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Assassin’s Creed III is a Canadian action-adventure stealth game, developed by Ubisoft Montreal in 2012. It follows the story of a Native American by the name of Connor, who has to battle the evil forces in order to restore peace in 18th century America. Personally, I greatly enjoy this game, although I wouldn’t recommend it to absolutely anyone. So now, let’s take a closer look at it…
The main character in this game, as is visible from the title, is an assassin, which creates a stealth-genre gameplay: the player is sent on missions to assassinate either individuals or simply the enemies of the Assassins, the Templars. However, this game isn’t bound by solely stealth, as the player can pick the option of a more brutal gameplay and enjoy mass-murder, albeit that may render the game easier and may not be possibly during certain missions. The missions themselves consist of two parts: the main mission, which has to be completed in order for the player to advance in the game, as well as option aspects of the mission which, if completed, will produce greater synchronisation with Animus, a machine which has been originally used to transport the main protagonist into the past, where he was able to gain access to the memories of his ancestors. There are also a number of side quests which once again are not compulsory, although they do increase the synchronisation percentage; this makes the game seem a bit like an open-world, for once the player gets tired of the main quest line, they can stray off into the woods to do some hunting or help rebuild the homestead area. Finally, I would like to mention that all of the quest lines are very entertaining, especially the main one, as it features many unexpected plot twists. Overall, this section is very good.
A couple of times throughout the game, the player is given the possibility to play as Desmond, a young man from the 21st century; that gameplay is limited, however, and in my opinion not very engaging. For most of the time, the player controls Connor, a Native American, who eventually transforms into an assassin. Since Assassin’s Creed is programmed using SMART (Smooth Movement Across Random Terrain), Connor is capable of climbing various ledges and rooftops, as well as sliding down ditches and jumping from tree to tree. Personally, I find these capabilities amazing as it makes the game seem more realistic. Connor can wield a number of different weapons, most of which are very fun to use, such as the rope dart, for example; also, various costumes can be purchased from local vendors to change Connor’s image based on the player’s preferences. Overall, this section is very good.
As far as I see it, this game has two distinct difficulty levels: either it is a piece of cake, or you’re a dead man walking. When it comes to completing missions, the main objective is usually easy to fulfill and therefore doesn’t take a very long time, however if the player wishes to also complete the secondary objectives, the mission suddenly becomes insanely difficult; in my opinion, the game only offers two extremes, and not much in between. Although in terms of combat, the difficulty levels are well balanced: a good range of available weapons and fighting techniques allows the player to take on all sorts of enemies, including animals. The side quests are usually straightforward, although they tend to require quite a bit of movement, which could potentially become tiring if you’re not particularly into exploring the wilderness. Overall, this section is satisfactory.
There are many different characters scattered all over the map, and they’re usually rather engaging to talk to. The main plotline allows you to interact with a variety of different people: their dialogues in combination with the good graphics create very realistic characters, each with their own personality. The side missions introduce the player to even more interesting individuals, so I would say that it’s definitely worth spending your time looking around the game. The way that all of these NPCs go about their lives makes the game very atmospheric, which I always consider to be a major plus: it’s great to be playing something that makes you feel part of it. The enemies vary greatly from ordinary soldiers to Jaegers, and it’s always entertaining to try and find their weak spot; personally I love raising my notoriety level just to fight some of the more difficult guys to test my skill. Overall, this section is good.
Assassin’s Creed III gives the player an opportunity to explore wonderful cities and beautiful landscapes: the game is truly wonderful in terms of the environment. Regardless of whether you’re in a town, or a local homestead, or even a fort, everything seems very realistic; the maps are also quite accurate in terms of historical detail, creating a very pleasant ambiance. I enjoy games which have lots of careful thought put into them, and this is certainly one of them: sometimes it’s just great to walk around old Boston or New York and contemplate the way things are. It’s almost relaxing, and it really does take you back in time to the 18th century. The SMART programming allows greater interaction with the environment, rendering it useful for the player: I find this wonderful, for you can not only amuse yourself by exploring the surroundings, but also use the odd ledge or branch to perform an aerial attack, for instance. Trust me, it’s great fun! Overall, this section is very good.
