Posted: July 1
This game is an odd entry to this series. Not odd as in bad, but odd as in often quite different from previous entries but simultaneously repeating past mistakes. Often, sadly, lacking polish -- it seems like they didn't have time to properly finish this game.
As always, I will go through the different elements and parts of the game in a haphazard order.
Immediately you'll notice Ezio looks quite different from the previous entry. He is much older, even though only 5 years have passed since Brotherhood. Besides the age, his whole facial structure is different and he has strangely hazel eyes. Not really anything to complain about, it just threw me off since he doesn't really even look like the same character.
They seem to be trying to go for the 'weary traveler in search of answers/far away from home' sort of character development with Ezio here. That works out okay. The story in this game is, at the very least, better than AC1, II, or Brotherhood -- not to say that is much of a standard.
Style-wise, we've departed from ACII/Brotherhood. Different UI, enemy types, textures to go along with the Constantinople/Masyaf setting.
For the music, Lorne Balfe is in charge as opposed to Jesper Kyd this time. He does a great job. The music has its own sound quite different from II or Brotherhood. It's some of the best music in the series. Dramatic and powerful pieces really help bring together the feel of the game -- Ezio's last adventure/searching for answers at the end of a journey.
For the gameplay, we still have chain kills and assassin initiates you can call on anytime. The game is still absurdly easy, though they made chain kills slightly harder by making the time you have to counter a little less and varying up enemy types -- some are harder to counter/might need to switch weapons. A small improvement, but not nearly enough.
They added a hookblade and ziplines and the game talks about these things as if they're really important. They aren't. Hookblade is a replacement for climb leap, and it looks really stupid compared to regular double blades. Ziplines just let you...move across rooftops slightly faster? I guess? Again, hardly makes any difference.
They added a bomb creation system that goes just too far in complexity for anyone to devote time or effort towards. I don't really mean that it is difficult or complicated to understand. I just mean that adding a system that allows for creation of different effects -- distraction, crowd dispersal, AoE attacks, crowd attraction -- should be WAY easier. I shouldn't have to craft that stuff, it should just always be on hand and easily refillable. Good idea, badly executed.
They added a castle defense minigame for your 'assassin dens' that indicate your control of the city -- like the Borgia towers of AC:B, except you have to defend these. The minigame isn't bad if you're on KB+M, though I know it's not great if you're on a controller. I'm one of those weirdos who plays AC with KB+M and prefers it. It's an okay minigame, but it just seems sort of thrown in there, and lacking any depth or reason to keep playing it.
Constantinople is pretty and large. It is not quite as pretty as Brotherhood's Rome, partly because they decided to apply this gross smoky visual effect over the screen at all times. Besides that, a lot of the city is just colored brown and dark green, just sort of a splotchy vomit color.
So how is it beautiful then? The citizens, unlike AC1, II, and Brotherhood, actually have more routines and activities in the city. So, atmospherically, it is superior to the previous entries. In the other games, citizens walk around and gather in circles -- that's pretty much it. Here you will see vendors at their shops, fishermen actually fishing, beggars begging, and so on. The populace is lively and realistic, and it helps a lot in making Constantinople worth exploring and experiencing.
For side content, there is simply much less when compared to Brotherhood. It actually just seems like they didn't have time to finish many missions. There are 'thief contracts' -- but only two. This game has less of the focus on the three factions -- mercenaries, courtesans (Romanies), and thieves. Which is good, it was really odd how ACII/B were so fixated on them.
So the side content ends up being much less plentiful and it detracts from Constantinople -- just less stuff to do here. The lack of finish is a sad reminder of how they could make these games so much better if they would take their time and not rush them out yearly.
The story, as I said before, is at least better than the 3 previous entries in the series. There is much more structure, more explanation of Ezio's motives and reasoning for doing this or that, and things happen more naturally.
Ezio is looking for answers in Altair's vault, he needs five Masyaf keys, he must search for them in underground crypts and on the bodies of templars/byzantines. He writes to his sister, Claudia, frequently. His letters to his sister are used simply to remind the player of why Ezio is doing what he is doing, what his motivations are for continuing and what his thoughts on current events are. This is very helpful to the player and a huge improvement compared to the simply shoddy storytelling in the previous games.
The Masyaf keys let us play as Altair in memories that occur after the events of AC1. As I've explained at great length before, AC1 has bad storytelling, terrible voice-acting, and Altair is a stupid character. However, Revelations took this opportunity to make something decent out of Altair's story. He has a real voice actor who actually sounds Arabian/Middle-Eastern and his story has drama, loss, and death all complemented by Balfe's excellent soundtrack. Altair being able to invent and wield a gun in the 1200s, however, is a little silly -- the sci-fi crap doesn't excuse it.
The separate part of the storyline concerns the heir to the Ottoman throne, the Byzantine templars, and a pair of breasts known as Sofia.
The player is sort of expected to believe that Sofia, a twenty-something book store owner, falls in love with fifty-something Ezio, because the developers wanted to give him a happy ending. Whatever, it's dumb but I expect it from these games.
Somehow, the player is expected to care about the Ottoman story but I don't know why anyone would, the game even goes as far as to tell Ezio that it's none of his business by the end anyway.
They really enjoy bending history when it comes to the Ottomans v. Byzantines business. The Ottoman Empire was quite the utopia and the Byzantines quite oppressive and evil according to this game's revisionist history. These games always slip in highly modern viewpoints about fairness before the law and equal treatment that never really existed in the 1500s to appeal to moderns playing this game.
Desmond is much less annoying because he's in a coma and trapped inside the animus with Subject 16. The first-person platforming sections that go into Desmond's past are just fine, nothing too bad. Worth going through. So that's something of a plus compared to the atrocious dialogue in II and Brotherhood between all the modern characters.
Still, decent enough to be worth playing and having enough that it does better than the other AC games to be worth buying -- so, like Brotherhood, pick it up when it's cheap and go through it.