by / December 21st, 2011 /

Assassin’s Creed: Revelations – PS3, X360 (Ubisoft)

The fourth instalment in the best-selling Assassin’s Creed series, Revelations continues the tale of Ezio Auditore through 16th Century Constantinople. Our hooded hero arrives at the meeting point of Europe and Asia in 1511 to search for the five keys to Altair’s Library, which will unlock the secrets of the creed. This is not as easy as it sounds, however, as the Assassins’ arch-enemies, the Templars, already hold one key and perhaps the map to the other four, and so it isn’t long before the intrigue starts to mount up, along with the body count, as Ezio progresses towards his goal.

Constantinople, the seat of the powerful Ottoman empire, is beautifully reproduced, with many of Istanbul’s most famous sites, like the Topkapi Palace, stunningly rendered. Indeed, the graphics throughout are exemplary, with the opening cut-scenes amongst the most jaw-droppingly impressive State has ever seen.

Graphics alone do not make for a good game, however, but Revelations is probably the most complete and truly immersive AC game to date, thanks to the variety in the gameplay, the twists and turns of the (literally) Byzantine plot, and not least the plethora of complex characters with which you interact, from Yusuf, the leader of Constantinople’s Assassins, to Suleiman, the nephew of the all-powerful Sultan.

The gameplay will be instantly familiar to anyone who has spent time with the first two titles, from scanning the city skyline at view points to reclaiming Templar territories, following targets around the city and, of course, taking out bad guys. You’ll also find yourself recruiting novice assassins, who you can then deploy around the Mediterranean to gain experience or keep close at hand to help you out in battle.

So what’s really different this time around? Well, there’s Ezio’s newest gadget, the hook blade, which allows him to perform ever more outlandish manoeuvres in dark, as it extends his reach by about two feet – particularly great fun when you’re swooshing along zip-lines. There’s also the den defence missions, where victory depends on your tactical deployment of resources – in other words, it’s a mini-strategy game inside the main action adventure. Then there’s bomb-making, with a whole armoury of explosives at your disposal, from trip wires to impact shells, smoke screens to stink bombs, providing you know how to combine the elements that make them work.

It’s not flawless, however: the parts where you play as modern day Desmond (Ezio’s great, great, great, great etc etc grandson), who’s stuck in the Animus machine, are yawnsome, while some of the mini-games, like the early chariot race, are frustrating in the extreme. But there is more than enough great to easily outweigh the bad.

Revelations is absolutely huge, as Ezio (along with Desmond and Altair, the bartender and the thief) endeavours to finally get to the bottom of his Creed’s and his ancestor’s darkest secrets, with more killing, treachery and downright skulduggery than the Eastenders Christmas Special. Highly recommended.