Assassin’s Creed 3 is actually the 5th major release in the popular Assassin’s Creed series developed by Ubisoft. Development of the game started after Assassin’s Creed 2, and continued through the creation and release of both Brotherhood, and Revelations, both of which continued the story of the second game’s protagonist, as well as all of the games’ less than heroic present-day assassin, Desmond Miles. As one might expect from a solid 3 year development cycle, Assassin’s Creed 3, unlike the previous two releases, is completely built from the ground up, introducing not only a new ancestor assassin to play as well as a new story, but also many new gameplay mechanics and fresh new features.
Assassin’s Creed 3 has you playing the role of Connor, a young Native American who gets himself stuck in the middle of both the Revolutionary War, and the ongoing war between Templars and Assassins. Ubisoft has once again found a way to rewrite history to include characters who didn’t actually exist. The way Connor interacts with the other people of the era, including figureheads like George Washington, Charles Lee, and Samuel Adams, is generally well done. He has a dismissive attitude towards the events happening around him, which tends to be off-putting when taken out of context. In context, the story should be familiar to fans of the series, as Connor shares many of the same early motivations as fan-favorite Ezio Auditore.
It’s obvious that Ubisoft was shooting for a more cinematic experience than previous games fulfilled. Characters are modeled and animated with an extreme attention to detail. The facial animations are a huge step forward from where they were, and the sound design is simply amazing. In many of the cutscenes, you’ll feel as though you’re watching a feature film, the voice actors did an amazing job of selling nearly every character. The tone of Assassin’s Creed 3 is generally more serious as well, though the humor of Ubisoft’s writers still shows through in characters like General Putnam, and Robert Faulkner.
Ubisoft did an amazing job of creating a far more vivid and lifelike world compared to previous games. The game takes place in two main colonial cities, Boston, and New York. The real masterpiece, however, is the Frontier, which is a massive, sprawling area of thick forests, high cliffs, and small settlements. Making the landscape even more interesting is all of the creatures contained in it. Hunting has been included in this part of the series, allowing you to kill and skin many different types of animals. Everything from wolves to bear, deer to beaver, and racoons to bunny rabbits are available for you to track down and murder. Several animals have skins or other parts that can be harvested for the crafting system that has been added to the economy. The system allows you to craft several upgrades, such as larger equipment pouches and a holster to carry a second pistol. Most recipes are used for trading, however, which is the best way to earn money in the game. The problem with this system is that most recipes offer little money, and it’s easy to figure out which ones will net you the largest gain. An even larger problem though, is the fact that once you’ve upgraded what little parts of your equipment you can, there is little reason to ever trade or even hunt again.
Gameplay for Assassin’s Creed 3 has largely been simplified with slight changes to the control scheme and how combat works. Combat is now paced much more quickly, showcasing Connor’s aggressive fighting style. Instead of holding a block button and waiting for enemies to strike so that you can counter, there is now a parry button. This allows you to maintain speed in combat while still blocking enemy strikes. Extra depth is added with gadgets like rope darts which can be used to silently kill enemies while hiding in trees, or can be used in combat to pull enemies toward you for an easier kill. The movement system has been updated as well, allowing Connor to scale vertical surfaces more quickly than Ezio, but it tends to feel a little sloppy at times. On more than one occasion, I found myself unable to continue climbing on an obvious route when Connor simply refused to move. These hiccups also occur during simple free-running, as Connor glues himself to fences and boxes and doesn’t like to jump down.
Multiplayer will be familiar to fans of the series, as it’s largely the same. Team modes like the always popular Manhunt and Capture the Chest return, as well as the usual free-for-all offerings of Wanted and Deathmatch. These modes are relatively unchanged in every way. The largest addition to multiplayer is the inclusion of a game mode called Wolfpack, which allows you and three other players to team up and hunt AI targets, trying to beat the clock while maintaining high kill scores to move from one wave of targets to the next. The fun found in this new mode is highly dependent on player communication and cooperation, however, which tends to make playing with random players a chore.
The audio quality of Assassin’s Creed 3 is fantastic. The soundtrack is amazing, the voice acting is superb, and it all comes together to deliver one of those most cinematic audio experiences in gaming this year.
Graphics are a major improvement over previous titles. Especially character models and facial animations. That being said, many clipping issues and character pop-in only diminish the experience.
If you’ve played any of the previous installments in the series, you know what to expect here. Connor’s story is just as well written as Ezio’s and Ubisoft did a great job of bringing the many historical figures to life. On the other hand, Desmond’s story is just as ridiculous as ever.
Fans of the series may be torn between the increased simplicity of the combat and climbing, but also revel in its added depth. Some of the climbing seems a little clunky compared to the rock solid controls of previous entries, however. You’ll either love, or despise the multiplayer.
Assassin’s Creed 3 is a great game for fans of the series or newcomers alike, as long as they can get past the myriad bugs and sometimes sloppy controls which aren’t necessarily game breaking so much as an occasional nuisance.