Assassin's Creed III
Review by getar1234
"A Revolution in gaming? Or a Revolting mess?"
After the explosive success of the Assassin's Creed 2 games, and a painfully long 3 year development process into the latest game in the franchise, you'd probably have guessed that this would be the ultimate game in the series, right? Well, not especially. Set in the backdrop of the American Revolution in the eighteenth century, Assassin's Creed 3 falls short in a number of ways. It's hard to criticize a series that you've devoted so many hours and so much enjoyment into, but simply put, Assassin's Creed 3 is average, it's a game that's enjoyable but at the same time, disappointing.
STORY: THE GOOD:
Assassin's Creed 3's story, simply put, gets the job done. It provides a plot in two time periods, just like the previous AC games. Desmond's story takes place in modern day America as he tries to save the world from being destroyed by the sun (no pressure there then) by reliving his ancestor's memories to find a key that opens a door by using a machine called the Animus etc etc, it's the same formula as previous installments. Connor's story however, takes place 250 years in the past during the American Revolution. What Assassin's Creed 3's story ultimately does, is move the game along, For those history fanatics out there, it's a treat reliving some classic historical moments and meeting historical figures, whilst that's nothing majorly new to the series, it's a pleasant change to leave Italy and explore a new environment. The American Revolution story arc also begins with a segment that lasts a couple of hours where you play as a mysterious man called Haytham, who is actually an extremely likable character, and it sets the stage nicely for Connor's story to begin.
The story does however, fall flat in a whole variety of ways. Unfortunately, it's painfully obvious, that these story arcs completely lack the quality of the previous titles in the series. Firstly, Desmond's arc, felt incredibly rushed and as if no care was really put into it. It's the same formula as previous titles, go in the Animus for a while, do a quick Desmond section, back into the Animus and rinse and repeat. It's not that the formula is flawed, but Desmond's sections mostly felt rushed and pointless, and it's brutally obvious that the developers wanted to use Desmond's sections as filler, and so the "Desmond we need you to find a power source in an extremely inconvenient place!" sections were created. It's not that they're badly done per say. but they break the pace of the game and don't really add much to the overall story or experience. Also, overall, many more questions are raised that answered, which is extremely frustrating, I know it's typical of Assassin's Creed games to end on a cliffhanger, with unanswered questions, but you'd think after 5 main story arc games we'd have answers, but it seems that Ubisoft is determined to milk every last penny out of this franchise before it gives away any of the answers.
Also, Connor is perhaps one of the most unlikable characters in Assassin's Creed, hands down. Like some odd hybrid of Microsoft Sam and Altair, from the first Assassin's Creed, Connor is bland, naive and aside from the occasional heroic speech, he just comes across as irritating and rude. Perhaps it's because Ezio and Haytham are so much more likable, but Connor's character just falls flat. It's not just Connor however, although he certainly is the most irritating of the bunch, I didn't find myself really caring about any characters by the end of the game or what happened to them. Also, the game doesn't take full advantage of the historical setting, I feel as though it should have been used more to push the plot forward even more rather than simply having the revolution as a backdrop.
In addition to this, the story has an extremely slow pace, which some may view as a good thing, but out of the 12 memory sequences in the game, it takes until sequence 8 to fully open up. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but many players may be turned off by the sheer slowness of the prologue.
GRAPHICS: THE GOOD:
Assassin's Creed's graphics work well for the most part, in terms of the close detail and the character's figures. The naval fights also look particularly impressive. There isn't much to say about Assassin's Creed 3's graphics, they do what they intend to do well for the most part.
However, it's hard to overlook the big glaring problem with the graphics engine. The glitches. Assassin's Creed 3 has got a whole lot of them. Personally, I've never had any game breaking glitches, although I did have some that ruined a few cut scenes, (It's quite hard to take a cut scene conversation seriously when one person is invisible and the other is stood about 50 meters away and people are walking out of walls in the background). But seriously, the game does have some serious glitch issues which can stop the game play, but due to auto save and restart options, this is more of a nuisance than a game breaker. Also, although the game does look nice generally, but if you enjoy nitpicking, you'll find that many of the textures don't look right and that some figures don't interact with the world the way they're supposed to. Although, like before, this is more of a nuisance than a serious issue.
The soundtrack, composed by Lorne Balfe, is pretty good. You're probably not going to get any of these tracks stuck in your head, but they do what they're supposed to do. The music is great, albeit, quite forgettable once you've finished the game.
GAME PLAY + DESIGN: THE GOOD:
It's hard to overstate just how much this game allows you to do in terms of side quests and generally exploring the world. As well as the main story missions, you can hunt, sail the seas, improve your homestead and much more. It can feel a little overwhelming at times, but at least most of these are optional and you can ignore them if you want. Also, some new inclusions to the game mechanics improve the game considerably. I personally found the naval ship segments exciting and well done, and they were included in the main story line enough to be entertaining, but not so much that they begin to become tiresome. The fact you have to be strategic in the use of your sails, cover, and cannons is thrilling and possibly the best part of the game.
