Assassins Creed III
It’s been 5 years since we first stepped into Ubisoft’s unstoppable world of Assassins Creed with the original title, but since then have been given new instalments year in, year out, with Assassins Creed III being the fifth main game in the series, not counting the handheld spin-offs. With so many titles being churned out, and the impending risk of turning stale from annual instalments, Ubisoft have gone all out with Assassins Creed III, delivering the most ambitious title in the franchise by far. Has the risk paid off, or has exhaustion of the series’ yearly adventures finally caught up with it in a most unsatisfactory manner?
Assassins Creed III ditches one of the primary staples of the franchise, taking it away from the previous European/Middle Eastern setting of the previous games, instead taking the story a few hundred years forward into an American Revolution setting, with new cities, characters and environments to explore. Players still take control of Desmond Miles, as he once again plants himself into the Animus to relive his ancestors memories in an attempt to stop the projected 2012 apocalypse. You will have had to been following closely from the first game to wrap your head around just whats going, as Ubisoft have done a poor job of bridging the gap between ACII and ACIII, which begs to ask the question; why the numerical value here, and not on Brotherhood or Revelations, when they are now so clearly essential to understanding just what in the hell is going on?
But I digress; assuming you’ve been following the storyline this whole time, ACIII doesn’t disappoint here. It’s tight, concise and full of the intrigue the series has become known for. The real treat through, is the story of the ancestors, who this time primarily take the form of American Indian tribesman, Connor. Connor is a young and very interesting character. From this one game alone, I would say he is an infinitely more interesting and likable person than we’ve seen of Ezio from three titles. This makes for a very fun time while playing as him, made even better by the new setting. With Europe and the Middle East getting fairly stale in the previous games, the new setting of Eastern US on the brink of revolution is very much welcomed.
I found for a game based on ‘Assassins,’ the mission structure was still poorly designed, with most of main game playing out as overly-scripted action moments with big set pieces and drama. It’s great for the storytelling, don’t get me wrong, but the series’ hasn’t given a feeling of actually playing as an assassin since certain parts of the second title, or for a better example, almost all of the original game.
The core gameplay is still pretty much the same as the previous games, with the combat style showing its age now. You’ll still be surrounded, and still have just one – or none… – enemy attack you at a time, making everything able to be too easily handled, with simply block/counter attacks almost serving themselves on a platter for you to abuse and throw around like free candy. The game genuinely isn’t a challenge because of this. Freerunning has been polished over though, and is more enjoyable and simple as ever, playing well into the new features.
Speaking of which, ACIII has just enough new features to satisfy, without any of the poor gimmicky additions you’ll likely remember from Revelations. One of the biggest and most welcome of the new features is the naval side of things. Connor captains a large warship, which can be upgraded and taken out to sea to fight off some rather unsettling folk from time to time. It’s good to see a developer not abuse a new feature by overloading the campaign with its inclusion when they manage to do something so right, but rather just complementing the whole experience with requires dabbles of it here and there, and some more optional missions if it suits your tastes. From the tense naval battles, to going out of your way to afford the latest upgrades and additions for your ship, this is surely going to be one of the more memorable parts of the game.
You can also now hunt a wide range of animals scattered across the land. Connor has access to some great items that make this a surprisingly enjoyable time waster. Hunt and kill the game, sell their organs and body pieces for cash money! Good deal, huh?
Assassins Creed III is a beautiful game, there’s no doubt about that. The new engine has really upped the quality of the animation of not just the main characters, but the whole world around you. Animals look and move fluently, and the ships handle wonderfully out on the open sea!
Best of all though, is the new setting of the game, which has made for completely redesigned scenery. You don’t have to be a scholar to see how similar the environments of the last 4 series instalments looked, but this game couldn’t get away with that. Everything you see is brand spanking new, and it really stands out. With the dynamic changing seasons and weather, we see the world in various stages and states, but never failing to look great. Textures and models –I found the clothing and costumes were a standout factor – are pitch perfect, with only the background NPC’s and some of the animals lacking in polish in terms of modelling.
Unfortunately, while I praise the stunning new environments and engine, I can’t say the same about how it’s utilised. When put to practise, Assassins Creed III is an incredibly buggy title. The camera is particularly poor, finding itself in awkward positions and unusable more often that I can forgive. At times, certain bits of the environment, structures and even some characters wouldn’t load, not just in gameplay, but cutscenes too. I had my playable character change size into that of a child and seemingly float next to the person he was talking to at one stage early on in a cutscene, and during gameplay, experienced various guards simply not appear as I ran around searching for who was making that little red dot on my map until I was all but touching them. This kind of thing in a game with a focus on stealth just shouldn’t happen. Every game has bugs – that’s a certainty – but this was just frustrating.
Like usual, I must say that Ubisoft do not disappoint with their voice acting. With including real life political and historical figures, it must be tough to find someone to bring their personalities to life, but I think they’ve hit the nail of the head here, especially with accents. The American Revolution seen vast numbers of foreigners entering the country, and the likes of English and Irish accents are spot on – as are the personalities of the nationalities, if a bit stereotypical – as are the public figures like Benjamin Franklin. I have a lack of understanding of American Indian languages, rather obviously, so I can’t be sure if the voice work here was actually of a good quality or not, but to be honest, it sounded rubbish. It sounded slow, sloppy and made the cutscenes and conversations utilising it a pain to sit through.
The musical score here is somewhat vaster than previous AC titles, with much like the voice acting, fitting tracks for the scenarios that played out around the different nationalities. A young Connor hunting in and around his native tribes’ camp? Suitable tribal beat and tune! Walking through the Irish-heavy Boston streets? A catchy Irish jig to fit the mood! It’s a great musical package that really suits the gameplay and the drama that comes with the story and how it progresses. Nothing to write home about, but most certainly not a flawed audio track.
- Most well-rounded Assassins Creed game yet
- Beautiful game and environments
- New main character and setting are amazing
- Naval battles are a great new addition
- Dated core gameplay
- Riddled with bugs and glitches
From an overall design standpoint, Assassins Creed III is clearly the series’ best game so far, with the new characters and settings really going far to breathe fresh air into it and show the franchises full potential. But outdated gameplay mechanics and some poor design choices really halted a lot of the enjoyment I had with the game, and made for some borderline stale moments that were only saved by the exciting new features and setting.