The fourth installment (which is actually more like 2.3) is titled Revelations, which is more or less hinting at the idea that Altair and Ezio's stories will finally be rounded up and we can really move on to the meat of this story, and I really hope this is the case. Gamers have put up with Desmond going back and forth long enough, it's about time that he put on the hidden blades himself and took the fight to the Templars instead of running from them.
With that said, Revelations doesn't exactly pick up where Brotherhood left off, kinda, it's hard to explain. In the Desmond timeline, it does, the Animus has broken shattered Desmond's mind leaving him trapped inside his own little virtual world. He struggles to put his existence back together and reclaim his own identity. Sound confusing? That's because it really is. And this is where the story lacks. In the previous installments I looked forward to the Desmond portions of the game, but in this case they seem watered down, probably because of the change of environment, the familiar characters are barely voices Desmond overhears in his comatose state, making them seem distant at best. What makes matters worse is the fact that they were so pivotal to the previous game's cliffhanger ending. I was expecting a play by play of what happened after the last story ended, but what I got were barely the Cliff-notes.
The Desmond portions are also hindered by one of the two horrible new in game mechanics. When Desmond goes further into is consciousness to rebuild his reality the game for some reason switches into this absurd first person view and throws in some of the most annoying platforming puzzles I've ever seen. The controls are horrible, Desmond is granted the ability create little white platforms directly in front of him. He then climbs on to them to get to the next area. These sections are also plagued by some of the most boring narration in the series so far. Sure, we find out about Desmond's past, which has been a mystery so far, but it should have been done in a much less torturous way. And considering that this is what substitutes the amazingly fun puzzle solving of previous entries, it's a shame.
The ancestor parts are much more enjoyable, but not without it's letdowns. Once again, you assume control of the hooded assassin Ezio, this time a much older man, much removed from his prime. The problem is, he's still capable of everything he was last time you controlled him. I think this was a huge wasted opportunity. I mean, Metal Gear Solid 4 proved that using an old man can be an interesting dynamic to add to a video game, and I sincerely feel that ACR could have benefited greatly to more changes to the play style. Ezio's age seems to be nothing more than a superficial change, kind of like a character skin.
Also back in the mix is Altair, whom you assume control of for several occasions, filling in the rest of his life. These parts are actually very cool, story heavy sections. They quickly became the sections I looked forward to the most. Creative storytelling is implemented nicely and it actually does keep you invested. Oddly enough by the end of these sequences Altair is over one hundred years old, and age is implemented very well here. He almost reminds me of Yoda at the end of Attack Of The Clones.
Unfortunately, most of the time is spent as Ezio, completing a main quest that almost feels like side missions once you consider how irrelevant it is to what's really going on. I won't even go into what the story entails, the game basically tells you, to get to what you really want to do you need to do this shit first. And it just feels like busy work. Once it all boils down to the bare bones, it's a filler game. Ubisoft wanted to finish Ezio and Altair's stories so we could move on once and for all... I hope.
The gameplay is almost identical to Brotherhood, except for the locale change. Other than that, the additions of bomb crafting and the hook-blade are nice distractions but they barely merit a whole new game. It feels like a bit of an upgrade but it's nothing spectacular. I went through most of the game without using a single bomb, and they can be fun, but not really necessary. The zipline system is quite useful, when you can find one, mostly because you can only use ones that you can zip down from; and trust me, nothing is more frustrating than fleeing from a fight and finding a zipline just to realize you're at the wrong end of it.
The other awkward gameplay decision is the new tower defense mode that happens when one of your bases is under Templar attack. It's pretty bad. You kinda get thrown into the first one by surprise, and it's barely explained. The weirdest part is that they're almost optional. You never have to do it for a second time if you can keep your notoriety down. It's like the developers know how bad it is and they gave you the chance to skip it altogether. Smart move.
This game is without a doubt a filler story. Ubisoft needed to tie lose ends before moving on to the next big thing. The problem is that I don't think it needed a whole new game. This could have been shortened and been downloadable content. I still give Ubisoft all the credit in the world, this is still a good game, it does what Brotherhood did well, it just stumbled in other areas. And the fact that it got made in a year is amazing, I just wouldn't mind waiting two years so we can fix all those little issues.