach and allows for some rather fun new mechanics, but hardly game changers, besides sliding through ziplines, you probably won't use them unless you are required to.
 Revelations is easily the best looking AC game so far, not only do character models, particularly their faces, look better than before, they also fixed a lot of the pop-in and clipping issues that the previous entries had, it's not perfect, but it's much better than any other AC game. They also removed Desmond's scar for some reason. The new soundtrack is fairly good, although sometimes it doesn't really fit the environment. Voice acting is also the most consistent AC has ever had, the most lackluster voice acting being passable at their worst. As good as the audiovisual presentation was, this was the buggiest AC game I've played, I had to restart at least three missions since the "counter" wasn't, well, counting what I was doing.

 Assassin's Creed Revelations is irritating at it's worst, it's shorter than other AC games and lacks as many activities as previous entries. The Main Story missions, however, are some of the best AC has ever had. When the game is at it's best, it really shines, it's a shame these moments aren't enough to carry the game by themselves. It's also very showing that Ubisoft worked on this even less than on AC Brotherhood, in many ways it feels like a step back from that game, and as far as the basic gameplay mechanics go, this is almost the same game.
 6.5 out of 10.

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