Rating: T for Teen
Licensed by: Ubisoft
Developed by: Ubisoft
Platforms: PS3, PC, 360
Released: October 30th, 2012
Once again Desmond Miles is going back into the Animus to relive the lives of his ancestors; this time in Colonial America through Connor, a young Amer-Indian who seeks revenge for an attack on his tribe committed by the Templar.
Graphics: AC3 has beautiful graphics that really capture the beauty of nature quite well. There are a number of flaws in the game, like, mouths moving out of sync or not at all in some cases, characters getting stuck in between rocks, and the usual character quirks we’ve all gotten used to in the franchise, just to name a few. Nonetheless this is the most detailed and in depth Assassin’s Creed thus far.
There is brilliance in the character interactions. Ubisoft managed to have the characters convey emotions through facial expressions and eye movements. This works well when trying to give the gamer a feel for a scene. There’s something about watching a character’s eyes shift back and forth on another characters, with a smile on their face, while they explain how long they’ve been friends with another, that impresses me. This shows anger and sadness too, making any cutscenes just a little more magical. Not to mention the fierce look on Connor’s face while he brutally massacres his enemies.
The environments are so pretty. There was a moment in the game when I just decided to stand in one spot and watch the sun set on the horizon. As if in slow motion, the shadow of a picket fence was chasing mine as the sun got lower and lower. The yellow field began to turn orange as did the sky from blue. It was the most beautiful thing I have seen in this game. It completely distracted me from the murders I committed just moments ago.
Gameplay: Again, apart from its few flaws, the gameplay flows more smoothly than heated Vaseline mixed with coconut oil in a non-stick frying pan. From climbing, to free running, to combat, Assassin’s Creed 3 feels like some of the best parts of some of the best games ever.
The combat is superb. Connor has a variety of weapons and body movements that remind me a lot of Batman Arkham City, mostly because of it’s heavy striking and countering aspect of fighting. When fighting a group of opponents, Connor will often have to counter stike, and with some opponents being capable fighters as well, they can actually stop Connor from doing a killing blow from a counter. Connor can also use his environment as a weapon. Things like bottles can be picked up and smashed against an opponents face, or enemies can be thrown into walls and barrels, or even kicked over items or ledge, while close by during combat. Some enemies decide the best way to take out Connor is to stand back and shoot him, but Connor won’t be taken down that easily because he can just grab another enemy to use as a human shield. And my favorite aspect of the combat system, the one that reminds me most of Batman, is the multiple counter kill. There are times two enemies will try to attack Connor at the same time and a successful counter will activate a scene where Connor will beautifully kill both enemies. Connor is also capable of using guns for long ranged combat. He carries his own pistol, but he can use the enemies muskets as well. Though, the reload times for guns is extremely slow because during this time in history, gun powder and pellets had to be loaded through the barrel of the gun. All of the features blend together to create a combat experience that feels more like playing as a warrior in battle rather than playing as a robot with combat experience.
Running and climbing have both improved exponentially since the last game in the series. With a more like motions, Assassin’s Creed 3 has connor moving throughout city streets and treetops like a skilled free-runner that’s a master of his trade. If you’ve been playing the previous titles in the series, the improvements should be obvious. While running at top speed, Connor can quickly hop over small obstacles like a table or a picket fence; unlike the previous games where the assassin must climb on top the object and then jump off. Instead of fighting, the player has the option to just run away. There are plenty of hiding spots like wells, bushes, haystacks, and tall grass, Connor can also do quick escapes by running through someones open window or door. This again changes the usual Assassin’s Creed gameplay from the typical hide and seek into a chase scene. The added aspect of running through treetops in the woods is stunning. The way Connor shifts from branch to branch is impressive to look at, let alone play, and while hunting prey, including templar and regulars, being an assassin has never felt so… Assassiny. Another impressive detail is how Connor moves through environment like a human would. Snow and deeper waters cause Connor to take large steps as if it were becoming increasingly difficult to move. Especially when the snow is more than a foot deep, it’s sometimes a better idea to quickly climb through the trees rather than stomp through snow. This level of realism reminds me of the Uncharted franchise.
The stealth is another reason why Assassin’s Creed 3 brought out the assassin in me. It has a sort of fast paced, Metal Gear Solid/Uncharted feel at certain times. Connor can duck and sneak through shrubs, tall grass, and of course hay stacks, which are useful for both hunting and hiding from enemies. When stalking, you are able to hug the walls and peek around corners; during this time, if need be, you can whistle to entice a guard to investigate the noise and quickly dispose of him when he comes close. The rope dart is extremely useful for stealth kills from in the trees. Using the rope darts, Connor can pick a guard from a group, quietly toss the dart to grab him, and hang him from a tree without anyone else noticing. The bow and arrow is also an effective and quiet killer. Connor has smoke bombs and poison darts for long ranged and inconspicuous kills, much like in the previous games.
The hunting in the game obviously reminds me of Red Dead Redemption, but with a few added features. As I mentioned with the stealth, stalking prey is pretty sweet. You want to avoid shooting animals as pellets damage the fur, so it’s a good idea to hide and attract the animal with bait; when it’s close enough the hidden blade is the ideal method of killing, just like when dealing with templar. Or, if you’re in a rush, the bow and arrow can kill smaller animals. These Pelts and other bits and pieces can be sold at shops, so there is unlimited income if you’re willing to work for it.
