Review: Assassin’s Creed 3

Does anybody remember Assassin’s Creed 1? It wasn’t a bad game. It was just painfully repetitive. Then, Assassin’s Creed 2 came along, and with a new world, character, story and no missions that were identical to ones you’ve completed at least 6 times before, it was like a breath of fresh air.

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal

Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Microsoft Windows, Wii U

Reviewed on PS3

RRP: £39.99

Release Dates:

Xbox 360, PS3 – Out Now

Windows, Wii U – November 2012

That was the game that made me fall in love with the franchise, so you can imagine how excited i was when i finally got my hands on the final article. The game teased and waved in front of me for months and months. the NEW breath of fresh air…

… And i have a few gripes, To be honest… But we’ll get to those…

Set in our present, (The opening cutscene literally starts on the release date) the story follows long serving protagonist Desmond Miles, as he travels through history to find a way to prevent the 2012 Apocalypse (Scheduled for my 21st birthday coincidentally, but I’m not sour about it. Its cool…). In this game, the selected historical protagonist is Connor, half american, half Mohawk native, out for revenge in the middle of the American Revolution after his home and settlement was burned to the ground by a group of Templars, inadvertently led by Connor’s D-bag, fly-by-night father, Haytham Kenway.

The story is deep, engaging and powerful. You really feel a connection to Connor as a person, stuck in a horrible situation, where in everything he knows is just destroyed in a matter of seconds and you get a sense that by playing through the game you are genuinely helping him exact his revenge your own way.

There is major gripe i have with the story though, and that is the prologue, playing as Connor’s father. The first few missions as Haytham are slow, boring, cramped, repetitive and not aided at all by the fact that Haytham has all the personality and charisma of a tennis racket. Also, some of the cutscenes are irritatingly clunky. Sometimes, characters are animated to deliver lines, to motion on raised voices or certain words, but sometimes, it seems like the lines are about a second out of sync with the animation, and at one point during Haytham’s section, the captain of the ship you are sailing to America on doesn’t even move his mouth whilst delivering his lines. You really do get a sense that Ubisoft rushed the cutscenes in order to get this game out for the end of October to fit the story timeframe.

Once this section is over though, Connor’s story flips all that on its head. Connor is genuinely likeable. He can navigate the vast landscapes in ways Haytham cannot. He is exposed to more weapons, better hiding spaces, better interesting NPC’s to interact with and the naval missions, which, for me at least, are one of this game’s many high points.

During the naval missions, Connor takes charge of a ship, controlling its speed and direction, while also trying to destroy or chase enemy ships, battalions on land or at some point, giant forts, in which the aim is to destroy the battalions which are loaded with cannons. These missions are an injection of fun and adventure into a game that, really, never needed it. Plus, the missions get steadily harder, eased only by upgrading your own ship at the Harbour, to increase speed, firepower and how much punishment it can take before you sink.

However, doing this is kind of complicated. A confusing economics system, in which you have to keep a log of which materials you’ve sent to which people to turn them into other things to be used to upgrade your ship, may prove to be more hassle than it is worth. Not many of the Naval missions are compulsory, meaning wasting time and money on developing materials and getting them delivered to the harbour can take up precious minutes, imprisoning you into a dizzying circle of menus and waiting.

Now here’s one thing I don’t have a problem with – the controls system. Assassin’s Creed 3 runs on a completely new game engine called Anvil Next, built from scratch to ensure that gameplay is fluid and can utilise the power of current generation systems to deliver a “Next-gen Assassin’s Creed experience”. The engine allows free running through trees and over buildings to be activated by just holding R1, instead of holding R1 to bring Ezio out of stealth mode and holding X to free-run. Also, the Free-running has been tweaked to ensure real fluid movement. Connor and Desmond can turn on a six-pence whilst free-running, making chase sequences and speeding through climbing sections as simple as peas.

The combat system has been simplified too. To counter people, effectively one hit kills on grunt-like enemies, in the Assassin’s Creed games of old, you had to hold R1 and press Square to counter attacks. In AC3, all you have to press is Circle as a reticle over the enemies head glows red. I like this.

And making the free-running as smooth as a window in a world where traversing landscapes over buildings and through tree tops is deadly important. If it wasn’t fixed, i think the game would have fallen flat on its face. The world is full of lush, green forests, expansive mountain ranges, dark, dank cities and harbours full of boats that you can leap to and fro from like Captain Jack Sparrow. The textures or the areas have been paid so much detail, its hard not to be taken aback the first time you enter a new area.

And this is what Assassin’s Creed 3 is all about – The adventure. Whether you are speeding through the story missions, exploring under your own volition or even kicking back in multiplayer with a few friends, It’s hard to ignore the care and attention that has been paid to the story and the environments, and to me, that was always the major points of Assassin’s Creed games. The fact that a story set in our present was, somehow running parallel to a story woven around historically accurate recreations of key events in religious history. If you want to lose a week on a great action-adventure game, I don’t know if i could recommend anything else!

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