Previews// Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Posted 11 Oct 2011 17:11 by
What do you get the master assassin who has everything? We’ve been following the story of Ezio Auditore for two games now in Assassin’s Creed II and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood - watching the Italian stallion’s journey from birth to adulthood. But Ubisoft Montreal is proving that there are still a lot of things for our now aged and wise Ezio to achieve.

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations allows the Renaissance hero to find the last pieces of the Apple of Eden jigsaw puzzle and solve the mystery that has haunted him for years. He does so by traveling back to where the struggle between Templars and Assassins began - Constantinople, during the rise of the Ottoman Empire.

Ezio arrives at the Masyaf district - which holds the old stronghold first seen in the original Assassins Creed game - by boat, and quickly befriends the leader of the local Assassins clan, Yusuf Tazim. The welcome abruptly ends as the pair are ambushed by Templar soldiers. Using a combination of third-person combat, crowd-based stealth and parkour-style agility, he manages to escape and get to the safety of Yusuf’s den.

As well as the usual weapons at Ezio’s disposal, you get to play with a new toy called the Hookblade. It can be used to grab and chuck enemies around and line them up for some spectacular assassinations - but it goes far beyond combat. Rooftops are now littered with zip lines that can allow Ezio to sling himself down at high speed (with the added bonus of assassination from above).

It lends itself well to free running as well - using it on lamps allows you to perform long jumps as opposed to swinging round the corners of buildings. Its best use has to be in climbing buildings though - the Hookblade replaces the awkward A-button-B-button dance that you had to previously engage in to reach ledges that Ezio can’t normally grab.

You can now create your own bombs in Assassin’s Creed: Revelations too, with black markets in the city selling ingredients for you to mix in various bomb shops to build the explosive for whatever situation you want. You can choose what kind of casing the bomb has - whether it explodes on impact, works as a proximity mine or bounces against walls - how far the contents scatter and, more importantly, the effect it has on your enemies.

Sweet-smelling bombs will lure guards towards a certain location, while repulsive ones will send them packing. You can, of course, simply choose to explore a range of harmful gases and toxins that will outright kill your targets. Ezio can chuck bombs around the city to draw attention somewhere else, or he can now drop one whilst running away from enemies to put them off his scent. So to speak. And because almost everyone’s out to get you, you’re going to need all the bomb-dropping help you can get.

For Constantinople is a city that is undergoing a constant power struggle on several fronts - not only are the Templars trying to take control of the Assassins’ proud stronghold, but a third underground faction regularly enters the fray. These guerilla-style swordsmen are members of the lost Byzantine Empire, and while they’re hardly the friends of Ezio, they despise the arrival of the Templars even more and will not hesitate to jump into battle if they see you in combat.

Assassin’s Creed has quickly become one of my favourite action games simply for its sublime combination of social stealth, interesting historical premises, great use of ‘platforming’ (despite there not really being much of a jump button) and environment scaling. Revelations looks to deliver that same experience in spades, but the team at Ubisoft Montreal has been busy in ensuring the gameplay remains as fresh as possible too.

While Constantinople is, according to the studio, slightly smaller in size than Brotherhood’s Rome, there’s a lot more stuff packed into this map than in any Assassin’s Creed game before it. You literally can’t move five paces without finding a group of gypsies to hire, a shop to purchase goods from, a black market to create bombs, a side-mission dialog panel...

...or a dirty bandit trying to stab you in the back while you’re unawares. Yeah, you have to stay on your toes around here. Some jammy git caught me twice on my playthrough.
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