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As usual, spoilers will be present. Ye be warned.

Assassins' Creed: Revelations continues the series tradition of being good...but with a lot of flaws.

(Before I start, let me make it clear that I am not commenting on the multiplayer aspect of this game. I can't play the multiplayer because I don't have an X-Box Live Gold Membership, and I've never been a fan of multiplayer in general. This is purely a review of the single-player game.)

Gameplay -

At the risk of offending my fellow Assassin's Creed fans, I have to say that the gameplay in Assassin's Creed: Revelations is nothing to write home about.

Now before anyone breaks out their home-made hidden blade and starts tracking my IP address so you can kill me in my sleep, let me explain.

It's not that the gameplay is bad, it's just that it's nothing you haven't seen before. The first Assassin's Creed was revolutionary in terms of gameplay. We'd seen sandbox games before, but never anything quite like AC. The freedom to climb up and over almost any structure and the sheer mind-boggling size of the environments was, in a word, extraordinary. It was like nothing we'd ever seen before. Perhaps even more amazing, its sequel, Assassin's Creed II, was a major improvement over the original. Almost all the problems gamers complained about in the first game were fixed and several fun new elements were added in that dramatically changed the way we played the game. Now how often can you say that about any sequel?

Unfortunately, since ACII we seem to have reached the point of diminishing returns. The series hasn't gotten worse (again, not something you can say very often about any long-running series), and I definitely would not call the gameplay stagnant. "Stagnant" would imply that the gameplay hasn't changed or improved at all, which isn't true. There have been changes/improvements, they just haven't been any major changes/improvements.

Each game since ACII has been exactly the same but with one or more new gimmicks. And while admittedly those gimmicks were often quite fun, they rarely added anything to the gameplay.

Don't believe me? Then if you're a fan of this series, ask yourself this: Outside of missions that required it, how many times did you actually use the parachute? What about Assassin recruits? Was there ever a situation where they were absolutely essential? Was there ever a fight that you couldn't counter-kill your way out of without calling on your Assassin minions, or a guard you couldn't sneak past without calling for an arrow storm? And, be honest now, how many of you even used the heavy weapons at all?

I'm not saying these gimmicks were bad, because they weren't. I liked them (except the heavy weapons, fuck those). And some of them, like the crossbow, were actually pretty helpful. But taken as a whole they don't add up to a major improvement over ACII. At most it's just a series of small, incremental additions that don't put a new spin on the original formula. And this is my biggest problem with Assassin's Creed: Revelations. The gameplay isn't bad, but it's almost exactly the same as the last two games.

For instance, two things the developers talked up a lot when this game was announced were the hookblade and the bombs.

I will admit that the bombs are fun to use. The effects are very cool and creative (the blood bomb is my favorite) and they do offer you more options for sneaking past and/or killing enemies. However, they just didn't feel very useful to me. 99% of the time I found myself passing over the bombs in favor of other tried-and-true tactics. If I had to get past a line of guards without being detected I climbed to the top of a building and jumped between rooftops. If I needed a distraction I hired some thieves to go pick a fight. And if I needed to kill a guard from a distance I used the crossbow. There just weren't all that many instances where the bombs turned out to be the most useful or most obvious option. Also, the fact that you can only carry 4-5 of each bomb type at a time made me want to conserve my bombs and use them as little as possible. So even on missions where a bomb might have been absurdly useful I still hardly ever used them because I was afraid I might need them more later.

As for the hookblade, I was sorely disappointed in this item. The hookblade is basically a hidden blade with a little hook on the end. However for something that was talked up by the developers as a major new feature, it adds absolutely nothing to the gameplay. Climbing is not any easier with the hookblade than it was before. The main use for the hookblade in terms of climbing is to grab ledges and jump up to handholds that are out of reach. But guess what? Ezio could do BOTH of those things all by himself in ACII and Brotherhood. There are only two new things you can do with the hookblade in terms of climbing. The first is riding ziplines, but I don't count this as a gameplay improvement because there just aren't enough ziplines in Constantinople to make it useful. And even when you do run into a zipline, 9 times out of 10 it's either the wrong end (you can only ride a zipline "downhill") or it's heading in the wrong direction. If you need to go northwest a zipline heading southwest isn't very helpful. The second unique but ultimately useless use for the hookblade is swinging on lamps and other hanging objects. In the last two games you could only use these hanging objects to swing around corners, but with the hookblade you can use it as a trapeze to swing straight ahead. I don't consider this a gameplay improvement because, just like the ziplines, it's not something that actually comes up all that much. And when it does it's usually because the devs intentionally designed the level to force you to use the hookblade that way. It feels contrived and forced.

