Assassin’s Creed 3 Review
Author: Paul Barbara
Hidden blades, hooded robes, climbing structures and leaping across rooftops are the embodiment of the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Assassins Creed has always been a game that focuses on a particular time period and recreates every single aspect of that era so perfectly from the streets of Jerusalem, to Italy and Istanbul. Assassins Creed 3 is no different either with Boston and New York recreated faithfully in the latest instalment of the series.
In Assassins Creed 3 you play as Connor whom is a Native American assassin. You start out as a youngster who learns how to hunt and climb and you quickly progress to a young adult and finally a full grown assassin who fights generally alongside the Patriots, but this does vary a little. Along your journey, you cross paths with some of America’s great moments in history such as the Battle of Bunker Hill, or the signing of the declaration of independence. If you ever needed a visual lesson on America’s history then this will surely suffice.
With such a wealth of history at your fingertips, Assassins Creed 3 needed a large open world to convey this setting. Apart from the bustling cities such as New York and Boston, there are also other areas such as the Homestead and various forests and even ocean areas that you can explore. There truly is a host of areas to explore. The ocean setting is by far the biggest change to what’s traditionally been a land based only experience. Now, you can command a ship, engage in battles at sea and also use your ship to fast travel between the lands. It certainly is a spectacular sight to be at sea with nothing in your way as you admire the sunset.
In terms of missions and the main story line the feel and structure from previous Assassin’s Creed games is present here. From the usual stalking and gathering information missions to hunting down leaders, scouring roof tops its all certainly here. In addition there is a host of collectables such as Eagle feathers and also almanac pages. In many ways the game is extremely familiar. You have the all too familiar mini map filled with these icons and you can selectively pick and choose which missions you want to do and can go about the game at your own pace, once it essentially begins to open up.
This is actually one of the downsides of the game. The opening sequence of the game actually has you playing as a different character. I won’t reveal who that is, but it does take a few missions and several hours before you essentially unlock the ability to free roam and go about the game as you want to. This was certainly quite long from my perspective. Even the initial stages when you play as Connor were also quite lengthy and almost unrequired. I personally would have preferred this to be summed up as a cut scene. Unlike previous Assassin’s Creed titles, you pretty much were able to get right into the main game, straight away. That’s not the case here.
Once the game does open up and you’re in full swing with Connor, you soon discover that Connor is no Ezio. There is no charm, no courtesans in your bed and certainly no smooth talking. Connor is extremely mono toned and almost annoying to listen to. I found it extremely difficult to form a bond with Connor as I had with Ezio or Altaire from the previous titles which is a shame.
In terms of the basic gameplay, free running and combat are back but in my opinion are a little worse for wear. For example, the climbing of trees can be extremely frustrating as Connor will sometimes dangle from a branch or jump off the tree entirely when you least expect it. Climbing buildings is somewhat better however it’s just painful when trying to climb a tree. In relation to the combat in the game, it almost seems somewhat more difficult to string together large combos as many characters now seem harder to kill compared to previous titles. Also, forget trying to use your gun or musket in combat as the weapon reload times are horrific.
In regards to the rest of the combat in Assassins Creed 3, it’s on par with its predecessors and you can certainly expect some gruesome kill animations as well as a huge selection of weapons, from swords’ to axe’s and tomahawks. Assassin's Creed III is more combat-focussed than previous games in the series; there's a lot less leaping around ruined buildings and much more stalking and killing, of man and beast.
Visually Assassin’s Creed 3 is impressive. From the rich colours in the opening scene at the London Opera House to the snow on the trees in New York in the middle of winter all lend to the fantastic work done by the development team at Ubisoft. If there is one thing Ubisoft gets right, it’s the environment that it tries to recreate. It does it with such passion and authenticity you actually feel like you’ve been there, it’s just so real and well created. With the addition of the weather system you can appreciate how the settings change from a cold winter setting to a warm spring environment that’s blooming with flowers and trees, it can be stunning.
However there are some drawbacks with the games visuals and that’s a certain amount of texture popping and occasional graphical glitches, however they are minor in nature and worthy of a small mention but in no way do they detract from the overall experience in the game.
Multiplayer is back and feels as good as ever with new game modes added such as Wolf Pack which requires you and your friends to work together to kill NPC targets. Other modes such as Deathmatch, assassinate etc are all back and work well. The multiplayer is certainly a lot of fun and worth the investment in time should you be a fan. Overall, its quite similar to its predecessor so no ground-breaking changes here.
The sounds of Assassins Creed are back and all too familiar from the sound of performing a leap of faith to the sounds of jumping in a haystack or making a righteous kill. Many of the assets from prior games are re-used here, however the voice acting of the new characters is where the game shines with the exception of Connor who appears quite mono toned and honestly lacked a lot of charm and charisma, something that certainly could have been improved.
In terms of value, you can expect to get as much out of Assassin’s Creed 3 as you put into it. By that, I mean there is the single player mode where you can cruise through just the main story line and even this will take a solid 15 hours or some to complete. However, should you choose to explore, complete the various side missions and dabble in the multiplayer, the replayability is huge and the game can run you in excess of 30 hours on the single player alone. There is certainly a lot here to keep fans entertained and there is certainly true value for gamers.
Assassin's Creed III is very enjoyable game that does take a while to get going. Once you get past that the game opens up and you discover that there is indeed a solid story here and fans of American culture will be impressed by the setting of the game. However, Assassin’s Creed 3 is not a huge improvement over its predecessors and unfortunately it drops the ball a little in terms of gameplay, structure and character design. A lot of the charm of the characters is gone, and missions seem somewhat boring and disjointed compared to titles in the past. In the developer’s pursuit to change the game significantly, they have succeeded on that front however it has come at the expense of what you may have been a fan of in the past. Assassins Creed 3 will provide you will loads of value and interesting story line that hopefully brings the battle between the Templars and the Assassins to a close.
7 / 10