Assassins Creed: Revelations
Developer: Ubisoft
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: One, 2-8 online.
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It is difficult not to see this title and think “what, another> one?” Depending on your enjoyment of the previous games, this can be either a good or bad thing.

This game continues the conspiracy-laden story of Desmond Forgettablesurname, who's wired up to a machine that allows him to relive the experiences of his more interesting ancestors, specifically the assassin Ezio Auditore from the time of the Italian Renaissance, who in turn experiences mystical flashbacks of an earlier assassin ancestor Altair from the first Assassin's Creed game.

Players of the earlier Assassin's Creed games will be familiar with the plot and be pleased by Ezio's and Altair's stories coming to elegant conclusions, and possibly concerned about playing the lacklustre Desmond Thingummy in the next game. For those who have not followed the series, it doesn't matter so much.

Revelations follows the same pattern as the earlier games with the main character running and climbing around beautiful ancient cities and going on missions that more often than not involve murder (well, you are an assassin), while controlling more of the city by taking over strongholds of the Templars, the game’s primary adversary. Where the game differs from this standard format, it has variable results.

Not content with with Ezio's already large arsenal of weaponry and equipment (various knives and daggers, swords, poison, a crossbow, a hidden pistol, parachute...), we now have bombs of various sorts. At any one time Ezio can carry three different sorts of bomb that can be fun crafting with different shells, powder, and payload to create different effects like; cherry bombs to distract guards, bombs that attach to guards that shower them with lamb’s blood making them panic as they think themselves horrifically injured, smoke bombs to obscure vision for quick getaways... Ezio also gets a hook-blade, which in terms of game mechanics does not do much beyond provide a little extra reach when scaling buildings, allows him to slide down zip lines, and a couple more combat manoeuvres. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by all the tricks that Ezio can perform and can make for an unchallenging experience. Why plan a sneaky assault on a building when armed with such an enormous arsenal and assassin minions who can be called upon to lend a hand with the dirty work?

The “Templar Awareness” gauge is slightly different from the similar doing-bad-things gauge in previous games, where it represents how overt Ezio's behaviour is in Constantinople. Having fights with guards causes the meter to rise but so does buying up shops to increase your income and influence. If the gauge gets to high you risk experiencing another brave addition to the game, when the Templars mount an attack on one of their old haunts that you have since captured. This takes you into a tower-defence game, where Templar agents attack your stronghold in waves and you fight them off by creating barricades and placing assassin minions to harass the attackers. Playing this through once is an interesting distraction, but doing this too much soon becomes a chore, especially given that should the stronghold be lost it's easy enough to simply take over again.

Outside of playing as Ezio, there's an optional but compelling set of first-person puzzle sequences like an oddly abstract version of Portal that represent Desmond reminiscing about his own personal history. More levels (up to four) get unlocked as you find more twinkling memory-fragment macguffins in the main game.

As in Brotherhood, the Revelations multiplayer experience is excellent. Rather than playing as any of the main characters, you play as one of the modern day enemy agents training on an animus machine like the one Desmond is stuck in. The games are set in a small play area where each player gets assigned someone as a target to assassinate as you become the target of someone else. Wandering around the game area, blending into crowds and trying to remain inconspicuous until breaking cover at the very last moment to attack your victim is tense and lots of fun, especially knowing that someone else out there is planning to do the same to you.

Aside from the few quirks mentioned earlier, very little separates this game from its predecessors. It's nice to knowing what happens to the characters in the end, but as a product it feels a bit like an extremely full featured add-on to Brotherhood rather than an entirely new title.

Best Bits

- Beautifully realised scenery.
- Lots of toys to play with.
- Gripping multiplayer game.
Worst Bits

- More of the same.
- The tower-defence game sections.
- “Do we have to play as Desmond now?”

by: Jason Rainbird

Copyright © Gamecell 2012