Assassin's Creed 3 Review
By: Jimmy Kovalski
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Players: 1 (2-8 Online)
Rating: M for Mature (Blood, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes and Strong Language)
Platforms: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, PC and Wii U
Release Date: October 30th (PS3 and 360) November 20th (PC) November 13th (Wii U)
Live the Revolution
The Assassin’s Creed series is now a staple of gaming. Every year you can almost count on there being a new entry in the series and the trick for Ubisoft has been to keep them fresh and feeling new. Last years Assassin’s Creed Revelations was a good game but started to feel a bit stale and made us wonder if the series had lost it luster. Enter Assassin’s Creed 3. A game that has been in development for nearly three years has in a lot of ways blown the doors off of the series but in the end falls back on old problems.
Assassin’s Creed 3 starts right where Revelations left off with Desmond and the crew finding a secret cave that may hold the key to an ancient secret. The only thing stopping them? A key that has been hidden away by another one of Desmond’s ancestors. So, like previous games; Desmond jumps into the animus to relive events of his ancestor and new protagonist Conner to find this secret key.
The game starts with a series of sequences nobody seen coming. I will not spoil anything here but lets just say the first 4-5 sequences will not be what you expect. These sequences are in place to give you some back story on Connor and why he joined the order of assassins. This first part of the game is interesting and really sets the rest of the game up well however it is very slow to develop. A lot of what is told could have easily been condensed down to 2 or 3 sequences at most. I really felt like these events dragged on way to much and felt like filler more then anything. Again the story in these events is extremely interesting and at times heart wrenching but there is way too much filler in the way of gameplay.
Once you get past the first 5 sequences the game opens up and becomes the game you expect. The back drop here is the American Revolution and a few years after. The game includes faithful recreations of Boston, New York and a few smaller historic settlements. You will relive some of the most famous events in American history. Want to take part in the Boston Tea Party? Yep its here. Want to help out George Washington? Also here, along with a slew of other famous events that are recreated with extreme detail and care.
The story of Conner is an interesting one and is filled with plot twists and set-piece sequences. You may see some of the twists coming but the game does a good job of keeping you interested in the story. This story is for the most part pretty satisfying however the ending sequences are bit lackluster. The story of Desmond which is now on its fifth game is still a bit of a mess. You will take control and play as Desmond a few times throughout the game but these parts are boring and uninspired. If you have been playing since the beginning, the story will still confuse you a times and if you are new to the series prepared to have no idea whats going on. It does “conclude” the story of Desmond however it’s not very satisfying. Series veterans may in fact be a bit angry at the said conclusion.
One of the major components of the game is the frontier. This is the area that connects Boston and New York and is the home of some of the other historic settlements such as Concord. The area is largely a forest with the settlements sprinkled in. Running through the trees are pretty fun and performing air assassinations on an unsuspecting enemy from a tree branch is satisfying. You can also hunt the various wild-life that inhabits the frontier. You will be able to kill and skin rabbits, dear, elk and bears for there pelts which can be sold for profit. The frontier is also home to your “homestead.” You are the owner of a small settlement that can be upgraded by doing various missions around the world. By doing these missions you will watch your settlements grow as it will add new houses and roads. With each new person that lives on your settlement they can produce goods that can be used for crafting or used to just sell at the store.
The gameplay of Assassin’s Creed 3 has seen a bit of an overhaul from previous games. You still have the same mission types as previous games however I feel that the structure of these missions are pretty lackluster. Aside from a few really nice set-piece moments most missions are the same and some are pretty painful to play. The chase and eavesdrop missions are by far the worst moments in the game that will send you into fits of rage. The game also has an assortment of stealth missions but because there really are no stealth mechanics in the game, these can be frustrating as well.
The combat now feels more like the Batman Arkham series. You will enter groups of enemies and you can attack at your own will or wait for a icon to appear over their head signaling that you should counter their moves. Once you hit the counter button you can then hit one of the face buttons to perform many various moves depending on what weapons you have equipped. This combat system feels more fluid than any other game in the series however it could still use a bit more polish. I had moments where my counters would not work and got into a never ending cycle of enemies hitting me leaving me unable to do anything.
