By Dragonborn_CT 21 Comments
I am weary of this fight, Claudia. Not because I am tired, but because our struggle seems to move in one direction only. Towards chaos. Today I have more questions than answers. This is why I have come so far. To find clarity. To find the wisdom left behind by the great Altaïr, so that I may better understand the purpose of our fight. And my place in it.Should anything happen to me Claudia, should my skills fail me, or my ambition lead me astray, do not seek retribution or revenge in my memory, but fight to continue the search for truth, so that all may benefit.
My story is one of many thousands, and the world will not suffer if it ends too soon.
- - Ezio's letter to his sister.
When I was very young, I was foolish enough to believe that our Creed would bring an end to all these conflicts. If only I had possessed the humility to say to myself, I have seen enough for one life. I have done my part. Then again, there is no greater glory than fighting to find the truth.
- - Altair to his son Darin.
If you ask the general opinion of the AC (not a personal opinion mind you), most will tell you this: AC I was a good game, AC II a great game, AC: Brotherhood was a f*cking awesome game. Revelations? Eh. Up until AC III came along, Revelations was the one game were people twist their nose at and was held as the least favorite entry in the series among many I know. To be honest, when I first heard announced Revelations would be another spin-off, I was disappointed because that would mean the third game would have to wait for another year, and because of it, I wasn't in that much of a worry to get Revelations. And by the time the game was out, I was hearing a very divisive opinion about it for the first time in the series. The one constant was people calling it the same game as the previous one, with very few additions and failing into "revealing" anything. I didn't get Revelations immediately and I played much later after its release (then again I was busy with Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim) and I am gonna explain right now what Revelations does right for me and... Doesn't.
Following the traumatic events that took place during the ending of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, Desmond Miles slips into coma and his friends had to put him in the Animus to repair his damaged mind, that is now trapped inside the device, along the conscience of his predecessor, Subject 16. He tells Desmond that if he ever wishes to wake up, he must relieve Ezio's remaining memories in absolute synchronization until there is nothing left to show in order to repair his broken mind. In Ezio's storyline, he goes on a pilgrimage to Masyaf, the ancient Assassin fortress from AC I, searching for answers behind the Assassin's long struggle, the reason why they fight the Templars and the invaluable knowledge left behind by Altair Ibn La'Ahad, the main hero of the first game. However, Ezio is not the only one that wishes to access Altair's Vault, as a increasing number of Templars believes to hold a weapon of devastating power they can use to their cause. To unlock entrance, its required a set of four discs that are scattered across the land, having Ezio and the Templars wasting no time on finding them so they could access before the other do.
There is no point if you are a newcomer to the series, and you decide to pick this game up in particular first. If you have followed the Assassin's Creed plot up until this point, its very possible you are very, very confused and with good reason. Every entry has some plot twists and cliffhangers that leave more questions than answer, its pretty hard to keep up with what the hell is going on. While I am afraid I may sound a tad redundant, the purpose of Revelations' story is to answer these questions, clear things up, wrap up as many loose ends as possible and provide closure for Ezio and Altair's storylines before we move on to Assassin's Creed III. With that said, there is no garantee that new questions won't be raised.
Because the three characters storyline all tie together I was having difficulty in recaping the plot in a comprehensible manner, at least the way I am used to. Its what happens when you make a memory of your ancestor, inside a memory, while you are in coma, inside a Matrix machine. Since Ezio's story make up large bulk of the plot, I will focus largely on him, leaving Desmond's and Altair's story in the Characters tab.
4 years after the events of AC: Brotherhood, where he travels East in search of Masyaf after a mention of Altair in his father's letters, searching for answers to the Assassins' long struggle. I'd like to mention that the opening for this game is the only time in the franchise were the CGI trailers make part of the storyline. As soon as he sets foot in Masyaf, he is captured by Templar forces that have occupied the place in search of the disks that will allow entrance into his library with their leader having one of the keys. He is able to escape (albeit with a Hidden Blade broken), kill the Templar captain and acquire the first seal of 5 scattered across Constantinople.
