In Assassin's Creed Revelations, we once again meet up with Ezio in the year 1511 AD, four years after the ending of the Brotherhood story. He has travelled to Altair's headquarters in Masyaf to learn the true purpose of the Assassin's Guild by exploring Altair's library. However, the city has been taken over by the Templars who are looking for five data keys that Altair hid, which forms the theme of this story. Once Ezio escapes the area, he travels to Constantinople on the trail for clues to their locations. Here, he establishes his base with the Assassin's Guild Headquarters on Galata, one of four districts. As you find each key, you will play a short mission as Altair.
The general consensus among users seems to rank this game at the bottom of the series to this point and it's a position I entirely agree with. There are many little things wrong with it that by themselves would be minor, but add them all together and you get a game that falls flat. The first thing the developers did was to seriously age Ezio since this will be his swan song. Now, being a little on in life myself, I'm no ageist, but Ezio in his early fifties is almost unrecognizable as the Ezio we know. Secondly, they have crammed way too much stuff on the context sensitive controls and sometimes your character is unresponsive to commands, but these mechanics have always been somewhat buggy in each game. This is annoying if you are trying for 100% sync and the criteria might be to take no damage. Fortunately 100% sync is as meaningless as it was in the last game and only nets you replay cheats.
The streets of Constantinople seem deserted compared to Rome, the visuals are not up to par with the last game and Ezio's armour is unremarkable. The game is also light on things to do. I think there is only one mission per faction and even though these have a challenge board in their HQ, there is little reason to actually hire them to engage the guards. Unless you are a completionist, there is also very little incentive to try for them simply because the rewards offer no real advantage in a timely manner. So, I would highly recommend pursuing these challenges early on as later you can roam the streets and there is hardly a guard in sight, and even these are not prone to attacking you. One challenge is to throw them into scaffolding, but half way through the main quest it's hard to find any guards nearby.
The list of things they have dropped is quite long. There are no more glyph puzzles, very few vaults to explore for some platforming fun, no horses, no virtual training, and very few side missions with any substance. Gone is Leonardo with his fabulous machines and instead we have a potential love interest who helps Ezio locate the hidden keys. What they have added is bomb crafting with attached mini missions that are tutorials, master assassin missions connected to their training, and a mini tower defense game, which you can completely avoid. The one really good item that has been added is the hook blade, which makes climbing a cinch and allows you to use zip lines. Unfortunately, there is now little reason to actually use the roofs much.
Not much has changed with the combat except to overall make it easier once again. There is just very little challenge to this anymore and it seems that Assassin's Creed Revelations has been trimmed to the extent of bordering on boring. If you didn't have collectibles and assassin missions to assign, there would be little else to do in many areas. Even the collectible fragments do not show till after some missions and this seems the only reason to then return to most areas but, other than an achievement, there is no reward. Even buying most upgrades has little use as you earn armor and weapons when completing certain missions. The bookstore now sells books instead of paintings and there is zero reason to buy them. They don't even look pretty in the Assassin's headquarters.
What remains is opening stores, a few faction houses and some landmarks, which earns you notoriety. However gone are the posters to reduce this. You must bribe heralds or kill officials. If your notoriety becomes full, one of your assassin's dens may be attacked by the Templars and if so will trigger the mini defense game. This situation is entirely avoidable if you don't care for it. Personally, if I had wanted a tower defense game, I would have bought one.
As to Desmond's story, it's presented in the form of a mini game called Desmond's Journey. It minimally covers his upbringing and how he ended up in the hands of Abstergo. It's a very weird and uninteresting segment where Desmond can create platforms to bridge gaps as he travels through a virtual world of data.
I seem to get more frustrated with each successive game in this series. The developers introduce new things then fail to explain how they work in the in-game manual. The Assassin's Guild is a prime example. Either the method is borked or there is something I don't know as to why I often can't choose to send an assassin where I want to send them, and why I can't remove an assassin from a selection without backing out of the screen.
Add to all this the bugs starting with Uplay registration, freezing, black screens, camera locking that needs a restart and in-game directions to tutorials that don't exist. Your parachutes are also known to disappear after missions.
Basically, this is a game that feels like its under developed, but for fans following the story it will be a must play. Perhaps it sounds like I'm being harsh, but I've come to expect more from this series than this game offers. The basic premise is still enticing enough for me to try AC3 and hope they've done a better job with that one. I'm still playing catch up as AC4 is already on the horizon.