The best Assassin's Creed since 2!
As per norm, the story focuses on two time periods, present-day has Desmond and his assassin allies trying to save the world from a catastrophe, and Ratonhnhake:ton aka Connor, an assassin of Mohawk blood trying to do right for his people during the American revolutionary war. Unlike most recent games, Desmond's side of the story is a bit more fleshed out, with three present day missions set around the world, plus, the actual conclusion to Desmond's story. Connor's has two parallel storylines going on at the same time, the optional Homestead missions which feature a ton of rather cliche'd, but endearing, storylines and the main storyline itself. The story is pretty good, but it does have a couple of oversights(Some which are explained in the novel, some which have no official explanation at all) regarding Connor and Haytham. Characters are a strong point in this one, Haytham in particular standing out as one of the best characters in the series so far, and now all your Assassin recruits have been fleshed out via optional conversations that flesh them out neatly. All in all, a decent story line, although it takes a bit before it gets going, Connor doesn't get to wear the Assassin robes until Chapter 5!, with great characters and a lot of optional depth.
Borgia/Templar Influence has been replaced with liberating forts from the British, however, these are completely optional, not getting in the way of your income, besides, each fort is completely different from the other, while they do all play out the same in the end, they at least offer some variation in how you must approach them, besides, there's only seven of them. Finally, we have the whole tunnel system, probably the worst side-activity in the game, which is used to open up various fast travel stations throughout Boston and New York. It wouldn't be an Assassin's Creed game without collectibles, and the game offers them in spades, from Feathers in the Frontier and Almanac Pages, Chests and Peg Leg trinkets around the cities, there's no shortage of stuff to find.
I don't know if I've made it clear yet, but there is a lot of content in the game. There's a ton of Naval combat missions, homestead missions, a ton of activities and minigames and other really interesting sidequests. There are assassination missions(Very simple "Assassinate X target"), courier missions(They are not even timed!) and Brawler missions in which you have to fisticuff your way through various opponents. Then we have the really good ones, the Frontier Tales and Hunting Missions. Hunting sees you tracking special breeds of animals and then hunting them, while Frontier Tales have Frontiersmen telling Connor about a folktale(The headless Horseman, a Kraken, a UFO, etc) and then you have to find the origin of said rumor, these consist mostly of going from one place to another and then pressing circle on certain spots, but it's really cool to see where the mundane origins of these rumors! And if you thought you were done, you'd be wrong. Instead of recruiting random NPCs and getting them into Assassin's robes, you know must complete a certain set of missions to trigger a "Recruit Mission" in which you recruit an NPC, up to six, for your assassins. As previously stated, all six of them have different personalities, backgrounds and designs, which is a step up from the generic NPCs from the older games.
It seems to be a recurring thing, but graphics are once again, much better than previous installments, at least when it comes to details on the character models. Boston, New York and the Frontier are all beautiful to look at and a refreshing sight, and the new weather system(Snow, Rain, Fog, Summer) is pretty neat. HOWEVER, neither Boston nor New York have as many high buildings as Italy or Constantinople, a minor loss, but it's quite noticeable. But, as per usual on AC, there is a lot of pop in and clipping. For some reason, character's clothes still clip through the horses, but even worse, during cut-scenes character's clothes will try to overlap each other, which is pretty jarring, not that seeing a ton of foliage just pop up in front of you out of thin air isn't. Music is fairly good, although not as memorable as previous games, and the voice acting is really good for the most part, with Haytham standing out(Not only is the character is extremely engaging, but the voice actor performed an outstanding job at delivering his lines).
Not since Assassin's Creed 2 had I had this much fun with a game in the franchise, heck, after Revelations my interest was waning rapidly, and then AC 3 came along. It's a fantastic game in every regard, it might not have the same impact as AC 2 had, but it stands on its own legs just fine. And Haytham is the best character in the series. Just saying.
8.5 out of 10.