View Full Version : After playing a few weeks, Full review of ACR from a Brotherhood hater (Spoilers)

12-06-2011, 10:22 AM
This thread is for single-player feedback with spoilers. Please share your own or feel free to challenge my viewpoints. It is very long, and I applaud anyone in advance who actually finishes it. I've highlighted in bold the main point of each paragraph for quick scanning. Thanks all.

Assassinís Creed Revelations is a major step forward from Brotherhood; and a really good game which is plagued by a few in-your-face problems. I respect that the fan base is split on the direction of the series, and itís worth noting than Iím a die-hard fan of the original, and a vocal critic of Brotherhood. Iíll go into what major issues Revelations has later, but first, I want to focus on the positive and congratulate Ubisoft on the hard work and all the many things that they got rightÖ because Revelations is a vast improvement in many ways.

One of the core appeals of Assassinís Creed, to me, has always been about free-roaming cities and landscapes from historical times. The teams in Assassinís Creed Revelations really pushed the envelope with environment design in Revelations. While Constantinople is not quite the size of Rome, a densely populated map with buildings, mosques, landmarks, alleyways and high towers makes all the difference in the world. Previous cities have also been very uniform in their architecture (Rome got really boring), but Constantinopleís streets and buildings change from district to district, from block to block; and simply traversing it from one end of the city to the another is a long and pleasurable undertaking.

Constantinople has multiple levels, with streets going over streets and many hills; yet free-running above streets is just as easy as the original with ingenious and well-thought placement of beams, lightposts, overhangs, haystacks and zip-lines. The parachute, an idea I thought was cheezy and pointless in Brotherhood, actually becomes a useful tool for getting around and a brilliant element in some story sequences. Quick travel locations are well-spread out, but far enough apart to force the player to explore this fantastic city. One cannot say enough good things about the city design in Constantinople. If Iím only going to get one city (wishlist: I still rather have one or two more); then this is the way to go. Creating something this complex and yet this well-designed is extremely challenging, and while some may not grasp how hard it truly is; your hard work is noticed --- great great job.

On graphics, the new engine has either addressed or solved many of the rendering problems which date back to AC2 (which was a response the crashing issues of the powerful and gorgeous AC1 rendering). And the new engine really complements the great design work of Constantinople. This game is much better-looking than its two predecessors, and the people involved deserve a ď thumbs up.Ē

Although some complain about the artistic direction, I enjoy most of it with the exception of the character modeling. A little change artistically breathes new life into each installment, and Iím all for it, and in terms of non-animate objects, Revelations is fantastic work. But this brings me to the first of the major issuesÖ the character design for Ezio and Altair is iffy, and for Desmond, it is outright atrocious. Itís such a simple thing Ė with such a HUGE impact. New facial technology or not; get Desmondís face right Ė so it at least has the same bone structure. This is not Desmond, and psychologically, all the previous build-up and emotional attachment to that character is lost. Itís like recasting the role of Harry Potter five movies in Ė it would have been a disaster. The bro-stache for Altair and Ezioís ugly outfits (no true white? Really?) is worth mentioning also. Again, I think there has been some unfair criticism on art direction when there is a lot of really good work; but one KEY detail which was flubbed up severely and causes a major detraction.

Revelationís story is also much much stronger than Brotherhood. The historical backdrop of an Empire struggling with succession rights and itsí former masters makes for good drama; tied to Desmondís predicament and the closure of Ezio and Altairís stories makes it brilliant. I found myself continually rushing to the next story sequence and saving all my exploring until the end of Sequence Eight. The villains are also better flushed out as characters this time around, though I think both Manuel and Ahmet could have used another sequence or so which really drives home their villainy. Many have said it is too short, perhaps it is Ö but only by small tiny bit. Add two to three more missions, and it would have been just right. It goes by so fast because we feel compelled to rush from one sequence to the next, and like all great movies, you are left wanting more. Not to mention, the sequences arenít ever frustrating or overly restrictive like Brotherhoods; and some are outright fantastic. What a nice twist when I found I killed an innocent man in the Janissary TarikÖ good good stuff. Or the parachute sequence at the end to have Ahmet killed by ____

Revelationís cast of characters is some of the best of the series. Yusuf, Piri Reis, Sofie, Prince Suleiman and even minor characters were memorable and entertaining characters. They were well-written, though not always thoroughly explored. I wanted a little more of each of them, but again; that is the mark of good story-telling. Nice job, script writers.

