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Not so long ago, Canadian development studio Ubisoft Montreal embarked on its most ambitious project: a stealth/action game set during the period of the Crusades, involving medieval hit-men. They clearly possessed the expertise, having previously worked on the fantastic reboot of The Prince of Persia series as well as enjoying success with Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell (games in genres that would subsequently be hybridised). The first Assassin’s Creed was born, and while it didn’t achieve everything it set out to initially, the developers managed to create an engaging sandbox as well as a template for an experience with endless possibilities. And now with the release of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, it would seem that the dream has finally been realised, and while it may have taken four games in five years (not counting hand-held releases), the formula has reached its purest, most potent state.
This is the third game to feature Ezio Auditore da Firenze in the lead role as master assassin and as you will learn during the game, mentor to up-and-coming assassins in good old Constantinople (and later, Masyaf). He’s a lot older and wiser now, but for some reason, that doesn’t seem to affect the speed at which he can climb the tallest minaret (or leap off it) in the land of the Ottomans. He still wields swords, daggers, axes and maces with deadly precision and he’s got some new gear that sees him zip-line across buildings, make longer jumps as well as perform crazy execution moves from above (take that, Batman!). And the bombs — let’s not forget the bombs. Revelations’ new crafting system lets you combine raw materials such as shells and gunpowder to produce different kinds of bombs (nearly 300 different combinations are available) that range from lethal to tactical. This adds yet another strategic layer to the gameplay, and while some might argue that it was an unnecessary addition, it seems to fit into the non-linear route Ubisoft has taken to suit various play styles. The Godfather-inspired revenue generation system remains, so you can still renovate businesses to generate a steady stream of income while also getting the added benefit of discounts from the various stores you own, but it’s the new additions that are interesting. First, the game sports several first-person platforming sections which make you feel like you’re playing a Prince of Persia mod for Half Life 2 and then there’s the tower defence mini-game where you’re defending your Assassin’s tower from seemingly endless waves of zombie-esque Templar troops. Once again, it could be argued that these are “unnecessary”, but if Revelations is the only game you’re going to be playing over the holidays, the additional content just gives you more to do (when you’re not playing the ridiculous Desmond Miles dream sections, of course).
Other stand-outs include top-quality voice acting (the cheesy, stereotypical accents have never sounded better), great visuals, responsive controls, Jesper Kyd and Lorne Balfe’s haunting musical score and a much-need ‘Capture the Flag’ multiplayer mode! More of the same, really, but it’s more of the same great game, so why would you complain?
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations combines all the elements that make the series interesting while adding a substantial amount of content that fits logically into the game’s universe. It is the most evolved of Assassin’s Creed games, and while it may be lacking in originality, its level of polish makes it the best in the series. Combine this with fantastic production values, engaging open-world, gorgeous visuals and closure offered by its main story arc, and you’ve got the definitive Assassin’s Creed title on your hands. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is available on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360.