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Assassin's Creed Revelations

By Bobfish06-09-2012
Blankdoor (editor)
Trav (editor)

The Defence

Ubisot Montreal
Action, Adventure, Platformer
Release Date:
US 29-11-2011
EU 02-12-2011

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo E6700
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+
Nvidia GeForce GTS 250
AMD Radeon HD 5670
2 GB
12 GB

The Case

Now at the fourth game in the series, many have accused the Assassin’s Creed series of already growing long in the tooth. After a surprisingly strong, but mixed, initial launch, Ubi’s newest IP has only gone from strength to strength. But the now yearly release schedule, coupled with several side line projects, left many dubious about this final entry in the story of Ezio. Which was not helped by, yet again, receiving a last minute delay for the PC. Sure, it was only three weeks this time, but it was still delayed, again, due to DRM. Was it worth the wait? And is it worth battling your way through Ubisofts’s heavy handed anti-piracy measures.

The Trial

No posturing, no needlessly obtuse use of colourful language to obfuscate the point, whilst sounding like I’m saying something, but actually not. Apart from that bit I just did, and this bit right now. The answer to all of that is an emphatic, resounding and thoroughly overwhelming yes. The game is fantastic, and a more than worthy close to the tale of both Ezio and Altaïr. However, it is not without it’s flaws, and has now earned itself the dubious honour, in my eyes, of being the weakest in the series. Even when considering all of the small, handheld projects. But though it may be inferior by comparison, even eighteen carat gold is still gold.

Free hugs.

Free hugs.

More on that shortly however. There are larger issues, oh yes. Much larger issues than my handful, however pronounced they may be, of complaints. It may make you groan to see me start here, but the visual fidelity really must be explored. Despite, again, running in DirectX 9, the game looks absolutely incredible. Employing all of the latest nips, tucks and tweaks of last June’s (2010) driver updates, Ubi have clearly put one real effort into the PC crowd this year.

Does it look as good as the, frankly, spectacular use of Dx10 for the first? That’s what you’re really wondering. And does it look good enough that it would no longer benefit from Dx10/11 itself? Well, no, of course not. No matter how good it is in Dx9, a Dx11 patch would always look better. But I argue, firmly and without backing down, that Revelations has taken Dx9 to heights few, if any (Crysis doesn’t count ‘cause it’s, well, Crysis) other games have achieved.

It looks incredible. Mist and post process effects abound, sure, and many of the more snobbish will argue this is only further proof of the cheap tricks devs employ to obscure their technical inadequacy. But, dude, seriously, it looks amazing. I was often shocked and mystified that it was even running in Dx9 at all. There are certainly a lot of subtle tricks applied to reduce system load, but they have been done in the right way, with the dual purpose of adding to the overall effect. Unfortunately, the efforts are not completely successful, as the game does suffer from some small, but persistent pop-in issues. This can become frustrating at times, and is well nigh unforgivable for the fourth in a series.

There's just no pleasing some people.

There's just no pleasing some people.

The way the game actually plays is equally strong, but also suffers from some minor complaints that are no longer forgivable. At this late stage in the game (pun intended) there really is no excuse for Ezio being able to easily walk off a five seven foot roof, but pause and consider at a two foot wall. That kind of thing is just plain bizarre. Whilst it can be counteracted by simply hitting the empty hand (cancel) button, which causes him to lightly hop down. We really should not have to. And it’s a shame. Things like this are a blemish on what could, otherwise, have been a display of almost perfection.

Those complaints aside, the game is primarily extremely responsive. Though, again, the auto-targeting is just as much of an annoyance as it was in previous games. let’s ignore that dude with the massive axe right in front of you, because he’s stunned, and shove my hammer into the gonads of that dude with the bread knife. ‘Cause, y’know, it’s not like I might want to finish of that much larger threat, the one that I intentionally stunned to make him more vulnerable or anything. And don’t even get me started on long range enemies. Suffice it to say, throwing knives and, especially, poison darts are you friend.