In terms of side missions, the side missions are more tightly integrated into the plot and much better designed. Even AC2ís side missions were mostly benign to the plot and short affairs. While there are less Assassination contracts, the Master Assassin missions involve both investigating a target in one mission and assassinating them in the last; and it captures the essence of what makes the original game so great: the investigation. Plus, I actually am emotionally vested in my recruits this time around. Ubisoft was smart to not overdo these missions either, and while I would have liked three; four would have been too many. The guild missions are closely tied to the Templar conflict, and even the Piri Reis tutorials were nicely done. I, personally, played many of these missions after beating Sequence 8; I wish the guild and master assassin missions had almost been prerequisites to starting Sequence 7 Ė but Ubi erred on the side of caution here and I certainly wonít knock them for it. Good work, Iíll gladly trade LESS side missions for BETTER ones Ė less is more. (Also, kudos to Ubisoft for boldly trying new territory with the Desmond missions and wise enough to make them optional.)

My only true complaint about the story is the lack of revelations in RevelationsÖ a topic to be fiercely debated. There really is very little new in terms of the overarching story of the franchise. The Altair sequences told us fans what we wanted to know about his latter life, but they didnít impart new knowledge about the Apple and his discoveriesÖ. And arguably, any ďkeysĒ Altair left behind should have divulged wisdom and not his biography. More exposition could have been easily included in the existing scenes. Nor do I feel like Ezio had a ďrevelationĒ, as he has no major new insights into TWCB and often just seems bitter but lovestruck. I hold to the opinion that Revelations and Embers offer solid closure to Ezio and Altair, but provides very little Revelations. If Ubi had only answered the one plaguing question from Brotherhood Ė What the heck happened to Lucy and why? Ė then Iíd be satisfied, but alas, I left with nothing of any relevance to the Desmond or TWCB story.

Many core game mechanics saw intelligent and fun evolutions as well. Improved Eagle Sense, capable of identifying targets and seeing guard paths, is a natural extension to a key gameplay element. In fact, not only does it complement and enhance gameplay, but I now understand why Altair, Ezio and Desmond are so special Ė their sixth sense. It seems so simple, but adds so much more --- plus a tiny bit of the fun of investigation from the original Assassinís Creed game is reborn with this added ability.

I also particularly like bomb-crafting, and I thought Iíd hate it. This makes searching treasure chests and looting bodies worthwhile, and the combination of bomb types encourages players to experiment and try many different possibilities. That is the hallmark of fun open-world games, and a clever combination of previous elements into something more useful and fitting an assassin. Same for animus data fragments which beats searching for feathers or flags, because I get something meaningful Ė a mission.

The hookblade is another extension of climbing and free-running which adds a layer onto an existing mechanic and gives it something fresh. I wouldnít want it in every game, but this was a clever way to give players something new without destroying the formula.

The economy system seems to be fairly well-balanced as well. I found myself managing my money and trying to decide what to buy, and then really working to make more money --- long after beating the story. Thatís rare. Rock on.

Stalkers were an absolutely brilliant addition to the AC universe. If you ever redo the original, add this. It keeps you on your toes and goes hand-in-hand with the covert world of Assassins and Templars. But the other random events? You guys have a long way to go. *yoda* No Red Dead Redemption, this is. Yay for trying, just keep working on it.

Now, time to be a little more critical. Den Defense. What can be said that already hasnít? The poll on these forums was absolutely blisteringly bad and should be. The concept of having den possession sway back and forth is a good one, but this sucksÖ just let me fight them outright. Same for Awareness. In concept, you are trying to improve on the enemy AI and notoriety. It just isnít right. Should buying a business which is a "front" knock your notoriety up 25%? Maybe, but itís not fun to play that way. A LOT OF WORK needs to be done if these elements are kept, and for goodness sake, throw the Den Defense part away. Thing is, itís really such a small part of a great game, but it is a HUGE HUGE blemish. And a shame, because more people will remember and notice this blemish than see all the hard work and smart decisions everywhere else.