Since Connor is basically the head of the Homestead, he can have materials crafted by homestead citizens and trade convoys sent to various parts of the the world. The convoys are simply for added income, but finding the recipes to craft items can be very useful. Very powerful weapons, tools, and ammo can be crafted, along with items that help with other aspects of the game.
Connor can also recruit people to become assassins by doing side missions. The assassins can be sent to other regions to fight Templar for control over the territory. This is an easy way for more income with little effort. These assassins are also useful in helping Connor in a variety of tasks from fighting to infiltrating.
Simply put, there are many aspects of gameplay in Assassin’s Creed 3. The only issue here is that it took me forever to learn about all of this. Some things I only learned through experimentation after I finished the main story. This includes parts of the map itself. So much of this game went unnoticed because of its size and poor execution. It’s not like the I really suffered from not knowing all of the aspects, but after 20+ hours into the game and looking back on it, I do find myself wishing I learned something earlier. But that’s life, I guess.
Story: There are two sections to the story. Along with the main story, there are a buttload of side missions and quests. After around 33 hours in, I think I finished the all of the side missions, including Captain Kidd, Homestead, and Naval missions; also the collectables like chests, feathers, and almanac pages. But there are still some minor tasks left to complete like hunting and combat challenges. But, in terms of story alone, the game is fairly large.
To start with what I didn’t like, the ending itself didn’t blow me away. I don’t feel like there wasn’t quite enough chemistry between Connor and the antagonist. Yeah, I could see why Connor wanted revenge, but so many other things happened in between the initial events of the plot and the conclusion, that I was distracted from the whole point until closer towards the end of the game. The story mainly focuses on the event of the ongoing war and the relationship between Connor’s mentor, Achilles, and Connor himself. This doesn’t mean the story was bad, just that I didn’t feel that story had enough focus.
There is an astounding number of side missions in this game, which means side stories as well. There are the Captain Kidd naval missions which are pretty cool. Doing those missions actually unlocks a secret item that’s useful in battle, as well as a costume. Benedict Arnold has some minor missions. Doing the Homestead missions for skilled pioneers that Connor let settle on nearby land is centered around character development, but each Homestead mission lets you learn a little more about each character. Also, completing homestead missions allows homestead characters to level up and craft better items.
There are some pretty sweet moments throughout the game. My jaw dropped more than once. Part of this is because some events are just epic and play out beautifully. So many things are new in the game that playing it the first time around can be visually stunning. The voice actors performances were top notch. They really gave the effects of sadness and anger well. Often enough I feel bad for the Templar Assassin’s kill. There’s just something about their dying words that get me. Basically, looking on a sequence to sequence basis, the story was fantastic; as a whole, the story seemed to lose focus until getting back on track at the end.
The game does explain quite a bit of backstory, which is always good in such a large franchise. Now I’m no longer completely clueless as to why things are happening the way they are… not completely anyway. And as I said above, the game is huge. So there is plenty of Assassin fun to be had.
Multiplayer: The multiplayer is… okay. Since the gameplay has improved it’s only natural that the multiplayer experience has as well. The online is pretty simple though, hide and kill. So unless you’re the type of person that finishes a game and refuses to stop playing it so you run around killing people, which I’m not, then I would just avoid the multiplayer. But, for the sake of reviewing I did play online for about an hour.
There are a number of unlocks in the game as you progress. Tools, like the throwing knives and bombs, and special abilities, like added stealth and disguises, can give you the advantage you need over the other players. Characters are also customizable from the look of their clothes, to which weapons they use, even to wearing the customizable emblems like in Uncharted 3 and wearing face paint.
Something interesting I noticed is The Abstergo Story. After reaching certain levels and completing various tasks, a player can unlock live action videos depicting Abstergo Industries. I was not going to take the time needed to unlock these videos, but if you’re interested in the online mode, and would love some more info on the “Evil” organization that has been the main antagonist throughout the entire series, then I recommend taking the time to level up.
Once I really got into the matches I started having some fun. Just like any online game, there’s nothing like getting the upperhand on an opponent. But the game is too simple, like I said it’s basically hide and seek, and it’s definitely not fast-paced (I play Call of Duty by the way). So once again, if you’re addicted to the smooth gameplay of Assassin’s Creed 3, then have at the multiplayer; but if you’re a story person, just stick to the reason why you bought or want to buy the game in the first place: The Story.
Overall: The graphics in Assassin’s Creed 3 are beautiful. There have been major improvements in not only the way the game looks, but the overall feel of how the game plays. The content of the story didn’t necessarily impress me because I felt it was presented poorly, but sure was pretty to look at. This poor implementation carried over into the many aspects of gameplay as well. It would have been better to NOT have a series of quests and tasks behind unlocking just about everything the game has to offer. It really dragged out the game to the point where I’m figuring out the cool stuff long after it could have been useful. Still, the game was very enjoyable and had me hooked for hours. Out of all the Assassin’s Creed games thus far, I played this one the most. My recommendation to anyone just starting or wanting to play this game is to do everything you can NOT related to the main story first. If you do, like I, and focus on the main missions, you will miss out on an overall better experience. Assassin’s Creed 3 is like a delicious meal that could have been even better had the cookbook mentioned all of the ingredients.