Review by NorwegianWood28

"You know, I really wanted to like this game."

In 2012, some guy named Desmond Miles relives the memories of his ancestors. In Assassin's Creed III, the stories of his ancestors Haytham Kenway and Ratonhnhake:ton (English name “Connor”) who lived in the eastern United States during the time of the American Revolution. Like every Assassin's Creed game, a covert battle between the Assassins and the Templars are fought. This battle evidently has been fought since prehistorical times. The Templars want order and structure in the world while the Assassins want freedom.

Assassin's Creed 3 is a sandbox game. It mostly takes place across 4 huge maps: Boston, New York, a homestead area, and a wilderness area known as The Frontier, where many smaller historical towns like Lexington and Valley Forge are located. Since the Frontier is essentially a large forest, a number of animals roam it. Therefore, hunting plays a minor role in the game.

In addition, naval missions are also featured in the game. You steer the ship and have control of its cannons. Since the heavier cannons can only be fired from the side of the boat, this makes aiming at enemy ships a challenge. Steering the boat obviously is a very difficult task as well.

Both Kenway and Connor use Parkour as their main way of movement. That means climbing up buildings, swinging from tree branches, knocking people over as you run by them, etc. You switch from regular walking to “parkour mode” by holding down the right shoulder button. The game basically does all of the climbing, jumping, and running for you, as long as you use the left analog stick to point the player in the general direction you want to go. Unfortunately, they didn't do a very good job with this. Using parkour tends to be frustrating. Attempting to jump 5 feet from one level of the roof to the other would rarely work; The character would jump of the entire building instead, to his death. Running by carts full of hay (conveniently placed by the game to hide from guards) often results in the character automatically jumping into the hay instead of running by it like I intended. These aren't the only control issues. The controls for horseriding are nonsensical. Releasing the analog stick into the neutral position while riding completely stops the horse. So when your thumb fatigues from holding the analog stick for extended periods of time, you have no choice but to feel the pain, Mario Party style. It doesn't help that the horses have laughable AI. (Well, all NPCs in the game do). This is especially noticeable in more difficult horseback missions. It's not uncommon for the horse to stop for no reason, to walk into a dead end of invisible walls, and to get stuck on tiny obstacles like rocks the size of a football. Control and AI issues like this are the game's biggest flaw.

Assassin's Creed games have a unique narrative structure. Present day Desmond Miles sits in a machine, which recalls the memories of his ancestors. These memories are divided into “DNA segments.” The story is told over the course of about 30 years, from around 1750 to 1780, nonconsecutive. The Revolutionary War plays a major part of the plot. Historical figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Paul Revere all make appearances throughout the game. Many of the game's missions emulate actual historical events. For example, one mission you help the colonists dump the tea into the Boston Harbor, AKA The Boston Tea Party.

It's obvious the developers but a lot of work into the cutscenes, graphics, voice work. Overall they did an excellent job of emulating the experience of life in the American Colonies in the mid 1700s. As mentioned previously, there are two protagonists in this game and you play as them back to back: In the first third of the game you play as British nobleman Haytham Kenway and in the remaining portions, you play as Native American teenager Connor. While Haytham proved to be a very likable and engaging character, Connor did not. He's plain boring. The character has no personality. He speaks in the exact same tone of voice throughout the game. He doesn't have any noticeable character traits other than the one's you'd expect from someone in his line of work. He rarely changes the inflection of his voice, sounding like a robot of some sort. While most of the other production values of the game are excellent, the protagonist simply needed a better personality and maybe a new voice actor.

The missions in the main story have you doing a variety of things, from eavesdropping conversations, to commanding American soldiers during the war with the British, to eliminating enemy messengers on horseback. I should note that this game has significantly less “assassinating” than other AC games. When you're not playing the main storyline, the game provides many optional things for you to do, such as collecting feathers, hunting, climbing to the top of buildings, courier missions. 100% completion of these types of games is something I'm normally interested in, but the nonsensical optional goals in the story missions that the game requires for completion make me more reluctant to try it. Playing entire 10 minute stealth sequences without getting caught the entire time can be especially frustrating coupled with the game's noticeably inconsistent soldier AI.

Despite everything I've been complaining about, I never wanted to stop playing the game. Something about it urged me to continue playing. Maybe I wanted to get it over with, maybe I wanted to see the ending, I'm not sure.

It's really a shame Ass Creed III had to have so many devastating flaws. If they just fine tuned this game a bit, it could really be amazing. Ubisoft Montreal spent 3 years making this game, but they unfortunately allocated most of their resources into production values rather than the gameplay. Ultimately, I do recommend this game due to its unique setting. If the idea of a game taking place during the American Revolution sounds appealing to you, then Assassin's Creed III is a good (not to mention only) choice. If you're not sure, I suggest you wait a few years until this game inevitably drops down to $20 or less.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 02/07/13

Game Release: Assassin's Creed III (US, 10/30/12)

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