Assassin's Creed Revelations 2-Years Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - November 6, 2013
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Revelations follows greatly in the footsteps of its two predecessors. It has an economy to build, equipment to purchase, Assassins to train, notoriety to lose, and more, and largely these mechanics are unchanged from when they were introduced, but there have been some changes. The economy and Assassins have gotten a new kind of integration, as Assassins can be sent to free cities from Templar rule. Such cities will contribute to your coffers, and the amount of the contribution can be increased by having your Assassins complete more missions.
As your Assassins complete missions, they receive experience to level up, to a point. To get them past that point requires putting them in charge of an Assassin's Den. This sets them on the path to becoming a Master Assassin, and gives you the added comfort that the assigned Assassin will protect the den from Templar attacks, which are an issue now.
Though completely avoidable for the rest of the game, at one point in the campaign you are forced to play a tower-defense-like mini-game, where you must defend a den from waves of Templars. You do this by putting down barricades and placing Assassins with ranged weapons. While this is not a bad experience, it is nice to know you can keep it from happening just by keeping your notoriety from getting too high.
Unfortunately, the notoriety system has seen two changes that, personally, I do not like. One is that there are only two means to reduce notoriety now: bribing heralds and assassinating witnesses. In previous games you could tear down wanted posters, which is a safer and cheaper alternative, but now you must either pay the hundred coins or hunt the witness, assuming you can find him. The availability of these reduction methods is also a problem, as they are simply not that common, though heralds can be repeatedly bribed somewhat quickly by leaving for long enough and returning to them.
The other change to the notoriety system I truly dislike is that upgrading and opening a store front results in a 25% increase in notoriety. That adds one hundred coins to the cost, as you have to now bribe a herald to reduce your notoriety, and costs you time as you have to find a herald. This puts an overall chilling effect on purchasing the stores because of the extra labor involved. I would have been much happier with the stores just being more expensive to purchase.
A new tool has been added to the Assassins' arsenal in Revelations, the hookblade, which is more or less what it sounds like. Instead of just having two hidden blades to attack with, one of the blades now has a hook that can be used to grab ledges, slide along ziplines, and trip or vault over enemies. The increase in reach is definitely appreciated, as it can greatly accelerate climbing up building.
Bombs are another new addition, as you can craft three different kinds for very different effects. Some kinds can be used offensively to kill your enemies, while others can be used defensively to hide yourself. The third class of bomb creates distractions, such as loud noises or a shower of coins, to pull guards away from their posts. Each type of bomb can also be built in different shells, which have different purposes. The impact shell explodes on contact; the fuse shell explodes after a moment; the trip mine is, well, a trip mine; and finally the sticky pouch attaches to your target. There are more than enough crafting stations to build these bombs, and the Animus allows you to test bombs before crafting them.
One final thing to discuss is the change to Eagle Vision, which is a mechanic that has been present since the first game. It has been overhauled into Eagle Sense and is now able to track where enemies and targets walk. This added capability is used somewhat often, as you have to identify targets by following where they had walked. Another new capability is that if there are multiple potential targets, focusing on them one at a time reveals if they are the actual target or not.
Along with this mechanic change has come a change in key mapping. By default, Eagle Sense is bound to the V key, instead of the E key. The V key has no other use, which I guess is why it was changed. I was happy with it on the E key though, and at times found myself still pressing that key trying to activate it.
It took me 13 hours and 18 minutes to complete the campaign, and a majority of Ezio's side missions, giving me a total completion of 72%. There are still many things to collect, and many missions for my Assassins to complete, but, I have to admit, much of that would be just busy work. I feel little if any compulsion to keep playing to achieve a higher completion percentage. It is worth noting, though, that replaying missions for optional objectives is more interesting to me and that could add more to the play clock. Also there are missions outside of the main campaign, and even outside of the traditional Animus gameplay, to further extend play time.
Altogether, Revelations offers a very strong and solid gameplay experience. Truly the only negative I can throw at it is the notoriety increases when purchasing stores. I simply do not understand the purpose behind this rebalancing. Other than that though, this is a game that has learned from its predecessors and is better because of it. This includes the free-running, which I find to be the most accurate yet of the series.