He gets from many allies in helping to recover the keys, specially from Yusuf Tazim, leader of the Ottoman Assassins guild, and Sofia Sartor, a Venetian bookkeeper that own a shop where the map showing the remaining keys are located. During his investigations, he learns that a Ottoman prince is about to be assassinated during a party, so he goes dressed as a ministrel (in possibly one of the funniest missions in the series yet, chock full of references from previous games). Turns out the prince he just saved was none other than Suleiman I, who offers his help in his quest. The suspect behinds the attempt in his life is the Jannisary captain Tarik Barleti, whom becomes Ezio's target and seems to be involved in the search for Altair's keys as well. After slaying Barleti, Ezio learns he had being dealing with Manuel Palaiologos, former heir of the Byzantine throne, who is hiding in the underground city of Derinkuyu in Capadocia. Before sailing, he leaves Sofia (for who he has been expressing feelings for but cannot reveal his affiliation to not endanger her) to Yusuf's care during his absence.
After drawing Palailogos's attention and cornering him before he could escape, he sees the true mastermind behind the Templars - Suleiman's uncle Ahmet!!! Hm... Okay? This reveal kinda doesn't have any weight because Ahmet was little more than a extra the time you interacted with him. Ahmet threatens Sofia in case he doesn't hand the keys and escapes on a ship sailing to Costantinopla. Ezio rushes back to the Sofia's shop, only to find her missing, a platoon of Assassins dead with Yusuf among them. Enranged by his death, Ezio unleashes the other Assassins against the Ahmet's forces, storming his hideout. Ahmet however offers to exchange Sofia for the Altair's keys, leaving Ezio to make his choice. All while Suleiman heard from behind the shadows and pleads the Assassin to stop his uncle without killing him if possible.
Ezio decides to meet with Ahmet, who has left Sofia at the top of a very large tower and threatened to throw her off there in case Ezio doesn't agree with his terms. Pressured into a decision, Ezio gives the keys to Ahmet and goes to rescue Sofia, only to his horror to discover the woman in the tower was a decoy and the real Sofia was being hanged elsewhere. After saving Sofia in time, both go into a chase sequence after Ahmet to stop him from opening the Altair's library. What follows is a very scripted rail-roading chase sequence, that while its beautiful to watch, doesn't have much substance or particular sense of urgency, even while you are gliding with a parachute over the Big Bad's chariot.
You don't even get fight or kill Ahmet for your troubles. The best you get is a QTE as both of you are falling from a huge mountain and its Ahmet's brother Selim (also Suleiman's father) who does him off. The jackass stole my kill and even banished me from Constantinopla after I saved his sons' life and his throne. The only reason Ezio doesn't kill the bastard in the spot is because of Suleiman of course. I am thinking right now who is the worse of the brothers, but I don't want to delve into that. With the way open for Altair's library, the ending approaches. As a result, I will keep it under spoilers to not ruin the surprise for anyone and in the case people want to read it, I will do my best to explain what happens because it can get very confusing.
Ezio finds the contents of Masyaf and what does he find? The invaluable knowledge he was searching for? The ultimate weapon that the Templar believed he had created? Several pieces of Eden stored inside it? No... He finds Altair's corpse with a Piece of Eden in his hand. He finds a treasure more valuable than any books, but wisely decides to leave it behind since he has seen enough for one life. Even if the journey seems to be rendered moot now at this point for Ezio, it really isn't, for he is able to converse one last time with Desmond, realizing his purpose of guiding through across the ages.
Having experienced all his ancestors's memories, Desmond is able to achieve the Nexus Synch and what happens next is the truly confusing part of the ending. He is able to visit a disruption in time called the Nexus, where he was able to interact with Those Who Came Before. Its a place where probabilities are calculated so that the proper path may be chosen and where we are able to see the remaining members of the First Civilization - Minerva, Juno and Tinia. The explain that they predicted the solar flare that destroyed the world before the war between the humans and the precursors, and after many failed attempts to prevent it they had constructed the temples to preserve life when the solar flare destroyed civilization as they knew it. They are long dead by this point, but still able to converse with Desmond through the Nexus and warn him that the only way to prevent the disaster from happening again is going Grand Temple that is now located somewhere in New York and they will show you how to do it.
Desmond wakes from his coma, with his father William Miles beside him along with Rebecca and Shaun. As he stands up, he assures then he knows what do as they make their way to the Grand Temple... Wow. I admit the first time I watched it, I was completely lost on what was going on and only after a second play through I was able to figure out what the hell really happened. Possibly because I wasn't paying very much attention then, that is. This is how Ezio's storyline ends, now if you want to see the rest of his life check out the short movie Assassin's Creed Embers.
