- Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC
- Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Release Date: October 30, 2012
- Price: $59.99
- Official: Assassins Creed
“High point in the series, or has it lost its grip?”
The violent but secret battle between the power hungry Templars and the free loving Assassins has been raging for centuries, interwoven into the very fabric of humanity. This battle however is coming to a head, the end days are approaching for civilization, and it is up to the assassin Desmond Miles to travel through historic Colonial America in search of the key to saving humanity.
I love the Assassins Creed series; from the first steps as Altair to the final parting words of Ezio Auditore, this series has provided me countless hours of excitement and exploration. From the first trailer for Assassins Creed 3, I have been waiting impatiently to dive back into this world, to plunge head first into its familiar waters, but unfortunately, near this journeys end, I was anxious to just come up for air and to leave it all behind.
Assassins Creed 3 begins immediately after the events of the last game (and do not worry, I try to keep all of my reviews as spoiler free as possible) and if you are a newcomer, the larger plot of Assassins Creed 3 may be lost on you as well as appear quite strange. At the start Desmond and the group travel to the First Civilization facility they were told to find at the end of Revelations, but upon entering they realize they need a key to progress and once again it is up to Desmond to enter the Animus and play out another ancestor’s life.
The beginning portions of Assassins Creed 3 are filled with both nostalgia as well as wonder at the new story being presented to you. The first quarter of the game is a fairly long and narrow trip: introducing new characters, mechanics, and locations. But these early portions are also some of the most well realized and polished sections of the game, with an incredible first mission and a nice level of detail in the proceedings.
It is no lie however, to say the first six hours or so are rather slow, and perhaps too similar to the other games in the series. But eventually the game does change up its pace and fully opens up, and this is where the game began to lose me. Assassins Creed 3 is an extremely bloated experience. The folks at Ubisoft Montreal and the many other divisions that have touched this title must learn to either better use the systems they introduce or just trim the fat.
This game has an obscene amount of content, so much so that the first 10 or so hours could be considered a very lengthy tutorial. That would be fine if the game did a solid job actually teaching you what it is introducing, or that these features were actually meaningful in any way; both of which, not so much. This game will oftentimes give you a brief line of text or a snippet of dialogue about a new system before quickly moving ahead with the mission or story, leaving you wondering if you were actually supposed to learn something. But don’t worry, it’s not that much of a loss, as so much of this content could be seen as throw away material, used as one off pieces for a mission, or even full-fledged systems that you never realized were options until you had already beaten the game; and thus too late.
It’s pretty remarkable that this game takes so long to develop and really get going, and yet can somehow leave out important bits of information that should be explained to you. The core systems in place here aren’t altered very much from earlier titles, the game is still a series of missions revolving around either taking out a target, defending one, or chasing one. However, new systems introduced such as the Homestead and Crafting, have many deep aspects that may go unnoticed by many.
Crafting and the Homestead go hand in hand, combined they take the place of purchasing shops and crafting bombs from earlier titles. As you complete the story and explore the world, you may happen upon citizens that need your help, and if you aid them, they will settle down on your land and offer their services to you. What this means is now that you have a tailor or a woodworker or a smithy, you may craft items such as furniture or clothing or weapons to sell to other cities. This brings in money, and in turn, allows you to further upgrade your items or your homestead.
Each worker may be upgraded several times, and thus open up even more items to craft as you play. You may find that you can ask one to craft a new holster that holds two pistols instead of one, or a pouch to increase the amount of consumables you can carry. The system is deep and in theory, great, however there are some drawbacks. The time it takes to upgrade the homestead and help these crafters can seem ridiculous. By the time I finally found the Smith, I was almost done with the game and the material needed for certain items are just plain dumb. For instance, in order to craft arrows, you need Iron Ore, Kindling, a Level 1 Blacksmith and a Level 1 Woodworker, and since I didn’t obtain the Smith until near the end, I couldn’t craft arrows the entire experience. And less you forget, you play as a Native American, one who can’t craft his own simple materials such as arrows and snares, just doesn’t seem right.
The inability to craft didn’t affect my difficulty at completing missions however, as the game is pretty easy, and actually kind of boring. The vast majority of missions, come down to doing a task that is rather trivial, or taking out a target in a very strict manor. The times I was enjoying myself the most, were the times in between objectives, when I was simply exploring the world. Connor’s story isn’t particularly interesting, which is a shame, because unlike most, I found him to actually be an interesting character.
Connor is a truly noble persona, unflinching in his belief in doing what is right and just, so much so, that he is extremely naïve and blind to what is truly happening around him. This is a new idea that if explored further could have told a very special story, as it is however, he may come off bland to most. That dullness however is more to do with the overall story being told, and the lack of any real interesting objectives to complete, than due to Connor himself.
The setting of Assassins Creed 3, that of the American Revolution, should be amazing! The subject matter has never been done well in a videogame, but this does nothing to rectify that. Connor finds himself caught in the middle of these warring factions, and somehow gets involved in almost every major event in the period. This comes off as somewhat cheesy let alone highly unlikely. But though the Revolution is a large piece of the story, the focal point is still that of the Templars versus Assassins, and even there nothing of real interest occurs! After completing the lengthy story of Connor, thinking back, it all comes down to nonsensical fluff.
