Developer(s): Ubisoft Montreal
Platform(s): PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
Review Platform: PS3
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Ubisoft’s endeavor is truly commendable. To achieve such monumental triumph and introduce brand new characters and setting without sacrificing the franchise’s traditions seems like a gargantuan task. Assassin’s Creed III carries its predecessors’ genes while delivering a completely distinct experience. Fans who’ve spent countless hours with Ezio will transcend time without ever loosing grip of the Assassin’s Creed universe. Players new to the series will undoubtedly immerse themselves in Colonial America’s breathtaking environments and never feel excluded from AC’s established lore. While the game’s technical shortcomings are noticeable, and oftentimes frustrating, the entire experience is so rich in content and attention to detail that the result is an achievement of historic proportions.
- Breathtaking environments
- Superb narrative and characters
- An incredible amount of content
- Improved combat
- Naval battles
- Shockingly disappointing ending
- Still feels too automatic and easy
- Loaded with small bugs throughout
- Chase and eavesdropping missions are terrible
A lot of games try to entice players with a preliminary hook, commonly setting the stage with grandeur and flamboyance only to taper off as the narrative carries on. Assassin’s Creed III takes a calmer, almost complacent, approach to bring you into its world. It might feel like the game is holding your hands for the first few hours, but in fact asks you to become invested in the characters and their intentions. ACIII feels like reading an epic novel, one that needs to be absorbed page by page in order to establish a deeper connection. It’s around the fifth hour that the game reaches its esteemed tempo and you’re let loose to roam, but the introductory chapters carry powerful moments that dictate our protagonist’s path to becoming a deadly assassin.
One could argue that the driving force behind Assassin’s Creed’s narrative has never been its end of the world plot, but rather the historical ties to powerful characters and their personal struggles with political and religious injustices. Assassin’s Creed III continues that trend with our new hero Connor Kenway. Unlike the charismatic and playful Ezio, Connor is reclusive with a burning for revenge. Ezio’s conflict developed at a slower pace and his passion for the cause matured over three games, whereas Connor’s fate was decided within the first few hours. This consequently gives ACIII a more immediate urgency and darker tone. From its opening chapter in the London Opera, ACIII elevates the series to remarkable heights. You feel encompassed by the most profound allusion to the 18th century as you pass chatty aristocrats and their exquisite attire.
The developers have crafted an interactive journey through the American Revolution while simultaneously tying in their own conspiracy-laden tale. You encounter iconic figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and many more, while witnessing decisions that shaped the course of history. Connor’s pertinence to revolutionary consequences may seem far-fetched, but these moments are such vivid insights to the time period that all fictional liberties feel constituent.
On the other hand, Desmond’s half continues its flimsy trend of fetch quests and abrupt missions. His story, while technically the main plot, continues to feel like a distraction to an otherwise richly crafted world. Your enjoyment of the final chapters will ultimately depend on your expectations. If you play the series for Desmond’s ancestors and don’t feel too invested in the convoluted end of the world plot, you’ll feel content with how Connor’s narrative wraps up. But if you’re expecting a satisfying finale to Desmond’s tale, you will be infuriated. Desmond’s ending is lazy, brief, and a big slap in the face. What a shame.
The gameplay hasn’t changed per se, but it’s been refined with more fluidity and grace. The Parkour still feels somewhat automatic since all it takes to traverse the scenery is pressing the right shoulder button and pointing the analog stick in the desired direction. But the Assassin’s Creed series has always been about building momentum and the introduction of tree climbing adds a great dynamic to that principle. Animations have been diversified to an astounding degree. As Connor emerges from the lavish treetops of the frontier onto the rooftops of Boston and New York, you feel empowered by his flawless agility and rhythm.