So what the Hell good is the hookblade? And before anyone says "combat", the hookblade doesn't change anything about combat. All it does is give us new counter-kill animations. And while I concede that those are fun to watch if only for the delightful goriness of it all, at the end of the day the guy isn't any deader just because you used the hookblade to kill him. So Ezio still could have got along just fine without the hookblade. Again, there are only two things you can do with the hookblade in combat that you couldn't do in the previous game. You can "grab" enemies and pull them in for a combo-kill, and you can use it to steal things during combat. But again, these are things I almost never really used. Counter-killing works just as well, and you earn way more money pickpocketing and buying landmarks than you ever could from grab-stealing.

Like I said, it's not that the gameplay in Revelations is bad, but just like Brotherhood it doesn't feel like a major improvement over ACII.

I don't know, maybe the series is a victim of its own success. Maybe ACII was just so awesome that there's no room left for improvement or innovation. Who knows? All I'm saying is that purely from a gameplay perspective I feel like I'm playing the second game for the third time.

But let's be honest with ourselves. If you're a fan of this series you're not really in it for the gameplay. You're in it for the story.

Story -

The game picks up shortly after the last scene of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, and right away I have a problem with the plot. After being forced to stab his ally Lucy Stillman, Desmond has fallen into a coma and has been put back in the Animus for...reasons that are still unclear to me. While in the Animus his mind gets sucked into a place called the Black Room, which is another place that is not sufficiently explained. Apparently it's some sort of sub-program inside the Animus, kind of like the subway in The Matrix: Reloaded. Or something. Maybe. Well, whatever. The specifics aren't really important. All you need to know is the Black Room is the place Desmond goes when he's not jumping into his ancestors' memories.

Anyway, Desmond meets Subject 16 in the Black Room. Apparently he got sucked in there too before the events of the first game and his mind was trapped there when his body died. How this is supposed to work is anyone's guess. If Subject 16's mind was trapped in the Animus, it would have been trapped in the specific Animus used by Abstergo in the first game. But Desmond is inside a completely different Animus that the Assassins built. So did the Assassins steal the hard drive from the original Animus from Abstergo? If not, then there's no reason Subject 16 should be here. I don't know how 16's mind got into this Animus but again, this should have been explained better. Maybe it was explained in ACII, but it's been a very long time since I played that game. A small recap would have been nice.

Anyway, Desmond discovers that he has to go into his ancestor's memories because technobabble technobabble and then he can get out of the Animus. It's at this point that I'm suddenly reminded how little I care for Desmond as a character. When do we get back to Ezio? I want to start stabbing people again.

Oh, right now, apparently. We jump into Ezio's memories and the real plot begins.

It's now about 7 years after Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Ezio, now 52 years old and Il Mentore of the Italian Assassins, travels to the ancient Assassin stronghold of Masyaf to search for a vault where legend has it Altair hid a powerful weapon that could tip the war in favor of the Assassins. He reaches Masyaf but finds it overrun by Byzantine Templars. Through a series of exciting adventures and misadventures he carves his way through the bad guys, kills the Templar captain, and continues on to Constantinople where the keys to the Masyaf vault are hidden.

Upon arriving at Constantinople Ezio meets with Yusuf Tazim, the Master of the Ottoman Assassins, and I IMMEDIATELY began to hate this motherfucker.

Now it's not that Yusuf is a bad guy. He's friendly, outgoing, and a fellow Assassin, so it's obvious we're supposed to like him. But every time he was on screen I always sensed a streak of douche-bag just beneath his amiable exterior.

The thing that stuck in my craw right from the beginning was the teasing tone Yusuf has when speaking to Ezio. I could understand this if Yusuf and Ezio were old friends, but this is their first meeting. This is not the way you introduce yourself to someone you've never met. Also, I'll remind you that Ezio is quite a bit older and a FAR more experienced Assassin than Yusuf. He is, after all, Il Mentore. Every time Yusuf opened his mouth to taunt Ezio I wanted Ezio to slap him in the back of the head and say "Don't you sass me, boy! I was killing Templars back when you still thought girls had cooties!"

So anyway, you meet Yusuf, fight off a bunch of Templars together (of course Yusuf contributes exactly nothing to this battle while I did all the work) and he takes you to the Assassin HQ in Constantinople. And it's here that we find yet more evidence of Yusuf's douche-baggery.

Apparently, under the Yusuf administration the Ottoman chapter of the Assassin Order has almost completely fallen to pieces. You have to spend most of the game training up new Master Assassins and putting them in charge of Assassin dens all over the city. I guess Yusuf was too busy puffing on the hookah to worry about doing his fucking job.