Desmond gets more spotlight here, ironically enough while he is coma than he was while awake. When his backstory was glossed over or not touched upon with more with detail as it was before, we learn that he ran away from home due to his father's rigid training and never kept to a single place for much time, avoiding major cities until he became a bartender. His interaction with Subject 16 is full of red herrings, you are lead to believe Subject 16 is going to betray him at some point to take over his body, but at the end, he sacrifices himself to help Desmond survive.
Altair is back too, and we get to see what happened in his life before and after the events of the first Assassin's Creed. One should note that these missions were inspired by the events of Assassin's Creed: the Secret Crusade that detailed the rest of Altair's life. It turns out he married Maria (the templar chick from AC I that disguises herself as Robert de Sable and makes love with in the second game) and had a family with her, but his life is destroyed by his long-time rival Abbas, who is completely and driven solely by hate and spite for Altair, ordering his son to be executed along with his best friend Malik (yes, that Malik) and singlehandedly turns the Order into a shadow of its former self. And the reason for this?He believe Altair lied about his father commiting suicide when it turns out to be true (talk about disproportionate retribution). Its infuriating enough that Altair still shows pity for Abbas and remains relatively nice in his presence, going as far to comfort him in his last moments.
While none of the supporting cast of the previous games are back, the new characters do a good job. I loved the crap out of Yusuf Tazim in particular, he fills the same role of Nicollo Machiavelli in AC:Brotherhood, but is practically his opposite in personality (he is cheerful, he cracks jokes and stuff like that) I knew I was going to like him in the first words you hear him say is "You are the man I've longed to meet. Renowned Master and Mentor, Ezio Auditore de la la la!" Unfortunately, he doesn't make it all the way and dies offscreen halfway through the game. If its any solace, he died fighting like a hero, taking out many Templars while defending Sofia Sartor. Even some characters who get a very brief scenes leave a very strong impression such as Darim Ib-Lahad, Altair's son. The share the most heart-tender scenes in the whole game, specifically in Altair's final memory where I heard one of the most beautiful lines of dialogue I ever heard. See for yourself. (Note: this is the only time you get to see Altair without his hood on). As usual with these series, we interact with many figures from historical times like Suleiman the Magnificent (the longest reigning Sultan in the Ottoman Empire), Niccolo and Mafeo Polo (respectivaly, Marco Polo's father and uncle), Selim the First (scourge of Alevis, conqueror of the Middle East and all around douchebag) to name the few.
I also liked Sofia Sartor a lot as character and as a love interest for Ezio. Even if there is noticeable age gap between the two (Sofia was born the same year where AC II starts and Ezio's father and brothers are killed when he was 17 years old), I was so happy to see our old eagle finding love again. True, so such bookish person, Sofia is oblivious towards his Ezio's eer... Profession... For the most part, she thinks he is some kind of scholar and the other Assassins are his students. Regardless, she is a very understanding and reasonable person, as when Ezio's secret as an Assassin is revealed to her after the Templars tried to kill her, he apologizes for dragging her into his bussiness. What does she say? "You are not responsible for the actions of other men". Not only that, but she immediately rides a carriage to stop Ahmet from running away with the keys. Oh Sofia, how I wish some love interests were like you...
The Templars's role in the story changed a bit; while they remain oponents to our hero through and through, they are not being targeted unlike in the previous games. At first, there is no clear Big Bad directing the Templars hunting for Masyaf Keys, until later in the game, we learn that Sulleyman's uncle Ahmet is the Templar Grandmaster. However, it turns out he is a very boring and unremarkable villain, completely unmemorable. He doesn't evoke as much hate or repulse than Cesare or Rodrigo Borgia's and he isn't neither particularly impressive or magnificent villain like Al Mualin or Haytham Kenway. You don't even get a proper boss fight with him (just a chase sequence and QTE WTF?!?)possibly because he wouldn't pull much of a punch on Ezio. None of the Templars are noteworthy too, except for a very, very minor grunt named Shakulu that Ezio confronts in Capadocia that survives being stabbed twice with a Hidden Blade. That was very impressive moment considering death by Hidden Blade is pretty much one-hit kill, but he goes down in the same fight nonetheless.
