Assassin’s Creed III

ac3_xbox
9.6 Overall Score
Graphics: 9/10
Multiplayer: 9/10

Outstanding Graphics | Well Done Story | Multiplayer

Occasional Hiccups

Written by on November 13, 2012 in [, , , , , , , , ]

Assassin’s Creed has clearly been the marquee franchise for Ubisoft Entertainment for the last five years. Now, with the present story evidently winding down, Assassin’s Creed III brings us a little closer to home and gives us a new story centered in colonial times on the verge of the Revolutionary War and the birth of a new nation.

Desmond Miles has been through a lot in a short period of time. Kidnapped, held prisoner, escaped, murdering his supposed best-friend, and shattering his mind. Now, still running away from Abstergo, he’s tasked with preventing the end of the world. He has a lot on his plate, you might say.

In the Animus again we’re taken back to the mid-1700’s entering the life of Haytham Kenway. Wait, what? That’s right, the story doesn’t start with the advertised protagonist, Connor. You figure out pretty quickly that this will be the lead-in to Connor’s story as it’s apparent early on that Haytham turns out to be Connor’s father. The story unfolds a little slower than previous character introductions with Altaïr and Ezio, but this is one of the strengths of Assassin’s Creed III. Character development is a little more in-depth and you really gain an attachment to the character of Connor much the same way as you did with Ezio. The story begins to shape with a few surprises and twists that I honestly didn’t see coming, so I credit the developers and writers for creating a fresh, engaging story to move along with in the latest chapter of the Assassin’s Creed saga.

No spoilers here, though, you have to experience it to find out what happens for yourself.

Some of the usual side distractions (that fans of the series would be familiar with) are included in the game. Collecting feathers and other oddities to gain multiplayer perks are back. Collecting resources to rebuild the homestead that acts as your headquarters is modified, as you can collect materials and send convoys into the cities to buy and sell necessities. The game brings in several board games that give you an element of gambling but with games of strategy instead of luck. The games include checkers and a couple of other variations instead of rolling of the dice games that you would have seen in Brotherhood.

Gameplay is relatively unchanged. They tried to clean up a few extraneous button requirements with “improvements” to the Animus’ interface and sometimes you forget that you don’t have to do as much as before. The running and movements through the environments are smoother and contain several new animations when encountering small obstacles such as a table or fallen tree. Movement feels more natural than before with less of the hip swiveling seen in previous installments. There is, of course, plenty of leap of faith jumps, ducking into leaf piles/hay carts, shopping and rebuilding.

One of the new elements included is warfare at sea. Tasked with resurrecting a half-sunken warship, Connor becomes captain of the Aquila and with that, Connor is able to sail the Eastern seaboard. Controls of the ship are difficult to master as you have to know where you are to prevent running into the rocks while dealing with cannon fire from other ships. With your attention is focused on the ships running along side of the Aquila, you aren’t able to watch where you’re going. Sinking other ships brings about a good measure of satisfaction. Since your caravans have the option to travel to cities by ground or sea, completing side missions along the seaboard lessens the chances that your seafaring trade is attacked and/or stolen.

Graphically, the game is amazing. Detail in the frontier is exceptional and the environments changing with the seasons bring a new sense of realism to the game. Dashing off the main trail in the snow will slow you down as you try to run to your objective in a straight line. Movement through the trees feels like you are part monkey as you leap from branch to branch, shift around trunks and drop on unsuspecting prey (animal and human) from high above. Climbable high points in the game vary from tall trees and cliffs to church steeples, and the landscape stretches out far. The synchronization from the high points changes from slow to fast to slow again camera movement instead of the smooth panning like in earlier games from the series. It takes away from the view that you’ve made the effort to see.

The sounds of the game are excellent; from the crunch of the snow underfoot to the new eavesdropping mechanic. You can almost feel the splintering of wood as cannon fire lands on your ship, while blasts from your own cannon resound well. The game pleases the senses in vision and audio all around.

The changes made to eavesdropping shows a “wavelength” ring around those you need to secretly overhear. Instead of sitting down and listening to them while they talk, you have to move with them as they patrol and also stay hidden while keeping within earshot (the ring) of the conversation, so you can get enough information or else fail the task and have to restart.

Assassin’s Creed III multiplayer gives you a much different presentation as you are once again working with Abstergo. Initially you are presented with a training program to get used to the changes made from the previous incarnations of multiplayer within the series. A picture of your target is given to you so you can at least have an idea of what they look like, but there are red herrings all over the place. When your target enters your line of sight their picture border lights up. Then, as you come near your target, you begin to hear a heartbeat letting you know you have gotten close. Getting a kill is extremely satisfying knowing that you were able to get the drop on someone right under their nose. If you’re able to build up an incognito time being close to your target but waiting until the meter is full before striking you gain a nice point bonus. However, this brings about the risk of being identified, then stunned by a counter-attack (your target can’t kill you) allowing your target to escape.

The multiplayer also includes a new mode that has been a mainstay in other games recently. Called the Wolf Pack mode, up to four players can join up to hunt “moles.” These NPC characters are your assassination targets and you have 25 sequences to move through, each increasing in difficulty.

While hunting your target you are also being hunted, of course. Not knowing who is closing in on you brings a bit of adrenalin as you begin to hear whispers around you instead of the heartbeat. Hiding or blending in with the crowds is your best bet. Getting a stun on your hunter allows you the opportunity to escape, but the let down of being found and killed has its own merits. I found that moving about at a steady pace allowed me time to identify my hunter, as many times other players will “out” themselves by making a little sprint motion, tipping you off that they’re nearby because they can’t be patient. Some players just go all out trying to get as many kills as possible in the time frame allowed during the “session.” Moving in this manner allows you time to identify your hunter because not scaling a building or breaking into a sprint makes it much more difficult for them to find you. While moving at a steady pace will keep your death rate down, trying to be patient can make it challenging to catch your prey.

Overall, the game brings together a satisfying conclusion to the original storyline. I’m sure that there will be more games in the future, as Ubisoft isn’t about to let this franchise slip into the shadows of the night, but those will likely introduce new protagonists and explore other adventures in the past.

Assassin’s Creed III excels in almost every way and there is little to complain about as the development team clearly worked hard. Not only do they bring an engaging story to the table in the fifth installment of the series but the polish added to the game makes all of the small details stand out.

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Author: Erik Johnsen View all posts by
A married gamer that spends time editing many of the articles you read right here at The Married Gamers. Erik sometimes reviews Xbox 360 games and writes articles, but spends his available free time from work or hanging out with his family hunting achievements for a higher gamerscore.

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