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The Game Effect Review

Assassin's Creed III Review

The Spark that Ignited the Revolution

By Whitney on 11/6/2012
 Assassin's Creed III recently broke industry records for Ubisoft by becoming the most pre-ordered game in the company's history. This is not surprising, considering the massive amount of press surrounding the game's release.  Assassin's Creed III has a lot to live up to; but was it as successful as fans hoped?

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The Story

The  Assassin's Creed series is a long and complicated story that spans centuries and involves dozens, if not hundreds, of major and minor characters. The goal of  Assassin's Creed III is to summarize and conclude the ongoing story of Desmond, the main protagonist of the previous three games. The beginning of the game spends a lengthy amount of time summarizing and reviewing the story for both new and returning players. Desmond, having awoken from his coma in  Assassin's Creed: Revelations, is now on the run (again) from the Templars. Desmond must find keys within the Animus (the machine that allows him to digitally travel back in time) in order to stop the Templars and subsequently stop the impending cataclysm.

Within the Animus, Desmond takes on the role of two major characters, one being a surprise that we won't spoil and the other being the well-known Connor. Connor is a half-English, half-Mohawk boy who, through a series of events, takes on the role of assassin in colonial New England. The story spans from the 1740's to the 1780's and features dozens of major characters and events such as the Boston Massacre and the battle of Lexington and Concord not to mention historical figures like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. For those who appreciate history,  Assassin's Creed III does a wonderful job of twisting and turning our ideas of the New World and what people were really like in 18th century Boston, New York, and the frontier. Players are present front and center during influential historical events, and playing a part in molding history is extremely satisfying this time around.

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Connor vs Ezio

Much like Ezio's story, players will watch Connor grow and prosper as he is introduced to the world of the Assassin Brotherhood. The addition of lengthy cutscenes and time spent helping Connor learn the ropes is an attempt to help players connect more with him. Connor's (lengthy) transition from man to assassin is very Karate Kid-esque, but the constant reminder that all the players involved are subordinates and are unappreciated and disenfranchised makes it hard to truly bond to Connor like I did to Ezio. Connor is dry and very straightforward, and I often wondered why and how he was liked by in-game characters. Ezio's charm and wit drew me in immediately, and even his playboy tendencies were easily brushed off once I learned of his true intentions. Connor feels stiff throughout conversations, and his tasks within the game are nothing more than running errands.

Presentation

The environments in Assassin's Creed III are breathtaking, to say the least. Although they are not adorned with extremely tall, ornate buildings filled with stained glass and swooping rooves, the textures are detailed with inaccuracies only seen in real man-made buildings. Landscapes are filled with rolling hills and gorgeous flowing rivers. I am reminded of the environments within Red Dead Redemption, but with richer, more colorful areas. When you synch areas, and get a 360 degree view of the area, it is quite stunning. Even the details of the garbage and papers flowing in the wind within the city streets is a detail many people would overlook, but still looks amazing. I can honestly say the graphics are my favorite part of the game.

Gameplay Mechanics

The most well known element of the  Assassin's Creed world is arguably the free running mechanics. Unlike previous games, a majority of  Assassin's Creed III takes place in areas with small buildings, widespread fields, and bustling forests full of animals and frontiersmen. This time around, it seems like free running is not the center of the game. I almost always preferred to stay on the ground, and free running up buildings or trees only slowed me down. It should be the opposite, especially when escaping enemies. Because of the short, small buildings, enemies are able to give chase much more easily, and hiding is almost impossible. Combat is inevitable in many situations, which broke a great deal of immersion for me. This aspect made Connor look ruthless rather than stealthy, and the true ideas of the brotherhood are hardly ever displayed.

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In previous games, the combat mechanic was strong and transitions from enemy to enemy were smooth. Enemy attacks were clearly displayed, and players could adequately prepare for a fight with ten guards without a problem. In  Assassin's Creed III, enemies involved in combat are scattered haphazardly and often attack from every angle possible. Preparing to counter an enemy attack is cumbersome, and many times the warning sign is not even displayed. Countering is also unsuccessful if not timed perfectly. This can be frustrating, especially when enemies never stop approaching due to the extremely tight quarters within city streets. I do, however, appreciate the new brutal cinematics when Connor kills an enemy, and the diversity of new combat techniques such as the rope darts can really even the playing field.