I also didn't care for the way Yusuf cops a faux-superior attitude about his equipment. You see, the Ottoman Assassins use bombs and the hookblade but the Italian Assassins do not. Now this might be understandable if the equipment Yusuf shows Ezio was a huge advancement from what Ezio already had. But even from an in-story perspective (as opposed to a gameplay perspective) neither of these items feel like a big leap in Assassination technology.

The bombs, for example, are not a huge improvement over the smoke bombs from the previous two games. It's just taking the same bombs Ezio was using before and loading them with different payloads. Also, Yusuf's Assassins weren't even the ones who came up with it! It was another guy, Piri Reis, who dreamed up all these crazy bomb concoctions. The Assassins just bought the blueprints and the ingredients from him (speaking of which, Ezio has to bust his ass to secure a regular supply of bomb materials for the Assassins, so I guess that's another thing the Yusuf Administration fucked up). If Piri Reis had been born in Italy it would be the Italian Assassins who would have these super-cool bombs to play around with.

But it's Yusuf's attitude about the hookblade that really made me grind my teeth. He talks about the hookblade like it's something amazing and new, when the only new thing it does is let Assassins slide on ziplines. The problem is, that technique is only useful if you live in a city that actually has ziplines. So of course Ezio doesn't have a hook blade Yusuf, you idiot. The Italians weren't dumb enough to string a bunch of stupid ropes between their buildings. (Speaking of which, why aren't the city guards in Constantinople more curious about these ziplines? They seem to have no purpose other than to help Assassins get around town. You'd think the rooftop guards would have standing orders to cut down any zipline they find.) And, at the risk of repeating myself (again), recall that in the last two games Ezio could do absolutely all of those climbing tricks WITHOUT the help of a hookblade. When Yusuf gives the hookblade tutorial I so wish Ezio had slapped him across the jaw and given him an epic Old Man Speech.

"Listen you whippersnapper! In my day, we did ledge grabs and climb leaps with our bare hands! And we didn't need no sissy zip lines! In my day, when you wanted to get from one roof to another you jumped that gap like a man! And if you fell and broke your legs, you walked it off for two miles, uphill, in the snow, and then you did it again the next day! And don't give me this shit about counter-kills! In my day, we got by with just our hidden blades! Sometimes we could only afford one hidden blade, but by God we used it and we liked it!"

You know, something like that.

Anyway, back to something slightly less irritating. Ezio needs to learn more about bombs, so he goes to someone who knows about bombs.

Enter Piri Reis. Piri Reis makes shit blow up. I like Piri Reis.

So after loading up on bombs you bop around Constantinople killing innocent city guards who were just doing their jobs and collecting new Assassin recruits. At the same time you also have to find clues leading to the Masyaf Keys. To do that you have to find the journals of Niccolo Polo (father of Marco Polo) where the hiding places were written down. And to do that you have to work with an Italian woman named Sofia Sartor, who eventually becomes Ezio's love interest (no, not his latest booty call, I mean an actual love interest).

I like Sofia too. She's a good character with a lot of good scenes. My favorite is probably a quest about 2/3 through the game where your only goal is to pick some flowers and meet her for a picnic in a public garden. There's no action or tension at all, it's just a very beautiful scene that I quite enjoyed. However, her clothes really bother me. Is Ubisoft really expecting me to believe that a woman can walk around in a Muslim-controlled nation in a bright green cleavage-exposing dress? Seriously, she walks around Constantinople in one of those old-fashioned Italian dresses that are designed to push the boobs up and together as much as possible. The kind that seems specifically designed so a woman can easily hide something by stuffing it down her cleavage. In a Muslim-dominated country. And she doesn't get harassed or anything? Yeah, somewhat implausible.

But whatever. So you work with Sofia to find the Polo journals and using those you find the locations of the hiding places of the Masyaf Keys. Each time you find a Masyaf Key you jump into a memory that Altair somehow stored on it and you get to play as Altair again at different stages of his life. These memories are enjoyable, but it's a little weird to hear Altair talking with an Arabic accent.

It was right around this point when I realized that Revelations has a very non-traditional plot for this series. All the previous games have had very predictable stories. (Admittedly they got less and less predictable with each game, but still, they were all very similar.) In each DNA Sequence you have a Target, and your goal is to figure out how to kill the Target. And once you've killed the Target, that's the end of the Sequence and you move on to the next Target. Other stuff happens along the way, but that's basically what happens in the first three games. It's almost like the series was originally written as a tv series but at the last minute before filming started they decided to make a video game instead. The Sequences are so episodic your targets might as well be Monsters of the Week.