Honestly, the game is beautiful, especially if you look at given landscapes at a distance or contemplate certain structures from afar; the graphics aid in creating a very enticing gameplay experience. However, once you approach a house, for instance, or a bush, the graphics tend to sway a little and the intricate details become blurry. That isn’t a massive problem though, since most of the time you don’t pay such close attention to detail. I’ve got to admit that the characters are portrayed wonderfully: all of the people just look so real! So human! I think that’s a fabulous addition to making the game even more realistic. Overall, this section is good.
I bought this game second hand for 8 pounds a week ago. This is a great game as it steps out of the assassin we had got used to and brings out a whole new set of characters. First you start of as a Templar from England who sails to Boston to try and find one of the pieces of Eden but after about sequence 3 you change to the main character Connor. Connor is the son of the guy you first play as in the game. Connor begins in a small native American tribe in which he first encounters Charles Johnson who ends up burning Connor's village as Connor did not tell him the location of a secret cave.
Even though the game does not take long to complete I only took a week to complete it is still fun to free roam and kill soldiers or just do mini missions which you may have not completed. The graphics are o the highest standard of games of this era. And I have to say this game stands out from the rest of PS3 games.
There are a range of ways in which you can customize Connor's appearance and the weapons he carries around with him. The controls are easy to grasp and it's not complicated at all which is good. you can also play online in which you are assigned a contract to kill certain players in the game but if you run or make yourself stand out from the crowd the ill person you are trying to kill will be notified of you and can either stun you or run away.
Even though this is the 5th game in the Assassin's Creed era Ubisoft still manage to amaze us with the story line and the fighting styles which are incorporated into the game.
You can sum up Assassin's Creed III in two words: "Oh dear". But perhaps I'd better explain a little more.
I loved Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin's Creed: Revelations, so was really looking forward to playing this. That excitement did not last long, once I realised that almost everything about it - the story, the characters, the combat, the controls, and the fluid movement - is a retrograde step over previous instalments.
You control two main characters. Initially you play Haytham Kenway, sent to the Colonies during the American Revolutionary War to uncover a secret. Later on (and for most of the game), you gain control of Conner, a Native American and son of Kenway and his American wife. Either way, you undertake a series of missions to ensure that your enemies do not triumph.
Assassin's Creed III does itself no favours with a ridiculously slow start. Early missions are incredibly dull and often amount to little more than "go to point A and talk to person 1 before moving to point B and talking to person 2". The narrative feels very fragmented so that too often the game seems to boil down to five seconds of action followed by two minutes of cut-scenes, leaving you feeling you as though you are not so much playing the game as watching it.
It's not helped by a story which simply never gripped me. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood also started quite slowly, but once you got the hang of it, the story was brilliantly told and really interesting. ACIII never comes close to recapturing that spirit. Yes, there is a coherent story running through, and yes there is lots to do connected with that story, but I just never got caught up in it and gave up on the game long before I ever got to the end of the story mode.
You certainly can't fault the game's ambition. The map is massive - far bigger than the Rome of Assassin's Creed Brotherhood and packed with main and secondary missions. If you get into it, there's certainly no quibbling with the long term entertainment on offer. However, alongside the dull narrative, I found it to have too many other faults to make it worthwhile persevering.
Graphics are a mixture of mediocre and dreadful. Assassin's Creed Brotherhood really brought 14th century Rome to life. The graphics in Assassin's Creed III don't match that level of immersion. Buildings are boring, often difficult to distinguish from one another and don't inspire that same sense of awe as the structures of 15th century Rome did. In Brotherhood, you didn't need to have any particular purpose in mind - just exploring medieval Rome interesting in its own right ; wandering around Boston and the wilds of America just doesn't have the same appeal.
