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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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