From the moment you start Assassin’s Creed Revelations it’s abundantly clear that something has gone wrong in the animus. The flickering Ubisoft logo, the distorted audio, everything comes together and gives you a slight feeling of dread. As soon as you get into the game it’s all explained by a mysterious character, Desmond is a broken man.
Now if you’re confused about this, you need to go back and watch the previous events of Assassin’s Creed, you can see that right here. The short version is that at the end of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Desmond fell into a Coma. The mysterious figure who explains this horrifying fate is Subject 16, his mind seemingly trapped inside the core of the Animus. The only way for Desmond to regain his sanity and break free from his Coma? To experience everything that Ezio and Altair have to say to him, separating each life and rediscovering Desmond’s own memories. So off we go, back into the memories of Ezio to start with.
One of the most exciting cut scenes starts Ezios journey in Masyaf, the location of the assassins home in Altair’s timeline. This serves as a kind of tutorial to the game, where you follow a ghost like Altair through the grounds. If you have played the first game, you will get a bit of deja vu with quite a few sections here. Paying attention you’ll see that Ezio is much older than previous games, sporting a greying beard and a seemingly thicker frame, no less of a bad-ass though. This portion of the game culminates in Ezio needing to discover five keys to get into Altair’s library. A simple enough task, which is made into an exciting and satisfying campaign.
A large chuck of the game takes part in the city of Constantinople and on Ezios arrival he conveniently meets many of the characters he will be involved with throughout his final instalment. A seeminlgy insignificant student, an Italian librarian and of course you bump into another assassin. You’re encouraged to straight away assist the local assassins and this leads on to learning some new tricks. Including he use of a hook blade, which allows you to scale buildings faster and use the zip longs dotted around the rooftops. You also get the use of bombs, crafting these yourself with ingredients you find, these allow you to distract or kill where necessary. It can make a real difference when trying to stay hidden. Making these bombs is a simple enough process. You can hold three different types of bomb, but only one of each type. When you start creating your bomb you first choose the shell, so do you want your bomb to detonate on impact, have a fuse? Then you choose a gunpowder which controls the size of the explosion and then the final ingredient allows you to control what the bomb actually does. Fill it with phosphorus to create a cloud of harmless smoke, fill it with caltrops to disable targets momentarily. Useful for evading and in fact combined with the hook gives you a lot more options when in the middle of a fight.
As you start to find the keys you get to experience key moments of Altair’s life. The memories themselves recorded onto the keys. It can be a bit Inception when you start to think about it. You play the game as Desmond who is experiencing Ezio’s memories who is experiencing Altair’s memories. There’s no such thing as being a bit far fetched in the world of Assassin’s Creed, but it is an interesting way of doing things. The things you do experience as Altair are pretty heart wrenching moments and you certainly feel that his life wasn’t as easy as it seemed it was going to be at the conclusion of the original game. There are no happy endings for an assassin.
As far as the portion of the game where you control Desmond go, you can access some side missions by collection animus fragments. These are first person puzzle type games in which Desmond recalls his life before the original Assassin’s Creed. They mix things up, but can be incredibly frustrating at times. There’s little reward for completing these missions, but they help you to understand and relate to Desmond. Other than that you won’t be playing as Desmond very much at all and the only character he interacts with is the slightly crazy subject 16. It’s a shame because I always enjoyed the Desmond sections of the previous games, sometimes rushing through to get to the next one.
While the game is essentially kind of a stop gap before the next instalment, the real Assassin’s Creed 3, it does manage to feel like an important instalment in it’s own right. At the end of the game you should know everything there is to know about Altair and Ezio and be ready to possibly jump more permanently into Desmond’s shoes.
The multiplayer is back as well. A pretty handy tutorial gives you a good idea of what you’re doing and prepares you for heading online. You are encouraged to play steathily and take your time, but I did find that it did seem to be a bit unbalanced. Once you’ve unlocked some abilities you can see your target even if they are blending in a crowd or sitting on a bench. Makes things very difficult for newcomers. You do get rewarded quite well and level up fairly rapidly though so you will soon be able to combat that. The multiplayer isn’t really the main pulling factor for this game, it is a lot of fun, but Assassin’s Creed is all about unravelling the story and exploring the charcters. Saying that it does work quite well and you can very easily lose a couple of hours.
Ezio’s trilogy has been a hell of a ride and has a fitting end. Assassin’s Creed Revelations draws a line under the previous games and leads onto the next instalment superbly. I personally can not wait.