Title: Assassin’s Creed III
Developed By: Ubisoft Montreal et al.
Published By: Ubisoft
Based On: Assassin’s Creed franchise
Console: Playstation 3, XBox360, Wii U, PC
Genre: Stealth Action Adventure
Review Conditions: Playstation 3, Physical Media
Special Thanks: Ubisoft Australia for providing me with a copy of this title to review
The American Colonies, 1775. It’s a time of civil unrest and political upheaval in the Americas. As a Native American assassin fights to protect his land and his people, he will ignite the flames of a young nation’s revolution. Assassin’s Creed III takes you back to the American Revolutionary War, but not the one you’ve read about in history books.
While they may have prolonged the storyline a bit more than they should have, Ubisoft managed to do a great job in building / developing the world and life surrounding Ezio Auditore da Firenze in the previous three games. But with the storylines of Altair and Ezio more or less wrapped up, we now find the current-day Assassin’s and Desmond reliving the life of Ratohnhaké:ton (Connor) during the era of the American Revolution. Once again we find ourself controlling an Assassin as the primary character in the storyline, jumping across rooftops and doing everything else that has made the Assassin’s Creed series so great in the previous installments…. but does the introduction of a new character work as well as the previous two?
The storyline surrounds the American Revolution, which is not a historic event I am too familiar with myself but the game makes it easy to grasp the essentials of it through dialogue, prompts from current-day Assassin Shawn and your own personal background readings. The storyline incorporates Connor and the additional character cast into events of the war and also incorporate historial figures into the plot as well including George Washington. While it is the setting, they also deviate onto their own game-unique storylines which were equally well thought out.
Connor is not as memorable a protagonist as Ezio was, however for what his role was in the game it was well written and thought out. You see him as he progresses through his life, from childhood where he comes across the primary “antagonists” of the series to later life where he is called upon by Juno to join the Assassin’s Order in search for an object required by Desmond and his team in the current-day to avoid the earth falling to the assumed effects of 21st December 2012 and beyond as he trains, climbs trees (A nice new feature) and takes parts in the events of the American Revolution.
At times the plot can drag on, especially in the first few sequences but picks up later. As well, the game does feel to restrict you a bit more storyline wise – not giving you as much freedom to do what you want and pushing you to go from event to event (Even transporting you to the appropriate area at times rather than having you walk and explore your way there). But asides from these minor issues, it was still a creative storyline and I quite enjoyed working my way through it.
After Assassin’s Creed II: Revelations which saw Desmond trapped in the “Black Room” of the Animus unable to escape, it was a welcome change seeing the Assassin crew back in the real world with the addition of Desmond’s father ‘William Miles’ to the team. While Assassin’s Creed games are primarily about highlighting events from the past via the Animus, since the second game we have seen Desmond have an increasing number of abilities in his Arsenal but never done much with them. During a small number of occasions you will be able to take him out and take part in on-field missions – which while not delivering much in terms of the overall storyline (Except the final occasion and the conclusion) was a nice change of pace although by the end left me with some degree of uncertainty and interest about where they will take the story from here.
Many aspects of the previous games have made a return in Assassin’s Creed III – you still rely on a certain degree of stealth, you can climb up and jump across tall buildings, you collect things and attack with an arsenal of weapons that you have acquired and purchased from your hidden blade to a sword. For the most part I have no qualms with how they chose to implement them and they added just enough not to have to heavily rely on other features to draw a fifth-time players attention.
BUT while Connor doesn’t have access to some of the tools of the trade Ezio did by the end of his storyline, he comes with a number of new features which if you choose to use them should help diversify your gameplay. Having been raised amongst the Kanatahséton tribe, he begins the game will skills that have not appeared before – the ability to defeat and skin animals for resources and the ability to climb and circumnavigate his way around trees. Both of these are little features that are optional but help with setting the theme and can be quite fun to use if you are tired of walking the same path just on foot.
Outside of the abilities you start the game with, they throw in several other tools and skills progressively unlocked through the storyline. Some of the more prominent additions include the option to take part in navel missions where you both control the ship and fire at enemy vessels which were fun but in my opinion underutilized and the ability to take part in Homestead Missions which allows you to recruit services to your homestead by completing tasks for certain people. The Assassin Recruitment system returns simplified, but makes it a bit more challenging to recruit members than simply saving them. Other additions including the crafting system and additional weapons are a fun novelty to use however never go past that.
Assassin’s Creed III follows the same world structure as ACII where instead of having just one locality where the majority of the game takes place – it is spread over several regions including two major cities – Boston and New York as well as several forest areas. Each area is smaller and much less tedious to navigate (Plus the addition of Fast Travel) and offer plenty of tasks, liberation missions etc to do during main game and post game. For those who found themselves accidently attacking civilians in previous games, they have made it so it is possible albeit much harder to accidently do so – saving you from desynchronizing.
The game felt a bit more fast paced and challenging than previous installments, with the battle system requiring a bit more accuracy in timing and planning than mashing the attack button with your hidden blade equipped.
The multiplayer mode also makes its triumphant return with a new set of stages and characters to choose from. Along with a brand new storyline and returning game modes which work just as well as they did in the past – a notable addition is the Wolf Pack mode. While it took a while to find someone else willing to run this – it was a satisfying mode where you and three other players work at defeating specfiic groups of NPC targets before time runs out. Provided you enjoy the general Assassin’s Creed gameplay there should be something in this mode for you.
But there was one issue with this game which really detracted from the whole experience….. the bugs / technical issues. While there was nothing gamebreaking there were more than I would have expected to come across during my gameplay from lag issues and lockups to muskets floating in mid-air and a rather memorable experience in multiplayer where stealth seemed to prove nothing when my character was walking several feet above ground. While nothing that would result major concern, bugs and technical issues like this occurred spontaneously throughout the game.
Visuals / Music
With a new major numbered installment in the franchise comes a new version of the Animus which features a different but rather nice changes to the in-game menu, HUD and so forth. The visuals of the game are also up to the standard of previous installments and especially taking into account the ability to travel by both foot and tree – the world designs were up to scratch. Unfortunately as mentioned above there are moments where the frame-rates suffers along with occasional texture pop-in’s.
Music was yet again another strong point in this game, with a diverse selection of tracks which were used well to cater to the different moods and atmosphere portrayed throughout the game. The voice acting is of varying quality but when it comes to the main characters it worked well – although I highly recommend switching on subtitles as there are a few moments the voice acting is hard to hear – and it provides translations for phrases said in languages other than English.
While the storyline might not have won me over as much as previous installments have, the new additions to the gameplay were welcome and the direction of the “current day” storyline sounds like it will be quite interesting to follow in future installments. Given the few new additions to the multiplayer mode, provided the community stays populated I think it is a game I will continue to play in my spare time.
Storyline/Character Development: B
Music/Voice Acting: A
Personal Opinion: A-
Overall Score: A-