Assassin’s Creed Revelations review

As the game swells outwards, the plot becomes thinner. Political rivalries aside, the core of Revelations focuses on Ezio’s attempt to open a door that’s studded with five locks. It’s a dangerously direct premise for a 15-hour adventure, and its simple tug can make everything else feel like you’re wasting time – a mistake for a series with so many extra-curricular options. At least there’s variety. “Everything is permitted,” a character says at one point, and they could be discussing Ubisoft’s missions, which can segue from pummelling minstrels to picking tulips. It’s pleasantly freewheeling, but the core of the game is being gently eroded, and the end result is a narrative that wallows.

Fortunately, the dungeon sections in which you track down the keys themselves are one of Revelations’ real successes, not just in the manner that they chain platforming together with elegant challenges, but because they provide this wayward game with a sudden burst of momentum. In the caverns beneath Constantinople, there’s no armour to repair or landmarks to buy, no dens to defend and no tulips to pick. You simply engage with both environment and gadgets, and make off with a fresh piece of narrative.

Beyond that, Revelations’ most interesting elements lie outside the campaign, with an expanded multiplayer suite that still hinges on some ingeniously murderous twists on hide-and-seek, and some exploration missions as Desmond, who spends the adventure stuck inside the Animus, sifts his past by picking a firstperson path through vast concrete memory palaces. The puzzling is bland – Desmond can conjure platforms at will and interact with a simple range of tractor beams and switches – but the architecture is stark, mysterious and timelessly religious. As an exercise in backstory, it’s far more stylish than the Altaïr subquests, in which you go on a brisk tour of the assassin’s life while sticking, rather cannily, to a single location.

Revelations? Not really, unless you count a tease for the game’s true third instalment. Ending with what amounts to a CGI advert only reinforces the suspicion that Ezio’s legacy is an accidental trilogy, the happy by-product of the character’s undeniable charm and the publisher’s willingness to cobble together mega-teams capable of churning out new locations every year. It’s been fun, but it’s also been something of a gymnastic dawdle. Unlike the elegant lead, who’s grey-haired but unbowed by the end of the adventure, Assassin’s Creed has been quietly compromised by age.

PS3 version tested.

7
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