However, break that flow and you subsequently face one of AC’s flaws that’s plagued the series since the first installment. The “sticky” environments make chase missions feel aggravating and broken as you get stuck on objects while running. When you’re forced down a particular path, you feel tempted to take shortcuts, but the game insists on its predetermined course. The same is true for missions in general. They’re linear with little room for exploration and tactics. You take steps that the game wants you to take. While this ensures a more cinematic venture, it would be nice to see the game step away from the director’s chair once in a while. But despite occasional handholding issues, ACIII continues to be the most enjoyable playground in the sandbox genre.
Combat takes a few notes from Batman Arkham City/Asylum and is more barbaric than ever. Connor is a ferocious beast that slays enemies with great vigor and speed. His tomahawk slices through bodies like butter and you can cut through waves of foes without getting a scratch. Targeting works significantly better this time around, you point the analog in the direction of your enemies instead of manually locking on. A newly introduced counter-command freezes the action for a split second allowing you to return attacks, throw enemies, or disarm them. Compared to previous AC games, the new combat feels more involved and precise. Enemy AI is still dumb, waiting around for your counter attacks and rarely taking initiative, but when you partake in Connor’s bloody dance, all is forgiven.
But the real stunner is the naval combat. There are over two-dozen missions that take you to the high seas for some of the most impressive naval engagements in video game history. The physics feel unbelievably authentic. Waves sway your ship across the ocean and the force of nature effortlessly pounds away as you struggle to maintain control. As enemy vessels approach, tactical positioning is key when firing cannons, especially when you’re trying to dodge incoming fire. Additionally, Connor can hunt between missions, liberate residents, collect hundreds of treasures within each area, and there’s even an economy system that let’s you upgrade and maintain your homestead. And to top it all off, the acclaimed multiplayer makes a comeback. To say that ACIII is four games in one is an understatement.
The Assassin’s Creed games always boasted spectacular environments and meticulously designed architecture and the latest installment is the most impressive thus far. Ubisoft’s latest AnvilNext engine pushes the current generation of consoles to their max. The vast frontier is filled with wildlife and dense forests and the city streets are overflowing with merchants, patrolling soldiers, and farm animals. The implemented weather system adds great realism as the summer days shift to colder seasons, covering everything in sight with deep snow and a thick fog. Accompanying the spectacular graphics is top of the line voice acting. Noah Watts does a brilliant job as Connor and the orchestral soundtracks sets the dramatic tone perfectly. ACIII’s presentation is truly spectacular with only a few minor frame rate drops interrupting the experience.
Assassin’s Creed III is nearly perfect. If it wasn’t for the disappointing ending, reoccurring bugs, and mission rigidness, it would have achieved a perfect score. But with such an ambitious title, many of these issues are easily overlooked. The sheer scope and amount of detail is staggering. For fans of the series, this is a fantastic new chapter that restores life to the assassins universe without abandoning its roots - and if you’re new to the franchise, there’s never been a better time to delve in.
Absolutely breathtaking environments. The world is huge and radiating with life. From the gorgeous forests of the frontier to the crowded city streets of Boston and New York, each area is beautifully crafted. This is one of the best looking games of the year.
Gameplay has been refined and is more fluid than all predecessors combined. But identical problems of the past return and those frustrated by the automatic nature of the controls will still encounter the same issues. But despite its faults, ACIII is an absolute blast to play, especially the naval combat.
It takes five hours just to get the narrative going. This is a game that sucks you in and doesn't let go. It's massive with an unbelievable amount of content. You can spend hours between missions collecting secrets and engaging in side quests.
The series continues to provide some of the best voice acting in the industry. While Connor might not be as charming, or interesting, as Ezio, Noah Watts does a superb job of bringing his character to life and making him relatable. Same goes for the entire supporting cast of historical figures and secondary characters. Just brilliant.
Review by Tin Salamunic
Tin Salamunic is the founder of The Game Scouts. He is a Video Game Journalist during the day and illustrator by night. He's been obsessed with video games since the early NES days, collecting every major system and game on the market. Video games are the reason he pursued the illustration career and he hopes to be creative director for a video game company one day. All Artciles by Tin.