Assassinís Creed III
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platform: PlayStation 3
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Leaving Ezio Auditore behind, Ubisoft has introduced a new Assassin to the series with Connor. On top of that, we speed things up in the Assassinís Creed timeline to the time of the American Revolution. Are a new character and a new setting enough to keep Ubisoftís critically acclaimed series going? Well, for the most part, yes, though the game is not without its flaws.
Desmond Miles, the modern day assassin who explores his ancestorís past, has located the Grand Temple of the ancient beings who created humanity and suffered the threat of extinction by a planetary disaster tens of thousands of years ago. Desmond is only days away from the same event happening again. All thatís needed is a key to unlock a solution to counter global annihilation. But to discover this hidden secret, Desmond turns to the Animus for perspective on a new ancestor, Ratonhnhakť:ton, better known as Connor. Connor was born and raised into the Mohawk tribe during the coming of the American Revolution. His ascendance to the Assassinís Creed helps shape the days of Americaís greatest chapter in history.
Along with hidden blades, Connor brings along new dangerous toys. Combat axe, dart ropes, don't kill without them.
In this way the story is both entertaining and disappointing. We come to see many nonfictional historical figures and interact with them in amusing fictional ways. The frontier and colonization of early America is a liberating tale of a nationís struggle for independence. Sadly, yet accurately, the Native American people are treated in a deplorable manner to achieve this privilege, and you canít help but be sentimental for that. The first few hours of the game contains a shockingly good cliffhanger. Without spoilers, I definitely praise Ubisoft for that. Unfortunately, the same canít be said about Desmondís portion of the plot. In present day heís trying to ward off the coming of the end of the world and by the conclusion of this game youíll find that this storyline is severely underwhelming and highly disappointing.
Assassinís Creed III has to boast the greatest graphics in the series. Connor explores both civilization and the frontier, each with their unique properties. While snowing, the frontier is a winter tundra, yet by springtime the forests are bright with all shades of green and earthly colors. The cities are complete with cobblestone streets, homesteads, farms, and everything in-between that suits that era in history. While it does look impressive, the graphics engine contains several bugs in the final game release. For example, thereís one of which you can spot very early. A ship captain will exchange a fair amount of words with you, but the captainís mouth will never move as the dialogue plays. Even the wildlife wonít behave properly at times. While they donít come at you all at once, the buggy new game engine can make you stare at the screen in bewilderment. Given that the gameís setting is massive compared to the other games; we have a more atmospheric soundtrack. It does wonders for exploring the frontier, but also brings personality to certain elements of the game like Boston and naval ship battles. The cast of the game is another success as they come to personify the characters they portray, whether they're fictional or not.
Assassinís Creed III operates on a new control scheme. Either you like change, or you donít. I thought it worked just fine. Taking on a group of enemies alone seems much simpler with the refined game engine. Parrying and attacking is just a matter of understanding your opponentís movement and making the appropriate move in return. Kill animations during a battle are ferociously rewarding. New weapons such as Connorís axe, bayonets, and rope dart are refreshing offensive options alongside the tried and true hidden blades. The engine was mainly changed to accommodate new features of the game, the most notable of which is tree running. Connor can jump across and swing from trees as he would on the rooftops of a town, but he can also climb higher and move between the body of a tree to get footing on tree branches. It was quite easy to get into and entertaining too. It beats walking around the surface of the forest. Missions are spread throughout a variety of locations. This includes the highly populated cities of New York and Boston, to rural farms on the outskirts of the cities, at the front of various battlefields, and the wide open frontier. Thereís a good change of pace to these missions and the added use of weather fluctuations give the sense that time passes slowly, yet your progress has a continued unrelenting force behind it. These missions, more accurately called ďsequencesĒ, also contain optional objectives that, if completed, result in a full synchronization of that particular memory sequence. While not required, these objectives serve as a good way the game offers replay value.
Ubisoft introduced naval warfare to the series and they didn't disappoint.
If itís one big new thing that Assassinís Creed III features, itís naval warfare. Connor takes the role of a shipís captain and issues orders to his crew. Shifting between the assortments of mast settings to combat the threat of high winds, or taking advantage of them, is all at your fingertips and itís handled practically flawlessly. Coming upon an enemy ship and blasting them to pieces with your shipís cannons is a thrill unlike any other in the game. Splinters fly, explosions burst, the sounds and sights of the splashing seawater, and the war cries of your crew expand the experience. While there arenít many occasions in the main story that feature ship sailing, there are plenty of side missions to fulfill that desire.
Among the gameís new features are hunting, exploration, and an in-game crafting and trade mechanic. While interesting, none of these features, with the possible exception of exploration, made the game anymore entertaining than naval fighting. While youíre given an extensive tutorial on each of these features, I was able to complete the gameís story without investing any time in them. Hunting and crafting/trading served no real purpose to the core theme of the game and are largely forgettable because of that.
If you run through the story, without taking on side missions, you could complete the game in about 10 to 12 hours. Liberation missions, naval warfare, taking over forts, collecting eagle feathers, and, of course, assassination missions can further your play time by many, many hours. Then thereís the gameís multiplayer portion that the series has made its own. Many of the game types youíre familiar with have returned, free for all and team deathmatch among them. The core gameís revamped engine also accompanies multiplayer, so youíll be able to get familiarized with no problem. On top of that there are a few tutorials that you can take advantage of to understand the modeís mechanics, or refresh your memory if youíre rusty. This is an eerily good game of cat and mouse. Finding your target and plotting your assassination, or even preventing your own assassination, makes for an exhilarating time. The game introduces two new modes to the series: Domination and Wolfpack. Domination involves a familiar concept, but with an Assassinís Creed theme, where three territories on a map must be captured and the opposing teams must make strategic decisions to defend and/or capture other territories. Wolfpack involves a group of four assassins taking on waves of enemy AIs, and each wave is progressively harder than the last. For any mode of multiplayer you try you can complete challenges and earn points that can be used to customize your chosen character, including their weapons and special abilities. Thereís quite a lot to unlock here and itís perfect for the gamer wanting a competitive online component to their game.
You can invest many hours in the game's remarkable competitive multiplayer.
Assassinís Creed III had a lot of weight on its shoulders. We knew that the 2012 in-game phenomenon would reach its conclusion, but there would also be an American Revolution story on top of that. The story that does take place in the past is entertaining. With each mission he undertakes, Connor strives to liberate his people and those who desire freedom. We get to see that the costs of those desires can have a steep price to pay, and thatís engaging. Yet for those who have followed the Desmond story from the beginning, you may just find the ending of that storyline to be quite unacceptable. I wonít ruin it for you, but if you must know Iím sure you can find it anywhere now. Still, the game presents more successes than failures and that shouldnít stop you from getting it. Assassinís Creedís first attempt toward creating a naval warfare experience was successful from the moment Connor sets his moccasins on a shipís main deck. The new game engine is easy to master and a good change of pace despite its cost: numerous bugs and glitches throughout the game. Lastly, that multiplayer, along with two new modes, should not be ignored. Itís creative, itís fast, and itís engaging to say the least. It wouldnít have been a personal pick for Game of the Year, but Assassinís Creed III is still a rather great game.