Review – Assassin's Creed III

Connor running through a battle.

Assassins Creed III Assassin’s Creed III

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Publisher: Ubisoft

Platforms: PS3, 360, PC, Wii U

Released: 10/30/12

Verdict: A resounding. . . meh.

It’s been 5 years since the release of Assassin’s Creed on the PS3 and XBox 360. The series has spawned a total of 5 major releases. We’ve followed 4 major characters from as far back as the Crusades, to present day 2012. The most recent release follows series protagonist Desmond Miles as he enters the Animus in a last effort to stop Abstergo, and prevent the end of the world! To do so Desmond must travel back to the futu… err, his ancestors past to take part in the American Revolution to discover a way forward! An epic tale has been unfolding, and the end is nigh. But how does this offering stand up against the others? Does Ubisoft deliver the epic tale they’ve promised with the use of the American Revolution?

In short, no. The American Revolution is full of epic battles, and a wide cast of historic personalities. However it all quickly fades into the background as Connor, who’s actual name has no real pronunciation (I promise you, it’s impossible), pushes forth in his unending battle to get revenge on the Templar. Revenge for what? I’ll let you figure that out becasue Connor’s origin is actually the most interesting part of the story, beyond that it all pretty much falls flat. You progress through the life of Connor, taking part in (read: witnessing) some battles and notable historical moments throughout the American Revolution. You talk to George Washington. Go for a ride with Paul Revere. Have a beer with Sam Adams. However, it’s made very evident that these people have their own agenda, and they they’re only using Connor to achieve their goals. Connor, is doing the same. Neither group works together, they both just use each other. It really hurts the narrative. It keeps you from feeling for these characters, any of them, like we did for Ezio. Ezio worked with people. Ezio included everyone in on his plans. Ezio shared his success. Ezio had friends. Connor. . . is boring and distant.

Connor on the battlefield!

What’s really upsetting is that the series, even this game, set itself up for greatness only to fall flat in it’s final moments. We’ve come out of the ending of Revelations with the knowledge that there are multiple Apples. We know that this tech is hidden in vaults around the world. We know the world is ending in a short period of time. We know that Desmond is the one that can save us all. Moving forward Desmond learns more about his ancestors. Sequence 3 drops a HUGE bomb on the character, and the players. Desmond finally show’s off he’s capable of doing more then climbing on shit and complaining. For those that have paid attention to the expanded offerings of the AC universe from UbiSoft, you’re expecting an epic showdown with High Templar/One Time Assassin, Daniel Cross. You explore a labyrinthine temple left behind by those who came before. You learn, from Juno, of the attempts made to stop the impending doom that fell upon their people and that will soon consume ours. The story shines until the 4th and final Desmond sequence. When the end finally does arrive you’re left with little more then a brief scene meant to insight on what is to come, but instead leaves you baffled as to why the story went in the direction it did.

I’d like to say the game plays flawlessly, and that the missions are incredibly varied and fun. I would love to say it. . . but I can’t. The new AnvilNext Engine is beautiful. Character models have never been more detailed. Faces look world better then they did in the previous games. Animations look great. The amount of glitches this game has are not. I fell through areas of the wilderness more times then I’d like to count. Trying to show off the tree running mechanics to friends and I witness myself fall through a long branch while running along it. As I kept running forward Connor eventually transported back to the spot he fell through! On more then one occasion I died while jumping from my horse onto another to assassinate someone because the games camera decided I was still moving forward and traveled along the path I had meant to run. When the camera decided to fix itself on me once more, after traveling across half of New York, I was in the process of being torn to shreds by some red coats. OH! One time I picked up a gunpowder barrel and my entire screen went white, except my mini map, and my speaker emitted a loud shrill much like that of the Slenderman. Having only played the game a week prior and still scared out of my mind from it, I decided to take this one as a sign and quit for the night. It’s a shame, because when the game runs smooth it’s great.

Connor and George Washington riding on horseback.