In this game, that doesn't happen. Very few Sequences end with Ezio tracking down and killing someone. Sequence 2 ends with you finding your missing Assassin lieutenant. Sequence 4, 5, and 7 all end with Ezio viewing a memory that Altair inscribed on one of the Masyaf Keys, and only one of those memories ends with Altair killing someone. Sequence 6 ends with Ezio having an action movie escape chase from the Constantinople harbor wherein he blows up the chain closing off the harbor, leaps across burning ships, and just goes nuts with a Greek Fire cannon (look it up). This is a big change compared to the first three games and I'm not sorry they did that.

Where was I? Oh right, the plot. As you search for the Masyaf Keys you can also find and train new Assassin recruits and assign them to Assassin Dens to defend them against Templar attacks. Which says to me that the Constantinople Assassins are in such shambles that they can't even muster the forces to defend their own hideouts. Just another fine accomplishment of the Yusuf administration.

That said, I like this subquest because they've turned your Assassin recruits into actual people with real personalities and character (not much character, but definitely more so than in the last game). In Brotherhood your Assassin recruits were just human-shaped androids that you could call on whenever you wanted. You grind them out until they hit max level, and that's about it. You didn't talk with them or spend time with them. And while I would have liked to see more interaction between Ezio and his recruits, it was fun to see Ezio personally accompany his minions on their missions and work with them. It actually makes you feel a little proud when they reach the Master Assassin level because you personally helped them along the way.

At some point you learn that the Templars are planning an attack on the Ottoman royal family, specifically the grandson of the Sultan, Prince Suleiman. (You actually meet Suleiman early in the game. He and Ezio travel to Constantinople by the same ship and Suleiman introduces himself as a traveling scholar or somesuch. It's only later that Ezio learns the truth.)

After you thwart this attack, you investigate and find that Suleiman's uncle Ahmet (the Sultan's chosen successor) is kind of up to something with Tarik Barleti, the Captain of the Janissaries. Brief history lesson: The Janissaries were the personal guard of the Sultan during the Ottoman Empire. Historically the Janissaries' strength was the fact that they were extremely organized and regimented compared to most armies of the time. They were the first army to wear unique uniforms, be paid regular salaries (most soldiers of that era were only paid during wartime), march to music, live in barracks, and use mainly firearms. They also had far better support during wartime. They had a support corps for everything, including preparing the road ahead, pitching tents, making food, and supplying weapons and ammunition. They even had dedicated mobile hospitals set up behind the lines. Why do I bring all this up? Because the game inaccurately portrays them as elite one-on-one swordfighters, and it makes the history nerd inside of me angry.

*sigh* So anyway, you spy on the conversation between Ahmet and Tarik (trying to keep all these Middle Eastern names straight in your head is a challenge all by itself) and this conversation highlights something else I like about this game, and that's the fact that the antagonists are extremely complex and sympathetic. Ahmet especially comes off this way. Unlike the previous games the main antagonist isn't written as a cartoonishly evil villain (looking at you, Cesare). It's clear Ahmet really wants the best for his people and honestly believes the Templar philosophy is the best way to get it. Mind you, he does take a left turn into full-blown megalomania later in the game, but at this point he seems more misguided than evil. In fact, for a long while I wasn't sure if he truly was going to be the villain. I even toyed with the idea that the real villain would turn out to be Suleiman (after all, he did later have his oldest son strangled in front of him) and Ahmet would actually be a good guy, but that theory didn't pan out.

Getting back to the plot, it's clear that Ahmet and Tarik are up to something, and Tarik seems particularly suspicious. You investigate Tarik a little more and find out he's been dealing with a Templar agent named Manuel Palaiologos. (The sound you're hearing right now is the squeeing of history nerds all around the globe.) Manuel was the nephew of the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI, who died during the Fall of Constantinople. Although he traded his claim to the throne in exchange for a cushy job in the Ottoman Empire, had the Byzantine Empire not fallen Manuel would have stood a decent chance of becoming Emperor himself one day.

In the game Manuel is a member of the Templars. He's smuggling weapons into the city as part of a scheme to take Constantinople back from the Ottomans, and it appears that the Janissaries are helping him do it.

Ezio confronts Manuel but he gets away, so Ezio goes after Tarik instead. But after killing Tarik ZOMGTWIST! It turns out Tarik was actually a double-agent and was secretly working against Manuel all along. He knew Manuel was a Templar and was trying to smoke them out. So now Ezio has killed an innocent man and every Janissary in the Ottoman Empire is out for his blood. Nice work, old boy.

