But after putting the blessed hookblade through its paces it's apparent the tool adds quite a bit to the mechanics. Racing along ziplines, dropping off early and crashing down onto baddies for zipline assassinations is the flashiest of its new moves, but by no means the handiest. Rather, the hookblade's 'hook and run' move - a tasty little ability that sees Ezio sprint into an armed enemy, hook his
shoulder, flip him over and continue running, unopposed - is a handy way to link together parkour and combat elements in one free-flowing move by doing nothing more than holding R and B. Or, if you're being chased, how about tapping B when you're running past some scaffolding to stick out the hook and bring the structure toppling down onto your pursuers?
The hookblade's best fillip comes into play when Ezio's legging it over balconies and signage and encounters a hanging basket. Normally he'll clutch onto the chained pot and swing around a 90 arc to carry on his run at an angle perpendicular to his original direction. He can still do that, but if you choose to tap B at the moment of contact Ezio will instead use the hookblade in tandem with his momentum to launch himself forward in a street-clearing doublejump.
The move really comes into its own during the secret location chases; our earlier canyon-run in particular. The shortest path to the Byzantine enemies necessitated expert hookblade usage to criss-cross over the bubbling river without fail, resulting in a flawless display of gymnastics complicated enough to give chimpanzees the sweats. However, unskilled players needn't panic. If frequent perfect double-jumps are too tough to perform, they'll simply spin round the hanging basket and be diverted down slower, more roundabout routes instead.
Ezio has plenty of other new toys (take a look at the QR code over to the right for more news on those) but it's his relationship with Altair that truly makes Revelations a more interesting beast than its predecessors. In an Inception-like twist, as we delve through Desmond's DNA and play back Ezio's memories, we'll occasionally flash back in time even further.
Ezio explores the deepest secret areas of Constantinople to track down keys left by Altair, and on finding each one he'll
return to Altair's codex pages and discover more stories from his past. In these moments we dive deeper into the memory banks and regain control of Altair in some more linear levels. Both the flashbacks we tested took place in the original game's Masayaf hideout, but there's strong reason to believe we'll venture elsewhere in the remaining levels.
We'll refrain from talking too much about what takes place in these levels - they're pretty spoilerific for anyone wanting
closure on Altair's life - but know that they're a mixed bunch featuring some parkour, some fighting, some Piece of Eden shenanigans reminiscent of Brotherhood's ending and more than a little exposition on top: all the ingredients of a solid Assassin's Creed game... plus a little bit more. Getting to burn Al Mualim's body is particularly satisfying after all he put us through in 2007.
Revelations sees Ubisoft positioning Desmond for next year's last stand...
Enough dilly-dallying, though: we've promised shocks and, by God, we'll deliver them.
We'll preface said shocks by saying some readers might consider this a bit too much in spoiler territory for their liking, so read at your own risk.
The single most surprising feature of all isn't related to Ezio, nor does it concern Altair. Instead it centres on Desmond and his new friend, Subject 16, who meet on an island...
History time. Desmond was Abstergo's Subject 17, and at the end of Assassin's Creed he discovered messages scrawled all over his cell from previous captor Subject 16. In Assassin's Creed II and Brotherhood, Desmond discovered glyphs inside the Animus hidden by Subject 16. The culmination of these secrets even lead to a fragmented vision of 16 himself, who pleaded with Desmond to track him, 16, down.