Revelations features the same combat and gameplay features from AC II and Brotherhood, with very few alterations, and trying new ideas that Ubisoft was probably testing to see if they could use in future games. However, these ideas come with at cost of many the side activities in AC:B, too bad to tell you that many of them were removed here to give room to the new ideas that means, no longer Thief and Courtesan Assignments, War Machines, even the Assassin Contracts are gone too! With the story mode having the same length as Brotherhood's, this makes Revelations a even shorter game in terms of contents than the previous ones.
Some of these ideas do work like the bombs mechanic. Ever since they were introduced our use was very limited, with smoke bombs that served only for distraction and we could only carry 3 of them at time. Now we can carry up to 9 bombs, equipping them like secondary weapons and could be crafted in several varied manners such as diversion, tactical and lethal. To craft these bombs, we have several materials scattered across the city such as shells and gunpowders that could be used as mines, or other ingredients that could be used for poison, shrapnel, knock-out gas and etc. Their end varies for what type of bomb you can use.
Another adittion was the hookblade, a modified Hidden Blade used by the Ottoman Assassins for both free-running and combat. It can be used to grapple points that are too harder to reach with normal climbing and making a quick and easy travel with the ziplines that are spread throughout the city. They are also useful to escape enemies by flipping with them using hook and run. In combat, the hookblade can also perform counter-steal, that allows to steal whatever the enemies are carrying while fighting instead of having you loot their corpses after the brawl was over.
Some ideas just defy common sense like the Den Defense segments. You just knew we would get here eventually and there was no way I would ignore that, because they are almost as bad as the flying missions in previous games. Almost being the key word because it isn't frustrating in the same way as the flying machines. Den Defense works like (surprise) Tower Defense games where you have to hold enemy forces coming in waves, progressively getting more powerful and you need to set several soldiers and arches to protect the den. Unfortunately, once you figured out it becomes insufferably repetitive, boring and out-of-place feature in this game, and during a few times the difficulty set drops any reasonable pattern and just go schizophrenic sending enormous enemies waves while you are having few enemies and resources to defend it (fortunately that didn't happen often). What makes Den Defense so frustrating is that you have to do it several times throughout the game whenever you are made notorious, the Templars would attack Assassin refuges. I mean WTF happened?!? The Borgia Towers were so cool and they were replaced by this absurdity that changes gameplay in a complete unexpected manner and has little to do with being you know... an Assassin?!?!?!
Speaking of that, the notoriety system has been screwed over too as a result. Not just actions like killing guards or assaulting civilians would raise the enemy awareness, but also renovating shops, landmarks and allied buildings, recruiting apprentices and you know, all the stuff like that you are supposed to do. Isn't stupid that even the things you are required to do in the game come in with a penalty, regardless if you did them right? As a result you have to do Den Defense several times you are highly notorious, and you have to do a lot of backtracking by bribing heralds and killing officials to lower your awareness. Its a good thing that this feature was fixed (for the most part) in AC III and completely removed from AC IV: Black Flag, because I was already sick at this point in Revelations.
While we get the chance of replaying Altair once again through Masyaf's keys, the time we can play with him are a wasted opportunity. Altair plays out in a not very different manner than Ezio (he can kick to break defense, perform stealth and air assassinations and can desarm opponents - things he was unable to do in the first game - but he can't use bombs and the hookblade for obvious reasons), but his appearences are limited to 5 missions at the time and all of them take place in Masyaf. I was under the impression that the gameplay would switch entirely between Ezio's and Altair's perspectives, allowing us to explore the land and doing missions separately, but I guess I was expecting too much from another spin-off.
Our enemies archetypes are back (agiles, brutes, seekers) but with a twist: Constantinopla is split between Byzantine and Ottoman control, having guards for each side and they hate each other as much as they hate you, and you can use that to your advantage by running away into . Just like the previous game had Papal Guards, Revelations had the much dreaded Yeniçeri Janissaries, the Sultan's private guards. They are strong as Brutes, can run as fast as Agiles and unlike Papal Guards, they cannot be killed by counter attacks, or executions streaks, despite being covered pretty much from head to toe, they can easily catch up to Ezio and are very hard to shake off, making them very formidable opponents. Hilariously enough, they are killed much quicker if you are unarmed in just one combo. Another testament to Ezio's badassery to literally tear down the Ottoman's elite forces with his bare f*cking hands. And like everything else, they can also fall to the good ol' kick in the loins.
