Format: Xbox 360 (tested), PS3, PC
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Assassin’s Creed started out as little more than a graphical sweetheart, a game you’d eagerly put on to show off the power of your new PS3-powered HDTV, then avoid touching again until you had more curious guests come over. Sure, there was a hint of a game, but such was the identikit nature of medieval assassination missions that most players soon tired, never to see the conspiracy-heavy final stages.
The sequel turned the series around, grafting gameplay variations on to the still central stealth-based deals in death. So it was that a trilogy of titles were created in just three years garnering the kind of excitement you’d expect for a much older series. Revelations, the last in that trilogy, provides an end to not only Ezio’s story, but Altair’s as well – suitably tying up loose ends for both of the series’ main protagonists – while exploring Desmond Miles’ character further too, he whose DNA memory brings to life those assassins past.
The game opens with Ezio Auditore (assassin of the Renaissance period) fighting his way to the snowy remains of Masyaf, the first town visited in the original Assassin’s Creed. Without spoiling anything there’s some fighting, some leaping, some climbing and before you know it you’re making for Constantinople; a new location yes, but very familiar territory.
It’s immediately obvious that Revelations’ Ezio is much weathered than when first met him, both physically and mentally, the toil of a life living in the shadows apparent. Following him through these three games – spanning the moment of his birth, his first kill and eventual rise to master assassin – has been a real journey, and Revelations unveils yet more about our protagonist and, through him, one of gaming’s most convoluted storylines.
The graphics, as we’ve come to expect, are beautiful and the music just as understated as in previous titles – possibly because it seems to use more-or-less identical scores to last time. In fact, with Revelations, Ubisoft have made the mistake of relying far too much on previous entries in the series.
Almost every situation faced and every action carried out is something you’ve seen or done before in previous games in the series. Possibly unavoidable ( this is an Assassin’s Creed title after all) but the setting, targets and way in which events unfold is just too familiar to easily justify the release of a standalone title – what an add on it would have made for Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood though.
There are new parts to the game, ‘Den Defence’ sections task Ezio with commanding his fellow assassins in a poorly implemented take on Plants vs. Zombies; the hookblade climbing aid extends his reach and allows him to utilise ziplines in what is the best new addition; while bomb varieties, despite the game practically crying out at you to use them, feel unnecessary and an odd marriage to a game which prides itself on stealth.
At least the story provides closure, a conclusion to a story that, to have reached this point, you’ll have become rather invested in. It’s just a shame that to get that far feels like a slog rather than a celebration. Assassin’s Creed 3 needs to bring a lot more to the table if the series is to remain vibrant in the future.