I’m not gonna lie. I fell in love with Assassin’s Creed from the first game of the series and have been singing the praises of Ubisoft ever since. From the original to Revelations, the formula that won my heart has stayed consistent, while the mechanics have been steadily improved and new awesome elements added in.
GAME NAME: Assassin’s Creed III
DEVELOPER(S): Ubisoft Montreal
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation 3, PC, Xbox 360, Wii U
GENRE(S): Action-Adventure, Stealth
RELEASE DATE(S): October 30, 2012
Assassin’s Creed III is different. Built from scratch, it breaks away from the norm and establishes itself as a new breed of game. This has improved some of the persistent flaws that have dragged the games down since day one. This has also created problems that weren’t there before.
Ubisoft promoted this game as revolutionary, and not just because it takes place during that war you learned about seventeen times in school. As per usual, they oversold. The combat has been very much improved. It’s faster and smoother and makes you feel like a badass, and yes, there are a butt load of kill animations. At the end of the game, I was not tired of watching guys get stabbed/axed.
However, it’s still the same combat. Ubisoft claimed that the combat would not be a bunch of guys crowding around you and waiting their turn to attack – that you could fight multiple guys at once. In reality, the combat of AC III is a bunch of guys crowding around you and waiting their turn to attack. That formula has not changed. Once in awhile, two guys will attack at once, and if you press the right button in time, you will get a neat double kill animation. Cool, yes, revolutionary, no.
Ubisoft bragged about the vast improvements to the parkour stuff, allowing you to free run in trees and climb up cliff faces. This is true. The free running is one element that did not seem to improve over time during the first four games. However, Connor moves like a Native American stereotype, and the frontier is designed so well that you can almost always find a path in the trees to run in no matter where you’re going. It makes me appreciate their decision to make half the game during winter and also make running through the snow a realistic experience, cutting your speed in half. It encourages you to take to the trees.
The big difference in this game is in the missions. Up until now, Assassin’s Creed has been about mission after mission of sneaking through a heavily guarded area, using new crafty techniques to get close to a target. You patiently observe him until you pinpoint the exact right moment, then pounce. Or run in swinging blades wildly – your choice. AC III is much more story-centric, and though you do murder, you only do so when and how it’s convenient for the plot. Assassin contract side quests are rare and awful. They’ve been reduced to fetch quests. You follow the quest marker to some dude, then you kill him. No stealth requirements, no any requirements.
This is the worst thing about the game. I have officially adopted Assassin’s Creed as my video game franchise because of the endless awesome stealth kills you get to perform by jumping off of a roof, robes flapping majestically in the wind before you shove your badass hidden wrist blade into your target with that satisfying SHWING. I got that maybe twice in all of AC III.
This is not to say that AC III is a bad game. It’s just not what we’ve come to expect. In the three years they spent making this game, Assassin’s Creed has changed. It’s now centered on plot and combat and parkour. All of these are good in AC III, but it is no longer my franchise. My Assassin’s Creed is gone.
Still, I enjoyed playing it. Fortunately, the story that is so center to the game is a good one. The main quests feel a little rushed, but it takes some unpredictable twists and runs deeper than the other games. Connor and his enemies are more fleshed out than Ezio and the relentlessly evil Templars of his time, and the battle between Assassin and Templar becomes more complex. Your enemies are no longer cartoon villains – and the relationship between Connor and his targets develops in such a way as invoke some complex emotions when they inevitably fall.
I know that some people don’t like Connor as a character because he’s always angry, but I believe it. I mean, the white man comes along, ruins his life, then asks him to win all their battles for them and reward him with a heaping dose of condescension. Who wouldn’t be pissed?
By the way, AC III does not make the British look bad. It’s the future Americans who are made to look like assholes. Basically it makes all whiteys look bad. It’s okay though, because we deserve it.
Maybe the best part of the main plot is Desmond’s bits. You get a ton of new information about the precursors, and Desmond himself gets to go on a couple neat little quests in his efforts to save the world. He gets to work through his daddy issues and builds deeper relationships with Shaun and Rebecca, whom I’ve come to love.
However, this leads me into the AI issues. AC III demonstrates some of the worst AI I’ve ever experienced, particularly in the Desmond missions. The real mystery in this game is how a company staffed by the world’s stupidest, most uncoordinated and incompetent monkeys on the globe managed to take over so much of it. Even the cut scenes make these people seem like Scooby Doo villains. How am I ever supposed to take Abstergo seriously again, Ubisoft? How? And how am I supposed to believe that people can’t see me in those half dead shrubs? Why doesn’t anyone take more time to investigate the Native bloke in weird white robes running around the fort with an 18th century arsenal strapped to his pants?
I would excuse this and the game’s many bugs by saying that they must have run out of time after working so hard on the kill animations and the immaculate frontier design. I would say this if so much of the game wasn’t dedicated to the insanely elaborate crafting system and upgrading your village. The Homestead missions are fine, but I again must complain about the lack of murder. What is this, Little Assassin on the Prairie?
And yeah, the bugs. Sometimes they interfere with missions at the worst possible moment. Whoops.
There are other extras that I enjoy. Boats. The boats are fun. Killing animals, while not as fun as killing people, is a decent distraction. Multiplayer has been further improved in all aspects, with the new Wolf Pack mode and sweet pretty animations for the people who do the best. Assassin’s Creed is still my franchise for multiplayer, at least.
I can no longer say that Assassin’s Creed is the franchise that keeps getting better. AC III is a completely different breed of game, and a little worse for wear, though it’s still solid. The combat is wonderfully improved, and it’s about time. The free running has been polished to a beautiful shine. The story is worth paying attention to. I just can’t understand where all the murder went, and why the quality of the AI and the bug testing had to suffer for the sake of building barrels and forcing us to play 18th century bowling.
Overall, AC III is very enjoyable to play when it’s not screwing you over. Jump from tree to tree, randomly come upon a procession of Redcoats, kill the leader with a rope dart and then slink away in the bushes while the rest of them stand around gawking, then tell me it’s not fun. But Ubisoft made a lot of very unfortunate mistakes as well, and I am left wondering what happened to the revolution.