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Assassin’s Creed III Review

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7.5
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8.0
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Rating: 8.0/10 (3 votes cast)

An overall good game, but Ubisoft went for quantity over quality on this one.

Gameplay: Mediocre to great, depending on what type of mission you’re on. They’ve made some improvements to the interface, while also taking a few steps back in other areas. The naval missions are very well done, though.

Narrative: Pretty good. Like a Steinbeck novel, the beginning is painfully slow, and a very boring protagonist keeps this title from being up to par with its predecessors, but watching history unfold in more recent times definitely keeps things interesting.

Visuals: Great. Polished graphics and attention to detail make each historical character the spitting image of the real thing. An abundance of glitches, however, can detract from the presentation.

*Replay Value: Good. Optional objectives meant to challenge players make replaying missions well worth the time.

Assassin’s Creed is back for its fifth installment in the series, excluding portable titles, and fans couldn’t be more thrilled. With a plot that somewhat fits in with current events about 2012 and ties in well-known events of the American Revolution, this title sports a tremendous amount of intrigue. Add in stealth, assassination, naval battles, unexpected plot twists, etc, and you have a recipe for a very fun game.

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Why hello, Benjamin Franklin. What a pleasure to meet you in-game.

Desmond’s story continues as he tries to locate the key to stopping a devastating solar flare that will destroy the world on the dreaded day of December 21, 2012. The only way to locate this key is by connecting to a device called the Animus, which directly connects him to the memories of one of his ancestors so that he can see where they left it. In this case, Desmond follows the story of both Haytham and his half-Native American son, Connor. With the former being a pompous, yet likable, man with a considerable amount of power and the latter a truly independent mind with his own ideas about what’s right; players will undoubtedly find jumping between the two protagonists an interesting experience.

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The conflict from their opposing views coupled with their desire to connect as father and son creates a relationship not unlike the one Desmond has with his father.

Gameplay: The first noticeable change in gameplay is subtle, but very important. AC protagonists are always climbing vertical walls and free-falling from impossible heights with skill that would rival Spiderman himself. This free-running mechanic now only requires one button to climb, leap, and ninja to your heart’s content. It feels much more convenient, and the game keeps you from falling far distances by still needing you to press a jump button when high enough off of the ground.

Aside from a few inconsistencies with the auto-target mechanics, (e.g. the game often thinks you want to run up a wall in the middle of trying to chase someone), the only drawback with free-running is that… well, there’s far too much of it. The world is vast and impressive, but most of the objectives simply ask you to go from here to there. While it looks amazing to run along the branches of entire forests and through crowds of refreshingly realistic people, the act of holding RB/R1 and L is simply not gratifying. The majority of the first six sequences is simply made up of running around as Haytham, trying to go talk to this guy, who will tell you to talk to that guy, and so on.

Combine this with a deplorable fast travel set up, and the game feels more tedious than fun. I mean, in order to get out of an area, you have to fast travel to a gate, loading screen, then run up to said gate to confirm that you actually want to leave the area you started in, loading screen, then get through the next area the same way, loading screen, loading screen, then you finally are in the right area and can fast travel to a spot that is close to your objective, loading screen. Then free-run for the entire mission. Just reading those sentences feels boring and repetitive. Playing through it isn’t much different.

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The AC3 loading screens are beautifully done, but you may become more familiar with them than you’d like.

Thankfully, the game seems to pick up much more around Sequence 7, permitting more combat and excitement. The fighting mechanics are often compared to the Batman Arkham games. Red icons appear above an enemy that can be countered and yellow icons warn you of ranged attacks so that you can grab a nearby guard to use as a human shield. Time your attacks and counter-moves accordingly, and Connor will deliver some elegantly lethal moves. You’ll find that his kill sequences are much more varied and impressive. The only problem with this is that, again, it all looks much more amazing than it feels. Throughout the entire encounter, you only need alternate between two buttons and presto! You’re an assassin! While still fairly enjoyable, the mechanics could have been polished to make the game more challenging and dynamic.

The same auto-targeting problem faced when free-running also appears in combat. The enemy that you’re focused on will be highlighted in white, but you have little to no control over which enemy that is, which is counter-intuitive when in a boss battle and you keep attacking every little guy around the boss while he’s open.

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Combat looks better than it ever has before.

Luckily, targeting isn’t nearly as much of a problem when things get stealthy. You can hide in bushes, hay piles, hang inside wells, and various other hiding places. A new whistle mechanic lets you get the attention of nearby guards so that you can go in for the kill faster instead of waiting around for them to walk close enough to your deadly hay pile set up.

Guards are also much more aware when compared to many other stealth games. They investigate when even the slightest sound is amiss, and becoming incognito–that is, getting away from guards long enough for them to give up their search–requires real strategy and skill for once. Despite the occasional fluke when Connor decides to stand up instead of auto-crouching (the lack of an actual crouch command can be annoying), the stealth is one of the more challenging and fun elements of the game.

