“Assassin’s Creed: Revelations,” Ubisoft’s fourth installment to the best-selling video game series, was released on Nov. 15 nationwide. As the last game of the series that will feature the protagonist from the previous two games, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, it also brings closure to the story of the first game’s enigmatic star, Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad. Chiefly set in the city of Constantinople before it (officially) became known as Istanbul, players will guide Ezio on his journey to uncover the secrets left by Altaïr.
In short, for those unfamiliar with the franchise’s convoluted storyline, the series features an underlying conflict between two organizations, Assassins and Templars, and their struggle throughout history to gain supremacy. Modern-day protagonist, Desmond Miles, is able to access the memories and experiences of his ancestors including Ezio and Altaïr by using a device known as the Animus to aid the Assassin cause. After the conclusion of the previous installment, “Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood,” Desmond became trapped in a coma. In “Revelations,” Desmond, still in his coma, relives the later memories of Ezio, who in turn will occasionally be reliving the memories of Altaïr. Confused yet? Newcomers to the series should invest in at least “Assassin’s Creed 2” before playing “Revelations.”
The initial scenes of the game reintroduce the story of Desmond Miles before jumping into the continuation of Ezio’s story. Gameplay as Ezio picks up right after the events seen in the game’s trailers. Unlike in “Brotherhood,” Ezio in “Revelations” already has most of his advanced free-running and fighting abilities. Veterans of the series will undoubtedly appreciate this change; relearning abilities in any video game sequel is an unnecessary hassle that adds little to the storyline.
Other than the notable addition of “Den Defense,” overall gameplay of “Revelations” follows the solid mold set by its predecessors. Players are able to roam freely around the game environment, and new areas are unlocked by completing sequences of the storyline. “Den Defense” is a new aspect of gameplay that is reminiscent of the “Borgia Towers” seen in “Brotherhood.” Instead of just assassinating the captain of the Templars to gain control of the surrounding area, “Den Defense” requires players to defend the areas after capture, as well. Although some may enjoy this newly added strategic aspect, others may find it to be tedious and annoying. Thankfully, it is possible to avoid “Den Defense” by posting one of Ezio’s apprentices to a den rather than defending it manually. Unfortunately, this is not possible until the later stages of the game.
New types of bombs are yet another addition to Ezio’s well-rounded arsenal of weaponry. In addition to the smoke bombs from the previous two games, “Revelations” introduces a slew of new explosives that can be used for both distraction and combat. In addition, players are able to craft and customize their own bombs using ingredients that can be looted from enemies. These new bombs allow for an enhanced customization of gameplay, which is always a welcome feature in video games. While they can be utilized to distract or deal direct damage to large groups of enemies, bombs can also be used stealthily by creating distractions that lure away guard patrols.
The graphics and soundtrack of “Revelations” once again demonstrate Ubisoft’s talent for creating realistic digital environments and engrossing ambiances. There seems to be no end in sight for the improvement of video game graphics, and the graphics in “Revelations” are definitely no exception. Even though it has only been just over a year since the release of “Brotherhood,” the HD quality in “Revelations” has improved significantly. True to the “Assassin’s Creed” tradition, Constantinople is vivid and extremely detailed; in fact, its appearance may even surpass that of Rome in “Brotherhood.” The in-game map has also received an upgrade that makes it more comprehensive and easier to use.
Of course, the musical accompaniment composed by Jesper Kyd deserves adequate recognition, as well. Although the music in “Revelations” contains hints of newly added Middle Eastern and Asian influences, hints and themes from the previous games can be heard throughout. As always, the music featured in “Assassin’s Creed” rivals that of any blockbuster movie in Hollywood.
As the final chapter of the stories of Ezio and Altaïr, “Assassin’s Creed: Revelations” is full of nostalgic sights, sounds and allusions that can be both amusing and sobering. While its plot is not the most conflict-driven of the series, “Revelations” is truly a game for the fans.