Assassin's Creed 3 Review

by Ben Salter Featured

14 Comments 41 Votes 6335 Views 31/10/2012 Back to Reviews

Ubisoft revolutionises Assassin's Creed.

Assassin's Creed III Got Right
  • + An amazing world
  • + Heaps of side missions to explore
  • + Improved combat and free-running
  • + Connor and the American Revolution
Assassin's Creed III Got Wrong
  • - Horses are rubbish
  • - Some visual issues

Assassin’s Creed III is one of the most ambitious games I’ve ever played, and it largely gets it right. The first six hours keep you well confined within a linear path to slowly unravel the story and introduce you to a massive world that keeps getting bigger. When the shackles are released, you can continue to follow the story-driven adventure, or allow yourself to run amok and party like it’s 1779.

Assassin’s Creed III is headlined by a new protagonist, two in fact, as it delves into a historically accurate retelling of the American Revolution, intertwined with its own take on a time period often forgotten in video games. Half-Native American assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton, or Connor as be comes to be known, enters the fray five hours into what is to become an epic adventure. The opening three sequences are dedicated to exploring the years before Connor’s birth and establish the roots of a deep story that is to span 30 years. Ubisoft has done a commendable job of keeping most of it secret until now, so aside from mentioning the second playable Colonial era character, I’m not going to spoil it for you. Assassin’s Creed III is the type of game that benefits from a player who doesn’t already anticipate every twist and turn.

Despite being anchored around one of the biggest events in American history, Connor is more concerned with the welfare of his village and his Homestead than the Revolution itself. Throughout his journey spanning three decades, he’ll encounter historical figures including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Lee and Samuel Adams, each of which has an integral part to play in Connor’s personnel fight for justice.

Assassin’s Creed III is one of the most ambitious games I’ve ever played, and it largely gets it right.

The Colonial America Revolutionary War is an inspiring and fitting backdrop for the raging conflict between the Assassins and the Templars. The purpose of Connor’s escapades are framed through series protagonist Desmond in modern day, which boasts small segments of less inspiring gameplay, necessary to progress the running story. While Connor’s narrative is self-contained within Assassin’s Creed III, Desmond’s story encompasses elements of the complete trilogy in his quest to prevent the end of the world in 2012. It will provide a sense of closure for long-time Assassin’s fans, but can largely be ignored by newcomers in favour of the more enthralling tale of Connor in his fight to protect his people.

The vast landscape of Assassin’s Creed III combines natural beauty with the industrial advancements of the mid-late-1700s. You’ll spend much of your time travelling through a developing New York and Boston for main story missions, between returning to the wilderness of the Colonial Frontier, which has been largely untainted by civilisation.

The main story is earmarked by the trademark exclamation point and could be rushed through in under 25 hours. However, to do so would be to forgo the complete Assassin’s Creed III experience. The side content is as much a part of Connor’s persona as his desire to become the loyal savour of his people. Investing time into your Homestead between murdering Red Coats will see it transform from a dream into an active small village and eventually afford you the opportunity to monopolise a national trade network. Helping locals will see them repay the favour in loyalty and strengthen the economy of your Homestead.

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Aside from rural city planning, Connor can find rare hidden items and use them in trade to procurer secret missions and try his hand at numerous old-timey games, including bowls against some historical icons, and a bunch of board games that I never really understood (but fluked my way to success). The core story offers a glimpse of his natural hunting abilities, but these are merely the tip of the iceberg. Should you choose to pursue it further, Assassin’s Creed III contains a hunting map that allows Connor to track dozens of animals for their pelt, or even for sport. Like Red Dead Redemption, the option is there should it tickle your fancy, but otherwise it can be completely ignored. All of this enthralling side content pushes the total playtime beyond 40 hours.

Connor has a fantastic story to tell, and in many ways is a more enjoyable protagonist to control; against the backdrop of the American Revolution, there’s a vibrant world full of burgeoning cities, untouched wilderness and raging seas to explore.

Traversing the world is similar to previous games, but running on a simplified, and near perfect, framework. Connor can quickly scale a wall to momentary safety as he tries to evade his attackers and regain precious health, which auto-regenerates outside of combat. That extends beyond suspiciously well guarded roofs to treetops, perilous mountain ridges and even through buildings as a means to lose a committed pursuer with a newfound grace and fluidity. Almost everything can be climbed, from cliffs to delicate trees and conveniently placed flag poles.

Staying off the ground has never felt more instinctive. Connor glides through the trees just as well as he races across Boston rooftops. The free-running system has been simplified to only require the right trigger to be held down. That frees up your thumb to manoeuvre the camera, engage fleeting combat and take a leap of faith when Connor’s natural instincts don’t push him to jump. It also removes the possibility of accidentally jumping to certain death when you obviously didn’t intend to give such a command -- when you hit the jump button, you know it comes with an element of risk.