Combat has been improved, but still suffers from being far too inconsistent in difficulty. Instead of holding R1 and pressing Square when and enemy attacks, you wait until an enemy attacks and hit circle. This enters a “Bullet time” counter mode. Choices from here are: Circle, to throw, X to disarm, and Square to kill. Easy enough. Certain foes can be killed instantly, others need to be disarmed before being killed, others need to be thrown into environmental objects to be killed. That last one isn’t taught to you until the second to last Sequence in the game, so enjoy getting your ass kicked by a bunch of guys for no reason until they teach you about environment kills.

Weapons and Armor are practically non-existent. While Ezio had a few different upgrades to his offensive and defensive capabilities, Connor has next to none. You can change the color of Connors robes, and unlock some other robes for him to wear, but these are all cosmetic. They provide no benefits beside looking different. On the weapon side of things there’s some more diversity, but none of it matters. When Connor finally dons his robes he comes automatically equipped with an ax that has very average stats. You can buy, find, and craft other weapons, like daggers, swords, and guns. Equipping them provides that same cosmetic appeal, but other then that there’s little change to combat. You could weild a sword with max stats in damage, or a dagger with nothing special going for it, and still score a 1 hit kill on any enemy so long as you know what pattern to parry/block/throw/stab in. Ezio had to whittle his enemies health down a bit before gaining the ability to start his kill chain. Connor just walks in with whatever weapon and dominates.

Connor is brutal. His kills are NASTY. If you’re lucky you’ll get a closeup during a final strike and see the look on his face as he forces his ax into his enemies chest. It’s crazy fun to watch, and for that the ease is a blessing. But the lack of a viable upgrade system creates a lack of progression for the character. One of the One-Questers went through the entire game without purchasing any weapons or upgrades. I purchased and created everything I could. I had dual pistols, 30 arrows, almost 80 pistol rounds, but none of that mattered because all I ever needed was the damn ax.

Connor stabbing a redcoat.

The main missions are a segmented series of mini games with insane restrictions for obtaining 100% sync. I dare you to sink 2 ships, each with at least 8 crewman, without being noticed while air assassinating 1 specific enemy. The games glitches don’t help with this, unless you count the instance in which I was able to pull a soldier off the boat through the guard rail. I swear, I was seen by the remaining two members of this crew from the opposite end of the ship, while they were facing out to sea, on my 8th attempt to get 100% sync. This game will try your patience, but not because it means to be difficult.

The shining feature in the single player campaign is the Naval Combat. These missions must have received a ton of attention, because they’re epic! Each mission takes you to a different area of the coast of the new world and has you battling countless numbers of other ships. It seems a but unrealistic that my one ship has sunk more then 100 ships during the revolution, but it’s fun so I’ll take it. You can upgrade the ship in a series of ways. From new hulls, to a battering ram on the front, this ship get’s intensely powerful. However, like most of Connors equipment, it’s all unnecessary. While I spent time upgrading everything, one of our other writers didn’t bother and had no trouble completing the game. I still recommend investing the time, and in game currency on these missions, since they were my favorite part of the game.

Connor steering his ship, the Aquila

The multi-player mode is a significant improvement from the previous games. As you perform certain tasks and kills you slowly unlock videos that give you a behind the scenes look at the creation of the Animus. The story with mp this time is that Abstergo has released the Animus to the public to let them use it as a gaming device. Of course Erudito won’t let that happen without interfering at all. He pops in now and again after you achieve certain goals to show you the truth behind the company. He also provides an unfair advantage for those willing to pay real cash for in game credits to unlock skills, skins, and weapons before they’re normally available for your characters. It hurts those playing the game from scratch, but it hurts the experience of those who buy into it even more. As of yet I haven’t had a chance to play Wolfpack, which is a co-op mode. If it plays anything like the multi-player mode, then I’m excited. While the ACIII multi-player isn’t as popular as Call of Duty, or Halo, it’s still excellent and worth checking out for anyone that has the game.

Overall Assassin’s Creed III is decent entry into the series. The lands you explore are huge, the story spans the duration of the most historic event in US history, and the combat is refreshingly brutal. On the downside, the game is highly unpolished and full of glitches, the characters are very uninteresting, and the story – which starts out strong – falls flat in it’s final hours. This was a valiant effort from UbiSoft, involving every studio they have working over the last 3 years to complete and perfect this game. It just feels like the could have used another year to further flesh out their narrative, and clean up the game world.

is not a boss.

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