assassinscreed_web.jpgIn a video gaming world dominated by full-force melees and wanton firearms engagements, the stealthy approach favored by Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series is a welcome respite.

There's killing, and then there's killing with style. Assassin's Creed: Revelations (for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, $59.99) delivers the latter. Scurrying up walls in 1511 Constantinople just to shank someone in the neck has never been so fun.

To recap: You are Desmond Miles, a 21st-century man abducted by a large corporation that is a front for the ancient and enduring Templar Order. Using a device called the Animus, the Templars force Desmond to relive centuries-old memories of distant ancestors, all stone-cold killers, in an attempt to locate lost artifacts that will bring them ultimate world power. Those ancient memories are where all the fun comes in.

So how does it play? Gorgeously. The sprawling old-world metropolis of Constantinople is one of the most realistic gaming environments I've ever seen. It's wide-open for exploring, and the exhaustive attention to detail is really impressive.

Online play was decent. I was plunked down in a scene with a handful of other assassins, and we milled about a souk with some civilians before springing into action. I was given a target to kill and it was crucial to quickly find and dispatch that player without letting him know I was in pursuit.

Often, just as I was about to take out my target, I was treated to the cold steel blade of death myself. Trickery abounds everywhere online.

If I noticed my enemies coming and acted quickly enough, I was able to grant myself an “honorable death’” — which didn't prevent my demise, but gave me a few points for seeing it was coming.

In its solo campaign and in multiplayer, Assassin's Creed: Revelations is easily one of the year's top action titles.