Combat. Next to free-roaming; combat is my personal favorite part of Assassinís Creed games; and Iíd wager than many fans agree. For every improvement in combat, there is something bad to offset it. To be honest, Iím still undecided on it. For example, Janisarries have this great ability to block and counter, but then they just stand there and shoot you. I would love to cross swords with these guys, but I hardly get a chance too. Itís better I guess, but it has its own problems.

Ubisoft still only has the four man patrols, but the guard population is definitely improved. Brotherhood was far too short of foes. Happily, I find myself outnumbered and scrambling at times in Revelations; and I love it. I might pick a fight with two and find myself surrounded by a dozen in a minute. And guards even attack you while attacking another guard Ė a double team. And every so often, I get Janisarries VS Templars VS guild faction VS Assassins and me. Crazy goodness. Ubi , you listened, and thank you.

But Iím still way too overpowered and even more so. Do I need the crossbow? And a gun? I donít know. I still have 15+ vials of medicine. 15? But at the same time, I do need medicine because guys who I should be crossing blades with just sit back and shoot me. Thatís not difficult or fun -- just annoying. Iíd like to dance; but I just end up stepping back and putting a poison dart in them.

I still believe that the focus of combat should be the primary weapons and skills in the original Assassinís Creed game; swords, knifes, daggers and hidden blade. Make a well-timed combo the focus of combat; and a requisite for chain-killing. It takes some skill, allows for guards with varied difficulty to block more or less effectively, and makes swordplay feel like swordplay. Donít allow a chain-kill off a counter and allow some counters to be blocked (like the Janisarries do). And get rid of the guard types in favor of guards with varying ability. On the whole, take the combat back towards the original. If you must keep Assassin Signals, crossbows, guns and medicine, make them harder to come by and a lot less of it.

Can I recommend Revelations to someone who hated Brotherhoodís combat? God, I still donít know. Itís different. It is nowhere near as fun as the original Assassinís Creed --- and it is a shame because it is such an important aspect --- but it is MUCH better than Revelations in some areas. (P.S. And I hate what Ubi did to the action camera shots Ö bring back the tight up-close camera angles.)

Which brings me to biggest issue. The controls in Revelations are the worst in the series. Someone really dropped the ball here. Not sure if it is lack of testing time or just poor decisions. The targeting is HORRID and at times, it is beyond annoying and into the ďpeed offĒ category. I guess you added auto-targeting. Maybe development had to implement auto-targeting to allow for counters to Stalkers; but whatever the reason, itís extremely screwed up. So many times I canít get it to lock on a target which is not attacking but right in front of me, nor can I get it unlock an opponent who is attacking when I want to bolt or pick another target. Press, press, press, press --- nothing.

On top of that, some buttons do way too many things to do it consistently and predictably. Particularly the X Button (PS3). Sometimes it kicks, sometimes it dodges. Sometimes itís a hookblade, sometimes its jumping off the side of a tower. Which is it for crying out loud? (PS dodging was always better than kicking). Select a secondary ranged weapon and you pull out your sword. What? And for godís sake, moving Eagle Sense to L3 was a bad ideaÖ Iíve trained myself for hundreds of hours over three games to use one button for eagle sense, now I put bullets into civilians by accident. I donít doubt that a sizable percentage of people adjusted; but I have enough professional experience with usability testing to KNOW that a statistically significant chunk of your audience had did have problems adapting. It just wasnít necessary, especially when L2 is such a viable candidate for ranged attacks when you have a double weapon wheel. Not to mention, that more aggressive players like myself accidentally hit Eagle Sense in the midst of battle or running awayÖ Iíve taken my share of licks because I pressed in the left analog stick too hard.