Connor has a wide assortment of weapons and tools to use at his disposal. You have the trademark hidden blades as well as tomahawks, swords, daggers, a bow, guns and many other weapons. Being in the American Revolution there are quite a few guns. Many wondered how these would work or how much sense these made. The guns are not much of a factor because of the long reload times which are also recreated with great percision.
The free-running model makes a comeback and is still as fun and frustrating as ever. At times you feel like a real bad-ass running and jumping from rooftops onto other buildings and ledges and running through the trees can be a blast. However; because the run button is the same as the climb button you will still find yourself climbing up things you didn’t mean to and accidentally jumping to your death. This problem is magnified in chase missions or in the mobile eavesdrop missions where you will lose sight of your target because you accidentally climbed a building.
Another major edition the the franchise is Naval Battles. Many may be skeptical about this feature but worry not as the battles on the high seas are fun and engaging. They are also mostly optional so if you really don’t like them you don’t need to do them besides maybe two story missions. I will say that these battles are some of my favorite moments in the game. The sea is dynamic and beautiful, the wind can change at any second shifting your boat and taking down enemy ships are a blast….literally.
Assassin’s Creed 3 is a beautiful game….sometimes. There will be moments where your jaw will drop at just how gorgeous this game can look. The vistas in the frontier look amazing and the low skylines on Boston and New York are breathtaking. The landmarks are created with such craftsmanship that it will really take you back. The cities are always busy with many different things going on and running through the middle of a battlefield are some of the best and most gorgeous moments. The animations while running and while in combat are head and shoulder above most games on the market. When this game is hitting on all cylinders it is easily one of the best (if not the best) looking games on the market. However AC3 is hit with some serious performance issues. There is quite a bit of texture pop in, broken animations, frame-rate issues and a bunch of other graphical issues. You will fall through the world, experience characters talking without their mouths moving and frame-rates at or below 20 at certain points. The sound design is top notch as voice actors are on point and convincing and the original score is fitting.
The multiplayer that you either love or hate returns largely untouched from Revelations. The competitive side features 12 different modes and a raking system to level up and unlock new goodies. The competitive multiplayer of Assassin’s Creed has never been my thing. It’s a nice distraction from the run of the mill FPS multiplayer games out there but lacks the staying power. If you loved the multiplayer in previous games you will love it here. If you didn’t care much for them this game will do nothing to pull you in. The game does come with a new co-op mode that is an Assassin’s Creed take on horde mode. Called Wolf Pack, the mode allows players to form teams and work together to eliminate NPC assassination targets, known as ‘Moles’ in a time limit. There are a total of 25 sequences to complete, with each increasing in difficulty. This mode is pretty fun and work well.
Assassin’s Creed 3 is a massive game. The maps are huge and offer a variety of things to do. There are many different collectables, challenges, and missions to do. The game took my breath away at just how big and bold it is. The craftsmanship put into recreating historic settlements, battles and people are stunning. That being said some gameplay and mission issues that plagued the previous games make their return, Desmond’s story is still a bit confusing and unsatisfying and the many various performance issues hinder what could have been a masterpiece, instead Assassin’s Creed 3 is a good game and a solid entry into the successful franchise.
+Faithful recreation on 1700’s America
+Connor is a great character
+At times can be the best looking game around
+Great animations and voice work
+Naval Battles are fun and action packed.
+A ton of stuff to do
-Desmond’s story is still a bit of a mess and unsatisfying
-Many performance issues
-Mission structure is pretty poor
-Anti-climatic ending to Connor’s story
-The same gameplay issues return from previous games
Final Verdict: 8.5/10
Price at Review: $60
Even with its issues, Assassin’s Creed 3 should still not be missed by gamers and Assassin’s Creed fans alike.
**This was reviewed with a retail copy of the Playstation 3 version**