We see this as an opportunity to wrap up the tapestry of storylines between Ezio, Altair and Desmond - and set things up for future instalments," says Brent Ashe, art director on Assassin's Creed Revelations.
It's a neat answer, but one that dodges the burning question. Why bring Ezio Auditore back for a third game? After Assassin's Creed 2 and Brotherhood, his story already felt complete. However, while Ashe remains evasive, watching the E3 gameplay demo sinks home the cold facts - this is a sequel of spectacle not invention.
Revelations is significantly more Hollywood than previous Assassin's Creeds. We see Ezio destroying an entire harbour with some kind of Renaissance flamethrower conveniently mounted on the stern of a ship, leaping across sinking, burning galleons to stab the odd unfortunate Turk and zip-lining onto the last boat out of town.
It's a departure from the tense stealth action of the original - and the excellent sequel - and we're uneasy. This early taste feels like Assassin's Creed turning its back on what made it great: the stealthy setup, the brutally perfect kill and the subsequent acrobatic, cunning escape .
SMOKE AND MURDERS
In keeping with this new approach, Ezio can craft and buy grenades. Some wipe out groups with a mini explosion, while others pump smoke to hide your powerful one-hit finishers. Oddly, straight combat appears to have taken a step back, with the stuttering counter-kills of AC2 replacing the flowing slices of Brotherhood. Fortunately, freerunning remains slick - Ezio's new Hookblade allows him to zip around Constantinople with smooth speed.
Elsewhere, Ashe confirms the return of multiplayer, new puzzles for the Desmond sections and improved Brotherhood missions - fresh ways to recruit and level up your assassins, for instance, while the missions themselves are more interactive. The Borgia Towers return (now they're called Assassin's Dens) and controlling them allows you to renovate the city.
Flashback missions staring Altair? They're in too. It's promising in some ways - and some more off-beat modes might yet be announced - but the explosive set pieces do little to mask the increasingly familiar formula. No shocks, no surprises... no real revelations.
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