Assassin’s Creed 3 Review
What’s true and what is, aren’t always the same.
When Assassin’s Creed Revelations closed out our good friend Ezio Auditore’s story, I think we all thought the series was going to take a little break. But wait, Desmond’s story isn’t quite finished now is it? Not long after, Ubisoft let it slip that they’ve secretly been hard at work on the last game in this trilogy, Assassin’s Creed 3 (yes, I know there’s really five games in this ‘trilogy’). Armed with a new engine, a new Assassin and a trip into history that should be much more familiar to a lot of people, Assassin’s Creed 3 is one of the most ambitious titles of 2012. American Revolution, here we come.
As usual, I’m not going to go into great detail about the specific details of Assasin’s Creed 3’s story. This is one you need to experience for yourself, because it is a story worth hearing. Ezio was a charming guy and this made it easy to be on his side, but I never felt much weight behind his story. Rest assured Assassin’s Creed 3 carries the same weight and significance that Altair’s story did, and you’ll end up feeling as connected to the real history of it, much as you did in the first Assassin’s Creed game.
Getting to the end of this tale is worth it, as I’ve said above, but the path you take to get there isn’t a very smooth or friendly one. Assassin’s Creed 3 takes a long, long time to really get going; I’m talking five to six hours, before you experience anything but the briefest moments of excitement. My real problem with the pace of the game is that it sees fit to gloss over years of our hero Connor’s story, only to pause on a seemingly inconsequential few days in his life. Early in the game you’ll be doing a lot of missions that you don’t have a clear motive for doing, beyond the fact that some guy told you to talk to some other guy. Then suddenly you realize you’re orchestrating the Boston Tea Party or taking a horseback ride with Paul Revere.
Once the game does open up you’ll quickly notice that this game is absolutely huge, positively dwarfing its predecessors. I mean it, there are times you would think you’re playing an Elder Scrolls game as you take in the vast forest before you. All of those trees aren’t just for decoration either, you can climb all the way up all of those trees like you’re ten years old again. Ubisoft Montreal have taken the already smooth free running system from the other Assassin’s Creed games and have artfully applied it natural objects like trees and rock formations. There are a ton of areas where you can string together huge treetop runs, never touching the ground, as you stalk your prey. Even if it was nothing else, Assassin’s Creed 3 could be the world’s best tree climbing simulator.
Moving through the large wooded areas of the frontier, and the fully built cities, isn’t always as enjoyable though, and the game seems bent on annoying you at times. A number of small issues pepper your navigation of each area, for instance if you’re riding a horse and you move from one zone to another you will no longer be on a horse and have to whistle for another. The same goes for using the cart in front of the Homestead, and it can only be used to travel one zone at a time and can’t take your further than one zone away from your home base. There is a fast travel system, but quests don’t do a good job of letting you know that they are multiple zones away from you and the markers only point you toward your current zone’s exit. The most reliable way to fast travel is by sea, but I wish that all of these systems could have just gotten together and made a more user friendly experience, as each one is accessed in a different way.
The combat mechanics have been simplified in Assassin’s Creed 3, but this isn’t a bad thing. Connor can now either block and counter attack, or attempt to break an enemy’s guard with a flashy move and the difficulty comes from the fact that you are often facing many more enemies at one time than in previous games. The variety of animations do a lot to spice things up, with Connor sometimes ditching the sensational moves to simply hack someone three or four times in the chest with his tomahawk.
Like the other systems in the game, combat isn’t all fun and games and comes with its own set of inconveniences. Chiefly, there is now a short loading screen when you hold RB to change weapons. Instead of just popping up the wheel and letting you change tactics quickly, you’re now treated to a lag that is just long enough to take you out of the action.
Aside from the main story, which is quite enjoyable even if it jumps around a lot, there are a huge amount of other things to do in Assassin’s Creed 3. Upgrading your Homestead involves resource management, and purchasing upgrades, like the previous games but there are now side quests to save useful people, such as different types of craftsmen, and inviting them to set up shop on your Homestead. You’ll also be able to recruit and call on Assassins you’ve brought into the Brotherhood. This isn’t even to mention all of the naval battles, which play out in a system that is just deep enough to be fun without becoming a burden to learn. All of this, however, is really, really optional. The game never pushes you to take advantage of any of the side quests, or systems, and seems aimed at having you complete the main story as quickly as possible. I felt like it was really selling itself short in this regard and this is your friendly reminder that there is a whole lot of game, just to the side of the main story. Go enjoy it too.
Assassin’s Creed 3 brings back the superb, violent, and twisted game of hide and seek that is Assassin’s Creed multiplayer. If you haven’t checked out multiplayer in either of the previous games, you need to do it this time. You’ll be facing off against other Assassins in Deathmatch style games, but instead of just going straight at each other like you would in a multiplayer shooter, the world will be populated with hundreds of innocent bystanders that look just like you and your opponents. The idea is to blend in to the crowd and watch for other players to give themselves away by failing to blend in.
I truly preach the virtues of this unique and addictive style of multiplayer gaming that the series has created, every chance I get and Assassin’s Creed 3 delivers once again. Featuring larger maps and a few new team based game types, like king of the hill and wolfpack, Assassin’s Creed multiplayer just keeps getting better and better.
Under a rather large pile of small bugs, and quirks, Assassin’s Creed 3 has a great story that is worth playing through, even if it’s your first stab at the series. The updates that have been made to the free-running system are fantastic, and throwing in a few running assassinations will really show you that this system had room for improvements you weren’t aware it needed. You’ll come for the story but stay for the multiplayer and that’s the formula for a great game, if you ask me.
Available On: Xbox 360 / PS3 / PC