Strictly within the Assassin's Creed universe, I thought Ubisoft couldn't do much worse than AC Revelations, but this iteration takes the cake as the worst of the series. Although kudos have to go to the developers for historical content, it would be nice if they for once put the same effort into instructions. AC games are chock full of elements and it can be frustrating to sort out how they all work. The games have become less and less cohesive and more like snippets of story squeezed in between collecting and challenge lists. To make matters worse, there is an almost permanent skip button on screen (which tells you there is a lot of short cinematics ) and it's not uncommon for them to trigger before you're quite finished with matters.
Speaking of the story, AC Revelations saw an end to Ezio and our new character is Connor, the offspring of a short liaison between a Templar named Haytham Kenway and a native American woman named Kaniehti:io. Connor is not his real name, but one that is adopted after he decides to train as an assassin under the tutelage of Archilles Davenport. The time period is the American Revolution during the late 1700's when there is rivalry between the ruling British and the new American colonists. Haytham is a Templar and the character you play in the beginning. Later you assume the role of his son, Connor, who vows to oppose the Templars. Desmond also makes a return with some sequences outside of the Animus.
As a character, Conner is without personality either good or bad. He's stiff as a plank, lacks any charm or humor and is downright dull - not unlikeable, just totally uninteresting. I appreciate that the devs try to stay true to historical reality, but much of Connor's dialogue in the first part of the game is in subtitles as he speaks his native Indian language. This is a bit too real for my tastes and I found it irritating as I like to play a game, not read it.
I liked the combat, finding it more reminiscent of Brotherhood with chained kills and cool animations when you can manage to trigger them. Also the controls allow for more fluid motion during fights and in free running. Don't tell me they are finally getting this part right. This allows you to take on mobs, which is just too much fun. There is also a lot of stealth involved in some missions and in hunting, which is a mechanic that I hate because, lacking patience, I'm not a stealth person and usually fail these challenges. Luckily, as in previous games, 100% synchronization nets little in the way of rewards. Also, sometimes the optional sync goals don't show up on screen till it's too late. Conversely, on one mission they wouldn't go away and blocked the top quarter of the screen. And hold on to your hats folks, they have also introduced QTEs into lock-picking and some other functions. These are incredibly stupid mini game controls, which will probably drive you mad at times.
The economy system in this game is based on hunting, crafting, stockpiling and sending out land and naval convoys, but at sequence ten I still hadn't found much reward for using this feature. There are side missions to upgrade your Homestead and the collection of useless items whose only goal seems to be chewing up gameplay time. It is also much too convoluted, involving many steps, from finding recipes in chests or earning them, to actually using the interface. The crafting system is just downright awful and is buggy. You collect these items to craft goods that can be shipped by land or sea and sold to merchants that have been unlocked through missions and you could experience a major bug with naval convoys that is yet to be fixed. Many of the Homestead missions are a bit of a joke with how awkward Connor is.
As to the Assassin's Guild, you very rarely actually need to call on them for help barring a couple of missions. Recruits become available after you find them in taverns and do their personal mission. You can then send them on missions as before, but the whole thing is fairly pointless. The underground to open up fast travel is a necessity, but is just an endless series of walking a maze with easy puzzles once you find the fast travel locations. All of these elements are like they are tacked on, with Connor's interactions with his Homestead citizens extremely stilted. To tell you the truth, all of the side missions feel a bit shallow and unfinished.
Naval missions are new and are kind of fun, however there is a serious glitch that can prevent you from sending Naval convoys once you have cleared them. The risk is supposed to go down, but the bug keeps them at 80% instead of 5%. Luckily, the economy element sucks anyway and you can just sell your stuff at general stores.
As always, the graphics in these games are pretty good. Having said that, the clothing for this time period is pretty dull and most of Connor's armors are downright ugly. There are several areas to explore; the Homestead, the Frontier, Boston and New York. However, the city maps are very hard to read making it difficult to know where you are. There is also little incentive to purchase weapons as only a few give good stats. The Homstead is also plain and upgrades do little in the way to beautify it.
Although all of this may sound negative, keep in mind that these are comparisons to previous AC games. In general, the game is okay, but that's the best you can say about it. It has some nice elements, but overall fails to deliver a great experience. On top of this, there are a lot of glitches. The series is just getting too bloated with useless stuff and to this point has become more about mini challenges and collecting. However, I hear that AC 4 Black Flag may be better.