The lights are on
(Titled changed due to confusion with Freedom Fighters (PS2). Apologies for the mix up)
Score - 8.75 / 10
Assassin's Creed III
Xbox 360 - PS3 - PC - Wii-U
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: October 31st, 2012
Assassin Creed may be an annual release but they always perfect one aspect; capturing a time period to the finest detail. Crowds of citizens, architectural marvels, even the manner of dialogue are the closest thing you can get to a time machine. I have crept through the crowded markets of Damascus, steered boats through the Grand Canal in Venice, and even battled in the Colosseum of Rome. Now with the third installment, Ubisoft has brought the marvels a little closer to home with the American Revolution. Battles and iconic figures I only read about in grade school are suddenly brought to life. Ubisoft not only allows you to participate in these events, but assist in bringing about the birth of a nation.
This will not end well...
You pick up where the last game left off, with the overarching story of Desmond and his war with the Templars. Rebecca, Shaun, Desmond's father, and a recently conscious Desmond make their way to a temple that houses the tool to preventing the apocalypse. The path is blocked, and in order to reveal the location of the key Desmond hops back into the past as Conner, a Native-American who gets caught up in the Templar-Assassin war when his village is destroyed. The plot bounces between the two stories, but with four games under Desmond's belt, his proves to be the weaker of the two. The few twists and turns through Conner's tale were welcome surprises, and the parallels of the father-son relationships over both time periods were intriguing; but the abrupt ending will leave you scratching your head as to where the franchise could go from here.
The open world of Assassin's Creed III is a spectacle in and of itself. Over the years the games have looked better and better, and without a doubt this is the most visually stunning title in the franchise. Lush forests, snowy hilltops, and bustling cities entice you to stop and smell the roses once in a while. It is a world where even when I turn the game off, it still feels alive and breathing. The original soundtrack adds a lot to the game, enhancing the beauty around you or the sense of urgency in an action packed mission. From fantastic animation and mocap to the natural appeal of the voice cast, this is one glorious setting that will tempt you to explore every corner of the free world.
My arms are tired, but MAN is that pretty!
Like previous titles you open with Desmond, but soon dive into your ancestry through the use of the animus. The game is slower to start than previous titles, and you do not assume the expected role of Conner for a good few hours. It was a bit of a damper, but the latter half of the game is what makes Assassin's Creed so hypnotically enjoyable. You can follow the typical path of sticking to your main mission and working to knock out templars one by one, but the insane amount of side content will beckon you off the main questline for a bit of fun. The most intriguing of these is the naval combat, offering ship battles that are so stunning in presentation that they rarely lessen in satisfaction. Everything ranging from crafting, side missions, hunting, viewpoints, and so much more offer a huge checklist for the most diehard of collectors.
Actual story missions do not stray far from the expected. You have the conventional tailing objectives, platforming objectives, and assassinations leading up to the big expected kill at the end of the sequence. Some interesting moments involving historic battles like the Battle at Bunker Hill or the Boston Tea Party are gratifying, but nothing beyond the mission structure of the previous AC games are present. I expected a bit more in terms of the jump from the second game to an official "third" game. Chase missions in particular are no stranger to this franchise, but for some reason prove irritating in this installment. One such mission had me chasing a soldier in circles, leaving me feeling like Wiley Coyote tailing the Road Runner. Even the final mission's chase sequence was so frustrating in execution that it put a huge damper on Conner's closing event.
Combat and movement have been tweaked and after four years, the game feels familiar, albeit sleeker than ever. Transitions while platforming are much more precise, and Conner can move and snake his way through a crowd with ease. He now automatically posts up against corners for a perfect view when remaining stealthy. When things get less stealthy, opponents are a little less straight forward than they use to be, forming firing lines and becoming less open to attack. Your arsenal has been updated to handle these situations with such items as the rope dart to string up enemy patrols or my favorite technique of grabbing a soldier to use as a human shield before being fired upon.
I hope winter comes soon, because this white is not very stealthy
Multiplayer also makes its return. The traditional contract assassination missions prove as enjoyable as ever, with the return of a few team modes. New modes include Wolfpack, in which two teams work together to take out NPCs within a time limit and Domination where you have to have to control certain areas. Regardless of the mode you choose, the end goal is to blend with the crowd and silently dispose of your assigned targets. The feeling of satisfaction when landing a stealthy kill or avoiding a pursuer is unmatched, and the game feels like a competition of who is best at pretending to be an AI. There are a few balancing issues, but if you can overlook the few downsides it is worth the time away from the campaign.
There is something spellbinding about the Assassin's Creed franchise, and few downfalls aside...this is one stellar entry into the series. The numerous collectibles and side content offer plenty to explore, but it's the perfect snapshot of the American Revolution that makes the game so intriguing. For everything the game did wrong, it was overshadowed by something it did right, and made the end result a satisfying game for the fans.
Nice review (though I confess I was excited to see you review the Freedom Fighters game LOL). I agree the start is slow to begin, which might explain why I haven't returned to it in awhile. But I will eventually. Glad it's worthwhile!
I agree with the ending having more questions than answers but overall this game was good.
Nice review. It was a pretty fun game.
Incredible review. You're practically a game magazine editor already! I gave the game the exact same score myself, though perhaps I was more nitpicky about the history aspect of the game myself. Insightful opinions.
Great review! I am currently playing through AC2, but I am a fan of the series so far. I would say the improvements from the 1st game to the second are the greatest for any franchise I have played. I am looking forward to playing the rest of the series, especially this title.