Though personally I blame Tarik and Suleiman for this screw-up. Tarik went out of his way to make himself look suspicious and Suleiman sent Ezio to assassinate the guy based on some not quite solid evidence. You know, it's established early on that Tarik would rather see Suleiman's father on the throne instead of Ahmet. If Tarik had just told Suleiman the truth, or if Suleiman had had the balls to summon Tarik to the palace and confront him (with Ezio and his Assassins standing guard just in case), then none of this would have happened.

So now Ezio has no choice but to chase after Manuel, who has fled to Cappadocia. In order to chase after Manuel, he has to escape the city, but UH OH the Janissaries have locked down the harbor and are on the lookout for Ezio.

So EPIC ACTION MOVIE CHASE SCENE TIME!

So the harbor is blocked off by this big chain but Ezio is like "Psh, you pussies think that'll stop me?" and of course it won't because Ezio has a bomb only it's not just a bomb it's a SUPER BOMB and he sets it at the base of the chain and it's all *KABOOM!* *KA-POW!* *KER-SPLODE!* So the chain blows up and the bad guys are like "OMGWTFBBQ GET THAT MOTHERFUCKER!" but Ezio's like "Psh, you wuss-buckets don't scare me" so they fight and Ezio kills them all because he's a badass motherfucker and then Yusuf is there and he's like "Ezio, those ships are trying to stop your escape and I am too much of a weeping vagina to do anything about it, please help." So GREEK FIRE CANNON BABY and the ships are like *FWOOSH!* *KABLAAM!* *KABOOM!* and the bad guys are like "AAAH HELP ME HELP ME!" and Ezio's like "This city is too pussy for me, I gotta bail" so he hops across the flaming wreckage of the ships he just blew up and the bad guys are like "STOP HIM!" but Ezio's like "Catch me if you can, bitches!" and he runs and he jumps and MORE STUFF BLOWS UP and then Ezio gets to his ship and the bomb guy Piri Reis is there and Ezio is like "Why are you leaving?" and Piri Reis is like "This city is too pussy for me!" and Ezio's like "Me too!" and then they high-five and then the boat sails away and they escape.

...

...So yeah, bet you weren't expecting that in an Assassin's Creed game, were you?

Anyway, you follow Manuel to Cappadocia where the Templars are doing something or other. I'd tell you what they were doing there but to be honest I was still too blown away by the EPIC ACTION MOVIE CHASE SCENE to pay any attention. Whatever it is it's bad so Ezio has to stop them, and get the Masyaf Key from Manuel. He hooks up with an Ottoman spy and throws together a plan to sabotage the Templar's stores of gunpowder.

I have to pause for a second to talk about a really stupid plot point. The spy Ezio is working with gets caught and Ezio has to bust her out of prison. To do this you have to spy on the guards to find out where they keep the key. Here comes the stupid. The head bad guy tells a minion to get the spy out of her cell and bring her somewhere but the guard says, I kid you not, that he doesn't have the key. To which the head bad guy responds "Well find it!" The fuck? I know they say that the guy who has the key is probably on leave in the market somewhere, but why isn't this guy more concerned that the one person holding the key to cells is missing? For that matter, why was the person with the key allowed to just walk away with it in the first place? When he goes on break shouldn't he put it in a safe place? Or give it to someone trustworthy? Because guess what happens while he's farting around at the market. Someone (three guesses who) sneaks up and steals it from him! Well golly-gee-willickers! Who could have possibly seen that coming?! (Come on, Ubisoft. That was just dumb.)

*sigh* Anyway, you sabotage the gunpowder and Manuel tries to run for it again but Ezio catches him and murderizes him. Then Ahmet shows up out of nowhere and tells Ezio that if he doesn't hand over the Masyaf Keys (which are all safely locked away in the Assassin HQ in Constantinople) that he'll do bad things to Sofia. Ezio races back to Constantinople to stop him but finds that Sofia has been kidnapped and the Templars have killed Yusuf.

Now bear in mind, the last thing Ezio told Yusuf before he went and blew up the Constantinople harbor was to keep watch over Sofia. Now we return and find out that Yusuf has EPICALLY FAILED in that task. Ezio gave him one thing to do and he couldn't do it. I guess that stupid hookblade didn't help you none, did it fucktard? You know what? I'm glad you're dead. You deserve it. I hope the Templars pissed on your corpse after they stabbed you in the back, you worthless little prick. In fact, that's not a bad idea. Hold on just a minute. *zzzip*

...

...

...Ahh, there, all done. Congratulations Yusuf, you finally amounted to something. A human chamber pot.