Which brings me to the heart of the story, Desmond. As players we have experienced this world Ubisoft has made through the eyes of Desmond Miles, we have watched him grow into an assassin and try to carry the world on his shoulders. Each title in the franchise, Ubisoft has promised Desmond would become a greater player in the story, but I would argue that his presence (or lack thereof) has consisted of the same amount each time. We have never been given much to do as Desmond, and thus haven’t connected with him as much as we should have. Well that slightly changes in Assassins Creed 3.
This go around we actually take control of Desmond as he completes objectives in the current time period. These missions, save for one, are some of the more interesting ones in the game. The only downside to these, are that they are extremely short, and before you know it, you are back in the Animus to continue the boring journey of Connor as he stands around telling people where to shoot. But Ubisoft did promise a resolution to the Desmond story; and unfortunately it happens.
Assassins Creed 3 finishes off five games worth of story, in one of the most rushed and disappointing endings to a game I have ever experienced. Earlier in the year, we witnessed a massive backlash towards Bioware and the ending to Mass Effect 3, I am shocked to not see that happening again over what Ubisoft has done here. I didn’t mind the ending to Mass Effect, it is practically impossible to tie up every loose end while also taking into consideration all of your choices throughout the series, but Assassins Creed has always been a story controlled by the writers, not the player. The manner in which the conclusion to Desmonds story plays out, is one of a child growing bored and rushing off to do something else. Everything is finished so quickly, with various plot holes and no explanation, it has almost single handedly killed this series for me. If these are the kinds of payoffs the writers are going to make and pull out of their ass to offer us, I want no part in it, as it is clear they made it up as they went and didn’t seem to care.
Besides a lackluster campaign, Assassins Creed 3 is an extremely unpolished experience. It isn’t just the story that feels rushed, as the entire game could have used several more months of polish. The game is riddled with bugs, from towns folk disappearing in large numbers as you get near, to getting stuck within objects, to missions coming to a standstill as an event refuses to trigger. Graphics too, are marred by some of the worst clipping I have ever witnessed. The entire model of Desmond for instance is wrecked with a strange occurrence causing his back to oddly conform with his backpack, causing his jacket to constantly cut through the pack, every time you move. Connor’s weapons and jacket too, constantly clip through everything, including the horse you ride for the majority of the game. Animations will be odd at times, lip synching will be off, and entire cutscenes will glitch out with various issues, such as characters disappearing or animals even attacking you mid scene, causing you to be dead upon control being given back to you. The game is just not finished.
While I was vastly let down by the campaign Ubisoft brought to the table, I did find two saving graces: Naval Combat, and Multiplayer. Assassins Creed 3 has one of the finest examples of sailing I have ever seen. Naval Combat is another mechanic the developers introduce but is not vital to completing the game. That means it can be ignored or forgotten altogether, and that is an absolute crime! Sailing provides amazing battles, as you have to steer your ship, combating the wind and the cannons being fired at you, while attempting to get the enemy in your own line of sight. The best mission that I experienced in the game occurred while I was sailing, an incredibly memorable set piece that has you trying to survive a massive thunderstorm, huge waves, as well as numerous British ships. The sailing also introduces Trinket missions, these take over for the crypt explorations in past games, and see you visiting gorgeous landscapes as you jump, climb and narrowly escape crushing walls.
Multiplayer has also seen a big improvement with this sequel. I have always enjoyed the multiplayer component in this series, as it is an entirely unique experience only found in these games. A vicious game of cat and mouse, each player stalks their target, hoping to take them out in unique ways to obtain the largest point bonus possible. This year’s release sees a huge boost to the amount of content you can unlock within this mode. Each level increase brings with it: new costumes, colors, faces, titles, logos, or skills. This makes multiplayer a constantly rewarding experience that is insane amounts of fun. Even if you don’t normally go online, every player deserves to give this a chance.
Assassins Creed 3 was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, but I also kept my expectations in check, and this title has just unfortunately let me down. This sequel has been incredibly hard for me to review. At times I was enthralled, others, absolutely livid. During the missions I was somewhat bored, but just exploring out in the world, I found myself happily wasting hours. The game when working can look brilliant, but then you’ll undoubtedly find yourself climbing onto things you didn’t intend. The amount of content you receive on this disc is impressive, its just a shame they didn’t take the time to make sure each aspect was well represented. The yearly cycle of these games has truly cut into their effectiveness, and now we are just becoming accustomed to what they offer, and finding ourselves bored. Ubisoft really needs to start over with the next entry, otherwise this series could be on its last legs. -Chuck
- + Tons of content
- + Naval Combat is incredibly fun
- + Multiplayer is a unique experience
- - Main campaign is repetitive and dull
- - Story ends horribly
- - Lots of bugs and glitches