Before Embarking on this Review - Gamers New to Assassin's Creed might like to watch... the Story So Far.
Ubisoft Montreal has pumped out an Assassins Creed game annually for the last three years, and I have understandably been concerned that keeping up that pace would prove too much. Assassin's Creed: Revelations proves that this is clearly is not the case.
As the fourth game in the series hits our screens, I am literally astounded by the enhancements that have been brought to the series. It's almost as if Ubisoft has added more than one could reasonably expect for a single iterative leap - and with that brought more depth and breadth to the gameplay than most other games manage.
continues the story of Ezio, protagonist of the previous two games in the series (Assassin’s Creed II - reviewed here
and Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood reviewed here
It takes place later in his life - a fact made abundantly clear to us by the fact that he now sports a beard, and NPCs repeatedly comment on how athletic he is for a man of his age; but the game also, as the title suggests it might, reveals much more than an ageing protagonist!
We also learn about the story of the original game’s (reviewed here
) protagonist, Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, after the events of that first game, and about his involvement with the Apple of Eden.
We also discover more about Desmond, and the circumstances of his upbringing. In fact, we eventually learn more about the underlying story behind all of this. On the “Revelations” front, AC:R
does not disappoint.
Because Desmond is in a coma, his parts of AC:R
do not take place in the modern day, as they did in the previous Assassin's Creed
games. Instead, he (or an avatar of him) inhabits a strange virtual land called Animus Island. This place looks like a cross between a Channel 4 advert and something from the massively overrated Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle, Inception
Desmond's consciousness is captive in this place, but he can venture through portals into the game-world. Through the large portal lies the world of 16th century Constantinople.
However, through a group of smaller portals lie a series of challenging puzzle levels that are vaguely reminiscent of Portal
. There is no compulsion or requirement to play these sections, they are a whole new aspect of the game, and a bonus in what is already an extensive offering.
Eagle Vision, which Ezio possessed but barely had to use in previous games, is vital on AC:R
. Without using it, certain objectives cannot be discovered, and levels cannot be completed. You will be required to use it to identify targets from a group of NPCs who, with normal vision, appear identical. You will be required to use to it activate certain switches, and to locate certain doors. And when you come on to bomb-crafting, you can use Eagle Vision to see through the haze created by tactical smoke bombs.
Ah yes, bombs. Another entirely new addition to AC:R
. At first, the ability to use a bomb seems like a small thing - a trivial addition to Ezio's already extensive armoury. But as the game progresses, you begin to see the potential bombs offer, especially when attacking a Templar den, or on missions where not getting detected offers “Full Synchronisation”.
There are three "types" of bomb: one will do damage to an opponent, one will inconvenience him in some way and give you a tactical advantage, the other will cause a distraction.
There are several types of bomb casings: one will explode on impact, one is timed and can be bounced around corners, one is adhesive and will stick to anything it hits and there is also a proximity activated one.
Used in combination, these can be extremely useful. Some examples? Sure: set a tripwire bomb around the corner from some guards you need to pass. Move to a nearby rooftop and toss a Smoke or Flash bomb down, then watch the guards as they go and investigate… straight onto your booby trap. There is much, much more you can do with bombs but this gives you some idea of their tactical potential.
To create bombs, you need to gather the requisite materials and find a crafting table. This is exactly the kind of tedious resource management and alchemy bullshit that I typically hate, but in Assassin's Creed
games it could not be simpler. Despite the plethora of bomb types you can create, doing so could not be easier. You can carry three types of bomb at any one time, and you can visit the crafting tables that are spread across the city to dismantle your existing bombs (at no resource cost) and create others.
Of course, to produce a bomb, you'll need the constituents. These are obtained either from chests scattered around the city, similar to the "Treasure" chests of previous games. This time, however, these respawn, and their locations are not indicated on maps.