Now that Ahmet has finally revealed his true colors you have to go chase him down. You break into the military shipyards and confront him. Ahmet gets a pretty cool villain monologue here. He actually makes some decent arguments in favor of the Templar cause. For instance, he points out that the Assassin viewpoint is a bit self-righteous. I can't recall the exact quote, but he says something to the effect of "If the world falls into savage anarchy, at least Ezio Auditore can say he followed his Creed." It doesn't hold up under close scrutiny, but it did give me pause when I first heard it. Anyway, Ahmet tells Ezio to deliver the Masyaf Keys to a certain location, and if he doesn't show up Sofia will die. Ezio has no other choice but to turn over the Keys, but Ahmet is a dirty dealer. He makes Ezio think Sofia is up at the top of a tower but when Ezio climbs up there he finds out it's just a decoy. The real Sofia is down on the ground, dancing on the end of a hangman's noose. Fortunately Ezio saves her in time but Ahmet is escaping with the Masyaf Keys, so Ezio and Sofia chase after him in a horse-drawn wagon.

Fair warning, the climax here is pretty weird. You get in a wagon chase with Ahmet and his men. At some point Ezio gets thrown off the wagon and is being dragged along by a rope. So, and I swear to God I'm not making this up, he whips out his parachute and starts parasailing. Yes, I'm serious. The action-climax of this game is Ezio Auditore da Firenze parasailing behind a horse-drawn wagon with a parachute given to him by Leonardo da Vinci in a high speed chase with the Prince of the Ottoman Empire. This game is awesome.

Anyway, time to wrap up. You catch up to Ahmet, smack him around for a bit, and then his brother Selim (Suleiman's father) shows up with the Janissaries in tow, chokes Ahmet to death with his bare hands, and banishes Ezio from the Empire forever. Because he's an asshole like that, I guess.

Fast forward to Masyaf. Now that you have all the keys you open the vault in Masyaf and discover Altair's secret library. Inside is Altair's skeleton sitting in a chair. Apparently Altair sensed that his time was coming so he sent all the books filled with secret knowledge away, said goodbye to his son, and hid the Apple of Eden in the vault. With his life fading away he sat down to rest in the library and passed quietly away in his sleep. This is one of the good parts about the ending. It's a genuinely tragic moment that honestly tugged at my heartstrings. It really helps drive home the image of Altair as a kind of lost soul who accomplished great things but often had to sacrifice personal happiness to do it.

After Ezio snaps out of this vision he goes to the back of the vault and uncovers the Apple of Eden. He goes to pick it up but then...decides not to. This was one of the bad parts about the ending. We came all this way, did all this work to open the Masyaf vault, and Ezio isn't even going to take the stupid Apple?! Bullshit!

Look, I understand that Ezio wouldn't want to use the Apple of Eden. But that doesn't mean he should just leave it there. Why didn't he take the Apple and move it to a new hiding spot? Y'know, someplace the Templars don't know about and haven't been trying to break into this whole time?

*sigh* So anyway, instead of taking the Apple of Eden to a new hiding place like a smart person would, Ezio decides to just leave the Apple sitting in the vault. He starts calling out to Desmond (if you're wondering how he knows Desmond's name, go look up the plot summary of ACII on Wikipedia). Somehow knowing that Desmond can hear him, Ezio makes a speech about how he's done many things but never had a choice in his life (or some bullshit like that, I wasn't really listening because I was too frustrated with Ezio's stupidity). Somehow or other this speech from Ezio triggers the Apple which gives Desmond a vision from Those Who Came Before.

Those Who Came Before (I'm calling them the Precursors from now on) are a race of hyper-advanced humanoid beings who ruled Earth a long long time ago. So far it's unclear who or what they were (my money is on aliens), but it appears that the Precursors created or uplifted early humans to be their slave labor force. At some point the humans rebelled and went to war with the Precursors, until a global catastrophe (something to do with solar flares) nearly wiped out both sides. The few surviving humans and Precursors banded together and built temples around the world that would (somehow) let future humans prevent a similar disaster from happening again.

There. Now that that's out of the way, on to the vision. Desmond sees a vision of one of the Precursors who says he's going to reveal some major info about the Precursor civilization. Now, when I saw this I was excited. I had heard in gaming magazines and on websites that Assassin's Creed: Revelations would contain some major, well, revelations about the Precursors. What I got, however, was very disappointing.

All we see...is the disaster that destroyed the Precursor civilization. That's it.

Uh, Earth to Ubisoft writers? This is not a revelation. We already knew the Precursors were destroyed by a great disaster. This didn't give us any new information. I was hoping this would actually answer some questions.

Like where did the Precursors come from? Are they aliens who colonized Earth, or did they evolve here?