Intuitive controls and fluid movement used to be a hallmark of these games. They felt fantastic to control and to play. And Revelations Ė for the first time Ė really really screwed that up. At some point, you have to realize, you are doing too much. Scale it back. Better to do less, and do it right. LESS IS MORE.

Bad targeting, janky controls, Janissaries shooting, ugly Desmond, Den Defense, a real Revelation or two short---- these are BIG blemishes on an otherwise fantastic game. This game could have scored a lot higher easily, just by fixing these few problems. Hell, it would be, perhaps, my favorite AC yet Ė even more than AC2 or AC1. But the blemishes are what people will remember. Itís a shame, because most of those problems could be fixed with testing or were just poor directorial choices.

In the final counting, I still think Revelations is a really good game. Iím glad to have bought it, and put it in my collection. Iíd probably still recommend it Ė but with words of caution and only to people who enjoy the other titles. Some of the work in Revelations is the best of the series; city design for instance. Some core mechanics like Eagle Sense took intelligent and brilliant steps forward; and for fans of the series Ė we got the send-off Ezio deserved and even more of Altairís life and conclusion. I applaud the many teams at Ubisoft from across the globe. Your hard work was noticed and there are so many things that I didnít even get a chance to mention. You made key changes, you improved on many things and you took fans into consideration - bravo. Iíd love to give the game a 9.5, but Iím going to have to give it an 8, yet several notches improved from Brotherhood. Bring on 2012.

12-06-2011, 02:28 PM
Really good review I agree completely.
However, I too was shooting civilians by accident because of eagle sense vein moved, but I think in the long term it's a good move, when people get used to it I think it will be well liked as the secondary weapon option is really useful.

12-06-2011, 02:58 PM
I agree with a good portion of this review and it's well written. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

Points I disagree on:

-Facial architecture changes I like, except for younger Altair. Desmond does look quite a bit different but for the first time, I enjoy playing as his skin more than any other. and his face looks more real. I didn't lose attachment.

-Combat is generally better. Jannisaries can be a pain and I too would like to engage them in sword play that is more of a back and forth, rather than having to shoot them, but that is the inherent challenge. And a well thrown heavy weapon releases a lot of the irritation. The difference between other AC game combat is the appeal here. Ideally, I would like all AI types to be included in each new game, obviously with skins fitting the locale. But more diversity and in turn, each type appearing less frequently would be better. That is possibly my real gripe with the Jannissaries, they're always around. I'd like a host of easy combatants evey now and again so I can just beat stuff up for a bit.

-Hookblade can stay for all games. Just like continual weapon additions, include them and let me choose to use them or not. Continue with the self imposed difficulty settings. Which brings me to...

-Overpowered, at times, there are certainly many options to ease the difficulty, but the brilliance of AC design is that it is left to your discretion. YOU are only over powered if YOU so choose. Don't use the recruits (although I use them now like I used to use throwing knives,; run, lock, recruit, unlock and continue running while watching my boy or girl take out that roof top rifleman two roofs over as I barely adjust my course at all).

-Den defense is a sound idea. I too enjoy the personal combat more but I think there is potential here. Perhaps not in the being the 'General' way, but having to fortify and defend a location? Couldn't it be somewhat like the Monterigionni assault in ACB? Except repeated as many times as you allow? And having to retake towers is a great addition, when leaving the den contested and doing it manually I mean.

-Controls are fine for me. I don't miss eagle sense being up top, my issue with the relocation to stick press, is that it's hard to turn on when moving. I have to stop and click to engage or disengage it. So, erroneous activation has NEVER been a problem for me, not once.
I concur, lock on can be iffy.
And there ARE so many actions now that a little reassignment might be better, but in general, it works well.

Revelations is the best game in the series for me, but I DO miss some of the inclusions from previous games. I want it all, and all in one game. SO the next title needs ALL maps, all AI types, ALL skins etc etc. Well, you can keep
the horses, or just return to them being used as city to city transport. In city horse riding was fun once, but a bit of a distraction over the course of replay.

