Good but Superfluous
Another year, another installment of Assassin's Creed. A series that has been released with solid titles in spite of the yearly grind of a new game. This game, however, was the first to really start to show that the yearly grind of releases is hurting the franchise. The game itself is good and the story is fine, but the game seems really superfluous.
You return as Desmond who is still in less-than-stellar shape from Brotherhood. Both Altair and Ezio are running around in his apparently catatonic mind and mixing with his own experiences. Desmond's exploits, however, are limited to some uninspired levels where Desmond controls the Animus to get out of test rooms. It's not bad --- but the addition seems a little needless.
Ezio returns as an old man who is seeking to open Altair's library before the Templars are able to do so. You end up finding the Apple of Eden that is similar to the keys to Altair's library and it allows you to control Altair in short, linear levels. But Ezio, as usual, is the star of the show and he has to, yet again, build up assassin's guilds and level up your recruits. Your control over traversal is second to none. Every aspect of the game is really well designed.
...except that there seems to be too much stacking on prior game conventions. They just keeping adding more and more on top of what they have done in the past and, this time, their choices weren't all hits. Not least of which, den defense is just terrible. A really bad tower defense style game that is just a chore and is completely different from the basic style of the game. The additions of bombs is a nice but not needed system --- not needed because, outside of doing bomb missions for an Achevement, I didn't use a bomb at any point in the playthrough. It just wasn't necessary and the developers didn't really give you a reason to NEED to do it.
I didn't love multiplayer last time (solidly done, but didn't click with me) and this didn't do better. I recognize that I'm in the minority and you are more likely than me to like it --- but it just didn't really click with me. I can't even place a real reason WHY I didn't like it. I just, you know, didn't.
The game checked all of the boxes for the series. Great visuals? Check. Great controls? Check. Almost 15 minute closing credit reel? Check. But Ezio needs to be retired because this basic game engine has been run for as long as they could and a change --- which it seems III is bringing, thank God --- is desperately needed.