Combat has been completely redesigned to border on perfection for the third instalment, but comes with a relatively hefty learning curve. However, as its roots lie within the innovations of the Batman Arkham series, most players should find the adjustment a quick and painless process.

Fighting is entirely based on timing. For the best chance of success, you’ll need to wait for an enemy to attack and then counter with a disarm, throw or attack with your tomahawk or hidden blades. Should you have the time, you can also pull out your gun and simply shoot the offender in the face, but the pistol is only good for one shot in the midst of battle, which doesn’t afford time to reload.

Connor has to take a more tactful approach to fighting than his predecessor. Small groups are almost too easy, but fighting more than six or seven enemies simultaneously is asking for trouble, and stealth is often encouraged by the tempting optional objectives. While in direct combat, Connor’s awareness is matched in barbarity by his arsenal of weapons. His tomahawk shreds enemies to pieces, while his hidden blades execute swift assassinations. Each kill is confirmed by a gruesome animation that sees necks impaled and chests ripped open by sheer force. Hidden kills are even more ghastly, as Connor is able to leaps from a building to crush two unsuspecting Red Coats, or use his new rope dart to transfix an enemy from a tree top and hang him using his own physique as a counterweight.

The vast scope of the landscape is impressive, but it never really steps up until you experience the exhilaration of naval warfare. After scouring the materials to fix it up, Connor is tasked with commanding his very own ship on the high seas. Firing the cannons and steering the beast in harsh winds takes concentration, but it’s all mapped competently onto an initiative control scheme the sees command being ushered to the side of the vessel that your manual camera is fixed on. The ship is a defining aspect of Assassin’s Creed III and what sets it apart from its predecessors. The sheer size of her is something to behold and it’s the perfect change of pace from convert assassinations on land.

The ship plays an intrinsic role in Connor’s fight for freedom, but is used somewhat sparingly. It really comes into its own in the optional naval missions, which are reason enough to venture off the beaten path and explore the lively world.

A game of such considerable size is always going to be plagued by launch day annoyances, and Assassin’s Creed III is no different; although, it suffers from a few too many visual imperfections. The characters and core environments look fantastic, but beyond that, AC3 struggles to pull it all off. Some watered down supplementary effects, poor draw distances, unnatural shadows, clipping issues and bodies floating in mid-air detract from what could have been an excellent presentation.

Hundreds or thousands of characters on the battlefield were promised in the lead-up to release, but the end result is much less inspiring. The realisation of such an ambitious goal is 50 enemies in tight-knit units in battle, and some red blurs in the background. Most disappointing is cut-scenes that are diminished by a hand going through a man’s chest or a crucial door handle that looks like it was upsized horrifically in Paint sticking out like a sore thumb and becoming the focus of your attention. That isn’t to say it’s a bad looking game -- quite the contrary -- there are just a few too many instances where a lack of polish really tarnishes what is otherwise a pretty scene.

The only major gameplay glitches I encountered were on horseback. Your gallant stead is handy on flat, well marked paths, but as soon as there’s a small object to navigate it’s totally incompetent and will only serve to slow you down. Fortunately, key fast travel points and excellent free-running reduce the need to see your horse get stuck in its own food trough. While free-running is much improved, the “I don’t want to do that” phenomenon hasn’t been omitted completely. You can’t accidentally jump off a building anymore, but Connor can still lunge himself at a wall when you clearly wanted to run past it, causing an intense moment of frustration when you’re chasing someone or trying to evade an army of Red Coats. In the grand scheme of things, these may appear a little too frequently, but they are all minor irritations that are quickly overlooked.

When you're done with the mammoth single-player, the multiplayer mode adds a different take on assassination. The standard deathmatch sees you play in a team of up to four players trying to assassinate the opposing team, without being eliminated yourself. It’s an interesting iteration of the most popular online game mode, and is expanded upon by the game’s take on capture the flag and domination. The tutorial is a little tedious when you're rearing to play, but it's facilitating a rich and engaging multiplayer experience that I hope garners the following it deserves.

The Final Verdict

Assassin’s Creed III is undoubtedly the best in the series and revitalises everything about Assassin’s Creed that was starting to age prematurely. Connor has a fantastic story to tell, and in many ways is a more enjoyable protagonist to control; against the backdrop of the American Revolution, there’s a vibrant world full of burgeoning cities, untouched wilderness and raging seas to explore. There are a few little issues that suggest the execution isn’t perfect, but nothing that will discourage fans from enjoying one of the best games 2012 has to offer. This is the revolution that Assassin’s Creed has been waiting for.

