We’ve come a long way with Ezio Auditore de Firenze; from his teenage years scrapping in the streets, running over rooftops and having sly daliances with pretty Italian girls on the fly to his twilight years as he grim and greyly looks towards the last years of his life.
It’s with a sweet sadness that I’ve now come to cover the last game based around Ezio and Altair, the protagonists of the games so far. I reviewed them both originally over at SquareGo.
The full review can be read underneath the cut:
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
With eight games released so far, the Assassin’s Creed series has always trod the fine line between necessary releases and money-spinning cash cows, not to mention comics and web-based spin-off movies. Unlike most however, the universe of the games has built itself into a captivating and intriguing web of interconnecting lives and histories. Everyone has a favourite; be it the journey of Crusade era killer Altaïr from arrogant buck to stoic world protector, or Desmond, the modern day bartender, thrown into a spiral of chaos. For most however, it’s the adventures of happy-go-lucky Italian stallion Ezio Auditore which captivate player imagination. Having followed him from his boyhood tragedies to manhood in Assassin’s Creed 2, then in Brotherhood‘s middle-aged descent into Rome and final face off against the Borgias; we now come to Ezio’s closing game-based chapter.
Opening shortly after the shocking cliff-hanger ending of Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, Revelations finds Desmond comatose and hooked into an Animus test program, walking a shoreline peppered with geometric columns and being joked at by the mysterious and Puck-like Subject 16. He must dive back into the past to untangle his memories from those of Ezio and Altaïr, lest he lose his mind and remain in a vegetive state forever. This conceit neatly allows the story to show us untold parts of both our historical Assassins’ lives, as well as explore Desmond’s origins and personality.
The majority of the game follows the ageing Ezio to Constantinople, scouring the city in search of five unearthly discs, the keys to Altaïr’s secret vault in his long abandoned fortress of Masayef. Each of these keys unlocks one of the handful of Altaïr memories in the game, plunging the player back into the 14th century, and the first game’s limited controls we’d all but forgotten [unless you buy the PS3 version, which includes a free copy of the original game – Ed]. For the most part however it’s business as usual, albeit with a spit and polish that makes everything even prettier and far more realistic, yet bizarrely makes Desmond and Ezio both appear markedly different facially.
The game’s medieval Istanbul is a huge city, slightly larger than the previous outing to Rome, which surprisingly is immediately almost completely open to explore. A few minor areas aside, the player can get conquering the Templar strongholds right from the outset. Ezio also has a brilliant new hook-blade allowing him to use ropes as zip-lines between buildings and an entire arsenal of customisable grenades. However it’s now much harder to remain unnoticed as even buying weapons increases notoriety and the handily rippable ‘Wanted!’ posters have now been eradicated. Instead, paying off heralds or killing politicians is the only solution, as high Templar awareness leads to attacks on your Assassin Dens, which takes place in the form of a Tower Defence mini-game. As money is far scarcer than before and the embarrassment of riches seen in earlier games is a fond memory, this necessitates a far more cautious and measured progress through the game.
There is however a caveat, with no real villain in the Ezio memories, the main story feels oddly disconnected. Additionally the Desmond memories, which take place in block-spawning Minecraft-cum-Portal mishmash levels, can only be accessed by collecting animus fragments strewn around the level like the much lamented flags and feathers of old. It’s still a grand and very worthwhile sandbox romp, but as the closing part of the Altaïr and Ezio storylines, midway through it loses track of why everything was important to begin with.