His­tor­i­cal ad­ven­ture at its best

AS­SAS­SIN’S CREED: REV­E­LA­TIONS

Ottawa Citizen - - LIFE -

Rat­ing: ★★★★ 1/2 Avail­able on: Xbox 360, PS3 and PC

Rated: M for Ma­ture

With the lat­est in­stal­ment of the As­sas­sin’s Creed se­ries, Ubisoft has ce­mented the fran­chise as one of gam­ing’s great­est mas­ter­pieces.

In As­sas­sin’s Creed: Rev­e­la­tions (the fourth ti­tle in the se­ries), gamers are rock­eted for­ward in time to find an aged and weary Ezio Au­di­tore da Firenze. When the char­ac­ter was in­tro­duced in the sec­ond in­stal­ment of the se­ries, he was young and fool­hardy. He watched as his fa­ther was framed and mur­dered by the evil Knights Tem­plar, a cor­rupt group that had seem­ingly in­fil­trated ev­ery level of govern­ment and busi­ness. He was trained as an as­sas­sin to ex­act re­venge. His ef­forts ef­fected so much change in the so­cial and po­lit­i­cal cli­mate of Re­nais­sance Italy that oth­ers joined his cause, form­ing as­sas­sin “brother­hoods” aimed at desta­bi­liz­ing the hold that the Tem­plars had on Ital­ian so­ci­ety. Ezio’s quest took him through­out Italy, with stops in Florence, Venice and Rome. When As­sas­sin’s Creed: Rev

ela­tions be­gins, gamers are reac­quainted with Ezio, who has aged and sports a full beard. He has left the hus­tle and bus­tle of cos­mopoli­tan Italy and is on a quest high in the coun­try’s moun­tains, look­ing for a long-lost li­brary that was hid­den by one of his an­ces­tors. The li­brary is “a sanc­tum full of in­valu­able wis­dom” and has been ru­moured to hold a weapon that could end the war be­tween the Tem­plars and the as­sas­sins.

How­ever, the Tem­plars also know of the li­brary.

Af­ter fight­ing his way to the locked li­brary door, Ezio dis­cov­ers it has been sealed. It can be opened if all of the door’s keys can be found. The keys have been hid­den in the city of Con­stantino­ple — an­other fact that the Tem­plars are well aware of. Ezio trav­els to Con­stantino­ple to re­trieve the keys and ex­pand the reach of his as­sas­sin brother­hood, while work­ing to stop the Tem­plars from tak­ing over the city.

Lay­ered on top of Ezio’s epic quest are the strug­gles of Des­mond Miles, one of Ezio’s descen­dants who lives in modern times. While As­sas­sin’s Creed is es­sen­tially about Ezio’s life, it is seen through Des­mond’s eyes. He uses a ma­chine called the An­i­mus to tap into the mem­o­ries of his an­ces­tors. The strange con­nec­tion be- tween Ezio and Des­mond is con­fus­ing and of­ten breaks up the mo­men­tum and emo­tion built while play­ing through Ezio’s ad­ven­tures. Luck­ily, Des­mond’s in­volve­ment in the game is min­i­mal.

This is re­ally Ezio’s show. He is a won­der. Even in his old age (he re­peat­edly re­minds play­ers of his aches and pains), the now el­derly as­sas­sin can still climb walls like Spi­der-man, tri­umph over en­e­mies and dis­ap­pear al­most in­stantly into a crowd.

Equally im­por­tant to the game’s ap­peal is the at­ten­tion to de­tail that its de­sign­ers have put into re-cre­at­ing Re­nais­sance Europe. De­sign­ers trav­elled to Is­tan­bul and worked with his­to­ri­ans to re-cre­ate what was once a ma­jor Euro­pean cen­tre of trade. Bright red sashes adorned with gold hang from ven­dor’s stands in the Grand Bazaar and the spires of the Ha­gia Sophia rise high into the sky above the city. Trav­el­ling through the city is vis­ually stun­ning and ul­ti­mately adds to the game’s ap­peal.

The ti­tle is a mas­ter­piece and is eas­ily one of the best games of 2011. It de­serves to be at the top of a lot of Christ­mas wish lists.

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