Assassin’s Creed III carries a lot of similarities to the previous games in the series, but at the same time it feels like a completely new game. The game’s style, storytelling, and mechanics have been renovated, and the new feeling this game incorporates will be liked by many but will also undoubtedly put off a few fans.
The wonderful setting this time around focuses on the American colonies during the American Revolution. This series has always been known for its amazing graphics and attention to detail, and Assassin’s Creed III does not disappoint in the slightest. Boston and New York are not only great to explore, but extremely accurate, which gives great representation to the time period. From the lush forests in the warm seasons to the blanket of snow in the winter, the frontier is amazingly well done and the lifelike feel of the game deeply immerses the player.
The protagonist is Ratonhnhakéton, also known as Connor. He’s part of the Mohawk Nation and finds himself wrapped up in the war. The fictional aspects intertwine well with the true history as you get to experience major events; the Boston Tea Party, to name one. Connor isn’t nearly as endearing as Ezio, nor as mysteriously cool as Altair, but he does have some redeeming qualities. Watching him struggle through the confusing times of the American Revolution really displays the problematic issues of the war and how it affected people. Saying anything more could ruin the plot.
The story is remarkable, and Assassin’s Creed III takes the notions of overlaying themes further than the previous titles. Previously, the Assassins were good and the Templars were bad – it was black and white. However, in Assassin’s Creed III, the lines between Assassins and Templars are blurred in a morally gray world. They both claim they want what’s best for everyone, and these claims have strong logical reasons backing them. It actually makes you think that the Templars may not be evil, but simply want the same thing in a different way.
The gameplay is still the same as in previous titles, but the mechanics have been tweaked slightly. They are now simpler, which is both good and bad. It’s definitely easier to play, and the learning curve for newcomers has decreased. On the downside, with simpler controls comes an increase in miscommunication between what the gamer wishes and what the game actually does. It’s hard to run through the street without accidentally climbing a wall or jumping on top of a little box. It becomes a horror during chase missions, and the previous game’s control scheme circumvented this problem.
The fighting has become simpler as well, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s far more fluid; you can enter into battle and run away without that awkward phase of attempting to break your lock-on of an enemy. You counter by pressing the proper button when an icon flashes above an enemy’s head, and some enemies require a different counter or attack to bypass their defenses, which mixes up the fighting somewhat. Add in a plethora of tools and weapons and the fighting becomes even more addictive.
The true beauty of Assassin’s Creed III is how open the world is. It would take under ten hours to beat this game if you ran through all the storyline missions one after another, although this would be a waste. It’s incredibly easy to spend countless hours doing side-missions, earning money, or even just exploring – this game is filled with things to do. After twenty hours of gameplay, our total synchronization is still only at 56%.
Connor shares his homestead with his mentor Achilles, and it isn’t just a big house; it’s acres of land to be explored and hunted on. More importantly, by doing homestead missions you allow people to live on your land, and in turn, you can buy products from them, which is useful for crafting items that can be sold to make a profit. There’s something wonderfully endearing in seeing your previously barren homestead come to life as more and more people move in.
Assassin’s Creed has always added new features to each game; sometimes they work out and other times they don’t. This time, naval battles make an appearance, and they are incredibly fun. The battles are extremely intense as you try to maneuver your ship to line up that perfect shot. The controls are simple enough and easy to learn, but the battles can be strategic enough to keep your interest, making this a wonderful addition to the series. There are various other side missions, such as collecting feathers, trinkets, Ben Franklin’s Almanac pages, assassination contracts, and many more. The newest feature is being able to hunt animals, and you skin them afterwards to sell their pelts or craft items with them. It’s a nice touch, but isn’t fun enough that you’ll want to spend hours hunting in a forest. However, it’s completely optional, so if you don’t find it fun, then you don’t have to partake.
There is multiplayer and it’s just as intense as it has always been. There is a new co-op mode called Wolf Pack, and it’s more or less a score attack mode, as you work with friends to assassinate targets in increasingly difficult sequences. There are numerous other modes to experience, including the classic death match. This is where you are assigned a target to assassinate while simultaneously being hunted yourself. Never before has sitting on a bench been so nerve-wracking. Assassin’s Creed III is long enough, but the enticing multiplayer will keep you around even longer.
There are a couple of flaws present in this game. Travelling by horse is a nightmare, there are questionable enemy alerts, and it’s always curious how one failed assassination suddenly means two dozen enemies will appear out of nowhere. But the most apparent problem is the sheer amount of bugs. Some are simple, such as rifles and swords floating in mid-air, while others are far more annoying. For example, having to restart the game because you got stuck between a rock and a hard place… literally. There was one dramatic moment that turned hilarious when the characters’ lips stopped moving – you could hear all the intense shouting, but the characters’ faces just stared. Things like this aren’t acceptable and really take away from the game.
Shipping convoys of goods is an interesting economical concept, but nothing really that special, and the confusing menu doesn’t help. Like in previous games, you can recruit assassins to fight with you or to send on missions to level up while receiving money; however, this isn’t that fun or satisfying – there isn’t enough of a reward to really invest time in this. Sending out convoys and assassins just leaves something to be desired.
Connor may not be the most likable protagonist, but the story is riveting enough to make up for him. The gameplay has frustrating moments, but the fighting is entertaining enough to keep you brutalizing enemies for hours, and there are plenty of side-missions and extras in this game to keep you around for a long time. When it comes right down to it, Assassin’s Creed III is a good game. It makes changes, but that’s what a series should be doing. This is a hit-and-miss process, as can be seen in Assassin’s Creed III, but don’t kid yourself: this game is definitely worth your time.
This review is based off a retail copy of Assassin’s Creed III developed by Ubisoft and distributed by Ubisoft.
- Lots of Side Missions and Easter Eggs
- Sailing Mechanics are Excellent
- Good Multiplayer Modes
- A Very Unlikable Protagonist
- Several Frustrating Moments