There are also too many obvious graphical glitches which should have been ironed out long before this game was ever released. There were times when characters start walking through solid walls, or where the limbs of one character pass straight through the limbs of another. My personal favourite though was haystack balancing. Let me explain: scattered throughout the game are haystacks which use to hide from enemy soldiers. On at least half a dozen occasions, I tried to do this, but instead of hiding, the character decided to hover in the air above it. End result? I was spotted and killed. There are also some serious issues with camera angles that fail to keep up with the action or place you at a disadvantage by giving you the worst possible angle from which to view a fight. All this is inexcusable in a full priced, commercial release.
Like the graphics, the sound is also either mediocre or awful. The various in-game tunes soon become repetitive and almost don't register (even the fight tune - so brilliantly tense in AC: Brotherhood - fails to generate any sort of atmosphere). Worst of all is the voice acting which is nothing short of horrific. It's full of the sort of plummy upper class voices and strangulated vowels that Americans think all English people have. At one point, it was annoying me so much that I turned the volume off and switched the in-game subtitles on instead.
Perhaps the worst change comes with the controls. The controls in Assassin's Creed Brotherhood were perfect. They were simple, intuitive, easy to remember and gave you precision control over your character. Assassin's Creed III seems to have gone out of its way to make them as poor as it can. Movement takes some time to get to grips with and the free-running never feels as fluid as it did in Brotherhood. There were any number of times when I tried to get my character to do one thing and he decided he was going to do something completely different (usually resulting in a failed mission and/or death).
Controls can also be very fiddly - particularly those relating to weapon selection. In Brotherhood, this was intuitive and moving from one weapon to another in the heat of battle was straightforward. In ACIII, it is anything but (if you don't believe me, just Google "Assassin's Creed III weapon selection" and see how many people have struggled with it). Yes, once you've got the hang of it, it's OK, but given that this is a fundamental part of the game, it needs to be far easier to operate.
Perhaps the biggest sin is that the controls have been altered from previous instalments. I naively assumed that they would be pretty much the same as Brotherhood. Whilst this is true for some actions, others have been reassigned to new buttons. This causes problems for anyone who has played the earlier game. In the heat of battle it's all too easy for your fingers to go onto autopilot and revert back to the previous controls which, again, can have disastrous results for your game.
Sadly Assassin's Creed III is an exercise in frustration. I really wanted to like it. I gave it chance and after chance after chance and kept returning in the hope it would get better. In the end, though, it betrayed my trust and showed me up as a naïve fool. There are odd moments when it recaptures the old spirit, but nowhere near enough to redeem it.
Assassin's Creed Brotherhood got so much right that Assassin's Creed III feels even more of a let-down than it might otherwise do. The good points of Brotherhood appear to have been dropped in favour of implementing changes which have just not worked. Credit to Ubisoft for trying to do something a bit different with the series (after three successive games set in medieval Rome), but sadly, this bravery backfires.
I downloaded Assassin's Creed III for free as part of my Playstation Plus subscription. Had I paid £40 for it, I would have been even more disappointed. Let's hope the forthcoming Black Flag marks a return to form.
(c) Copyright SWSt 2013
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, Wii U
[see my review on 'Assassin's Creed: Revelations': 'Closing Doors'. Please note that there may be a few spoilers of the story of this game in the following review]
From one trilogy-ender to another, 'Assassin's Creed III' is the last of the cycle of protagonist Desmond Miles in the Assassin's Creed series, and ultimately the end of an important chapter for game developers Ubisoft. While I refer to a "trilogy" here, those of you who've played the previous instalments will know that there are in fact five main games (excluding the subsidiary handheld ones), but for the three middle games, Ubisoft stuck with Desmond's ancestor Ezio Auditore, ultimately referring to those three as one entity. So in overview, there is an element of balance and symmetry involved, with the way in which the first and last games are dedicated to two different assassins, while Ezio's story is spread across three; and there is definitely a full-circle feel in 'Assassin's Creed III'. But with this six year-long story coming to an end, the key question is: does it meet the hype? Promising a great game with a distinctly different feel, this is my review of the video game of the last assassin in Desmond's story.
