The Assassin's Creed franchise is easily one of my favorite franchises of all time. The trip through time, that takes us into the eyes of an assassin is one of the most interesting premises I have ever seen in any series. That, mixed with a solid set of mechanics and incredibly fun, although not exactly period, weaponry makes for many lost hours. One of the most interesting things about the series is the fact that the people at Ubisoft seem to find ways of innovating in very short periods of time. Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood was a perfect example of this, as it added mechanics that made the open combat much more satisfying and fast paced, even though the game only had an 8 month development cycle. However, there comes a time with most franchises when the developers run out of ideas and start to get desperate.
Enter Assassin's Creed: Revelations, an iterative take on the previous Assassin's Creed games that adds some pathetically boring on rails chariot sequences, annoying tower defense missions, and a first person puzzle block mode, which serves as a method to give some pretentious back story to the main character. No, not Ezio. Instead, it gives back story to the main character you don't care about. You know, the one who is just like Uncharted's Nathan Drake, except with no likability. Luckily, the idiotic puzzle game is optional. The chariot and "Den Defense" however, are not.
Blandness never looked so bad ass.
The game starts off with our hero, but there's one problem, it starts us off with the "hero" nobody could possibly care about, Desmond. We then learn that our emotional blank slate of a protagonist is trapped in a place called "Animus Island," where he meets someone named Subject 16, a completely unlikable character who's also trapped there. The completely annoying Subject 16, then starts to explain the situation your character is in. After more dialogue, just when you think that the game will be entirely up it's own ass with exposition, you are finally transported back through time and into our real hero, Ezio.
This is when the game momentarily takes us into the part of Assassin's Creed that we know and love, stabbing people mercilessly and climbing on buildings, so that we get into a better position to stab people mercilessly. However, right when you start having fun, you are forced into an overly long chariot sequence, where you drive a chariot on rails in the pursuit of your target, while fending off other chariots. This sequence lasts entirely to long and isn't any fun, due to the fact that it seems to be based more on luck than skilled driving. There is another sequence like this later in the game, except the latter sequence is much longer and much more boring.
Then finally, we are able to play the Assassin's Creed experience that we know and love. It's brutal killing and terrific platforming through the gorgeous environments of Constantinople is an absolute blast and this time we are able to enjoy it with the help of the new Hook Blade, a tool designed to make climbing faster and more efficient. You still get to play in the open environment with all of the weapons at your disposal. This includes swords, throwing knives, poison weapons, a gun, a crossbow, and a few more weapons that are all very satisfying and visceral. The new addition of bombs make the game a bit too easy at times, but Assassin's Creed was never exactly difficult.
So many weapons, that they added an extra weapon wheel.
The only problem that I have with the gameplay, other than the on rails sequences and horrible tower defense, is fact that this is the first Assassin's Creed game that doesn't feel new to me. We still have the same main character, the same weapons, except for bombs, and the same gameplay. Other games in the series looked to give us a new Assassin's Creed experience. This one seems to wan't to give us another Assassin's Creed experience, period. It doesn't offer anything new to the core game.
Fortunately though, the game is completely breathtaking in its scope. While it suffers from the same pop in issues and loading times of the previous games, it still gives you ridiculously gorgeous vistas that make you stop and take it all in. The character design is also visually impeccable, with a perfect look for Ezio which makes him look older, but not so old that can't still kick some ass. And as a side note, Sofia's large breasts were also much appreciated.
Istanbul and Constantinople...
Our main character is also back and even though he has put on some years since the last game, he is still just as likable and well thought out a character as he has always been. Unfortunately there aren't very many other characters who're well executed or even fleshed out. The love interest Sofia is very well thought out and makes for a perfect love interest for Ezio, but none of the other characters offer anything, besides telling you what your next mission is. Which is a shame, considering that Ezio is, according to the story, supposed to be a mentor to the other assassins, but if anything Ezio seems more like a student, as he is always being told what to do by the other characters. As a whole, the story is a complete mess, but that isn't exactly new to the Assassin's Creed franchise.
There isn't a single new feature that I liked in this game. The chariot sequences are awful, the tower defense is even worse, and the optional puzzle block memories, starring the incredibly annoying Desmond are both pretentious and boring. That being said, there is still more than enough Assassin's Creed to make for a fun game with plenty of buyer value. The open world is just as beautiful as it has always been and the weapons are still fun and visceral. It's not by any means new, but with a few exceptions, it's just as fun as it has always been.