Product Type: Ubisoft PS3 games
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Assassin's Creed Revelations (PS3)
Member Name: caseybrady1992
Assassin's Creed Revelations (PS3)
Date: 25/09/12, updated on 26/09/12 (52 review reads)
Advantages: Better story and gameplay; visuals and sound
Disadvantages: Simple combat system; some minor glitches
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
[see my review on 'Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood': 'Rome Was Rebuilt in a Game'. Please note that there may be a few spoilers of the story of this game in the following review]
Ubisoft Montreal are really churning out these Assassin's Creed games, to the point where it has become an annual event in the gaming industry. When 'Assassin's Creed III' is released on October 31st, they'll have released more installments in its five-year history than IO Interactive have released Hitman games in twelve years. That said, they are very good games, albeit inferior to the Hitman series in my humble opinion. 'Assassin's Creed: Revelations' is the fourth in the series and is very significant to the story so far; it marks the end of Ezio Auditore da Firenze's story, and also returns to the first game's main character: Alta´r Ibn-La'Ahad, to tie up a loose end.
You are, however, in present day, Desmond Miles, a New Yorkian bartender who was kidnapped and forced to relive the memories of your aforementioned ancestors in a machine called the Animus. See, in this world, in one's DNA may you find imprints of your ancestor's existence. In the first game, 'Assassin's Creed' (herein 'AC'), you explored the memories of Alta´r Ibn-La'Ahad, an assassin of the First Crusade in 1191. You soon learn about 'Pieces of Eden', ancient artifacts with hidden powers; the organisation that kidnapped you, Abstergo (who are actually a modern day Knights Templar) are after these Pieces of Eden, and have used you and your DNA to find one of them. The scientist who monitored your progress in the Animus, Vidic, planned to kill you once your memories of Alta´r were exhausted, but his assistant Lucy, an undercover Assassin, saves you and you escape together. In 'Assassin's Creed II' ('ACII') and 'Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood' ('ACB'), you find sanctuary in safehouses to further explore the memories of your ancestors; in these cases, you relive the memories of Ezio Auditore da Firenze. In his story, you have just removed Rome of Templar influence, avenged your Uncle Mario and hidden a Piece of Eden in a safe place in Rome. As Desmond Miles, you have made your way to this safe place and infiltrated it to recover the Piece of Eden. The game ends as you take hold of the Piece of Eden and become somewhat possessed, the forces causing you to assassinate Lucy, as the two of you fall motionless to the ground. Like all of the games before it, 'Assassin's Creed: Revelations' ('ACR') picks up directly where its prequel left off.
The Assassin's Creed games revolve around one key date: 21st December 2012, a date believed by some to be the end of the world. Across the five games (as mentioned, 'Assassin's Creed III' ('ACIII') is due for release later this year'), you have gradually discovered more and more about why this exact date means the apocalypse; and Ubisoft Montreal present these ideas in true Dan-Brown-fiction-presented-as-truth style. The modern-day Assassins are on a race against time to explore Desmond's ancestral memories and find a way to stop this apocalypse from coming.
In ACR, you are Desmond Miles, and find yourself in an odd environment known as 'Animus Island'. It's essentially the 'insides' of the Animus; remnants and fragments of memories that have formed a small world. Here you meet 'Subject 16', a character that has had a very small part in the series up to this point, but is nonetheless very important. He is a previous subject, like Desmond, who went mad whilst using the Animus, and eventually got lost, while his present-day self died. He explains the situation: you stabbed Lucy and passed out, while the other two modern-day Assassins (Shaun and Rebecca) got you back into the Animus, which is now the only thing keeping you alive. He explains that the portal on this Animus Island will take you back to the memories of your ancestors, allowing you to continue your quest; so you head in there.
You are Ezio Audtiore da Firenze approaching old age. You have departed Roma and are following in the footsteps of the once great Assassin Alta´r by returning to Masyaf, the Assassin Headquarters in the first game AC. There is a library there where secrets lay hidden. When Ezio reaches there, however, markings on its grand door suggest keys are needed to enter. He hunts down a Templar knight and steals the key in his possession, and learns that the remaining four were sent to Constantinople (or Istanbul) when Niccol˛ Polo moved there from Venice, and hidden. Ezio, set on unlocking the secrets of the Masyaf library, travels to Constantinople, and this is where the majority of the game is set. While Ezio has this main objective in mind, he enters a land of conflict; the Ottoman Empire reign but Templar presence inflicts chaos, and they aim to have the Ottomans overthrown. Ezio is greeted by Yusuf Tazim, leader of the Turk Assassins, and works quite closely with them whilst he undergoes his own endeavours. Meanwhile, he meets an Italian lady named Sofia Sartor who helps him in his quest to find the keys, and upon finding him, Ezio discovers that the keys also contain memories of the Assassin master Alta´r. Within these memories, holes are filled. It is a theory that, due to the inferiority of the first Assassin's Creed game, the character of Alta´r was dropped for ACII to allow a more prominent reboot. However, his story was left unfinished, and it is great that you get the opportunity in ACR to finish this story, while Ezio's comes to an end also.
