Published on January 9th, 2013 | by Joey Loney0
Creed or Crud? The Assassin’s Creed III Review
Genre: Stealth / Adventure / Sandbox
Assassin’s Creed III is the third installment in the popular historical stealth action series. As opposed to the first’s medieval crusade setting and the second’s renaissance Italy, this one takes place in the New World – that is, the frontier of North America, upon arrival of the European explorers who first settled there. The game is interspersed with playable modern day sections, which makes a nice break from Cowboys and Indians. During your travels you’ll come across several real-life historical characters like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Samuel Adams, giving a nice blend of fact and fiction to the story.
After playing the initial few missions as the deadly-yet-likeable British Templar gentleman Haytham Kenway, you’ll take on the role of his orphaned half-native-Indian son: Ratonhnhaké:ton. Due to the fact that nobody can be bothered to pronounce his name properly, he adopts the somewhat boring name of Connor, and trains under the Assassin master Davenport in order to avenge his mother who was burnt to death in a Templar raid on his village. You’ll also get the chance to play as good old Desmond Miles, the gormless party animal descendant of all the Assassin heroes. The story is excellent overall, with a gripping plot supported by high-quality voice acting, although it sometimes has the tendency to sound like a self righteous and somewhat biased history lesson.
Throughout the game you’ll experience all your familiar Assassin’s Creed features: the trendy free-running over rooftops, stylish stealth combat, and blending into backdrops, but they’ve taken more of an open-world approach this time, similar to Grand Theft Auto game mechanics. Not only can you wander from one place to another through wilderness areas, hunting, fighting, and tree-climbing along the way, but eventually you will become the owner of your own homestead. This is a nice little micro management section to the game. You can employ lumberjacks, miners, and pirates who will live on your estate in return for providing wood, coal, metal, ships, and other commodities, all of which can be used to your advantage or sold, bringing in a nice cash flow. Unfortunately, the wilderness areas feel a little empty, and in my opinion aren’t worth exploring. In games like Skyrim it’s always worth wandering in the woods, you’ll find a quest or a rare item, or a magical beast to fight. Assassin’s Creed III hasn’t managed to replicate this kind of depth to their world.
Far and away the best thing about Assassin’s Creed III is the naval combat. Realistic, exciting, and challenging, becoming the captain of a ship and giving the orders to hoist the sails and fire the cannons was really enjoyable. Actually, I wish the game featured a lot more of it. I found myself completing other missions for the sole purpose of unlocking more naval sections. I know there aren’t that many games that feature battles at sea, especially from this time period, but this one is great, and definitely the most fun I’ve had on a boat in any game.
Despite all these cool features, it’s hard to really be impressed with Assassin’s Creed III when they have got so many things wrong. Let me elaborate. The multiplayer mode, although a cool novelty, wears thin very quickly. In it, you’ll find yourself in a world populated with similar looking people. You’ll have to notice the suspicious actions of others in order to identify your target, and avoid acting suspiciously yourself in order to not be killed. Sounds great right? Actually it doesn’t really work, as there is always a pointer in the direction of your target, and the player who constantly runs around stabbing people tends to win. The free-running system in Assassin’s Crees has been overly simplified, making it accessible to beginners, but maybe too easy, and often you will find yourself travelling in the opposite direction to what you want. The controls are, in my opinion, terrible. They’re totally unintuitive, and worst of all, there is not an option to customise them to a more user-friendly layout.
The great missions like assassinating an aristocrat in an opera house, solving a mutiny aboard a warship, and becoming the commander of a pirate ship are interspersed with pointless filler missions like rescuing drowning people, hunting defenceless animals, and delivering letters. Often the story can be a little unclear – I wondered who’s side I was on, or why I was attacking this convoy or murdering these taxmen. In order to get the best out of the plot, you’ll have to read emails from your snotty British buddy. Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against the British. In fact, I’m from England myself. But this guy writes the most annoying and unfunny history lessons you’ll ever read, which are shown on an eye-burning white background which will make you not want to bother with them. Finally, Assassin’s Creed III is filled with horrible glitches which will force you to restart your console. A couple are harmless and funny, like an NPC having a clone which follows them around, or people disappearing, but when you walk into a bush and get stuck there forever, or fall down a hole which you can’t escape from, you’ll want to punch yourself in the face.
Despite all these problems, Assassin’s Creed III is made worthwhile by its incredible naval combat system and rich and inventive story. Hopefully the bugs will be patched up in future updates and we can enjoy this game even more.
Assassin’s Creed III Screenshots: