Assassin's Creed III Review
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Assassin's Creed III builds strongly on the series but fails to take a giant leap of faith into any real new territory. A new plot, the Colonial America setting, and sheer volume of things to do outweigh the disappointing bugs and glitches.
- Great sense of place in Colonial America
- Compelling narrative
- Fun gameplay
- Bugs and graphic issues
- Lots to do, but loosely tied together
- Poor enemy A.I.
The latest installment in the Assassin's Creed series sums up the highs and lows of the franchise as a whole. It is a wildly fun action-adventure game set in a beautiful and lively open world full of side quests, historic characters, cities where buildings serve as jungle gyms, beastly targets to assassinate, and the ever-growing Templar enemies hungry for power and control. Yet like other games in the series, Assassin's Creed III is filled with bugs, glitches, often annoying A.I., and a general lack of polish. This is more a new Assassin's Creed game and not a huge leap of faith into new, surprising territory. Luckily the Assassin's Creed formula still works, and that new coat of paint in this third numbered game--fifth overall on consoles--is enough to push this beyond Brotherhood and Revelations. It's not the new story, the multiplayer, the additions to gameplay, the new tools and weapons, the new cast, the new world, or the new protagonist that breathe fresh life into the series, though. It's the fact developer Ubisoft Montreal gets one thing exceedingly right: The sense of place. Colonial America is easily the best setting to date out of all the Assassin's Creed games, and the new half-English half-Native-American protagonist is likely to give Ezio a run for the "biggest stud" award. And even if the game is delivered with some major bugs and graphic issues, it is sure to impress wanna-be assassins and offer a nearly endless blueprint for Ubisoft to unload mounds of new downloadable content in the months to come.
Assassin's Creed III once again revolves around Desmond Miles, his father, and a pair of nerds dedicated to preventing some Mayan-predicted disaster. I poke fun at this story because it's silly and only serves to connect the Assassin's Creed games. There are likely people out there that want to see what happens outside the Animus--the piece of technology that allows Desmond to essentially go back in time to his ancestors--but for my liking, all games are best when replaying history, not the modern arch. If you've been looking for more answers to the modern story, you'll get more information through Assassin's Creed III. The game is split into sequences, all with their own missions. You'll get optional objectives throughout those missions, as well. All of this, again, largely takes place while Desmond is in the Animus and in the boots of his ancestor.
This new ancestor is far less arrogant than Ezio but not quite as smooth. However, he plays just like the other protagonist and when suited up in the iconic white cloak and hood, he looks like a champ. The protagonist, Connor--the half-English and half-Native-American-- is embroiled in a conflict with European colonists as he fights to protect his tribe and home. There is way more to this story, but as Assassin's Creed III is heavy on the narrative, I'll hold off on any major spoilers. It should be noted that the intro--the first several sequences--are slow, almost painfully slow. I understand Ubisoft approached this intro as a way to set up the rest of the game, but it wasn't not until the big reveal that I actually cared what was happening.
Colonial America is an absolute dream for a setting. Cities like Boston and New York are filled to the brim with European influences while the frontier land is largely dominated by native tribes. Ubisoft did a solid job casting voice actors to fill the variety of main characters and general citizens. The English sound English, the French sound French, and the natives, well, that may be the one area that misses the mark. At times that natives sound either overly stereotypical, or overly simplistic. Some of the early levels that show young natives do a good job of introducing players to the wilderness and stress the importance natives place on harmony for all living things. Back in the cities, it's a rough place for anyone, especially ... (continued on next page)