At the times you are wandering alone, there will be instances where you will be attacked at random by Templar stalkers. Unlike Cento Occhi bandits from previous games, they are dressed as civilians and will always sneak up to attack you from behind. While you can always identify them with the Eagle Vision and they never put up a fight, its very hard to see them until its to late. But you can counter their attacks and kill them very easily. Being stabbed doesn't kill instantly, but it does raise your notoriety (?!??!). You know what? I would have the game desynchronize if you let them stab you. Its pretty tense having enemies coming up to attack at any moment like the bandits in AC:B, it would have been terrifying and extremely realistic if you died because you let your guard down, and therefore much more awesome. Likewise, the instances where you fight corrupted Assassins in Altair's memories, you can survive being Assassinated while everybody knows that being stabbed by a Hidden Blade is a one-hit kill.
Templar Agents are back too with multiplayer characters serving as targets for Ezio and his apprentice, they received a little expansion being split into 2 parts for each Agent and they having their own little monolgue in the Memory Corridor upon being Assassinated. Assassin's recruits are still available and very little had changed from their introduction, but likewise, their recruitment has been expanded, making parts of missions where you had to save their lives or their loved ones in order to convince them into joining your cause.
Like in the previous games in Ezio's saga, there is some small quests you could perform like obtaining pages and keys to be rewarded with the ultimate, unbreakable armor set. In this game you don't get one, but two of them under separate circumstances: the Ishak Pasa armor by collecting his memoir pages and the Master Assassin armor by doing all Master Assassin's missions. In comparison, these ones are easier to get than the Armor of Altair in AC II and the Armor of Brutus in AC: B and as a added bonus, the former can deflect bullets and is very likely to make the guards flee in terror (with the Armor of Ishak Pasa said be cursed), while the former allows you to sprint in complete silence.
There is some side activities here but they aren't particularly interesting as they were in Revelations. Forgotten tombs are back but there is few of them and Piris Reis missions in particular boil down to tutorials. There is a lot less to do outside of missions in Revelations than its predecessor did.
With Revelations being Jesper Kid's last work in the franchise, he still makes a great job in creating the score for the game. He made a entirely new soundtrack unlike Brotherhood and AC II (that had similar themes with varying). Outside of the menu theme, however I don't have a particularly favorite track in the game, compared to other titles.
I want to go on record saying that the voice acting still remains very strong, even if the cast was recycled from previous games, they still do a great job with varying their voices from each of their characters. While I do think Altair's new voice actor does a okay job with the accent, I would have still preferred the old one from the previous game back, because he voiced fitted the character better (even if it had the wrong accent).
Our old language quirks are back, but Italian is mostly ditched and replaced by Turkish and Byzantine. I gotta say, it does sound really odd and weird this time, instead of amusing as it was with AC II and Brotherhood, perhaps because only Ezio's memories does this happen, while in Altair's memories the language remains in consistent English all the time and they never, ever break into Arab language.
You take one look at the Middle Eastern setting and you know that Constantinople is one huge call-back to the cities in the first Assassin's Creed review. Its where the main game takes place, a cosmopolitan wonder whose control is disputed by the Byzantines and Ottomans, with the everlasting shadow of the Templars surrouding them. The city is almost the same size as Rome, but even more urbane lacking a countryside of its own. Thankfully, you are allowed to leave the city at least temporarily to visit the ruins of Masyaf or the underground city of Cappadocia, but you can explore them (at least the latter) if you go back to replay the memories that take place there. In terms of graphics, the textures are the same as Brotherhood, only more polished and the colors are more vivid than the last game, specially for the explosion and fire effects.
7/10 - Revelations do fail to bring some new things to the table, while struggling with their new ideas, but they do deliver in the story department and the it was so reassuring to see our beloved characters we have accompanied in this long ride receive closure. I can't ensure that if you liked all the other games at this point, you will enjoy this one seeing so many were underwhelmed but I can definitely assure you that if you are new to the story, you don't know sh*t or what the hell is going on, this isn't the good place to start.
Thank you guys for reading it. I'd like to thank everyone who stuck with me in this retrospective, I'd like to thank my friends in the Vine, you have been a great inspiration the reason why I kept doing these blogs. I am very pleased to entertain your day and I wish on keeping doing this as long as I can. Until next time =)