As a counter balance to that, the newly introduced tower defense sub-game, whilst showing obvious teething problems, is a lot of fun. The controls themselves are simple and intuitive, doing pretty much exactly what you would expect, when you expect. Whilst the choice of making everything continue, but at a massively reduced pace, when you cycle through defense options, keeps encounters flowing, but strikes a good balance between tension and active response time. After all, in real life combat, it takes much less time to shout and order than many games force on you with heavy handed menus. The only real let-down of the tower defense is the lack of an actual cursor. Which can lead to some degree of blind luck when placing the units you actually want in time. It’s a real pain, but not insurmountable. Just, and only just, ignorable. But only because it is a new addition.

Lifting the mists.

Lifting the mists.

On the other hand, the audio is as stunning as ever. Top notch voice acting (John DeLancie as Desmond’s Father, oh yes, that’s right, his Dad is Q himself) and the very best musical accompaniment in the series, hands down. For a series known for its outstanding score, that is really saying something. It is truly incredible, flowing seamlessly between moods and environments. Often so well that you only notice in retrospect. One of those “oh wow, I didn’t even notice” twenty minutes later, just as the tone is changing again. I often found myself allowing Templar forces to win the tower defense sections, just so I could hear the taught, blade in the shadows piece for entering a Templar controlled area. it really is that good.

The plot is equally strong, though there are some small, out of left field, twists at the end which come off as a little forced. Clearly thrown in more for the sake of having a twist than for any real, dramatic effect. They present as a tired shake of the head, without really blemishing the otherwise powerfully strong narrative. But one cannot help wondering why such was even necessary to begin with. It’s a bit of a head scratcher. Neither a negative nor even particularly noteworthy. Just a little...odd and out of place. I could talk at much greater length about the story flow, but I don’t want to give anything away. It is well worthy of being experienced fresh. I will say, however, one thing. Dear Gods, Altaïr is one tough son-of-a-chicken. The man just did not quit. Ever.

Multi-player returns, with some subtle, and not so subtle, tweaks from the Brotherhood offering. Level balancing, despite many complaints, is far more, well, balanced. Sure, there are perks and more advanced skills to choose from at higher levels. But they really are only perks. A minor advantage, when used correctly, over those without. But that’s the thing, only when used correctly. And anyone with any actual skill, will easily be able to ignore, or out right counteract their effectiveness. I think the largest change would be the removal of the compass in certain game modes. Which causes you to rely almost entirely on observing your surroundings. Thought the border around your target portrait goes blue when in line of sight, you are still tasked to find him/her with your own eyes.



Along with returning game modes, there are a number of others added to the table. Each bringing its own dynamic. The absolute, far and away, best of the bunch, would have to be corruption. Which follows the simple, and infinitely familiar, principle of having one player start out as a “corrupt/infected” agent, who’s sole intent is to corrupt everyone else, by killing them. Each of the victims then becoming corrupted also. It leads to short, and extremely taught, games of cat and mouse for the hapless victims. Fleeing and sneaking and hiding from the invincible enemy which stalks them.

The Verdict

This was a very tough game for me to pin down. On one hand, my obvious bias in favour of the Creed series pleaded for me to give this another perfect five. On the other hand, my obvious bias in favour of the series demanded I show my “son I am disappoint” to Ubi for making such amateur gaffs. But in the end, after allowing myself to step back and reflect on the game as a whole, all I can say is this. It does have flaws, some small and irritating, some large and really irritating. These are unfortunate blemishes on an otherwise fantastic game. Whilst they are, sadly, beyond the stage of being acceptable, they are not even close to game breakers.

Case Review

  • Great Multiplayer: Taking all the best elements of stalking from the shadows and fleeing for your life.
  • Incredible Visuals: Dx9 that rivals many, including it’s predecessor, that run in Dx10 and above.
  • Superb Soundtrack: In a series known for it’s fantastic music, this makes all the rest pale into obscurity.
  • Uplay: As with it's predecessor, need to be connected to access DLC.
  • Environment Interactions: Minor, but too persistent to ignore. It almost makes me wish for no clipping sometimes.
  • Targeting In Combat: That auto target system that’s supposed to help me? Doesn’t help when it makes me launch an attack past that gaggle of guards with big sticks, because it thinks the bread knife is a bigger threat.
Score: 4.5/5
Some minorly irritating new features and engine tweaks, but on a pro-rata scale, the good massively outweighs the bad.
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