-== The Plot ==-
You are Desmond Miles, a man who ran away from his life of training to be coming an assassin, and started a new one in New York as a bartender. You were tracked down and kidnapped by the company Abstergo and forced to relive the memories of your ancestor Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad, a master assassin from the Third Crusade in 1191. With the help of an undercover assassin called Lucy, however, you managed to escape Abstergo headquarters. You learn that Abstergo is in fact the cover-name of the modern-day Knights Templar, and their quest is to recover what is known in the Assassin's Creed world as "pieces of Eden" - artefacts with extraordinary powers. It' a race to the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar: December 21, 2012.
In 'Assassin's Creed II' (ACII), Lucy leads you to a safehouse with other assassins, namely Shaun and Rebecca, who provide you with a far more welcoming environment as you delve back into history once again via the Animus (the device that allows you to relive the memories of your ancestors, stored in your DNA) (now 2.0). This time, however, you must revisit the days of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an assassin from Renaissance Italy. The story develops over 'Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood' (ACB) and 'Assassin's Creed: Revelations' (ACR) for both Desmond and Ezio, both fighting for these "Pieces of Eden". The memories of Ezio allow Desmond to locate a "Piece of Eden" in ACB, and ACR allows Desmond to close the doors on both Altaïr and Ezio while he's stuck in Animus-limbo. At the end of ACR, Desmond awakens, and is greeted by the blinding sunshine...in the USA.
So what has led Desmond to America (Boston, to be specific)? In 'Assassin's Creed III' (ACIII), you make your way into a cave - a cave which is in fact a hidden temple of the "First Civilization", a historic era that fictitiously existed before the world was sort-of destroyed before. It is the Piece of Eden that you find in ACB that leads you here. Within this temple, the team set up camp once more, and the clock is ticking - doomsday, the 21st December, is fast approaching, and it is believed that within this temple, answers can be found; answers to the questions surrounding the end of the world, and hopefully a way or preventing it from happening altogether. But a gateway that requires a (lost) key stands in the way, and in order to find that key, Desmond must once again explore the memories of his ancestors. Rebecca and Shaun, who are now accompanied by Desmond's father William, have located the specific ancestor and the era which Desmond must return to...so it's back to the animus for Desmond's final adventure.
Cor, this is cheesy stuff.
You are Haytham Kenway, an English Nobleman born in 1725. Working with your Order, you steal a key and travel across seas to Boston, America, hoping to find passage to a hidden temple of the First Civilization. First you seek accomplices, before trying to find the hidden Temple. The link for Haytham, however, is a female Native American slave who he frees amongst others: Kaniehtí:io. She is reluctant and evasive, but eventually helps Haytham. However, he does not manage to gain entrance to the Temple, and ultimately reaches a dead end.
Some years pass; you are now Ratonhnhaké:ton, born 1756, son of Kaniehtí:io and, little to his knowledge, Haytham Kenway, who merely shared a fleeting romance with Kaniehtí:io. At a young age, your mother dies when your village is burnt down by the Templar Charles Lee. Now this bloke actually existed, but in true Assassin's-Creed Dan-Brown-inspired style, his history is ultimately ignored and adapted quite drastically to suit the game's story. As Ratonhnhaké:ton reaches teenage, he is sent via a village Elder to seek a mysterious, ancient symbol, that is in fact the symbol of the Assassin's Creed; he is to become an Assassin, and seek vengeance on those that have harmed and continue to threaten his village, and moreover, those who murdered his mother. As the plot unfolds, he too will be drawn to the key to the hidden Temple; not to unearth its secrets, but rather to bury it somewhere hidden, to be lost forever.
