Assassin's Creed Revelations (PS3)
During the development of the original Assassins Creed it is fair to say that gamer's expectations were huge. The images and gameplay shown at various PR events, via trailers or in screenshots very much appealed to action game fans. When it was released the main gameplay received praise but there were those out there that wanted a straight up historical game and the modern aspects of the plot alienated them to a certain extent.
That didn't deter Ubisoft from continuing down the same route though and the Animus has made an appearance in each of the follow-ups, expanding the story of Desmond Miles and his ancestors. In the latest game from the Assassins Creed Franchise we take the role of Desmond again in an attempt to save our mind, sanity and life.
As this is the fourth major release in the franchise it comes as no surprise that the overall gameplay in Revelations is very similar to the previous games. We are Desmond, plugged into the Animus and play Altair and Ezio who featured in the previous three titles. The controls carry forward from those games with movement on the left stick, looking on the right. We run with one of the shoulder button and actions such as jumping and fighting are performed via X and square.
As always Assassins Creed, in this case Revelations, very much focuses on exploring large open areas and often moving from low down in a town/city to the higher points or in reverse. We are free to go almost anywhere we want in getting to our destination, leaping from roof to roof or walking through streets and can climb walls or dive down into hay as required to get where we need to be.
Battles are also a key aspect in our gameplay with our character regularly being required to take on individual characters, or groups of people, with plenty of fluid movement and killing animations/moves in our quest to progress the plot.
Speaking of that plot, things are getting a little extravagant now and the basic premise is that due to the length of time we have been in the Animus our memories, in fact our very being, is confused and fragmented. Through playing the various memories/levels in the game we can begin to sort through the mess and find ourselves again, before it's too late.
While many of the key gameplay aspects from the past games have also been included, blending into a crowd to evade guards being one example, we also get expansions on the theme with the new ability to build explosives. When looting corpses after battles as well as medicines and weapons we also get items which can build various bombs, ideal for concealing our character, distracting NPCs or blowing things up. We now also get the hookblade item which assists us with moving through the environments or through acting as a weapon, pulling enemies towards us. Eagle Vision has also been improved, now called sense, which allows us to better see what our targets are doing. Tasked to follow/find a character, switch on eagle sense via L3 and we can see a trail of their path.
We also get to step out of the standard gameplay in some sections, taking to on-rails missions which advance the story or playing through tower defence missions and multiplayer has been re-implemented in this title. Focus on the multiplayer is noticeable as this isn't just a case of the standard capture the flag or deathmatch gameplay, we also get a story along with the gameplay. Level up and we unlock more of the story.
Graphics and Sound
In the graphics department Revelations is a bit of a mix. The cut-scenes/videos are often epic and look phenomenal, cinematic in their quality. Whereas the small introductions to levels performed with the game engine suffer from dodgy textures and low quality face animations/art. That said the gameplay itself has a high level of graphics quality with the various environments packed with detail and varied. The change in appearance from the opening snow packed castle level to the arrival in Istanbul/Constantinople that forms the second area of the game is quite staggering.
As with many recent titles 3D support is also present.
The animations of our character are also very fluid and really add to the feel of quality as we move round the game and combat too is enhanced by this. Thankfully there is no significant issue with slowdown or framerates.
Audio is decent also. There is nothing spectacular on show here but the score works well, sound effects are realistic enough and voice acting good. That said there are occasions where NPCs are a little repetitive in their dialogue, something which could have been avoided.
Although not directly related to the game, before we go on to those aspects, it is worth talking a little about UPlay which forms the out of game user interaction with Ubisoft. Essentially it is rather too clunky and an aspect which wastes time for the user. We can see what Ubisoft is trying to achieve by adding this, and it works ok on the PC where our game achievements or product news are handled in a separate window to Steam or the game itself, but on consoles it is an extra layer that requires us to drop out of the game to access.
The use of UPlay also highlights an issue with the game itself and that is load times. There are few during the levels themselves, and we assume some of the loading happens during cut-scenes to minimise waits for the player, but between levels and when launching the game (required on the way back from Uplay) there are significant waits, the restart screen after we die also shows for too long as the level is reset back to the last checkpoint.
Looking at the game itself the overall experience is positive. The character is, for the most part, easy to control and those who have played previous games in the franchise will find themselves back in the groove easily, able to concentrate on the new skills and items which Revelations introduces.
There is an element however of having had to play at least one of the previous games before picking up Revelations as the plot and style of gameplay does very much feel like a continuation and those new to the franchise may feel a little lost early on in the game as events unfold in front of them. The whole fragmentation of memories, comatose Desmond and so on will be completely lost on new players. (To be fair though the original game in the series which sets players up well can be purchases for very little, new or pre-owned).
Ubisoft also need to be praised for trying to evolve the gameplay through the new modes, a brave decision which for the most part works well and the decision to add a story to unlock in multi-player also benefits the player... giving us reason to play past the single player campaign.
The Assassins Creed franchise continues to build towards a major event in the game universe later in 2012 and the most recent release offers plenty of quality to keep us interested until then. Decent controls, good visuals and a nice progression in the overall story of our main characters make this a worthwhile purchase. 84%