Did the Precursors actually create the human race or did they just enslave/modify primitive man?

How exactly did the war between the Precursors and humanity start? Did one or more Precursors defect to the humans' side?

Why do some humans have Precursor DNA? Did a Precursor and a human fall in love and have a child together? And if so, was that the cause of the war?

Speaking of Precursor DNA, what exactly is the nature of the Precursors? What makes them different from humans? Did they have some sort of innate powers or did all their power come from their hyper-advanced technology?

How did all the evidence of the Precursors simply disappear? Presumably the Precursor civilization spanned the entire globe. Even if the entire planet was horribly devastated by a solar flare (however that's supposed to work) it couldn't have completely wiped out evidence of the Precursors. Just because you blow up a building doesn't mean you erase all evidence that the building was ever there. There should be rubble and the remains of destroyed buildings. We know the Precursors built their stuff to last because we've seen Precursor temples that were completely pristine despite being tens of thousands of years old (if not older). So what happened to the shattered remains of the Precursor civilization? And don't say "the Templars covered it all up". Horse shit. If the Templars were capable of such a world-wide coverup then they shouldn't have this much difficulty taking down the Assassins.

*sigh* BUT ANYWAY, I digress. This was not a revelation. This was all information we knew before, we just hadn't seen it in a pre-rendered cutscene. Not that the cutscene wasn't beautifully rendered and exciting to watch, but I was hoping for something more.

So Desmond finally wakes up from his coma and he says he knows what to do. We get a vision of one of the temples that the Precursor mentioned, and the game ends.

So yeah, that was Assassin's Creed: Revelations. Did I like it? Sure. I liked it about as much as I liked all the other games in this series. But was it perfect? No. There are a lot of glaring issues, most notably the fact that very little about this game, apart from the story, is new.

But would I still recommend this game? Absolutely. As I said earlier, if you're a fan of this series you're not really in it for the gameplay. You're a fan of the characters and the story. And despite occasionally being goofy or not making much sense, this story was still very entertaining. What more can you ask for from any piece of media?
P.S. Actually, I take back what I said about the gameplay not being bad. Mostly it's good, but there are two parts I absolutely hated. One is the first-person platforming segments. Let me repeat that. First. Person. Platforming. Goddammit Ubisoft, what drugs were you assholes on when you decided first-person platforming was a good idea? First-person platforming is right up there with the sewer level as one of the worst ideas in the history of gaming.

The other thing I hated was the den defense mini-game. Here's the thing. There are Assassin dens all over the city and sometimes the Templars like to attack one of the dens. When that happens you go into this quasi-RTS mini-game where you have to defend the den by strategically placing your Assassins on the landscape. You purchase Assassin units with "morale" points and killing Templars earns you more morale points.

It sounded fun when I first saw it, but I quickly realized there are a lot of problems with this mini-game. The first is that you can only view the battlefield from one location. You can't zoom out to a bird's eye view or rotate the camera around the battlefield. All you can do is look 45 degrees to the left or the right of where Ezio is standing. The second problem is there doesn't seem to be any real strategy involved. Most real-time or turn-based strategy games work on a sort of rock/paper/scissors system where each unit is strong against certain enemy types but weak against other enemy types. But none of the Assassin units are any more or less effective against any Templar units. At least that's how it seemed to me. The game certainly doesn't tell you otherwise. Whenever I played these den defense mini-games they always devolved into wars of attrition. It was just a race to see if I could replace my Assassins faster than the Templars killed them off.

There is a way to avoid this mini-game, however. If you train up an Assassin recruit to Master Assassin level and assign them to a den, that den is protected from Templar attacks. Naturally I did this as quickly as possible.

When players are going out of their way to avoid having to deal with a certain aspect of the gameplay, that's a bad sign.
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:iconlordpain312:
LordPain312 Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2012
I hated the plot and I hated most of the characters. I hated Yusuf for the same reasons you did, I also hated Sofia because she was blander than sandpaper, I hated the romance because it was straight out of some shitty Harlequin novel. I hated Den-defense, because it was a poor RTS defense addition. The hookblade and bombs were contrived and I barely used them. Additions should feel natural, not like "hey you need to use bombs to attract that Janissary to a hidden location and kill him for 100% synch". I disagree about the flower gathering part, I thought it was an example of how poor the pacing was in the game. One minute you need to go to Cappadocia immediately and the next is "I must go gather some white tulips. Oh, that Templar thing... it can wait" Ughh.