Also, possibly one of the biggest changes to the general way in which the game works is the health system. Rather than the previous games where you had health squares that you could fill with medicine, now you have a rebounding health bar. I normally find rebounding health bars annoying, but in the case of Assassin's Creed, they work, because they add a new layer of challenge to combat (which needs more challenge). No longer can you buy a load of medicines and just use them throughout the fight, now more strategy is required in terms of your health. Finally, the game's locations are pretty sweet. Boston/New York both feel like they fit the historical context and the Frontier feels so vast and huge that it genuinely feels like you're there. Finally, the controls are still a bit awkward and will cause frustration at times, but for the most part they work well just as they have in previous games.
Unfortunately, most of these positive things in terms of game play, aren't all that brilliant. Firstly, there is FAR too much to do in this game. It's rare that I actually think that, but the side mission system is cluttered and dull. Most of the side missions are dull, bland and repetitive, and also, quite pointless. It feels as if the developers had so many good ideas, but they tried cramming everything into the game and it was just too much. Things such as hunting and the Brotherhood assassins feel extremely rushed, like they were an after thought rather than something you should actually use. On top of this, I went through the entire game without upgrading my weapons once, and it wasn't that challenging. You'll find yourself getting more and more money, but never really spending it on anything useful.
The game's difficulty also varies. Most of the time, the game is pretty easy, mostly due to the fact that despite the new health system, combat is still very easy. It's still a case of, wait for enemy to attack and then counter, and it's get's tedious and dull fast, especially since you have to do it, in pretty much every mission. Also, the game is sometimes extremely difficult, but not in the way it intends. You will fail some missions many many times, not through lack of skill, but through the badly designed chase sequences, badly designed areas and lack of instructions from the game. There have been many times where I've wanted to snap my controller in two, simply because I had no idea how I was supposed to do something.
You can't talk about the difficulty in this game without talking about the optional objectives. For every mission, optional objectives appear and if you complete them, you achieve full synchronization in that mission. If you're a completionist you're going to hate this game, purely because these optional objectives are so frigging hard. Obviously, it's not a huge deal, they are optional, but there's nothing more frustrating that scraping through a mission, and getting a bunch of red X's thrown at you just to remind you how awful you were.
The horse riding system also seems to have become much more flawed than previous titles in the franchise. Firstly, now your horse will only run at maximum speed for a short while, then it'll need to rest and slow down for about 10 seconds. This was a completely pointless move by the developers. In the previous Assassin's Creed games, the horse could go at maximum speed for as long as it wanted, but now it's restricted and it just makes the horseplay more of a hassle than it needs to be. Also, missions that require you to use a horse are frustrating. In a mission towards the end of the game, you have to chase after Patriots on a horse, but the horse will be blocked by the most seemingly mundane obstacles and it becomes an irritating chore fast.
The notoriety system in this game is also much less effective than it has been in previous installments, due to how sensitive it is. In theory, it's a good system, the more bad deeds you commit, the higher the notoriety level goes, and guards are more aware of you. But the issue is, even though there are 3 levels of notoriety, even if you're at level 1, the guards will chase you for seemingly no reason. This means that you are constantly having to lower your level by finding the nearest poster or bribing heralds, which gets tiresome quickly.
Finally, the Frontier although it's large scale is impressive, it's pointlessly big. Travelling on foot/horse is dull as the environment always looks the same and it takes far too long, so you'll mostly rely on fast travel spots. However, the problem is, there aren't that many fast travel spots, and most of them are in corners of the map, so you'll have to travel for another 10 minutes on foot regardless if your desired location is not near the fast travel spot. Exploring is now a chore due to the fact that everywhere in the frontier looks the same. Also, the cities off Boston and New York both lack depth and feel a bit wooden, and both pretty much look identical. This isn't necessarily the developer's fault though, as they were just recreating what the cities were actually like, but a bit more variety would've have really improved the characters of the cities and made them much more interesting.
It may seem as if this review is just a rant about Assassin's Creed 3's many flaws, but through all of it's problems, it's still a good game. It's just, not the Assassin's Creed game everyone was hoping for. When I finished the game, I was stuck in a limbo of appreciation for the game's technical achievements, and disappointment that the magic that made Assassin's Creed 2 such a brilliant experience was gone. However, at it's core, it's still the Assassin's Creed series we've come to love, even if it feels as if the franchise has taken a few steps back by trying to change too much, too fast.
+ Awesome Historical setting
+ Nice graphics
+ Decent Soundtrack
+ Loads to do
+ Naval sections are really fun
- Rushed and odd story, especially Desmond's arc
- Awful main character
- VERY glitchy
- WAY too much to do / very cluttered
- Some parts such as travelling can be very dull
- Loss of the Assassin's Creed feeling
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 02/11/13
Game Release: Assassin's Creed III (EU, 10/31/12)
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