-== The Review ==-
It's an odd time to have a rehash, in the fifth and final installment to a series, but that's what Ubisoft have done; they introduce the 'Anvil Next' engine to power ACIII, and make a few other significant changes too. The introduction of a new character, story and era is chiefly due to a decline of interest and the inevitable ageing of their previous assassin Ezio. Ratonhnhaké:ton is half-British, half-Mohawk, and as he is introduced to the streets of Boston - a new experience for the trainee assassin - he is ordered by his mentor Achilles Davenport to adopt a new name: simply, "Connor". The game has parallels with the first game, 'Assassin's Creed' (ACI), in that the main assassin's story is covered in one game (that said, Altaïr's story was revisited in ACR, and there is always room to revisit Connor's story - but I highly doubt that Ubisoft will). Furthermore, there is underlying theme of doubt of deception, which despite remaining present in Ezio's story, is far more significant in ACI & ACIII. Hearing the last words of those you have assassinated, you learn that not everything is as it seems; there are shady areas all around you, and Connor ultimately learns there are very little people who he can in fact trust. It harkens back to the twist of ACI, whereby after making nine assassinations, you learn that your mentor has tricked you all along. There are some lighter, more fleeting references within the game too, such as the eavesdropping feature that is similar to the investigations you made in ACI.
But let's start from the start, in terms of gameplay. The Assassin's Creed games present an open-world map, similar to those you may find in the Grand Theft Auto games; but they are set in a specific period in history. In the case of ACIII, the game is set around the American Revolution, and as aforementioned, plays around with the history of this time quite significantly (Connor was apparently present during the signing of the Declaration of Independence...). In this map, you can explore, and choose either embark on your main story missions, other side-missions, or take part in a vast array of other things, such as hunting animals, playing board games, buying/selling goods, or simply having a good ol' roam around the Boston frontier, or the streets of New York. The game becomes very free, in the sense that for the most part, you can choose at what pace you complete the game at. If you began the game and played the main story from start to finish, I doubt you'd even be 25% of full game completion, come the end. There is SO much to do in the Assassin's Creed game, and you can sometimes get very swept away in doing irrelevant things to Connor's story - which, in essence, is just fine!
The world in which Connor is emerged is sublimely constructed. Ubisoft actually obtained maps to both eighteenth-century Boston and New York, and made the ACIII world from these; they are 1:3 to scale! Basically, that's still pretty enormous, and a fantastic achievement for a mainstream video game. Alongside Boston and New York, you have a vast expanse of sea, a "Homestead" and "Frontier"; and it's the latter two that actually become more central to your gameplay in ACIII - or so I found. At the end of the day, you choose where you spend your time outside of missions, as there is a lot to do both in and outside of the cities; however, your "Homestead", as the name suggests, holds the manor house in which your mentor Achilles lives, while the "Frontier" is a new approach, and therefore rather exciting for an Assassin's Creed game. Vast expanse of forestry and small settlements, with a variety of hunting plains, it's certainly very different to any area in ACIII's predecessors; and adding to this, hunting is big new feature that has been introduced. I found in my gameplay that I didn't actually spend much of my time in the cities, which is a great shame, considering the amount of effort the developers spent on producing it; but there is something lacking with it. The cities were absolutely central to previous Assassin's Creed games, but in ACIII, there is a lack of personality to them. It feels that they have been made big simply for the sake of actuality - which, really, is fair enough. In ACIII, the frontier feels far more like home, and in a way, that works out quite nicely considering your protagonist's descent.
