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Ezio Goes Out With A Bang

Assassin's Creed is coming onto the easily criticized a-game-a-year development cycle. Though it would be easy to pin Revelations down as game suffering from 'more of the same' regarding design and gameplay, the latest installment in the franchise is hardly an unpolished or rough entry. Revelations may not be the highlight of the Assassin's Creed series, and it certainly does add some odd and at times frustrating game mechanics, but Ezio's final chapter is still an absolute must for any fan of franchise.

Much like the two previous entries of Assassin's Creed, the player is primarily in control of Ezio Auditore. The story picks up quite awhile after Brotherhood. Ezio is now an older man, and his training and dedication to the creed have led to him becoming mentor to the assassins, essentially making him the leader. Ezio has travelled to Constantinople in search of relics left behind by Altaïr that would reveal the many mysteries behind The Apple of Eden Ezio encountered during his youth.

Yusuf, to the right of Ezio, is one of the best new characters in Revelations

The interweaving of Ezio's and Altaïr's tales is by far the strongest narrative element of Revelations. Getting to see where Altaïr left off from the first Assassin's Creed and how he ended up is presented right alongside Ezio's journey. These scenes put together make for some of the best storytelling the series has yet to produce. However, there is a third part of the narrative that is not quite as tightly constructed as Ezio's and Altaïr's.

Desmond remains an important part of Assassin's Creed, but the way he is blended into Revelations feels disjointed and strange from a narrative and gameplay perspective. You won't be hopping in and out of an animus machine this time around when you take control of Desmond. Instead, your time with Desmond is spent on a strange animus-themed island that acts as a hub. From here, you can jump back into Ezio's world, or you can explore the new minigame designed for Desmond. Desmond's gameplay is a first-person puzzle-like game. It's slow and the controls feel stiff, yet there are some interesting story arches to explore if you are willing to get through it.

Desmond's tale, though not nearly as well told as Ezio's, is an essential part of Assassin's Creed

Desmond's side missions are an example of Revelations adding gameplay that doesn't need to be added. Though Desmond's minigame is less than impressive, the most notorious added feature to Revelations is definitely the tower defense mode. Much like Brotherhood, Ezio has the ability to rebuild a city through purchasing shops and landmarks. Whether or not these shops and landmarks are available to you is up to who controls the area in which they reside: the Assassins or the Templars. If the Templars currently hold stake in the land you want to buy shops in, you'll be tasked with running them away from that area's Assassin's Den by means of a tower defense game. It's a standard fair as far as structure and mechanics go; you set up forts for defense and assassins for offense. As Templars push toward your den, you fight them off. Poor controls and awkward camera angles drag this minigame to a frustrating and boring experience though.

Luckily, not every new aspect of Revelations blemishes the over the over product. The hook blade, introduced to Ezio by the Assassins of Constantinople, acts as a brilliantly subtle new mechanic. The hook blade, stylish and menacing in looks, allows Ezio to travel through the game world much more quickly as he zip-lines from building to building and extends his reach to clear larger gaps. The hook blade also exhibits some of the most brutal combo kills Ezio has ever performed. When you see how creative the master assassin can get with a hook blade, you'll be trying to get the perfect counter-kill every time just for the animation.

Da Vinci may not provide backup this time around, but that doesn't mean Ezio can't get his hands on some more elaborate tools. How to make and effectively use bombs is quickly introduced to the player in Revelations. Ezio can collect tons of different ingredients to make an assortment of unique bombs. They range from the conventional smoke bomb to the incredibly awesome blood bomb (it literally sprays blood all over your enemies, blinding them making them vulnerable to attack.) Easy to create and utilize in combat, bombs serve to enhance Ezio's combat versatility. The only problem plagued by this mechanic is the aiming. It's not horrible, but the way you have to hold one button for a certain amount of time to either manually aim or simply toss a bomb is a bit clumsy at times.  

One of Assassin Creed's strengths has always been the city through which your character traverses. Italy was masterfully presented in previous games, and Constantinople gets the same attention to detail you would expect. The metropolis, which switches from the white and gray color pallets of Italy to brown and red/green, is beautiful to look at and engaging to explore. There are impressively huge towers to climb and a bustling society of civilians that gasp at your every move. Constantinople doesn't feel quite as large as Roma did in Brotherhood, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The fast-travel sewer system is once again available; I never once took it, however, as I found it so fun to climb and jump my way from place to place.

The multiplayer introduced in Brotherhood makes a return in Revelations. There isn't too much added from the previous installment, but it is a formula for multiplayer that hasn't grown tired and unwelcomed. Most game modes task the player with a kind of cat-and-mouse assassination game. Constantly hunting and being hunted at the same time is an interesting experience, and, as most critics of the game note, the multiplayer truly sets itself apart from the gun and explosion fueled offerings of most multiplayer experiences available this generation.

Revelations is a solid entry to a stellar series. It didn't quite wow me as Assassin's Creed II did, and it didn't seem to have the same vast amount of engaging content like Brotherhood had. However, Revelations does an excellent job in concluding the story of one of the best characters in video games. Though there are some odd minigames and Desmond's plight is still arbitrarily confusing and convoluted, it's still an absolute blast to see the gameplay and narrative exploration Ezio and Altaïr.

Rating: 9/10

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