By Ben Salter

Assassin's Creed 3

Platform: Wii / PS3 / Xbox / PC
Developer: Ubisoft
Similar to: Assassin's Creed, Assassin's Creed II
 
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Assassin's Creed 3 Review Comments

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What a great review.
I pick my copy up today and I'm sooooooo glad this got a great review.
Can't wait to jump into the animus again
I disagree it deserves a 9.2456

The_Boss said: I disagree it deserves a 9.2456



Really?

I was thinking closer to 9.2460 myself :P

Awesome game though and i can't wait to see the PC version when released to see if it shifts some of this awful fog.
Waiting for the PC version over here; until that comes out, I'll be awaiting Halo 4's release quite attentively.

- Horses are rubbish



You're rubbish.

Assassins Creed 3 Review

The_Boss said: I disagree it deserves a 9.2456



Sorry.

abujaffer said: Waiting for the PC version over here; until that comes out, I'll be awaiting Halo 4's release quite attentively.

- Horses are rubbish


You're rubbish.



They kept getting stuck on things [Rage]

Although I'd hope that was one of the things fixed in the day one patch.

Ben said: Half-Native American assassin Ratonhnhaké:ton, or Connor as be comes to be known, enters the fray five hours into what is to become an epic adventure. The opening three sequences are dedicated to exploring the years before Connor’s birth and establish the roots of a deep story that is to span 30 years. Ubisoft has done a commendable job of keeping most of it secret until now, so aside from mentioning the second playable Colonial era character, I’m not going to spoil it for you.


That was a spoiler dude [Facepalm]
Nice review, Ben :)
cant wait for the PC version.... bring on 22nd Nov

Ben said:

The_Boss said: I disagree it deserves a 9.2456


Sorry.


That's OK I forgive you like Jesus forgives the Jews.
reading this review now makes me wish
22days would go faster [Rage]
Unhappy with AC3
The excitement surrounding this new addition to the franchise at E3 was palpable. Ubisoft seemed to have a added multiple layers to the game play adding Naval battles and giving us a new character (Connor) to follow while we were travelling along in the DNA memories of our hero's Desmond’s ancestors. This, along with a few updates to controls and overall look, and this game was poised to become a welcomed addition to one of Ubi's most successful franchises. Alas I am sorry to say that this game not only under delivered, it also leaves you with the feeling of emptiness and unfulfillment. I’ve played all of the games in the AC series, and out of all of them, this one is probably the most disappointing one by far. The fighting system is terrible! You needed almost perfect timing with your counters or it was guaranteed that you would “de-synchronize”(DIE). The free running was improved by allowing players to only hold the trigger button down instead of having to press two of them like in previous titles, but I do seem to remember that in AC:Revelations you were able to grapple over your foes while running; something which I was not able to do in this version. Hiding has become next to impossible, before you could jump in a bale of hay and as long as the enemy did not see you going in you could hide in there until the coast was clear. Now it seems you cannot even breathe loud because you will be found and Connor jumps up and says “here I am”. Oh yeah and did I mention that in almost every mission they ask you avoid conflict. HA!! Graphics actually look like they have gone backwards. The lighting is terrible at times I could not tell if Achilles was white of black or what. Not that race matters, but it would be something less to complain about. The AI left something to be desired. There are glitches everywhere from people talking to walls, to where you have animals running in mid air or half their bodies are sticking out of the side of a mountain. I mean what the hell is this a Bethesda title???(Joke at Skyrim’s expense) After every cut scene there was an awkward pause at the end that made you ask “is that it?” I have been a huge fan of this franchise, but if Ubisoft expects us to continue buying these titles they will need to make a dramatic improvement either through patches or additional FREE DLC. When I got towards the middle of “sequence 7” I was hoping that it was going to get better or I would simply have to trade the game in for something else. The only thing that I had running through my head was 90$ down the drain, f*** my life, (60$ game 30$ DLC from GameStop).
I finished the game couple of days after. Would have loved to say that it was a complete turnaround, but I am sad report that it did not. In fact it simply got more and more frustrating, and when I was done I felt like I was cheated out of my money. SO...If you have been lucky enough to wait for this game and not purchased it already, forget about it. I would skip it all together.

Here are the over all numbers:
Gameplay: 6/10

Presentation & Sound - 4/10

Graphics: 4/10

Story: 6/10

Overall Conclusion game deserves no higher than a 5/10. Major issues with this title felt unfinished and rushed. The only reason that this did not score lower was because of the sequences when Desmond is interacting with the real world, they were actually fun. Hopefully on the next title in the series we finally get to just play outside of the animus. May not happen.
Really, really looking forward to picking this up next week! I've skipped over the previous entries, hopefully that wouldn't have a detrimental effect on my enjoyment.
Can't wait for this game. Gonna jizz my pants when i get it, If i get it.
(*) (*) (*) (*) (*)/ (*) (*) (*) (*) (*)
Nice review.. I'm keen to play this set in America. :)

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