The game's graphics are superb. The introduction of a new engine is immediately apparent, and while it takes a slight getting used to, it effectively enhances the experience a lot. It feels different generally, and this taps into the controls. They have been improved, but only slightly. While Ubisoft claims to have worked out some kinks and "worked from the ground up", I still feel that there are some very annoying aspects to the control system, one of the more prominent being the way in which your character seems to magnetize himself to certain objects, which can spoil certain actions quite significantly. That said, the overall control system has been completely rebuilt, and it is better. It's subjective in a way, in the sense that it is completely different to the games before it, but I prefer the new system. The experience is improved, but for me, the experience declines with...well, the experience, which is essentially built on environment, including location, period in time and map, and other features such as soundtrack. Out of the five games, eighteenth-century North America is the least enjoyable time period, and presents the least satisfying surroundings. As aforementioned, the cities are neglected, but in fairness, it seems that Ubisoft have gone for quantity over quality in this respect. Meanwhile, hopping from tree to tree can get tiresome. That said, there is something beautiful in the way in which summer in the frontier is presented - it's soothing, and I've always found that the Assassin's Creed games can present something quite relieving in their visuals. But after the wonderful experience of roaming around sixteenth-century Constantinople in ACR, this is a heavy fall - a fall that not even the introduction of automatic varying weather conditions can fix! (Come on guys, let's face it, it's not that great going that it took you five games to introduce such a feature!) And the experience falls further with the soundtrack. Anybody who was paying attention to the soundtrack of ACR (and I won't blame you if you weren't, although you are missing out...) might have noticed completely different sounds between the in-game music and the cutscene music; but this is because of the welcoming of a secondary composer who also composed ACR's main theme: Lorne Balfe. Although Scottish, he is one of Hans Zimmer's composers in L.A. While the main theme was fantastic, and some other bits were superb, it was a style entirely different to the game's other composer Jesper Kyd; the composer who had provided the music to all of the series' games prior, too. With the introduction of Lorne Balfe, especially being part of the Hans Zimmer/Remote Control Productions machine, any video-game music fan could see what was going on - Jesper Kyd was being phased out. And I was highly disappointed to learn that he wouldn't return for ACIII - another significant change at an odd point in the series. My fears were confirmed upon playing through the game. The beauty of Kyd's music is its individualism, and it always possesses something rather special. In the Assassin's Creed games, I used to love roaming the rooftops listening to his fantastic soundtrack (call me sad, or a geek - I don't care!), especially in ACR. Balfe, albeit an able composer, provides Zimmer-ish music, but music far inferior to his ACR work. Plus, there is a lack of "roaming" music, and also lack of a prominent main theme. For me, the soundtrack pulls the game back very far indeed, and Jesper Kyd is sorely missed.
The game picks up with its story - mostly. While I do have my concerns about tinkering with history so much, the story is engaging and enjoyable, and I also learnt quite a bit about the American Revolution, too (see, video games can be educational!). The characters, for the most part, are strong, and the relationship between Connor and his father can be quite comical at times. Ubisoft certainly soar here; but there was a largely unsatisfying edge, too. It's hard but to help feel that the story is quite rushed, especially in the sections relating to Desmond, bearing in mind that this has been the protagonist of all five games. The ending is predictable and very badly executed, and followers will be highly dissatisfied. Also, the way in which the ghosts (or whatever they are) of Juno and Minerva (characters from the First Civilization) become quite central to Desmond's story, chatting to him and sending emails and what not, is quite silly. So while Connor's story is universal and interesting, Desmond's is disappointing - and this is the most important aspect, as it has ultimately been anticipated for six years. It's just over before you know it.
-== The Verdict ==-
'Assassin's Creed III' is impressive, on the surface, but it's simply not as enjoyable as the three games featuring Ezio - you almost miss the Italian Stallion. The visuals are stunning, but too many other elements let it down. Missions are less inventive, Desmond's story is rushed, the controls aren't massively improved, while the music is dull. For Assassin's Creed fans, ACIII is a disappointment; but it's likely that this is very much due to its hype, in that it promised to be an epic finale. For me, the Assassin's Creed games have been groundbreaking in the gaming world, but in terms of gameplay, nothing special. They are very easy games that focus more on the story and the cinematics - like most these days! That said, the stories are interesting, albeit cheesy at times, and the cinematics are spectacular, and particularly well directed at times. In retrospect, it's been a great series, but reached its peak with 'Assassin's Creed: Revelations', with its engaging, closing story, its beautiful visuals and its perfect soundtrack. So it really is a shame how Desmond's story ends, with 'Assassin's Creed III'. No doubt, Ubisoft will be back VERY soon with a new Assassin game (five in six years - they're pretty relentless!), but for now, the story has come to an end. I've written reviews on all five of the games, so please navigate to my list of reviews if you'd like information on any of the other Assassin's Creed games. Meanwhile, the star rating I have given 'Assassin's Creed III' provides a further element of symmetry, one which is given chiefly because of its sheer disappointment.