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The last time I played this was when it released in 2011. Fresh off the heels of Brotherhood, tied for my favorite entry Black Flag, I was excited for the conclusion of Ezio's story...and at the time, this did not live up to the hype. Fast-forward 9 years, however, where I'm an adult instead of a boy in high school and have just finished the PS 4 remastered version (after II and Brotherhood in the Ezio Collection), and I'm left looking on this more favorably...slightly.
Let's start off with my remaining complaints, of which there are quite a few. The world does not feel quite as "open" as those of the previous entries did, no doubt due to the super-compressed development cycle - you only visit 2 locations outside of Constantinople, one of which is for one mission only and amounts to a really big, watery basement. Ezio (and Duccio, I guess) being the only appearing carryover past character(s) from the previous two games sucks after Brotherhood felt like such a proper continuation of II with most of the main cast returning, and it really does feel like a side note in Ezio's life rather than one last big campaign against the Templars. I found the already-not-aged-well combat and platforming of II and ACB to be at its most frustrating here, especially when it came to fulfilling guild challenges. There's no central and present Big Bad for 7 out of the 9 story chapters, which is a shame after how threatening and charismatic (in a fucked up kinda way) Rodrigo and Cesare Borgia were. Oh yeah, and the present-day storyline is borderline nonexistent outside of vague conversations with Subject Sixteen and brief conversations you hear between chapters, courtesy of Desmond being in a coma.
That being said, however, it's far from all bad. Keeping killstreaks, Assassin recruits, and shop/landmark ownership from Brotherhood is a welcome touch, and Den Defense can be frantic, but is ultimately an engaging change of pace. More than a few times, the game lets you have A Taste of Power by commanding a Greek Fire cannon, getting unlimited Assassin signals, wiping out enemies with illusory subordinates courtesy of the goddamn Apple, and so on, and every time it's damn satisfying. Bomb-crafting is a little weird at first and probably overly forced, but can be very useful once you know what's going on. While Ezio's involvement in the Ottoman-Byzantine conflict doesn't feel quite as engaging as his previous two campaigns did (mainly because there he ACTUALLY ENDED THE CONFLICTS), his subplot with Sofia is very amusing and touching. Really, Ezio as a whole is the best part of this game - at age 50, he's one foot in the "so done with this shit" grave, but is still as suave and hilarious as ever, with old man-nerisms to boot. And of course, I'd be remiss to not mention the Altair flashbacks and story conclusion, which hit a lot harder after I watched a longplay of the first game in preparation for this replay (having never played 1 myself). It really does feel like the series paying homage to the man who started it all, even if his immediate successor is what made the series take off, and it's all the better for it.
All said and done, I would recommend Revelations only if you're invested in the overarching story of AC 1-3 - I figure most people are, since it's a pretty story-driven game series, but for those who aren't and want more like the peak that was Brotherhood - well, I can't recommend skipping to 3, since I'll be playing that for the first time later, but I definitely can't sell you on this one.
Revelations' problem is that its story is completely irrelevant and every mechanic it introduces is either terrible or useless.
This game is nine chapters long and in six of them you are stuck in the most boring city of world, Istanbul. There's no countryside, no horse, and precious few other areas to visit. Being able to free-roam as Altair in his time would have fixed this lack of variety.
The story hurts because Ezio has no story to tell. He's on a scavenger hunt but keeps getting involved in Ottoman politics despite having no stake in the affair. Altair, on the other hand, does have a story to tell but it's relegated to a few scenes with much of his character development off-screen. The one bit I liked was Ezio's romance with the woman who helps him on his scavenger hunt. It was the only time he felt invested in the goings-on.
The gameplay hurts because of conflicting game-design. Den Defence is pointless and the game encourages to grind to skip the process. The first-person Desmond levels stink due their boring gameplay, and the bomb-crafting mechanic is a needlessly elaborate system that you can also skip. What's left is a paltry number of sidequests, pointless collectibles, and rehashed mechanics from Brotherhood.
What really shows how confused the game is are the Full-Sync objectives. There are several awesome setpieces like chasing a boat full of guys shooting at you, but if you so much as stub your toe you get an F rating. The whole game is like this. One half wants you to have fun, the other half wants to grind, curse, and be bored.
I only played this game because it was cheap and on sale, but still ripped off. It's the fourth of nine games and it's tired. They managed to keep the series fresh for a while with the naval gameplay, but as a whole it shows the folly of trying to force out sandbox games on an annual basis.
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