Ezio's final adventure turns out to be a satisfying one
As far as sequels go, Assassin's Creed: Revelations is the one that plays it safe, choosing to rely on your enjoyment of the previous games to get anything out of it rather than meaningful additions. As a result, the franchise is left in the state that it was in at the end of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, in that there really isn't anything here that brings the series forward. There is plenty to enjoy here in Ezio's final adventure as long as you're willing to do some trimming around the edges, but after four straight games it's hard to shake the feeling of slight antiquity. It's time to start wrapping it up.
As the title suggests, Revelations deals with, well, revelations. Though they are few in number, the significance of said revelations as they pertain to the Assassin's Creed fiction make up for it, but you'll have to wait to the end of the game to see them. In the meantime, Desmond, the intrepid bartender who has spent the last few years of his life strapped into brain-prodding machines, is in a comatose state following the unfortunate events at the end of Brotherhood. His mind has been fractured as a result of the understandably massive confusion caused by experiencing three separate lives, and the Animus is now acting as a sort of life-support for him, trapping him on a hazy island where Subject 16 has manifested. According to 16, Desmond must see both Altair's and Ezio's tales to their end, where they will hopefully culminate into a connection that will allow Desmond's mind to separate memory from reality.
Conveniently, Ezio, now an older gentleman, has traveled to Masyaf and discovered Altair's library, a gold mine of valuable information that he believes will answer his questions about the true purpose of the Assassins. To open the door, Ezio must locate five keys in Constantinople, each of which contain the power to allow Ezio to experience the later years of Altair's life. In these sections, you'll play as the aging assassin as he deals with treachery and betrayal in Masyaf several hundred years before Ezio's time. These aren't particularly challenging or thrilling to play, but their implications in the greater fiction are interesting to witness. While in Constantinople, Ezio also gets tangled in a political conflict involving Sultans, heirs and of course, the Templars, because why not?
Luckily for him, his age appears to be merely cosmetic since he retains all of the acrobatic and combat skills that he perfected earlier, and then some. The addition of the hook blade replaces one of his traditional hidden blades (though he can still stab with it, somehow) and allows him to both traverse the environment with greater speed and fluidity and utilize the ziplines that cover the city's rooftops. Bomb crafting is one of the more significant mechanics introduced and has a surprising amount of depth, allowing Ezio to create a wide range of lethal and non-lethal bombs that explode with varying degrees of efficiency. These give him several opportunities to deal with guards in different ways, though I found it difficult to give up the tactics that I felt I had already perfected having played the previous games.
Ubisoft also saw fit to introduce a tower defense element to the game, undoubtedly the weakest addition. Much like in Brotherhood, Ezio can renovate shops around the city but must take over Templar dens that are exercising oppression over the shops. Once these dens belong to the Assassins, they run the risk of coming under attack by the Templars when Ezio's notoriety increases. The tower defense game you must go through to defend the dens is tedious and feels incredibly out of place. But deciding to never partake in it like I did means losing the income from the shops in the vicinity. Still, I was willing to give that up for the sake of having a good time, which is unfortunate.
Thankfully, everything else that made the last few games so excellent returns. The combat remains fast paced thanks to the execution chain kills introduced in Brotherhood. Some new enemies are introduced, like the rifle-carrying soldiers who dot the rooftops and the Janissaries who block most of your attacks. Ezio can still recruit assassins into his guild and send them on international contracts, and he can now have his assassins take over a city and bring in revenue that goes directly into his pockets. Calling in assassins to eliminate guards works the same way, but it seems like the game is a bit more lazy with how they spawn into the world this time around—they'll often just materialize into existence just a few feet away from the guards they are targeting. Constantinople itself feels alive, with the unique aesthetic, golden yellow sunsets and new characters adding much flavor to the city.
In short, if you enjoyed Ezio's two previous adventures, there's plenty to enjoy here. The game does, however, make some missteps in its attempts to advance the series, and it's clearly time for a full-fledged sequel to fill that role. As a starting point for people interested in the franchise, Revelations cannot be recommended. But for those who wish to see the end of Ezio's story, Revelations provides enough entertaining moments to make it worthwhile.