Assassin's Creed Revelations review

  • Hauling ass across rooftops is more fun than ever
  • Master Assassin missions are a cool addition
  • Multiplayer remains amazing
  • Underdeveloped, disappointing storyline
  • There's less to do than in Brotherhood
  • Short on actual revelations about the series' plot

When it became clear last year that Assassin’s Creed was going to be a yearly franchise, fans reacted with equal parts excitement and unease. Assassin’s Creed games are sprawling, open-world epics that follow a history-spanning, conspiracy-laden plot about acrobatic killers; is it really possible to do all of that justice on an annual schedule? Ubisoft seems to think so, and with no fewer than six of its worldwide studios on the job, Assassin’s Creed Revelations certainly looks poised to prove the doubters wrong.

Will it, though? Can it? Well, yes… and no. It depends on what you’re hoping to get out of it.

Are you interested purely in the series’ rooftop-hopping gameplay? Then you’ll be happy to know that Revelations continues the “let’s just throw more features at it” approach to design seen in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, changing little while piling on new elements. The basic gameplay’s essentially the same as before; playing as 16th century Assassin Ezio Auditore (now the graying, middle-aged leader of his order), you’ll spend a lot of time running up walls, darting across rooftops, parachuting off buildings and destroying guards with an ever-more-lethal assortment of blades, clubs, guns and other era-appropriate weaponry.

Stealth is encouraged but rarely required, opportunities for deadly mischief are everywhere and there’s a huge new city to explore. This time it’s the bustling, predominantly Muslim metropolis of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), where Ezio’s come to seek keys that will open a secret library built by his predecessor, Altair. And just like Brotherhood’s Rome, Constantinople is filled with landmarks and vacant shops to buy (which will then funnel money into your bank account and offer you discounts), secrets to uncover and hidden challenge levels to explore.

Above: There’s also been a small but significant uptick in graphical detail, as evidenced by the new faces of Altair, Desmond and Ezio. Oh, and it’s in 3D now, which is great if you’ve got a 3D TV

Unlike Rome, however, nearly all of Constantinople is freely explorable more or less from the moment Ezio arrives there. So if you’re one of the many who’s been irritated by the Creed games’ insistence on blocking off certain areas until you’d unlocked the right memory sequence, that’s definitely a plus.

Also unlike Rome, Constantinople is completely devoid of any horses to ride. Granted, the city’s design is compact, with lots of narrow streets that would make horses unwieldy, and you might not even notice they’re gone. However, their absence is still noteworthy enough to point out.

Oh, and one other thing: Beggars are back, and this time, they come in threes.

Above: At least you can still throw coins to make them stop bothering you

Not slowing with age

Aside from a new story and a new city, Revelations brings several big additions to the gameplay, the biggest being the hookblade. Far from simply being a way to shoehorn ziplines into the game, the hookblade gives players a little more control and agency over Ezio’s actions, making climbing and swinging across Constantinople’s skyline just a little more fun in the process. With the hookblade equipped, Ezio can grab ledges that are just out of reach, launch himself up the sides of buildings and swing across gaps by hooking onto hanging lamp-like objects (which, when grabbed normally, still let him swing in 90-degree arcs).

Ezio can also use it to tumble right past any guards in his path, or – by tapping a button at just the right moment – throw them to the ground (or off rooftops, which is much more entertaining). The hookblade’s also good for yanking scaffoldings down onto pursuing guards and, and as you might expect, it makes fighting with Ezio’s hidden blades about 50 percent more gruesome.

Another big addition: Bombs. Using ingredients found everywhere (most frequently in chests placed across the city), Ezio can craft a pretty wide assortment of explosives by combining different shells, gunpowder strengths and payloads. Each can accomplish a different goal, whether it’s simply killing a bunch of guards at once, luring them away from a spot they’re protecting or causing panic with an explosion of animal blood.

Above: There’s so much new weaponry, ranged attacks are now mapped to a second button, and weapons are selected from two separate wheel menus

Whether you’ll actually ever use all of those bombs is another matter. Most of the guards in Revelations are just as easy to kill as in any other Creed game; as before, they’ll surround you and attack one at a time, and you can either hack away at one until he forgets to block and dies, or simply wait for them to strike and either disarm them, or kill them in one hit with a counter.