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Waiting in the trees for the right moment to deliver an aerial attack is just one of the many ways to get around undetected.

Better still, is the introduction of naval combat. Connor finds himself at the wheel of the Aquila, a warship that proves useful and incredibly fun to sail. Players can command the crew to raise or lower sails for varied speed and agility, when to fire cannons or swivel cannons, and when to duck if fired upon.

It all comes together very well, really. The change in winds feels natural and fun to compensate for in the heat of battle. When aiming with cannons, your range of fire is lit up along the ocean, and swivel cannons are very precise, allowing you to aim for the exact weak points of enemy ships. You can even upgrade your ship for more types of ammunition and a reinforced hull, which allows you to ram into ships without taking damage. Ubisoft decided to add something innovative to the series, and they definitely nailed it.

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It’s good to be the Captain.

In addition to all of the main quest variances above, AC3 also offers tons of side quests and objectives. Infiltrate and liberate various forts, go hunting, help starving children steal food, start a riot in the streets, eavesdrop on suspicious characters, and many, many more. You can also now improve your homestead by helping people around the frontier to encourage them to move there. This gains you access to more resources that can be sold on travelling caravans that you manage.

Seeing your homestead come together is pretty satisfying, and watching the profits from it rise, even more so. But most of the other side quests, while fun at first, grow repetitive and uninteresting. Most of them couldn’t really be called side quests because of their short length and absolute simplicity. Mini-quests are more accurate, and like most mini-quests, they are great the first or second time you play them, but you may find yourself passing up the majority of them for more challenging objectives.

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The homestead will grow to be a very useful and enjoyable place.

Narrative: Like most Assassin’s Creed games, the attention to detail when it comes to historical accuracy is surprisingly well done (aside from the presence of the protagonist, of course). Instead of painting the Founding Fathers in a biased and obnoxiously flattering way, Ubisoft has made a point to tell it like it was. Learning about some of George Washington’s greatest faults and listening to a highly entertaining monologue from Ben Franklin about how cougars are better to sleep with than young, inexperienced, ladies are just a couple of the fascinating moments you will spend with great historical figures.

The protagonists aren’t quite as well done as previous titles. Haytham is somewhat relatable, but a bit of a jerk, and Connor spends the entire game a flat and very distant character with rebellion issues. However, given certain plot twists and circumstances that shall not be named, their respective personalities are understandable. Though players may not love Connor or Haytham as nearly as much as Altair or Ezio, they certainly won’t hate them.

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The facts listed in the image above encompass most of what you’ll learn about Connor as a person.

Though the plot is undeniably slow-paced, this only adds to the feeling of realism, as real life happens at about the same speed. This is far preferable to writing it like a giant historical soap opera, with not a dull moment to be found.

Superb dialogue can be found throughout the entire game, with word choice that is not too drearily old-fashioned, nor un-realistically present-day. Every character has his own somewhat logical point of view, that they will excellently and articulately express in words like this: “Even when your kind appears to triumph, still we rise again. And do you know why? It is because the Order is born of a realization. We require no creed. No indoctrination by desperate old men. All we need is that the world be as it is.”

In fact, among the game’s major themes about the true nature of freedom, morality, and prejudice, Assassin’s Creed III again calls to question whether the protagonist’s actions were truly for the greater good. As each target dies, they express their intentions in a manner that is uncannily convincing. Previous titles in the series have certainly made players question their kills, but never in a way that might make them regret their kills.

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“…These things take time. I would have succeeded, had you let me play my part.”

Overall, the narrative is incredibly detailed and well-written. Despite its dull moments and numerous glitches, history buffs, Assassin’s Creed fans, and bookworms should all find the story compelling enough.

The VerdictThis is one of those titles that got very mixed reviews from fans. Some feel that it’s the best installment in the series, while others prefer AC2, Brotherhood, or Revelations. Ubisoft seems to have concentrated on expanding the the world into more of a sandbox game, but where is the value in a thousand choices if none of them are compelling? Still, they’ve done most of the basic elements in the series well enough, so while it certainly hasn’t lived up to all the hype, AC3 is still a good game.

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This game features one of the most well presented, lively worlds yet.

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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Assassin's Creed III Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
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Leah Freed


Leah has always been an avid gamer from the time she was a small child. Combine that with her passion for the world of literature and you get someone with an acute interest in the narrative aspect of games. She wants to contribute to the development of narratives and see the industry grow to be recognized as the art form that it truly is. In the meantime, Leah enjoys cosplaying as her favorite characters, placing in Tekken and Magic the Gathering tournaments, delving into captivating novels, sleeping under the stars, and pretty much any adventure that presents itself. With an incredibly high appreciation for spontaneity, Leah looks forward to the many escapades a career in the gaming industry will inevitably provide. Favorite Game(s): Mass Effect series Favorite Genre(s): Literally anything with a compelling narrative.

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