The last two releases in the Assassin’s Creed
franchise, whilst great games in their own right, have basically been large scale expansions to 2009’s Assassin's Creed II
, continuing the story of both Desmond, the bartender turned assassin, and Ezio Auditore da Firenze, one of gaming’s most iconic and storied protagonists.
In Assassin's Creed III
, the fourth release from the franchise in as many years, the story switches to a new setting and introduces us to a new assassin for the first time since Ezio was pulled from his mother’s womb 3 years ago.
Can Assassin’s Creed III
live up to the franchises previously high standards, or does the final part in the long-running trilogy of Desmond disappoint?Story"On this land, I am torn. Part of me wants to fight and repel all outsiders. The other part of me is the outsider. In the name of liberty, I will fight the enemy regardless of their allegiance. While men of courage write history of this day, the future of our land depends on those who are truly free."
Without giving too much of the story away, the game begins exactly where http://www.trueachievements.com/AC-Revelations/achievem....htm
left us last year. With a solar flare about to hit the earth and wipe out humanity, Desmond re-enters the Animus, a machine that allows him to live out his ancestors memories, in an attempt to find the location of a mysterious key that holds the secret to the planet’s survival.
Upon entering the Animus we’re taken back in time to 18th-century Colonial America, and the story of Ratonhnhaké:ton (or Connor as he later becomes known as), a half Native American, half English Assassin who on one hand is fighting to unravel a Templar conspiracy against the American Revolution, whilst on the other seeking revenge for the death of his mother years before.
On one side of the war you have the British who are ruling the colonies with an iron fist, and it is of course the Brits who play the role of the Templars in AC III
, with high ranking members of the Templar order found to be commanding the advancing marches to capture land and plotting against the revolution. For the first time in the series though, the story really blurs the lines between what is wrong and right, and on more than one occasion you’ll be left wondering if the Templars are all that bad after all.
On the other side are the Patriots who Connor helps in a bid to keep his people's land safe. It's not a straight forward partnership however, as Connor questions the hypocrisy of the colonists who fight for their freedom, yet still keep slaves.Journey to the new worldAssassin’s Creed III
’s story takes place in two cities, namely Boston and New York, and whilst they don’t have the same monumental architecture of Rome and Constantinople, there are enough structures and large scale buildings to make veterans of the series feel at home.
That being said, Connor’s 18th-century surroundings have dictated some changes to the standard gameplay that we've experienced before. Enemies are now armed with muskets and flintlock pistols, meaning a quick escape via a nearby rooftop isn't always the smartest option. Instead much more emphasis is placed on horizontal movement, with Connor now able to skip through buildings, and nimbly slide under or skip over obstacles in his path.
Both cities are crammed with life, and as the game opens up from its linear beginnings, the map will fill with a number of side objectives and collectibles, from forts that need to be cleared, to small courier missions where you are required to deliver letters to nearby NPCs.
Separating the two cities is The Frontier, a vast expanse of forests, mountains and rivers which are packed with detail. With the new ability to free-run from tree to tree, you can look down upon the wildlife below, from tiny creatures such as rabbits and beavers to the larger predatory bears and wolves that will attack you on sight.
Scaling the forest does feel slightly more organic than what we've been used to in the past, but after a short while you’ll quickly discover the familiar shapes and routes to take in order to navigate your way around the tree tops.
Along with the change in tactics, a number of the game’s core mechanics have also had an overhaul. Free-running and climbing have been simplified to only use the right trigger which allows you to keep your right thumb free to change the camera angle when stalking your prey. It also removes the annoyance of accidentally jumping in the wrong direction and falling to your death.
The combat controls have also been refined, but the difference isn't massively noticeable to what we've seen in the past. Enemies who are about to attack will show a red flashing triangle above their head allowing you to counter using the B button, before striking with X or disarming them by pressing A.
Ranged weapons are once again assigned to the Y button, but for the most part you'll stick to using your sword or tomahawk as the time it takes to reload a gun makes them pretty useless. There is however one brilliant new addition to Connor's ranged arsenal with the new rope dart that can be used to hang enemies from trees and buildings.
Kill animations have also been redesigned, and are particularly impressive when countering a couple of attacks simultaneously. Doing so will enter a short cut scene in which Connor will quickly block both attacks before slaying them with his weapon of choice.
Enemies have been redesigned so that you can’t simply use the same attack over and over again which makes the combat a little more thoughtful than we've seen in the past. There’s even the odd occasion when you’ll quickly have to grab an enemy and use them as a human shield as soldiers back off and take aim at you with a musket.
Another significant change comes in the weapon selection screens. In the past clicking RB would briefly pause the action, but now with an even wider range of weapons at your disposal, clicking RB will take you completely out of the game to a menu. It doesn't help the flow of battle and sometimes can take a short while to load.
The main mission structure remains the same as it has done in the past, with each sequence requiring you to build up information on your next target before eventually making the final kill. There are some truly wonderful sections to the game, from the Battle of Bunker Hill, to the full scale battles at sea, but the vast majority of the sequences are heavily scripted with cut scenes and linear paths that don’t allow you to deviate from the suggested route.