Like in previous games, combat can be immensely fun (and it’s flashier than ever here), but its simplicity means that A) there’s little practical benefit to buying new weapons, since anything you wield can kill in one hit, and B) there’s little incentive to use any bomb other than a lethal grenade or a smoke bomb, unless mandated by the mission. The rest demand a certain level of patience; you have to want to mess with your enemies, and mustering that level of interest is difficult when killing them is so much easier and faster.

That doesn’t hold true when you meet the Janissaries, however. The elite slave-soldiers of the Ottoman army, the Janissaries are faster, more devious and much tougher than any other enemy in the core series. Taking one down requires at least three “killing” blows, and they have an annoying tendency during combat to step just out of sword range and shoot you with pistols. They’re bastards in a fight (although they’re relatively easy to beat once you understand their patterns), but it’s kind of a nice change to see an Assassin’s Creed enemy that’s actually formidable enough to make avoiding them a serious consideration.

Gather your forces

Like Brotherhood, Revelations pads out its relatively short narrative with plenty of side missions, although these are both less numerous and a little more closely integrated with the storyline than before. The centerpiece this time is your brotherhood of recruitable Assassins, which (as in Brotherhood) can be signaled to help you during a fight, and can be sent off on various errands abroad (which brings you money, nets them experience points and can eventually open foreign cities up for Assassin conquest).

As you slowly conquer Constantinople by taking back Assassin Dens (analogous to Brotherhood’s Borgia Towers), you’ll earn the right to recruit up to 12 Assassin helpers, who now come with short introductory quests. Where in Brotherhood you just had to rescue them from angry guards, you might now have to beat a prospective recruit in a race, or catch one as they’re picking pockets, or rescue one’s wife and daughter from a Templar madman.

Next page: So how's the story?

More Info

Release date: Nov 15 2011 - PS3
Nov 29 2011 - PC
Nov 15 2011 - Xbox 360 (US)
Available Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal
Franchise: Assassin's Creed
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood, Language, Violence, Mild Sexual Themes
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending
Mikel Reparaz

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.

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  • Agent36496 - April 19, 2013 2:01 p.m.

    This was the first AC game that I ever played. Gotta say, I loved the game. You can make many combinations with weapons, history is incorporated, and even the gameplay gives the realistic feeling. It was just epic for the first M-rated game I played in my life.
  • shirazsheikh - January 18, 2012 6:46 p.m.

    Need to add some friend on Assassin Creed anyone wanna add me ironmanver20 please doo
  • assassin_17 - December 25, 2011 12:07 p.m.

    needs a kill anyone cheat
  • DeathstrikeS12 - November 23, 2011 1:50 p.m.

    I agree with the bottom comment. I was disappointed at Brotherhood storyline.
  • JBizFoShiz - November 17, 2011 12:38 a.m.

    I knew the story would disappoint, but if ACB's story > ACR's story, I think I can wait for a price drop. Because Brotherhood's story sucked out loud. However, if they fixed the maddening multiplayer bugs from last year, that could redeem itself! Until then, there's so many other good games to tide me over.
  • kingsmikefan - November 17, 2011 2:40 p.m.

    Black Friday...
  • dpowers - November 16, 2011 5:38 p.m.

    i agree with a lot of what has been said...and i'm playing it right now. There are somethings left to be wanted, and i'm slowly agreeing with the whole its ACB+. Either way i have been a huge fan of the AC games and still am. I think ACR is a great game so far. I'm not a big AC multiplayer though, but the modes now have me more enticed, especially the ctf and no lookalike ones. i really hope that games don't all eventually drift towards multiplayer. I'm a big fan of single player only games, as normally they have great stories...the way almost all games used to be. Some games multiplayer is awesome, some don't need it
  • GrandmaSlayer - November 16, 2011 2:46 p.m.

    I prefer IGN's review...
  • taterboob - November 16, 2011 11:03 a.m.

