Review by Cortolio
"American History is Written with Templar Blood."
Since it's on a separate disc only the singleplayer is being taken into account for this review.
Assassin's Creed 3 takes us to the colonial period of our history, specifically the outbreak and conclusion of the American Revolution. Armor is now obsolete due to the proliferation of firearms, and naval dominance is more important than ever. However, is this new setting a worthy backdrop for the Creed or has this melting pot become oversaturated?
The overarching Desmond plot in this franchise has at times taken the backburner. In this game we see Desmond travel to new locales and interact with characters to a much higher level than before. The sequences where you do get control of him involve stealth and combat nearly comparable to the core game. As well there are numerable interactive conversations that really expand upon the history of the Templars and Assassins. You can also expect a conclusion of sorts to Desmond's interactions with the remnants of the First Civilization.
The Animus is the star of the franchise, and it's no surprise that Desmond's ancestors are once again the stars of the show. It's ancestors plural because you control two generations of Desmond's past at the outset of the campaign. There is a nice little twist to the story as the game shifts you from control of Haytham to his estranged son Connor. Without spoiling anything, it's one of the most satisfying bombshells of the franchise.
Besides the sporadic plot twists there are times in the game where the story can be painfully slow. The first three hours of Haytham's chapter border on tedium as the game struggles to get out of first gear. There are those who say he's the more appealing character, but his missions don't have nearly enough raw action to justify how long you have to play him.
When you do get control of a young Connor, the story still chugs along for several hours with boring gather quests. It's not until you meet Achilles, Connor's mentor does the game really pick up. Achilles is the most endearing character in the game and he gives the story a lot more focus.
Assassin's Creed 3 has the best combat of the franchise. Hands down. Finally is it possible to actually die should you make too many combo mistakes in a heated fight. Counters are no longer the end all in skirmishes, as some enemies are able to brush off your attacks. There is also a great variety to Connor's animations depending on what weapon he's wielding. Performing a double assassination with a musket by ramming it through one guy's chest and using it to blow away another guy behind him is simply awesome. The executions in this game are some of the most brutal seen in an Assassin's title.
Unfortunately, the same praise cannot be given to the stealth. It is far too difficult to go undetected in some missions as the game is riddled with enemy line of sight glitches. They at times have superhuman perception, or are laughably inept at spotting what is right in front of them.
Naval missions are superb. They're nearly a game unto themselves with how they've been fleshed out. It's great fun to maneuver around enemy ships and use the direction of the wind to your advantage. Unleashing a barrage on foes gives just the right amount of feedback and is the closest experience you'll get as to what it was probably like in real life. Water physics are great and commandeering the Aquila feels like a godsend compared to how clunky the horses are. Quick tip: skip horses completely for traveling about; Connor is way quicker on foot.
Hunting is a new feature to the series, as are animals entirely. Connor is able to scope out clues in the wilderness to facilitate his search for quarry making hunting dynamic and nicely approachable. Gathering pelts for trading and crafting adds to the already busy economy. Money is finally useful in the game as there are plenty of items and upgrades to purchase.
There are also a daunting number of collectibles and side quests. After you put your first 20 hours in for the main campaign, expect to only be around 60% completion.
The music in this game is mostly orchestral, with a memorable main theme and some great atmospheric laments. The Native score is nicely authentic and makes you appreciate the work that went into making this project. The Iroquois language is spoken exclusively for some cutscenes, further adding to the immersion into Connor's character.
Sound effects are completely perfect, with absolutely nothing standing out as grating. Muskets boom with assertion and blades chop hungrily into Redcoats. There is nothing to fault the Audio team for in this department.
Some of the cutscenes have poor lip syncing (more of an animation issue) and dialogue levels can be strangely low, but those instances are only sporadic.
Aside from a few bland character models, this is the best looking Assassin's Creed game. The water effects for naval missions are majestic, and the scenery in the frontier is lush. There are some moments in the campaign set during winter and the deep snow effects are beautiful.
Boston and New York are the two main towns in the game. They're a little too similar in decor, although they look nicely rendered all the same. At times there can be a great number of NPCs on screen and the framerate still holds its own. From a graphical standpoint Ubisoft have made a solid game.
Assassin's Creed 3 is largely above average, ambitious and at times brilliant. Though marred by glitches and poor story pacing it's still
likely to become a favorite for many fans. There is simply too much content and rich history for this to passed up as a flawed title.
Here's to many more Assassins games.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.0 - Great
Originally Posted: 01/07/13
Game Release: Assassin's Creed III (US, 10/30/12)
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