• Review: Assassin's Creed III (PlayStation 3)

    Assassinís Creed III

    Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
    Publisher: Ubisoft
    Platform: PlayStation 3
    Genre: Action, Adventure
    Rating: Mature
    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.

  • Review Scale

    Score 10- Flawless Victory: A score not handed out to every game. Games earning this rare score sit at the very pinnacle of excellence. These games act as the examples for which all others should be measured with. They are instant classics from the beginning. These games not only deliver what was expected of it, but also exceed the player’s expectations. The game’s features are innovative and original. No game is without its absolute flaws, but the finished product you bring home surpasses the anticipation the game has formed. A day one buy is a must. The game you hold in your hands with this score is a video game jackpot.

    Score 9 - 9.5- Outstanding: Games earning scores such as these absolutely must be played. Games that achieve this high ranking do so because they define the genres that they are in. Flaws are few and barely noticeable. Features seen in the game have been renovated to provide something new and fresh. The story, gameplay, graphics, and lasting appeal are all fantastic and is reason enough to bring the game home and to enjoy with family and friends. Every penny you spend on the game is so worth it.

    Score 8 - 8.5- Great: Any flaw the game may possess is overshadowed by its fun factor. These games would be great for gamers to play. These great games appeal to gamers more and more outside its normal player base because of what it brings to the table.

    Score 7 - 7.5- Good: Flaws do exist in these games, but the positive features of the game can counterbalance the flaws. Additionally, players who are predisposed to liking a game of a particular series or genre with this score should enjoy the game. These are in no way bad games, and much fun can be had with them. An overall good game is worth taking a look at, whether you are willing to buy the game or rent it first. That or you can also wait for the game to reach a good price.

    Score 6 - 6.5- Decent: Games falling into this category may suffer from numerous flaws (for example, graphics or gameplay), but are still worth playing. Granted, the player should be aware that a game with these scores may not guarantee them full satisfaction.

    Score 5 - 5.5- Average: An average game is one in which a game’s features are neither good nor completely terrible. Instead, the finished product is manageable. Little has been done to hold the player’s interest. If anything, rent this game before you consider buying it so that you can at least get a feel for the game’s overall experience.

    Score 4 - 4.5- Poor: Games falling into this category may only keep gamers entertained for a short while. While the game may seem enjoyable for moments at a time, it can quickly grow old and may never be revisited again. The game’s overall function is lacking in quality and may not hold the player’s attention for long. The game leaves little or nothing else to return back to.

    Score 3 - 3.5- Bad: If any positive qualities about a game in this category exist, it is not enough to redeem the game for its shortcomings. Sure you may find yourself playing it, but for how long? You will wind up not giving the game a second glance.

    Score 2 - 2.5- Horrible: Games such as these may not be totally unplayable, they nearly are. Additionally, they may lack, or greatly suffer in, the fundamental functionality of the software as a whole. The game simply does not come close to meeting industry standards at the time of its release.

    Score 1 - 1.5- Appalling: Gamers should avoid this game at all costs. The game was clearly not ready to make its way to store shelves in its status. Save your money and find something else. See it in the bargain bin? No! Stay away! Keep moving and look for something else.