It does help the game’s sense of storytelling, with everyone who plays the game forced to witness the same outcome, but for an open-world game that allows you to do as you please outside of the main objective, it's very limiting.
Being so linear also comes with a few unexpected problems. It would be fair to say that with a game of this size, you quite often expect the odd small bug to appear, but on one mission early in the game, I was required to blend in with a crowd to eavesdrop on a conversation. Unfortunately the crowd didn't actually spawn, meaning I had to reload the checkpoint in order to progress any further.
There are a number of other small niggles along the way that won’t distract from the overall experience, but will gradually begin to annoy you by the time you've spent a number of hours with the game. From minor visual oddities such as dead enemy's weapons floating in the air and textures popping in and out before your eyes. The most annoying for me personally was the animation when diving into water. As you hit the surface, you'll get the feeling that you've just landed head first in a shallow puddle as the camera jerks for a brief moment before allowing you to start swimming.Home is where the heart is
Every Assassin needs a home and in Assassin’s Creed III
we’re introduced to the homestead, which acts as your training base when young Connor initially follows his Assassin destiny.
At first the homestead is nothing more than a rundown house in the middle of the countryside, but by completing special side missions you can add settlers to the land and transform it into a small bustling village of lumberjacks, hunters and farmers. In exchange for the land you provide them with, you will be given resources which you can then use to trade via convoys.
Whilst at first that sounds quite fun, but rather unimportant, if you want to keep stocked up on ammo for your pistol or arrows for your bow, you’ll need to keep the trade convoys rolling, as unlike the last three releases in the series, AC III
doesn't allow you to purchase an array of shops that contribute to your bank balance at regular intervals.
There’s also a new hunting meta-game which is very similar to the one seen in Red Dead Redemption
. Connor has an array of hunting tools at his disposal, which allow you to hunt a variety of animals across the Frontier. Once killed, each animal can be skinned and its pelt and anything else of value can be added to your inventory to be sold at a later date.
Another large addition to the game is the introduction of a full naval side campaign which requires you to take control of the newly refurbished Aquila. It’s a lot more interesting than the annoying distraction that was the Den Defense game in Revelations
and requires a lot more strategic thinking.
You control everything from the speed of the ship, to which weapons and ammunition you wish to take into the battle.
Guilds have been removed from the game so no longer are you able to recruit a group of thieves or prostitutes to help distract the attention of enemy guards, but the guild challenges do continue under a new name. In AC III
, we're introduced to a number of clubs which only unlock upon completing a specific action. Once completed you will automatically join and gain access to a number of challenges that you can complete throughout the game. Multiplayer
The multiplayer in AC III
doesn't differ a great deal from the one we were introduced to in Brotherhood
, offering a range of team-based and individual game types that require you to play the part of both the hunter and the prey.
There is, however, the addition of the new Wolf Pack co-operative game mode which tasks you and your allies with the job of assassinating AI targets within a certain time limit. Once you complete enough kills, a new sequence is started and more time is added to the clock. As you progress through each sequence, the difficulty will increase with targets becoming more suspicious or spread further apart, making communication essential in higher rounds.
Unfortunately, AC III
also includes an in-game currency that requires you to purchase Erudito Points with your MSP. With Erudito points you can then purchase any of the special abilities and perks that would be otherwise locked until you reached a high enough rank.
It wouldn't be a fair review if I didn't mention the problems that the game's multiplayer has encountered so far. On a number of occasions whilst trying to load up the multiplayer disc, the game would freeze and lock up my Xbox completely when signing into the Ubisoft servers. Thankfully these issues seem to have been addressed and I've had no such problems for a number of days.Achievements
Veterans to the franchise will find the achievements similar to previous iterations in the franchise, with a large number being unlocked for simply playing through the main story line, taking part in the various side objectives.
Another set of achievements require you to perform certain upgrades and assassinations, which might be a little out of your normal playing style, but are easy to do.
Multiplayer achievements return, but won't take any significant amount of time to unlock playing legit, and can be boosted for those of you who want to fly through the game as quickly as possible.
The hardest and most time-consuming achievement is Completionist
, which will require you to achieve 100% sync in the DNA Tracker. This will require you to complete all of the optional objectives in the main story missions, find all collectibles, complete all club challenges and complete all side objectives.
There is unfortunately one
buggy achievement that some people have had no problem unlocking, whilst others have struggled.Final VerdictAssassin’s Creed III
is far from the perfect game. There a number of visual and gameplay bugs despite a day one patch, but the overall gameplay, story, improved visuals and the sheer size of the world we get to explore certainly help outweigh any negatives.
The game’s setting is arguably the best yet, but Connor lacks the personality that helped make Ezio so appealing and doesn't leave me wanting more from him in the same way that AC II
With easily 35+ hours of gameplay to be had, a huge new world to explore and a truly unique multiplayer experience that has been improved with the addition of the new Wolf Pack co-operative mode, Assassin’s Creed III
is the most complete addition to the franchise to date.