There’s one area in which Revelations doesn’t disappoint even a little, and that’s multiplayer. The stealth-based, somewhat solitary hunt-or-be-hunted action from Brotherhood is back, and this time it’s brought a slew of new refinements, modes, maps and customization options. It also brings a bunch of social features, including customizable profiles and automated challenge ladders for your friends, as well as an in-game store that sells new perks, abilities and modifications for your avatars.
At its heart, though, it’s still the same hunt-and-be-hunted gameplay that won us over in Brotherhood, as you and a handful of other players – whether on your own or in teams – are set loose in smallish villages, cities and palaces (populated by a bunch of wandering lookalikes and random characters) to stealthily murder each other. Success largely means relying on environmental hiding spots, your ability to blend in with the crowds and assorted Templar tricks to get the drop on your target, while not attracting the attention of the players out to kill you.
Revelations’ multiplayer is crammed full of little improvements, but the biggest ones are the new modes, including Deathmatch (which is a lot like the lonely Manhunt mode, but does away with both the radar and any player-character lookalikes in the crowd), Corruption (essentially a zombie mode in which one team tries to kill and convert the other) and Escort (which tasks one team with defending a VIP and the other team with killing them).
There’s also Artifact Assault, which turns classic capture-the-flag into a game of sneaky misdirection. Here, you’ll be tasked with stealing the enemy team’s flag and escaping before any of them chase you down, immobilize you with traps or otherwise stab you to death. Tearing ass through enemy territory (in which you’re vulnerable to attack) with two or three opponents on your heels can be a genuinely pulse-pounding experience, and it makes safely reaching your home base with the enemy flag extremely satisfying.
As fun as playing multiplayer is, however, the real incentive to playing through and leveling up your character is that doing so unlocks chunks of a parallel, multiplayer-only storyline that reveals tidbits about Templar history. As you rise through the ranks of Abstergo, you’ll be treated to occasional videos and (more frequently) text/image files that offer a glimpse of the AC universe from the bad guys’ point of view. It’s here that the series’ conspiracy fans can get their fix, although getting to level 50 and seeing everything requires a considerably bigger time investment than simply running through single-player.
Assassin’s Creed II? Depends. If we’re talking purely from a gameplay standpoint, then that's a yes, but Assassin’s Creed isn’t a franchise that can be judged purely from a gameplay standpoint. Its story and characters were too important to the overall experience. Taking them into account, ACII stands as the best game in the series thus far. Revelations may have amazing multiplayer, and it may have added and refined a few game mechanics, but as a whole experience, ACII still stands above it.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood? No. Well, its multiplayer is definitely better (although it’s really just refining something that was already great), but Revelations feels as though it just adds a handful of bells and whistles to Brotherhood’s formula. And where Brotherhood’s story seemed weak and flabby compared to ACII, it feels epic next to Revelations’ meandering, treasure-hunting plot. Also, while Revelations arguably tries to make its side missions more meaningful, there are noticeably fewer than there were in Brotherhood, and none of them involve piloting Leonardo Da Vinci’s bizarre inventions – or anything more awesome than a horse-drawn carriage, for that matter.
Batman: Arkham City? No. Arkham City is prettier than Revelations, its side quests are more compelling, its city is more fun to explore and its villains (however many of them there are) are better defined and more fun to take down. True, Revelations’ Constantinople feels like an actual, living city, while Arkham feels like a hostile, thug-infested prison camp, and climbing buildings as Ezio is neck-and-neck with Batman’s grappling hook as a fun way to get around. In the end, though, Rocksteady’s superhero sim wins out as the better overall experience.
While it brings some undeniable improvements to the series, Revelations feels like one step forward, two steps back. Its gameplay and multiplayer are still fantastic, but they come at the expense of a lackluster storyline and a shorter overall experience. Instead of being the exclamation point at the end of Ezio’s story, Revelations feels more like an ellipsis.
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