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December 7, 2010
Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
15/11/2010UbisoftUbisoftUbisoft Montreal14-8
Media HDD Space Resolution Move Controls Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Just hanging around off a building.
The Assassinís Creed franchise has been around since 2007 and itís been widely praised ever since with the first three games averaging a fantastic 87 on the PS3 at Metacritic. According to Ubisoft the first three games had sold a combined 28 million copies as at March this year (across the PS3, Xbox360 and PC). Almost a year to the day since the release of the last game in the series (that being Assassinís Creed Brotherhood), Assassinís Creed Revelations has hit the shelves. Can it continue the franchiseís critical and commercial success? Read on...

Assassinís Creed Revelations picks up where Brotherhood left off, which is to say Desmond is trapped inside the Animus. Within the Animus Desmond meets Subject 16 who is trapped in the Animus forever because his real-life body died while he was hooked into it. According to Subject 16 Desmondís mind is too fragmented for him to be safely removed from the Animus and the only way for him to get out is to relive the memories of his ancestors, AltaÔr ibn-La'Ahad and Ezio Auditore (who were also in the first three games). Reliving their memories will effectively partition off each of them within Desmondís mind, allowing him to be safely brought back into the real world. And with that weíre off to Constantinople where Ezio is looking for keys AltaÔr left behind, keys that unlock the long-lost library of the assassins.

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Nice, and bloody...
If youíve played any of the previous games in the series you know what to expect from Revelations. Although you play as all three characters - Desmond, AltaÔr and Ezio Ė you spend most of your time as Ezio as he tries to take control of Constantinople back from the Templars. To achieve this youíll take control of enemy buildings by taking out their leader, recruit and train up new assassins as well as buy shops and buildings to earn an income. Ezioís skill-set is much the same as before and he relies heavily on his acrobatic skills as he free-runs along city streets and up buildings.

The opening sequences in the game teach you the basics of whatís new in Revelations, including the hook-blade (which is part weapon and part climbing tool), den defense and bomb crafting. Constantinopleís assassins have been using hook-blades for a long time and theyíre only too happy to introduce it to Ezio. As a weapon itís only notable feature over Ezioís hidden blade is that it can be used to sweep the legs out from opponents in battle. However it excels as a climbing tool because it can be used to grab ledges when your jump falls just short and it also allows quicker climbing by launching you up to the next handhold. Constantinople is full of ziplines (wires that link buildings) and the hook-blade can latch onto these for a flying fox-like effect. You can pull off air assassinations with the push of a button when riding ziplines making them just as deadly as they are fun.

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Fire effects are impressive in Assassin's Creed Revelations.
Den defense is a mini-game that occurs whenever the Templars attempt to reclaim a den in the assassinís possession. Templars are most likely to do this when Ezio lets his Templar status (represented by a square on the top-left of screen) reach maximum level. At this point Ezio must go back to the contested den and beat back the Templars by placing assassins on the surrounding rooftops while the Templars try to storm the building via the streets.

In each battle you start with a certain amount of morale which is used to buy units to place on the battlefield. Initially you have access to crossbowmen and barricades, but the selection expands to include air assassins, riflemen, bombers and weaponised barricades before too long. You earn morale as time passes and also by killing and looting Templar soldiers. Fending off the soldiers isnít too hard, but the Templars often bring siege engines to the battles and they can be a right pain to destroy before they reach the den.

Bomb crafting is another new feature which expands the range of bombs beyond what weíve seen in the previous games. There are a wide variety of bombs to craft, some of which provide distraction or cover for your actions and others designed to kill your enemies. Early in the game youíll meet Piri Reis and heís only too happy to send you on brief missions to get the hang of how to use each bomb. Also new to the game are Templar stalkers, ordinary looking characters who try to cut Ezio down out of the blue. Theyíre not too hard to spot on account of the music changing when they close in and people on the street clearing a path for them, and they can be handled just as easily by attacking them before they attack you, but itís good to see the Templars taking a more aggressive approach this time around.

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Revelations has plenty of swordfights.
In previous games there were one-hundred flags to be found around the city but in Constantinople these have been changed to Animus fragments. Collecting these fragments opens up access to Desmond-specific missions back on the island hub heís stuck on, and they take him physically inside the Animus. These missions are played in the first-person perspective, which is very different from the third-person view used in the rest of the game. Itís hard to say what the point of these missions is exactly. They do give you more information about Desmondís life but they basically involve Desmond going inside the Animus voluntarily and then having to get straight out. Itís a bit strange that he canít just tell you the story without going into the Animus, but perhaps this is the only way he can remember it...