The things I liked are few and in-between. I liked the Alta´r flashbacks, I liked the newer ways to recruit assassins and I liked your interactions with them. I also PARTIALLY liked the ending, meaning I liked Ezio's speech and looking at Alta´r's final moments. Everything else was crap. There was no reason for Ezio to go to Constantinople, this could have been accomplished by Desmond in modern times. Hell, the whole thing is rendered useless by the fact that Ezio didn't even take the apple, Leaving it for the Templars. Bottom line, this game sucked at story telling, I know Ezio is a great character, but he was interesting when he was growing up to be an Assassin in AC: II, AC: B let us see him in an older, wiser light. This game was useless, I still bought it only because I'm a hardcore fan, but that's it.
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:iconjaktherenegade:
JakTheRenegade Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Subject 16 hacked the Animus and left encrypted files on there. When Lucy stole the memory core at the beginning of ACII and it was placed in the Animus 2.0, the data was transfered along with it. That's why the in game glitches appeared and you could unlock a secret video by finding them and solving the puzzles.

Yeah, I didn't like Yusef either. Too arrogant.

I loved the ending chase, it was just so awesome but you didn't mention the fact that you can dive bomb them or that you fight Ahmet will falling down a cliff. It was defintely a action movie sceen.

The den defence was pointless. The only reason I did it was for the challenge in the guild. Even then I just replayed the first mission twice. It was easy and quicker to start a den defence, just let the enemies win, then take out the captain and climb the tower after. That made the mode pointless .

I liked it though my PS3 almost froze trying to play the scene where the First Civilisation gets destroyed.

The Altair sections were good and his ending sad.

The credits went on for far too long and there wasn't a skip option.

I really liked the game but like you said, apart from a few new gimics, nothing new.

Oh, have you watched AC: Embers? It's the epilouge to AC: Revelations
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:icondoornik1142:
Doornik1142 Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011
I haven't been able to find a free copy, so no.
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:iconxkitthecatx:
xkITtHEcATx Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
I completely agree.
also, there were a lot more glitches in Revelations. I actually have a list going. In Brotherhood, I encontered one or two minor glitches. At one point I had to restart a memory because of a glitch, which I never had to do in any of the previous ACs.
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:icondoornik1142:
Doornik1142 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2011
I'll have to take your word for it on that one. I don't remember running into any major glitches while I was playing.

Well, except for this one time when I stabbed a guard and he inexplicably bounced 20 feet into the air after he hit the ground.
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:iconxkitthecatx:
xkITtHEcATx Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
haha nice XD
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:iconsuperjay14:
Superjay14 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2011  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I agree with this except Yusuf was (to me) a ut more likeable and even then the last sentence sums up my feeling of the game. gameplay: meh, den defence: hell no, it was buggy and kinda stupid but the actual game itself was worth it /c ur right its an enjoyable experience and hopefully AC3 will be better
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:icondoornik1142:
Doornik1142 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2011
Yeah, I admit the thing with Yusuf is pretty subjective. I guess it was just a bad first impression. When Yusuf introduced himself to Ezio I felt like he didn't show the proper respect, and everything he said from that point on just seemed to make it worse.

I'm still not sorry he's dead, though.
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:iconsuperjay14:
Superjay14 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2011  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
neither am i b/c no1 can be ezio's lil @$$ kissing, im better than u pain in the neck and ezio can do his job w/ no1 2nd guessing him
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:iconmikulance382:
MikuLance382 Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2011
you have no idea how much i agree with you. i have been trying to talk to people about this as well. Sadly i didnt really enjoy this ac as much as the others. So much was not 'revealed' and all the things they did mention, i already either read online months ago or figured out on my own. I didnt need another game to tell me less than what i already expected. When i see the trailers for the game online, and then play the game, i dont see the same thing, like its not the same product. They took out a lot i think to rush the release date. Desmonds part sucked, i hated the first person puzzle nonsense, and i was hoping they would make his past memories cinematic or at least be able to see him in 3rd person T_T nope! They parts with 16 were brief too, and he still didnt reveal his name. As for when desmond wakes up, they dont even bombard him with questions about what the hell happened in the temple and lucy (sorry but i would have been upset with him if i was her friend)
I dont know, i think ubisoft is rushing on the games. This felt like a DLC more than a full game for me. The side missions lacked, the people u meet you dont truly care about. I dont know, i felt like ezio was truly alone in Istanbul with some random people. Oh and the glitches are intense, one being a part where i fell through the map and swam around the entire map and beyond. Another was having the last movie glitch out on me and it was slow O_o it looked like the disc was struggling to process the movie! wtf.
Overall, i still have hope for the future AC games, i love this series and the characters. This one i would say for me is the weakest of the 4, i still love the 1st two the most. I just hoped more from this one, and got let down :P (sorry for my own rant, i just had to get it out)
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