Released: October 31, 2012
Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Set to the backdrop of the American Revolution, Assassin’s Creed III is Ubisoft’s latest offering in the AC series. Introducing a brand new ancestor to play, Connor the half-Mohawk half-English Assassin, Ubisoft have sought to improve on their beloved series for this generation of gamers.
In this instalment the player takes the role of Connor, fighting against the Templars who have controlled the British and featured throughout the series. To look at this game as a simple story of striving for American independence against the British would be undervaluing the amount of depth and detail present in Ubisoft’s work. Moral ambiguity features heavily, with previously “good” intentions being remastered with sinister undertones. Nobody is truly your friend and Ubisoft doesn’t let you forget that. Without ruining the storyline, the developers have put one heck of a twist in the opening chapters of the game, forcing the player to question whether the cause of either side is truly unreasonable. This is arguably the biggest departure from previous titles, with the Templar frequently expressing the good intentions of their order. This, combined with the manner in which the game has been interwoven into American historical events, makes for a multifaceted and player-involving experience.
But enough about the story: what a game truly comes down to is the gameplay. Assassin’s Creed III (AC III)has maintained the essential system of the original franchise and built upon it with some new experiences. Perhaps one of the most anticipated changes has been the introduction of naval warfare against the Templar. This system is, to put it simply, fantastic. Placing you behind the wheel of your own warship, Ubisoft has created dramatic and exciting missions, with realism providing unique experiences such as steering ships in rough weather. Indeed, weather itself has also been a big change in AC III, with variable conditions affecting gameplay and not necessarily for the better. At times it’s simply annoying, with snow slowing you down in the wilderness if you don’t follow the road, exacerbating the frustration at slower foot movement compared to horseback. It’s not fun to have to sludge through snow while on a mission that takes forever. While it’s realistic and graphically it looks great, I don’t think it needed to be added to such an extent.
The freerunning system has also had a rework, with a simpler and more fluid experience of that iconic Assassin’s Creed rooftop parkour highlighted by Connor’s ability to leap through treetops with the same ease as he does in the cities. Combat saw the removal of the old lock-on system, making for a more enjoyable experience while still keeping the same block and counter system which was, in my opinion, always a success. Combined with a greater array of weapons to use such as muskets (usable as both firearms and a melee weapon), tomahawks (a reminder of Connor’s heritage) and rope darts (an amusing tool to pull enemies from a distance or hang them from trees), Ubisoft have taken the already-loved combat system of the previous games and found ways to enhance it. That said, this instalment is a lot more combat-focused, with less stalking around ruins eavesdropping and more attention on the assassination of targets. I feel this is a fresh change to the franchise, as there are only so many conversations one can muster up the excitement to listen to. The synchronisation system caters to both casual gamers and hardcore players looking for a challenge, as the idea driving this new instalment – for those of you who don’t know – is that to truly “be one with your ancestor” you have to complete several side objectives along with your main objective. Trust me when I say that this is harder than it sounds, and can leave you repeating a mission over and over with frustration until you perfect it. Sadly, the implementation of hunting was too underdeveloped for my liking and didn’t serve much purpose in the grand scheme of things.
Overall, Ubisoft’s most recent instalment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise was an excellent game to play, with the only downsides being a few bugs and notable underdevelopment of the newly-introduced hunting system. Aside from this, the game offered an amazing level of storytelling over two different time periods, a great new naval battle system, seamless integration with historical events and a massive improvement in the driving stories behind the two major factions, departing from their classical (and sometimes simplistic) good vs. evil model.
I give Assassin’s Creed III a solid 8.5/10 for a great storyline, engaging gameplay and new features that are most definitely on par with the rest of the series.