12-06-2011, 03:27 PM
A very well written and thoughtful review http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

12-06-2011, 04:12 PM
one thing that I loved in ACR was the fact that for the first time in an AC game I was able to tell the difference between day and night, play and more important feel like you're playing during the night is awesome, I hope they continue to improve this aspect of the game...

12-06-2011, 04:14 PM
Wow, thank you gang for reading. It was a Magnum Opus of sorts. Seriously, I appreciate you taking the time. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

- I will concede that the move to L3 is only a minor issue to me. But I still feel that Assassin Signals will just as easily fit on the weapon wheel and ranged weapons would be better at L2 like so many other games. It's a better design decision. Just my humble opinion. Maybe it will get better.

- Also, I do see what you mean about the player choosing how to play. For instance, after my first run through, I turn all HUD elements off on my AC games. I often play with self-imposed rules like "never use medicine, run" and "don't use Assassin Signals." So I got you there, and it is really hard for me to take any stance which takes away freedom of choice from the gamer. Maybe I shouldn't.

That said, development is development. There are only so many hours in the day. No game franchise nor movie production or similar has the luxury to do everything the Producers or the Fans would like to see done. It's just not possible, not with deadlines and budgets. So, my preference would be that they focus on the core elements first. To me, that is melee combat. But I'm a purist, and other fans think differently.

For the AI types, I wholeheartedly disagree. It began with AC2, and has gotten worse ever since. You know what to expect you meet that AI Type, you have one or two approaches for taking them out. It shoehorns you into an attack pattern. I do not like being shoe-horned into an attack pattern. Brotherhood was the worst of the lot. Revelations is not AS bad, because there are more generic AI types in the maps. Ubisoft made some tweaks here to some of the types too, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what they did. It is BETTER.

But in general, I'd rather just see each guard with the same basic abilities, but with a probability system that randomized whether they would dodge, counter or block. A combo could hit any guard or be blocked, but a counter might be blocked by the least of them. The probability could be tweaked to allow some guards to respond more frequently in certain ways --- BUT, in play, you would never ever know what a guard is going to do.

And please, Ubi, don't make the normal guards step back and shoot me. Please please don't force me to retreat to ranged weapons out of frustration.

- Didn't miss the horse, at all.

12-06-2011, 05:13 PM
Have you played this 2 times? Or did you take your time playing it once through?
Just curious.
I'll give a reply to this when I have more time to go thru it all.

12-06-2011, 08:33 PM
I agree with almost everything but i feel like im the only one who likes den defense. (actually i love it http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blush.gif)

12-07-2011, 08:05 AM
Originally posted by ProdiGurl:
Have you played this 2 times? Or did you take your time playing it once through?
Just curious.
I'll give a reply to this when I have more time to go thru it all.

You mean whenever you have spare week or so to read that monster of a post http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

I've played it through once and have been closing in on 100% sync. Played a lot of the missions twice. Played about half the side missions twice. But, you know, I don't rush. I'll spend hours just free-roaming from one part of a city to the next --- experimenting with game mechanics. Like what if I set up a smoke bomb tripwire here and then force a chase through an alleyway and call in my assassin's in the cloud.... or what if this. Sometimes I'll just walk through and pick fights. Actually, I do that a LOT. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif I really like to experiment with what the game can do. So to answer, rather than rush through playing three times, I've played it once very very thoroughly.... and thankfully, I still have more to go.

one thing that I loved in ACR was the fact that for the first time in an AC game I was able to tell the difference between day and night,

Yes, good catch. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif And the lighting that goes with the city at night is brilliant. Water is another thing that is really difficult to capture in this generation consoles, but they really nailed it. There's so many little details like that, like the new blood effects. Graphically and artistically, Ubi really pushed the bar, especially for a one-year turn around.

12-07-2011, 09:07 AM
Wow, I read all that and I didn't realize they replaced the action cameras with that slow mo stuff.

I don't mind the slow mo but WTF where are the cool shots. Now I totally miss that.

AC1 was my fav of the series and I agree with the fighting. But ACR is close in there now too. I really like it.

I could see myself beating it MANY times like I did with AC1 where with AC2 and ACB it felt like a chore to reach the scene i WANTED to see.

