Ubisoft – PS3/Xbox 360/PC – Out now
Reviewed by Juanvasquez, Videogames Editor
Assassins Creed has been a front runner of the silly season for a few years now. After an impressive but painfully repetitive first instalment, the series really found its footing inItaly, with the fantastic Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood, taking to the rooftops of Rome, with Ezio Auditore. Now, in the characters final chapter, we see the action move back to the middle-east. Starting directly after the ending of Brotherhood, genetic time-traveller, Desmond Miles is unconscious, after falling to the power of the Apple of Eden, but he is now connected to the Animus. Here he can access more memories of Ezio.
The ancestral action starts with Ezio, trying to find out more information about the legendary Altair. Looking somewhat more aged (but still killing with skill), Ezio travels far and wide in search of Masyaf and whatever clues to Altair it may hold. After a stunningly rendered opening movie (you may have seen some of it in the TV spots), the gameplay starts in a snowy, dark tutorial, scaling the outer walls of a huge castle. Things take on an Indiana Jones-esque twist for an action stage after the tutorial is complete, when Ezio heads out after the Templar’s leader. The location and environment is very impressive and really makes a change from what we’ve seen in these games so far. As mentioned, the stages are quite dark, which gives the impression of the tone the game takes on, but once you arrive in the city of Constantinople, it couldn’t be any more different.
Constantinopleis probably the most exotic location we’ve seen in the Assassins Creed series. It’s bright, colourful and a far cry from what we’ve seen before. The fundamental gameplay is the same as it’s always been, with the free running just as fun as what we’re used to, however a couple of new elements have been introduced to the game. Either the developers have been playing too much Just Cause 2, or the addition of a parachute is a purely coincidental, yet inspired choice and can be very helpful if you mis-time a jump. Speaking of which, another new feature is the grapple. This hook replaces one of your concealed blades, but allows you to grab a ledge if you come up short while running across the rooftops, or climbing a large wall. As well as the extra reach, the grapple allows you to use many of the handily placed ropes dotted around the city as zip lines. This addition keeps the momentum going when hopping from building to building, and gives a new spin on some assassinations, too.
A lot of what we saw in Brotherhood has made a welcome return, such as being able to call for back up from your fellow assassins, as well as the ever handy arrow storm. The pigeon coops are back too, meaning you can send your assassins off on missions to increase their experience and earn a bit of money in the process. On top of this, the towers make a return too, however these are Templar towers this time, and rather than blowing them up, a beacon is lit instead. Once these towers are taken over, you can restore the banks, blacksmiths and tailors etc. Doing so will increase the amount of money you can earn. You can also purchase landmarks as well, but they will set you back a pretty penny.
Another feature quite similar to what we’ve seen in Brotherhood is the search for Altair’s memory keys. These are discs, which somehow contain detailed information from certain moments in Altair’s life, which take place after the events of the original Assassin’s Creed game. Much like the dungeon trails of the Brotherhood of Romulus, to obtain these memories, Ezio must find the secret entrances to the underground areas and find the way to the secret rooms which house the discs. If it’s not Templar’s standing in your way, it’s massive climbing sections with plenty of environmental hazards thrown in (which felt very similar to some of the sections in the Uncharted series). These sections are usually quite epic in scale and are extremely impressive environments. Once a disc has been recovered, you return to the Assassins Guild and relive the specific memory of Altair, in a playable flashback.
There’s one completely new feature that really breaks up the gameplay in the form of Assassins Dens. After each Templar tower is claimed by Ezio, it opens an Assassins Den. These are like safe houses, to which you can assign a leader. The difference with these however, is that the Templar’s will try and reclaim the territory in the style of a tower defence game. Here you line the rooftops with your fellow assassins, using different classes such as snipers with crossbows and guns, as well as setting up roadblocks and having cannons at your disposal. The enemies come through in waves, which you pick off with your assassins. It adds a distraction to the gameplay, but overall isn’t really necessary. I can see why it’s there, and it doesn’t make the game any worse, but if it aint broke…
The biggest surprise in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood was the addition of multiplayer. Although it proved rather popular, I thought was unnecessary. So it comes as no shock that Revelations also has online multiplayer. It’s a decent multiplayer experience if anything. Operating under the guise of Templar training through the Animus, the multiplayer modes consist of solo and team games. The solo games are where you are given an assassination contract, but someone else is also in pursuit of you. This adds a fun twist on the usual deathmatch and when you’re not doing so well can make you a little paranoid. Another of the multiplayer modes is where you are given several contracts and have to assassinate the right person. It’s fairly straightforward as you follow a compass to where they are, but with several of the in-game NPC’s looking exactly the same, it’s easy to mistake your target for a civvy, which will result in the cancellation of the contract and nil points.
There is a team version of this mode in which one team all have the same character skin and have to hunt down the other team, again all with the same character skins. The team being pursued have to hide as best they can, earning more points in that round if they hide together as a group. The longer you remain hidden undetected, the more points accrued. However if the pursuing team keep on top of things and find your position, then they will reap the points for themselves. Add to this, Artefact Assault, which is basically capture the flag. While multiplayer does provide a fun alternative to the single player adventure, it’s an ultimately shallow experience in comparison to the story mode.
This feels like the most accomplished Assassin’s Creed title yet. While it doesn’t have the depth of Assassin’s Creed II’s gameplay, there’s plenty to do here and enough new features to keep things fresh. The story is engrossing and the gameplay is exceptional. Assassins Creed just keeps going from strength to strength, which in my opinion, makes it one of the must buy annual releases.
A superb experience from beginning to end.