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Assassin's Creed: Revelations

Under the hood.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Aren't we bored with Ezio by now? Assassin's Creed may be a game about exploring the past but it's high time Ubisoft turned its attention to the future – not least because we're unsure Desmond Miles can handle another cliffhanger ending. He's already in a coma.

Unfortunately, Ubisoft isn't quite ready to whisk away the curtain and show us what's going on in the real world. So this year's instalment in the Assassin's Creed series – always a jarring way to have to describe a narrative-driven video game – is stalling for more time.

Ezio's back, along with a comatose Desmond and even original hero Altair. While the name of the game may be Revelations, for this lot it might as well be called Closure.

If you do feel you've had enough of Ezio, though, remember that while he may have been the lead character in the last two games, the real stars were the cities. Florence, in particular, and last year's Rome were enormous, beautifully reconstructed visions of Renaissance Italy. The success of those games owed just as much to crawling over their intricate rooftops and delving into their depths as it did to Ezio's machinations.

Constantinople, the setting for much of Revelations, should be a fine and distinctive addition to that dynasty. Ezio journeys to the city that became Istanbul at the height of the Ottoman Empire under Suleiman the Magnificent, when it was already a crossroads between East and West where many Jews, Muslims and Christians had been forcibly relocated.

Neighbours but not necessarily friends, these different cultures invested their surroundings with a diversity that suits an openworld game. The hilly terrain should also be useful – Ubisoft estimates that 85 per cent of Constantinople is on a slope.

The years show on Ezio's face, but he's still as nimble as ever.

Ezio, who is a little older and greyer but seemingly no less acrobatic, is in town on the trail of (who would have thought?) another balding, beardy Templar bad guy. On a pilgrimage to Altair's home city of Masayaf – the series' starting point – he is assailed by the Templars and discovers they are seeking five seals that are needed to unlock a library hidden beneath the city, where Altair has buried a weapon of great magnitude. Four of those seals are located in Constantinople and the fifth is in the possession of the Templars.

For the E3 demo, we join Ezio as he prepares to leave the city and seek out his Templar nemesis. First he talks to the local Assassin's guild chief Yusuf and discovers that the harbour has been blockaded with ships and barricaded with a large chain drawn from the old Tower of Gelata. (As with many things in the Assassin's universe, the chain was a real thing that Ubisoft is borrowing for its purposes.)

In good news, Yusuf has a new type of bomb for Ezio – one more than 50 times more powerful than his usual fare. Bombs will play a big part in Revelations (there will be around 300 and you'll gather items to craft them as you play). As he reaches the Tower Ezio uses one of the lighter varieties, a splinter explosive, to kill a pair of the local Janissary guards.

Yusuf meets Ezio in a market in the north of Constantinople.

As he moves closer still, he gets in a fight with some more Janissaries and someone throws a smoke bomb. This clouds proceedings and gives us an excuse to see how Ezio can use Eagle Sense to pick out movements in the haze (Eagle Sense, an updated version of Eagle Vision, also lets Ezio perceive the paths enemies will take so he can set up explosive ambushes).

Once the bad guys are out of the way, Ezio plants Yusuf's bomb, steps back and then detonates it with a shot from the pistol on his gauntlet. The Tower falls in on itself and the chain across the harbour descends.

Before Ezio can make his escape, though, he still needs to deal with the blockade. So he uses a new device, the hookblade, to ride a zipline down to a nearby ship where he can take advantage of Greek Fire – the Byzantine equivalent of a flamethrower – to set the surrounding ships ablaze.