    By the gods, why did this have to come out a measly four days after Skyrim, the same week as a ton of other high profile games, and less than a week before Skyward Sword? I love Assassin's Creed, but they really should have pushed this back to March or something. I'll never understand why Ubisoft insists on releasing their games during the busiest time of year, when it will serve to do nothing but hurt their sales. Or why they decided to release their other big game (Rayman) the exact same week. Have they learned nothing from Sands of Time/Beyond Good and Evil? Protip to publishers: I like playing games during the summer too, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one.
  • inconceivable - November 16, 2011 10:37 a.m.

    It sounds like this game might be a bit of a disappointment for me even though it got an eight. I really liked Brotherhood, but it still made me wish for AC3. It sounds like that feeling will be even stronger playing Revelations. I'll probably still pick it up though. But now I want AC to take a break, and then come back with an amazing game that blows AC2 away.
  • VigotheCarpathian - November 16, 2011 9:09 a.m.

    Played AC2, thought it was meh, didn't bother completing it. Never really understood the hype around these games.
  • cguti91 - November 15, 2011 11:43 p.m.

    I feared that would happen, Ubisoft went for the multiplayer in order to make sales and the story suffered... well nothing to do now, are games with really compelling stories bound to slowly disappear as online game takes over and producer get more greedy?? hopefully not but it sure seems that way
  • Limbo - November 15, 2011 2:58 p.m.

    I really enjoyed the first two, and Brotherhood was also pretty good, but I've lost Ubisoft's respect for whoring this out as an annual release series. The story has obviously suffered from it. Also, if the multiplayer is the only real improvement, I'll definitely pass; Brotherhood's multiplayer disappointed me.
  • Cleanser247 - November 15, 2011 12:24 p.m.

    I probably won't be buying this right away, since I still got TONS to finish on my backlogged game list. Also, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim just came out, and I'll be very, very busy with that for a long time. Sorry AC: Revelations, but you're going to have to wait. :D
  • joemama - November 15, 2011 10:21 a.m.

    Thats disapointing I'm not a fan for AC multiplayer
  • Clovin64 - November 15, 2011 4:42 a.m.

    Hmmm... it kinda just sounds like Brotherhood, but with a few bells and whistles. Think I'll just wait till next year to give this a shot, since Ass Creed fatigue is beginning to settle in for me...
  • MeanwhileGuy - November 15, 2011 4:22 a.m.

    Have to say I'm quite disappointed by this review. All the other ones I've read, and it must be at least around a dozen, have mentioned how good the story is, and how it sends Ezio's trilogy off in style. As such, I'm going to treat this as a personal opinion that is simply at odds with the rest of the pack, as in my experience, every AC game has been better than the last, and from what I've read of the game and seen my flatmate play, Revelations is no different.
  • inkyspot - November 15, 2011 3:47 a.m.

    Next year i will get all 3 that I missed, from the second the this one. Also need to get Gears of War. Right now, between COD, Skyrim, and Saints Row 3, I am tapped out. Skyrim is as good as everyone says,so absorbing
  • CitizenWolfie - November 15, 2011 12:50 a.m.

    "Especially since they replace the brilliant Glyph and Cluster puzzles, which provided a measure of subversive social commentary that’s completely absent here." NNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I used to LOVE that about ACII and AC:B! Even though they're side missions they used to make me really care for the overall story and feel like you're playing a part in something bigger than just Desmond's fate. Especially in Brotherhood as it was like finding glitches in the Animus; like we're doing something we're not supposed to be doing. With those gone I'm not sure collecting all the other fluff has that much appeal for me. There seems to be a lot of negative elements creeping in to the franchise. From the tone of the review I was actually expecting a bit less than an 8.
  • quincytheodore - November 14, 2011 10:20 p.m.

    Thanks for the "For those who skipped to the end" section, I didn't read the whole thing, because I'm about to finish ACB right today. Kinda disappointed, AC 2 was my Game of the year then. But as I play ACB, it doesn't have the same impact. I expect this to be at least equivalent to Arkham City. It has to be Skyrim then...