Assassin's Creed: Revelations concludes the story of Ezio and Altair, and does a damn good job of it.

User Rating: 8.5 | Assassin's Creed: Revelations PS3
Warning: Mild Spoilers

Assassin's Creed: Revelations is the fourth main game in the franchise, and stays true to the formula that made the previous games so unique. Once again you'll be performing brutal assassinations in a historical context that is both unusual and immersive.

Following the events of the previous game, Desmond Miles wakes up and finds himself stranded in the animus, the revolutionary machine he used to relive the memories of his ancestors. Overuse of the animus has caused Desmond's brain to scramble the memories of his ancestors with his own, putting him in a coma. In order to wake up, he needs to synchronize with the later memories of Ezio Auditore.

Ezio's story begins several years after where Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood left off. Tired of fighting, he sets out on a journey to seek the wisdom of the great assassin, Altair. The pilgrimage takes him to Constantinople, which is where the bulk of the game takes place. The story initially starts out rather slow, but manages to pick up the pace by the end and ultimately becomes the most exciting and memorable Assassin's Creed story yet, and builds toward a fulfilling climax; something that Brotherhood failed to achieve.

Most of the characters encountered are completely new ones, which keeps the narrative fresh. Among these are the fellow assassin Yusuf and love interest Sofia. These new characters aren't as memorable as they could have been, but are still a welcome addition to the series.

One of the first things you'll notice when playing Revelations is how familiar it feels. There have not not been any major changes to the gameplay since Brotherhood, so those who were expected something new and innovative will be left disappointed. That's not to say there isn't anything new though. The combat controls have been updated, and the weapon selection wheel now has two separate sections; one for primary melee weapons and another for sidearms and lesser gadgets. The sidearms are now activated with the press of a separate button, meaning you can essentially have two weapons selected at once, eliminating the need to constantly change weapons manually.

A big draw of the series has always been the free running elements. Running across the rooftops of Constantinople is now faster than ever with the introduction of the hookblade, which is not surprisingly, a hook attached to a blade. The tool allows Ezio to grab onto hard-to-reach ledges that he wouldn't be able to grab otherwise, as well as a whole new set of brutal animations that will satisfy any cravings for violence. The hookblade is pretty unrealistic, but realism was never something the series was known for in the first place.

Now, onto the combat. Revelations once again uses the execution kill streak system that Brotherhood introduced. This did two things: 1), it made combat a lot faster and more satisfying because you weren't standing around waiting for the enemy to attack, and 2), it made the game a lot easier; possibly too easy. The game is still rather easy, especially against normal enemies, but the introduction of some nasty new foes that block most attacks complicates things a bit, and ultimately make Revelations the most challenging game since the original in 2007. And in large groups, these guys can rip you to shreds if you're not careful. Because of the increased difficulty, it means that you might need to resort to having your assassin recruits assist you in battle.

These guys can handle themselves quite well in a fight, and in fact the entire recruitment system is handled much better than it was in Brotherhood. Recruits now have involvement in the main story, and interact with Ezio in such a way that makes you actually feel like you're the leader. Additionally, it is once again possible to send your gang of assassins to other parts of Europe and Asia to fight the Templars for control of the cities.

As well as the main Ezio plot, Assassin's Creed: Revelations also sees the return of the first game's protagonist, Altair. Altair has recorded events of his life onto 5 mysterious seals, which give the player an opportunity to see further into Altair's character as we see his later years. These short missions are much more linear than what you'll experience as Ezio, but to fans of the first game, they're a nostalgic recollection of many fond memories.

The modern day assassin, Desmond, returns with his own set of unique missions. This time unfortunately, they're nothing to be excited about. You'll awkwardly navigate through mazes of pillars and beams of light in a first-person perspective, while creating blocks out of nothing to progress. They are thankfully optional, but still a disappointing addition.

And speaking of disappointing additions, a variation of Brotherhood's Borgia towers makes a return, and you are now required to defend them from the Templars in a stupid tower defense mini-game that feels ridiculously out of place. It's good that Ubisoft is making an attempt to add some variety, but these kind of additions are not welcome in a game that otherwise does so much, so well.

There are more platforming sections that are essential to the story this time around, and they do a good job of splitting up the pace during all the face-stabbing you'll be doing. Some of these involve some exciting scripted sequences with burning boats, falling rocks, and other things you'd expect in an action-heavy game such as this. Often when you search the dead bodies of enemies you'll find useful ingredients that can be used to craft bombs. There's a huge amount of possibilities when it comes to bomb-crafting. It might sound like another attempt to add something that really doesn't need to be there, but the many different kinds of bombs that can be created really adds another layer to the gameplay, leading to all kinds weird and wonderful situations. It also means that if you want to replay a mission, you can use different bombs to try and do something different.

There's also "random events" that occur on the street every now and then. They aren't as common or well-handled as they were in Red Dead Redemption, but they add a degree of randomness the gameplay. Nothing can be as tense as shenanigans taking place on the street while trying to remain hidden from the guards looking for you. Veterans of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood's multiplayer will immediately know something isn't right when they hear the familiar, creepy whispering as a murderer sneaks up behind you with a knife, and there's a lot of other small details that are so easy to overlook.

Not every single new thing that Revelations tries to implement is successful, but it's easy to overlook these annoyances when a game is this impressive. Assassin's Creed: Revelation's delivers a strong story, many memorable moments, and a huge amount of content that will keep you busy for a long time.

-Fantastic conclusion to the stories of Ezio and Altair
-Large amount of content will keep you busy for hours
-Great musical score and voice acting
-Combat and free running are as fun as ever
-Bombs add a whole new tactical layer

-Tower Defense and Desmond sequences are boring and out of place