Here's my take on AC-R:
Topkapi Palace is detailed fairly well, as is the Grand Bazaar, and other landmarks like Hagia Sofia, the Galata Tower, and the Maiden's Tower. The rest of the city feels like any other AC game, except for the minarets. Tile roofs and towers, courtyards and caverns. The programmers threw in some carpets for effect, but it feels like Ezio could be anywhere, especially since the Bosphorus looks like a small river or maybe a Venetian waterway. (The Bosphorus is much wider in real life and you wouldn't want to swim across, my dear Ezio.)
But if you like Ezio's previous worlds, then the familiarity is a plus. (Even I can't really complain.) I was disappointed with the way programmers handled the Yerebatan Sarnici. They must have had plenty of leftover code and thought they could get away with chopping it up into sections. I can almost forgive them. There are plenty of cisterns under the city which might fit into their labyrinthine plan, and some of them must connect to Yerebatan Sarnici. What I don't accept is the way programmers handled the caves of Cappadocia.
Problem #1: There are no navigable rivers in Cappadocia, yet Ezio hops on a ship in Istanbul and lands right at the hidden entrance to a rock city.
Problem #2: The city is inside a huge cave. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the cities of Cappadocia are carved into cliff faces, or dug seven stories down like ground squirrel warrens. Supersized, giant caves? Felt like a device the programmers used so they could suspend a challenge from the ceiling. *ahem*
So besides hydrangeas and aptly placed white tulips, what did I love about AC-R?
Otherwise, the city folk are pretty standard. Instead of Venetian courtesans, we swap out a few dresses et voilà: Romani gypsies. Veiled women and turbaned men roam the streets in between groups of Ottoman Janissaries, who look pretty darned awesome in their detailed uniforms. I've got a thing for Janissaries though, so maybe it's just me. Uniforms aside, there isn't much difference between them and the Byzantines supporting theTemplars of the AC-R conflict. All guards act the same as any soldiers in previous AC games.
Bottom line: don't expect anything outrageously different from AC-R. Expect to spend some more time with Ezio Auditore da Firenze, relive a few scenes with Altaïr, and help Desmond out with the Animus.
You know what to you need to do.
Psst...Go play the game! Desmond is up next. ;)