In any case during these missions you can create two different building blocks, one flat and one sloped, to help you through a variety of challenges. Although there are no portals on display here these sections are reminiscent of Portal 2, but lack the depth and satisfaction of the puzzles in that game. There are five challenges in all and they take around ten to twenty minutes each depending on your prowess.

The story behind multiplayer games is the same as it was for Brotherhood Ė basically youíre a Templar in training and youíre being pitted head-to-head against other Abstergo Templar wannabes. Thatís as far as the story went last time, but in Revelations thereís a bit more. Abstergo monitors your multiplayer performance and makes comments about how youíre performing as well as giving you information about Abstergo themselves, explaining their motivations among other things as you level up. You can customize your character now too, selecting different weapons and taunts among other things, to make your character slightly unique.

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Slashing open his neck!
There are a variety of multiplayer modes to play, most of which involve you locating and killing your targets before they kill you. Other games require you to steal enemy artifacts or chests while protecting your own. Most of the games can be played singly or as a team and itís easy to join up with friends online when joining the game of your choice. You get varying levels of help in spotting your target depending on the game youíre playing. In some games the only help you get is their portrait lighting up when theyíre in your line of sight, while in others youíll have a radar directing you straight to them. Killing an opponent stealthily earns you more points than you get when theyíre aware of you, with kills from a hiding spot (such as a haystack or flowerbed) will earn even more points.

Revelations has high production values, but for all that it definitely still has some flaws. The biggest of these for me, is that it doesnít really improve upon Brotherhood. The new additions to Revelations are all a bit Ďmehí in my opinion, particularly the den defense missions. Theyíre straightforward enough, though taking down siege engines is tough, but the problem is theyíre not much fun. The same goes for bomb crafting Ė more bombs should have been available in stores rather than having you collect components and then craft them.

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Setting a trap for a couple of guards.
The Desmond missions also failed to strike a chord with me. They seem out of place here and the story that accompanies each level is so slight you wonder why they bothered to make them in the first place. A simple voice-over or flashback would have sufficed, but instead theyíve crafted a whole new first-person gameÖ a look at the future of Assassinís Creed perhaps? With so many of the new features falling flat Revelations feels like a re-tread of Brotherhood, and that means youíll be feeling like youíve been there and done it all before.

Graphically Revelations lives up to the high standards of its predecessors, but doesnít make any significant improvements. Constantinople is a varied city, where the colour and excitement of the grand bazaar contrasts the poorer run-down areas. There are no sprawling rural areas like there was in Brotherhood, but you do come across small areas where the buildings arenít so close that gardens and flowers can grow. Costume and weapon design is a highlight, with plenty of colour in the former and fine attention to detail in the latter.

One of the highlights in previous Assassinís Creed games was the view you got from the top of tall buildings, especially when the camera pans around to give you a full 360-degree view when youíre synchronizing a viewpoint. Unfortunately most of the views here are obscured by a smoky haze which greatly reduces the wow factor of these usually sensational views.

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Cities in Assassin's Creed Revelations are often stunning.
The voice-acting in Revelations is as polished and classy as it has been throughout the series so far. Thereís still the odd Italian word thrown into the dialog (which is translated if you have the subtitles on) giving the characters an authentic feel. The music plays dynamically, rising in intensity during battles or when a stalker is trying to sneak up on you, and reverting to something more peaceful when you traverse rooftops and city streets. The only time this felt out of place was during the penultimate chapter when the situation is tense but the music remained upbeat and cheerful. The sound effects could have been copied from last yearís game, which is no bad thing seeing as they were fine back then.

Assassinís Creed Revelations has the high-production values of the other games in the series, and in most ways itís able to match their quality. However the new additions to the game, particularly the den defense minigame and the Desmond missions, fall flat and that leaves us with pretty much the same game we had this time last year, albeit in a different city. If you canít get enough Assassinís Creed then youíll enjoy Revelations as much as the previous games. If youíre starting to suffer Assassinís Creed burnout though, nothing here will cure you of it. Revelations is a very polished title, but itís too similar to its predecessors to be recommended to everyone.

Review By: Mike Allison

GRAPHICSStill excellent, but not much of an upgrade on last yearís title. Views from up high are often obstructed by haze which is disappointing
SOUNDQuality voice-acting is ably supported by the well-suited music and sound effects.
GAMEPLAYItís still Assassinís Creed but the new features fall flat, and before long it all feels too familiar and repetitive.
VALUEIf youíre up for it the single-player campaign can take up 20 hours, and multiplayer will add a few mores. It comes with the original Assassinís Creed on the disc too, so thereís a ton of content here.
OVERALLRevelations is a good game but it all feels a bit too familiar. If you love Assassinís Creed youíre going to enjoy this because itís the same as ever... which is both good and bad as it turns out.

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