12-07-2011, 01:13 PM
Originally posted by donngold:
I agree with almost everything but i feel like im the only one who likes den defense. (actually i love it http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blush.gif)

I like it fine, I just wish it was delivered in a different system is all.
I love strategy, so anything remotely involving it is something I'll usually like. But I had so many problems winning it, that it took some fun out of it for me.
But I do like it.

>>I could see myself beating it MANY times like I did with AC1 where with AC2 and ACB it felt like a chore to reach the scene i WANTED to see <<
Exactly. ACR is a dream to me - much less frustrating and fight. I just enjoy it all the way through.

12-07-2011, 06:20 PM
I'm closing in on 100% sync too, then I'll restart and completely avoid EVER getting a Master Assassin...well maybe 1 if I HAVE to.

Just a few missions left now, I got the collectibles a while ago but haven't been able to play for a week due to other responsibilities.

-AI: I agree that the changes you outlined Lucky, would improve the interaction. Combat is a little predictable with certain types. I don't think that's new, but in AC1 you could really take advantage of a group of AI and get in to a nice sword fight. That aspect IS inhibited by evolving guard types, and it's has changed with each new game. I have enjoyed the change ups thoroughly, for the challenge, but can see that some approaches are lost with each new set up. Having to shoot Jannissaries is a pain, as was not having some sort of a dodge move for those guards that gave chase in AC2/B. I appreciate that they were fastre due to lighter armor but why couldn't I employ a move to prevent getting knifed in the back when running? Anyway, no biggy I'm sure there were work arounds.
I WOULD like to see randomization of attacks, that would certainly require more focus on the players part and also create a another separation in skill levels. And just more variety in guard types in a single game. It seems that I run across two types of patrols with a mix of AI and then there's the rooftop bombers and rifles. MORE would be better. I DO like the types though, I think it would be nice to see ALL of them to date in a game, and have them localized to certain areas like the Papal Guards say, just in greater numbers, with maybe a blend where the territories merged, so you could get into a fight that threw all types at you at once. But also so you could meander off to the poor district and just mash up on thirty guards without having to pull out a ranged weapon, if you wanted to.

There have been so many great mechanics and things built in to AC, I need a comprehensive game that has them all, so I can stop switching discs. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

12-07-2011, 06:32 PM
I like Ezio's face! When you get old, you look different! And the facials are very real!

12-08-2011, 08:19 AM
@Sage --- Yes, I have my own share of responsibilities myself... totally understood.

Originally posted by SolidSage:
I think it would be nice to see ALL of them to date in a game, and have them localized to certain areas like the Papal Guards say, just in greater numbers, with maybe a blend where the territories merged, so you could get into a fight that threw all types at you at once. But also so you could meander off to the poor district and just mash up on thirty guards without having to pull out a ranged weapon, if you wanted to.

Man, that is a fantastic idea. Localize them. The first AC did this to a degree, with each new district getting more and more challenging guards. But your idea really builds on that. Man, kudos. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif


one more thing, MUSIC, the music was handled much better in Revelations than in Brotherhood. A lot of the music is event-driven in AC games, and the transition between scores, from combat to "safe", is handled much much better. Brotherhood had these wild dramatic scores for combat, and then combat would last 5 seconds. It was very awkward. Clearly, you have addressed that problem. And it is a solid solid soundtrack. Personally, I would have like a touch more of the original AC music in there --- just me --- but great great score nonetheless.

12-08-2011, 12:13 PM
I keep going on about 'Forum of the Ox', I guess it's an exotic game play section. Anyway, trying to put my finger on what I love about it so much is difficult, the speed coupled with the fluidity and the guards shooting at you like it's a scene from a movie, then the whole platforming nature of it with a nice ending, it just really appeals to my senses.
Replaying it the other night, I realized, that the accompanying score is a MAJOR factor, it just sets the atmosphere and matches so well with what's going on.
A lot of the tombs did that well.

So yes, musical score is impressive, as always. Not sure which was better, I'll have to pay more attention on replays.

Well, I think I've exhausted it, so take it sleazy! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif