Assassin’s Creed 3 Review
By Lewis Gillingwater
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It has been five years now since the first Assassin’s Creed game gave players the opportunity to leap headlong into the past to experience first hand the lives of historical assassins.Through the power of a technological marvel called the Animus series protagonist Desmond Miles has been hopping through the memories of his ancestors ,beginning as Altair Ibn-La’Ahad in the crusades , continuing for two great games and one unnecessary one as the rather flamboyantly named Ezio Auditore Da Firenze in Renaissance Italy and now taking his place as the truly unpronounceable native American Ratohnhaké:ton , who goes by the far easier name of Connor Kenway for most of the game , in colonial America.
The game’s story spans around 30 years of Connors life and gives the player a great impression of why Connor is fighting and where is allegiances lie. All throughout the game there is a real sense of purpose that was often absent from previous games in the series and the great pacing serves to amp up the tension where it is required and keep the speed lower when large amounts of plot exposition is required. It isn’t perfect however , though the trailers show the game to be a breakneck action adventure don’t expect this to happen straight away , the first quarter or so of the game is made up of mostly boring missions starring Connors father and segments in which Desmond , literally the blandest character I’ve ever encountered , bickers with his Father and explores the games level hub. In fact you don’t actually get to play as Connor until sequence 5 of the game’s 12 sequences which vary wildly in length.
Once it gets going though the action very rarely lets up with the player reliving key moments of the American Revolution. From the signing of the Declaration of Independence , The Boston Tea Party and The Battle Of Bunker Hill all of your favourite historical moments are here as well as famous figures such as George Washington and John Hancock. If , like me , you are not totally up to date on your US history since you’re not from America then that’s fine too , an in game database is included which contains all of the information you could need on the people , places and events you will be seeing throughout your journey. A genuine sense of realism is felt throughout the game as you explore faithful representations of Boston and New York circa the 1700’s as well as a lovingly crafted vision of the American northwest’s frontier.
This visual beauty is only added to by the addition of a new game engine in which to experience the series’s third entry. The graphics have been made more realistic with gloriously rendered forests and mountains dotted around the Frontier. The main noticeable graphical updates are in the combat animation which now looks far less clunky and in the amazing water. I don’t know what technical wizardry has been pulled off at Ubisoft but the water in this game is shockingly realistic. When shallow it’s clear and bright blue and it provides for storms that create whirling maelstroms and humongous waves for you to navigate in the games newly added naval warfare sections.
These sections are quite possibly the series’ best addition yet. Taking command of your own ship , The Aquila , seems daunting at first but the controls are surprisingly intuitive. Steering is simple and cannon firing is mapped to the triggers. Despite the sheer power of a warship being at your beck and call these segments are among the most tense and difficult the game has to offer as cannon fire leaves visible damage in your ship and massive enemy fleets easily outnumbering and outgunning you at every opportunity. It quickly becomes an underdog situation but the opportunity to upgrade the Aquila makes it a little easier to fight back. It is entirely because of this difficulty that completing the naval missions ( which are almost always optional , only around 3 are compulsory) grants such a large sense of accomplishment because you have overcome such a large challenge.
On the flip-side of this is the rest of the games combat which , as with previous installments in the franchise , is still far too easy. though Connor has a vast array of weaponry you will likely only find yourself using his standard tomahawk since virtually every other option is slower or only useful in specific situations. As usual the combat starts off technical as you try to time attacks specifically to certain enemies but it quickly devolves into mashing the attack button and countering where necessary ; It’s flashy but far too simple. At least this time around some effort has been made , in vain admittedly , to increase the difficulty. New enemy types cannot be countered and others must be disarmed and there are now no mid-fight healing options but in the end this does little to alleviate the crushing simplicity of it all.
For a game called Assassin’s Creed there are also very few assassinations. While yes there are planned killings which I suppose some would define as assassinations but none of them feel stealthy at all.It seems Ubisoft has totally sacrificed all semblance of stealth gameplay in favour of a more action orientated play style. Gone is the silent stalking and detection dodge with these being pushed aside to be used as optional objectives. Instead we get high stakes set pieces and massive battles and while these are done well it’s such a large shift from the status-quo that for series fans it is honestly rather jarring.
A rather large amount of criticisms that could be levelled at Assassin’s Creed 3 are really relatively minor. Graphical glitches and wonky facial animation can detract from the game’s much touted immersion and a lack of combat difficulty leads to an awfully simple feeling battle system. The game features many mini-games but there were far too many for them to all be perfectly executed so minor things like in universe board games feel unfinished and the Homestead sidequest feels especially unnecessary.
That said there are many notable improvements over the previous series installments too. Boston and New York are vibrant bustling cities that feel more realistic than Rome or Constantinople from the previous two games. Historical figures such as George Washington are not portrayed , as people worried prior to release , as infallible figures of patriotism but as actual people with flaws and complexities. New protagonist Connor may lack the charm or wit of Ezio but he makes up for it in his sheer determination and drive he demonstrates throughout and though there are no standout supporting characters like Leonardo Da Vinci was in the previous games , this installment provides a more realistic portrayal of revolutionary figures who are totally believable at nearly every moment.
New additions such as the aforementioned sea battles and a huge array of activities such as hunting in the expansive Frontier and plenty of sidequests in and about the game’s cities allow for Assassin’s Creed 3 to be a wonderful value game. The main story alone will take around 10 hours , 100% completion will take you well up to Christmas and the returning multiplayer will keep you coming back for more.
Overall Assassin’s Creed is a wonderful all around game that serves as a brilliant ending to a trilogy that has spanned 5 years and 500 years simultaneously. It ties up as many loose ends as it conceivably can for Desmond Miles’s modern day adventure while at the same time weaving a far more interesting tale of deceit , betrayal , uprising and revolution in colonial America. If you’ve played even a single game in the series prior to this then Assassin’s Creed 3 is a must buy and the same can be said of anyone who values an immersive , interesting , long lasting adventure that will provide enjoyment for many months to come. Sure it’s different but why does that have to be a bad thing? Enjoy it for what it is , an immensely fun game that is great fun from start to finish.