ACR is the best of the series so far. Since ACII adopted a new style of gameplay, the games that followed have built on what was previously established, improved elements and selected the best bits. ACIII is due to take a whole new approach, which is a good thing in that we've had three consecutive games of quite similar gameplay, but it is far from worn out in ACR; rather, it is refined. ACB was huge; the map was massive and there was so much to do. ACR cuts down; the story is slightly shorter, the map slightly smaller, and there are less side-missions, and due to Ezio's dual overall objectives, these 'side-missions' actually become very central - everything seems relevant and thus encourages the player to complete every aspect of the game. That said, ACR introduces some new elements to the Assassin's Creed experience, and these are threefold: the 'hook blade' (which extends the distance Ezio can leap from ledge to ledge, and introduces some new combat techniques), bombs (Ezio must look for ingredients across Constantinople to construct bombs to use tactically within missions) and 'den defense' (a mini-game where, should Ezio's notoriety meter fill up, an Assassin den is invaded and you must protect it). However, whereas I do like each of these elements, each has their pitfall. The hook blade only extends the distance Ezio can jump minimally, and the combat techniques do not improve combat massively; the bombs are a nice addition, but can easily not be used - in that you could easily complete the game without them; and the 'den defense' mini-games come quite sparsely throughout the game.
The combat system has once again been improved, yet with this comes heightened simplicity - the game is just too easy. Yet the missions are ever so slightly harder, which does compensate. And like in ACB, the 'Full synchronization' tasks (if you want to complete the missions 100%) make the missions even harder. The missions themselves have far more character, for the most part, side-missions included, whereby at one point you are required to dress up as a jester and sing comically about past endeavors to distract groups of people while Yusuf assassinates various targets. The Assassin missions (where you can send Assassin's out across Europe and the Middle East to complete assignments) are back too, this time under the name of 'Mediterranean defense', and this feature is also improved. All four games have featured collectibles, too, where you can collect objects hidden around the map - usually out of 100. When you reached 100, you were then given a small extra for the player to enjoy. It ACR, around Constantinople (and Cappadocia, a map where you spend one of your memory sequences) are 100 'Animus data fragments', and when each time to collect a certain amount of these (usually in 10s), you can open a door on 'Animus Island' called 'Desmond's Journey'. These are nice little puzzles that feature a narrative by Desmond whereby you learn of his upbringing and how he came to be associated with the Assassins. While this isn't greatly important, it's always fun to learn a little bit more and is quite a nice break from the usual gameplay.
Visually, and aurally, ACR reigns supreme over its predecessors. From the pre-main title sequence, the game has a distinctively new look - black, as opposed to white, is the new key colour, and there is icy, distorted edge the menus' look. In the game itself, the graphics are the best yet, and the location is sublime: 1511 AD Constantinople. The climate is gorgeous, the skyline beautiful and the Islamic architecture is superb - Ubisoft Montreal have outdone themselves in this respect. One can explore a condensed version of the historical city, including many of its great landmarks, such as Hagia Sophia and the Forum of the Ox. The views from some of the higher buildings (which, like in the earlier Assassin's Creed game, you are required to climb), especially during nightfall, are stunning. This, with Jesper Kyd's in-game music, is a fantastic combination, and there's a particular track (on the soundtrack: 'Istanbul') that is absolutely excellent, possessing such a unique and serene quality. It's hard to believe that such an effect can be evoked through a video game, but it's truly wonderful, and can be very relaxing. The soundtrack is, like so many other elements in ACR, the best of the series, and this isn't necessarily due to the addition of another composer. Jesper Kyd returns and provides some of his best work to date; there are both exotic and electronic elements present, but he retains his individual style and provides an unmatched but completely fitting soundtrack. The second composer comes in the form of Lorne Balfe; a Scottish composer who works for Hans Zimmer's 'Remote Control Productions' in L.A. Balfe provides the brilliant main theme (originally called 'Ezio's theme', it's now known as 'Assassin's Creed Theme' on the soundtrack), the majority of cut-scene music and also the music on the Multiplayer mode. Whereas I personally prefer Kyd as a composer, they are very different in style - Balfe, coming from a film background, is inevitably more cinematic. The main theme features very Zimmer-ish elements, yet there is individuality present. Some of his cues are excellent, whereas some are slightly overbearing or bogged down by a very fake sound (he uses orchestral instruments mainly, but they are samples). Overall, the combined workings of the visual and aural team make for a superior experience in the Assassin's Creed series. There is beauty and appreciation in how they have constructed Constantinople through these means.
'Assassin's Creed Revelations' succeeds. Finally, after four games, Ubisoft Montreal have hit perfection. It's not my favourite game, simply because its not my preferred gameplay style (ACR is a sandbox-style game that relies heavily on story and cinematics rather than complex gameplay), but in this genre, its vastly superior. There are few downsides, and with such a layered game comes some glitches, but generally, it builds on previously established elements successfully, while adding some new great features. As previously mentioned, it's a very important one to the series. ACR closes the doors of Alta´r and Ezio, the former of which has been waiting to be closed for a few years now. It's grand and epic, and the in-game experience is beautiful. The story is the most interesting of the series, and it's very exciting. With 'Assassin's Creed III', Ubisoft Montreal will move on. It's the last in the 'cycle', a word the developers have used on numerous occasions themselves. There is the Alta´r cycle (AC and ACR), the Ezio cycle (ACII, ACB and ACR), and the Desmond cycle (all five games), and by the end of ACIII, Desmond's door, as well as new protagonist Connor Kenway's (a half-English, half-Native American Assassin active during the American Revolution), will be closed too. In the meantime, 'Assassin's Creed Revelations' is the series' finest hour.
Summary: The excellent fourth game in the Assassin's Creed series
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