amazing game sequel, and entertaining storyline
Ubisoft's ambitious undertaking with Revelations, which spanned a half dozen studios across the globe, follows no less than three lead characters, which would be downright catastrophic in the hands of lesser developers. The game's story not only involves Ezio's quest to uncover the secrets of his order, but his budding romance and entanglement in a complex political situation as well. Add in flashbacks to key moments in Altair's life and brief, optional excursions to Desmond's mind in the Animus and this plot is packed to the limit.
Somehow it all works. The most compelling material by far involves Ezio, as his storyline is the most complicated. His quest to discover more information about Altair ties itself to the political and social turmoil in Constantinople. That in turn makes its way to Sophia, who quickly becomes a romantic interest despite the fact that Ezio pardons himself every five seconds to stab someone in the chest. The sequences between Sophia and Ezio flourish emotionally despite their brevity. You believe these two characters are slowly falling in love despite the chaos around them. It's impressive how convincing these moments can be.
Ubisoft's overall storytelling has reached new heights. Previous games seemed to get some cinematic sequences exactly right while others completely missed the mark. Those awkward, jolting moments are completely gone, replaced instead by very real, fully developed characters in strongly-scripted scenes. That leap alone helps elevate Revelations above some of its predecessors. The game's visuals have likewise taken a step up, with characters and their expressions looking better than ever. Voice acting is fantastic and the soundtrack is incredibly solid. All of these improvements, combined with a franchise-best city design, add to the larger narrative experience of the game.
On a basic level, Revelations functions much like the Assassin's Creed games that came before. You're still accepting various missions that task you with chasing, stalking, meeting or killing certain targets. The curse of the franchise has always been that it seems to fill your time with missions that are completely irrelevant to the larger story. Ubisoft more or less avoids that trap this time, mostly because its plot has so many layers. Still, expect a handful of quests that feel a bit too superfluous or are poorly constructed. The game's introduction suffers particularly from some very awkward parameters, setting an odd tone for its opening hours.
Ezio's Dangerous Final Journey
The most thrilling moments of the game come when Ezio discovers clues about the keys to Altair's library. It's here where the series' infamous "dungeon" sequences come into play. Much like the Lairs of Romulus or Assassin's Tombs, these epic excavations take you on wild rides that would feel perfectly at home in Uncharted. At times a journey through damp caves and at other times epic chases alongside rivers, each of these segments are simply fantastic, and are the highlights of the entire game.
Almost equal to finding Altair's keys are the chapters that feature Altair himself. Each major portion of the game includes a segment with Ubisoft's original assassin, and players will relive specific moments throughout his life, ranging from a very young age to much older. Some of these missions feel very similar to Ezio's, while others are decidedly different. The variety helps keep things fresh, as does the fact that they're very story-driven and help bring a certain amount of meaning and weight to what Ezio is doing. By the end of the game, you'll see similarities between the two men - as well as differences - which help form one of the key emotional cores of the entire experience.