Most Things are Permitted
Assassin's Creed: Revelations feels smaller, somehow. You spend most of your time in Istanbul (maiden name: Constantinople) looking for some keys that Altair had hid around town generations earlier. All of the refinements from Brotherhood are here, with you once again recruiting assassins and having them available for quick murder as you climb around town, or you can play the Assassin Tychoon subgame where you send them around Europe and the Middle East to gain experience points for more effective murder.
There are some good new additions, and also some new additions. First, the just new: You can now put your recruited assassins in Assassin Dens around town. If your notoriety gets too high, and the Assassin installed isn't yet rated as a Master, you have the option of playing a tower defense mini-game using assassins to take out the attacking Templars. It works okay, is a bit confusing, but wears thin after two or three trials. Second, the new and good: The hook blade is awesome. Having played a great deal of InFamous, anything that makes the climbing faster and more fluid is welcome. The hook blade hop isn't as much fun as the ice jump in InFamous 2, but definitely helps. The finishing moves with the hook blade are also satisfactorily brutal. What's that in your nose? Oh, it's my hook blade. Let me take that back... OH GOD.
I also was digging the Desmond based story puzzles on Animus Island. As you collect more Animus Data Fragments (the flags of this version, only 100 of them) you unlock these puzzle rooms. It feels a bit like Portal, with clean, high tech walls and environmental puzzles to solve. It's by no means as perfect as Portal, but it's fun enough, laying out geometric shapes to traverse the world. As you traverse you get what should be some Northie Award Nominated narration as Desmond about his life. If you care about the story behind Assassin's Creed, which I do way more than I probably should, it's fascinating.
Being a superfan of the story, I also loved the Altair sections of the game. They were straightforward, but making the design choice to have you play as a seriously old-ass Altair a few times was great. Grandpa can still kick your ass, even if he can't run up a wall anymore. Old Altair was slow, but had some flat out beautiful moments. Same with Ezio and his story. They continued their tradition of having some unexpected story moments at the end that gave me goosebumps. I love that stuff.
I also just love playing more Assassin's Creed. Traversing the world, walking through crowds (crowds!) in a game, listening to the ambient sound and conversations. It's not the holodeck, but man, it's good.
It does feel smaller this time around, though. Fewer places to go, fewer things to do, many great story missions but not many new twists. There are definitely revelations, but still more questions than real answers. I know now what I have to do: Play Assassin's Creed 3. I really fear that this engine and framework can't successfully pull off another yearly iteration. Let's see what next year really brings.