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

Then, once they’ve done enough to reach level 10, you’ll be able to assign them full-time to a Den, which kicks off a new quest in which they’ll need Ezio’s help to track down a local troublemaker (actually one of the multiplayer characters). They’ll fail, of course, but the attempt will raise their level cap to 15; once they reach it, they can complete the second half of their assassination quest and will be permanently assigned to their Den, thereby protecting it from attack.

That’s another thing – your Dens, once captured, can be targeted and attacked by Templars. See, this time around, your “infamy” – the little meter that fills whenever you steal, murder or start fights with guards – actually means something. It’s been replaced by “Templar awareness,” and if it fills up, you’ll have a short grace period to whittle it back down by bribing heralds and killing witnesses. After that, the Templars will try to take back one of your unsecured Dens.

If that happens, you’ll be able to jump into a tower-defense minigame, which – despite technically being a punishment – is one of Revelations’ most enjoyable new additions, inviting you to set up Assassins with crossbows and guns on rooftops to guard against waves of marauding Templars and their occasional siege engines. Cannon fire and Ezio’s hidden gun can be used to thin the Templar ranks quickly, and eventually, you’ll unlock defenses including grenadiers, hand-to-hand fighters and barricades with gun-turret emplacements.

The other side tasks mainly involve scanning areas for ancient books lost to history (a less interesting replacement for the last two games’ paintings, which apparently would have been anathema in the Muslim world), and taking on faction quests, of which there are two. No, not two factions – two quests, one for the Mercenaries and one for the Thieves (the Courtesans of earlier games are replaced by squads of belly-dancing Romani, incidentally). They’re still enjoyable, but after the intimidating wealth of side missions in Brotherhood, the offerings in Revelations seem disappointingly sparse.

Now the bad news

You may have noticed that, up until this point, we haven’t said much about Revelations’ story. More so than in a lot of other modern games, the storyline of Assassin’s Creed is central to the experience of playing the games, and while scaling walls and leaping across rooftops is fun, devoted fans have gotten heavily invested in the history-manipulating Templars, the mysterious First Civilization and the development of Ezio and Desmond as characters.

And then, of course, there’s the question of just what the hell happened at the end of Brotherhood, which had one of the most frustrating, confusing cliffhanger endings since Halo 2. The good news is that at least one of the big questions Brotherhood left us with is answered (somewhat unceremoniously) in the game’s opening act.

The bad news is that, if you’re hoping for another epic storyline that sees Ezio and Desmond grow and develop in interesting ways, you’re going to be disappointed. First, let’s talk about Ezio’s narrative: while the previous two games saw him dismantling and undermining conspiracies run by colorful historical figures, this one sees him trying to find the keys to a library before a bunch of generic Templar nobodies (who never really have a chance in hell of finding them anyway). The “real” villains aren’t revealed until fairly late in the game, and when they are, they tend to bite the dust before they do anything too villainous or memorable. They don’t even seem that bad, really, which makes it less than satisfying when Ezio finally slides his blades in.

Also, none of the allies we got to know over the last two games return in Revelations. Considering this is purportedly Ezio’s final adventure, it would have been nice to see at least a few of them get a proper send-off. Instead, Ezio gets a handful of new allies who are either A) utterly devoid of personality, or B) charming, but don’t get enough screen time to really leave their mark. The only real standout is Ezio’s romance with bookshop owner Sofia Sartor, which – despite feeling a little forced and awkward – nevertheless gives Ezio a chance to finally put aside his air of dry, world-weary confidence and show a little glimmer of his old cocky charm.

At certain points, Ezio’s narrative gives way to a second one – that of Altair, the protagonist of the first Assassin’s Creed, who’s stored his memories in the keys Ezio’s trying to track down. These six memories – which take place years before, immediately after, and then years after the first game – are a fun change of pace and an opportunity to return repeatedly to the familiar fortress of Masyaf. They’re also some of the more memorable parts of the game, especially for longtime fans of the series, but they’d have been even more memorable if they hadn’t been so short.

Then there’s Desmond. As interesting as he became in Brotherhood, he spends Revelations in a coma – or, more accurately, confined to Animus Island, a dreamlike but dull environment where he’s occasionally visited by his enigmatic mentor, Subject 16, and listens to the voices of his Assassin friends as they fret about his condition. Here, after collecting enough Animus Data Fragments (which replace the collectible feathers and flags of previous games), you’ll be able to jump into a handful of first-person puzzle levels that reveal key things about Desmond’s past, filling in the details of events that fans kind of knew about already.

The levels themselves seem at least partly inspired by Portal, with Desmond creating platforms and ramps to work through stark, futuristic environments, and they’re an enjoyable departure from the central gameplay. However, their voiceovers and static-image projections don’t really add anything new or interesting to Desmond’s character. If anything, they just flesh out his backstory a little, and in that respect they feel like a missed opportunity. Especially since they replace the brilliant Glyph and Cluster puzzles, which provided a measure of subversive social commentary that’s completely absent here.

To be fair, all three plotlines build toward a genuinely great finale that’s in turns explosive, then touching, then explosive again. Until then, however, it plods and meanders through a storyline that, while serviceably interesting for a videogame plot, feels flat, disappointingly underdeveloped and well below the series’ usual standards.

Next page: The multiplayer, and the verdict

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


  • 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...

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