New Gameplay Features

 Assassin's Creed III introduces many new gameplay features, both story-related and not.Changing weather adds to the reality of living on the frontier during a harsh winter and the seemingly suffocating, hot summer days in Boston. Feathers and chests return for our collecting pleasure; but players can not collect almanac pages or peg leg trinkets, catch and skin animals for food or sale, and find pivot points (only accessible after beating the main story, which help you "cheat" in the Animus). Along with the return of recruiting assassins, completing assassination contracts, and delivering messages (no longer done through pigeons, thankfully), the world of  Assassin's Creed III is seemingly endless. Each collectible contributes to gameplay quite well, and finding these items is worth your time even early on in the game.

There are numerous side quests available to players, each weaving itself into the main story nicely. One massive new addition is the ability to sail ships and subsequently engage in naval battles. I loved this new gameplay feature, and I had a lot of fun learning how to sail all while destroying British ships. Players can also interact with several NPCs and engage in conversations that hold a great deal of weight in the main story. Ten hours into my game, I had a discussion with a man who was present during the first mission of the game, which took place more than 20 years prior. While it seems somewhat unimportant here, it was a huge revelation that one could easily have missed. These small details are appreciated, and help immerse players better into the world.

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Problems within Assassin's Creed III

While there are endless amounts of things to do, these can lead to some pretty blaring technical problems. With so many choices, it seems like nothing was ever fully completed. Each area could have done with more time spent on tweaking minor issues, especially within the cities. With any game as massive as  Assassin's Creed III, bugs and framerate problems are to be expected; but when a horse carriage runs over Connor during a cutscene, and the subsequent mission begins with him stuck in it, it is obvious these problems could have been easily addressed with a bit more refining. Directions are often misleading, and NPCs offer confusing instructions to players. Sounds, voices, and movements are repeated so often that I often laughed when I heard the exact same voice thanking me for delivering a letter ("I have your everlasting gratitude" is heard EVERY TIME you deliver a letter......think of "arrow to the knee" common).

Environments within mission parameters have lackluster design schemes, and I was often pinned in an area that was inappropriate for the current task at hand. Camera angles within cities often lock behind trees or building corners, leaving Connor out of sight and open to attack. Starting a mission, opening a door, or lockpicking a chest requires players to be right next to the action, which often lead me to interact with other nearby objects. All these gameplay elements are often frustrating, and it becomes glaringly obvious that well thought out ideas were present but not implemented.

Overall Impression

 Assassin's Creed III is a bold and imaginative game. With any game that attempts to achieve individuality during the hurricane gaming season known as November, it can be obvious when one game was rushed to hit the shelves before Black Friday. While I believe  Assassin's Creed III was a good addition to the series, delaying the game 2-3 months would have been practical and welcomed. However, the game is still worth buying, and you'll almost certainly pour dozens of hours into Connor's quest to continue the legacy of the brotherhood of assassins.
The Good
  • Lots of collectibles
  • Immersive story
  • Appropriate new gameplay additions
The Bad
  • Poorly structured environments
  • Game feels incomplete
  • Main protagonist is too dry
8.0
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xGloomyKZx on November 24, 2012
Thanks for the great review! :DBeen watching a couple of lets plays of ACIII, and frankly the parkour system looks amazing... the environment is also pretty vast, but not very detailed and the game is a bit glitchy.Really hope they release a sorta "trilogy" pack for AC, because I never had the chance to get into it.

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SudoClarity on November 29, 2012
I think I have already seen a pack with all AC games released before ACIII being sold already. But I am not quite sure about that or if this only was a temporary offer. And I really love this series. :)
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xGloomyKZx on December 02, 2012
Yeah, I think I saw something like that floating around; better go find it. :D
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SudoClarity on November 14, 2012
Thank you for this very good and detailed review. I really like the AC series and of course I also will play AC III when I have more time to play than right now. Until then I am happy to read reviews about it :) Thanks for sharing your opinion with us.
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AboutLastNight5 on November 30, 2012
Thanks for the comments xGloomyKZx and SudoClarity :). I'm glad you're enjoying the games, and I hope you look forward to our upcoming reviews. I'm writing one up for Lego Lord of the Rings as we speak, and then Tropico 4 Gold Edition will be next. Let us know about your gameplay experiences in the comments too!
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SudoClarity on November 30, 2012
Wow, thank you for all the work you put in writing reviews for us (the readers). I could really tell a long story about my experiences with AC. I started with the first part...first I was fascinated, but then I was kind of annoyed by the game because it was always like the same thing...and screamed (and laughed at the same time) at every beggar standing in my way...I was just totally hating but also deeply loving this game and could not stop playing :D And in the end I was surprisingly really sad that it was over...since then the series has me and when I saw the huge ACIII sign at gamescom, I just screamed aout "Assassins Creed" out with joy and was really happy...my friends were just laughing...I really badly want to play ACIII and also Liberation, but at the moment I barely have time to play any games. This makes me really sad.