Assassin’s Creed 3 Review

By   /   Nov 8, 2012

Assassin’s Creed III should have been named, ‘MERICA! Bald Eagles N’ Patriotism: The Game, on account of its high-octane freedom fighting adventures.

When playing this game, one can’t help but sing along to the lyrics to a fairly infamous Team America song, while murdering Redcoats and Templars, all in the name of freedom, apple pie and the American way. What makes it worse, is that the game seems to be completely cognizant of this fact.

When Connor assassinates a key target, a cut scene begins, where both party explains their perspective. Only, regardless of who he’s talking to, the pattern is the same: the victim backs up his perspective and actions with reason and logic, whereas Connor, bordering on levels of irony that only Stephen Colbert could match, always responds the same way, “b-b-but freedom!”

It’s almost as if they’re trying to appeal to both audiences; providing a story line that pumps out more blind patriotism than the tea party, while being so over the top (in a bad way) that the rest of us can’t help but laugh and mock the supposed target audience for liking it.

The problem is, not even PETA likes bald eagles enough to enjoy the story, while the writing isn’t smart enough to make the irony work. Instead, you just end up playing as a childish character who commits mass murder over infantile ideals.

If I’m going to be playing as a mass murdering psychopath, I’d at least like to be doing it under the pretense of something awesome, like obtaining skulls for the skull throne, or blood for the blood god.

Continuing on the patriotic express, Assassin’s Creed III somehow managed to rewrite history in a way that caused me to exclaim an audible guffaw at many, if not all of its exploits. Throwing crates of tea off boats in the Boston Harbor was humorous.

Giving Paul Revere a piggy back ride on your horse, while you warned everyone that the British were coming, was irritating. However, when the game cuts to a scene where Connor was hanging out with the Founding Fathers, while they signed the Declaration of Independence, implying that he helped them write it, was downright insulting.

Honestly, to this day, I still don’t even know what’s more insulting about that, the horrendous writing, the perversion of history, or the fact that they thought anyone would actually enjoy such a storyline.

I’m not even going to touch the Desmond story arc, for fear that my brain might suddenly start hemorrhaging uncontrollably. Although, there was one redeemable fact about that story line; the sweet taste of irony derived from an interview with Alex Hutchinson, the creative director of Assassin’s Creed III.

Yeah. Just think about how many Japanese games are released where their stories are literally gibberish. Literally gibberish. There’s no way you could write it with a straight face, and the journalists say ‘oh it is brilliant.

Then Gears of War comes out and apparently it’s the worst written narrative in a game ever. I’ll take Gears of War over Bayonetta any time.

It’s patronizing to say, “oh those Japanese stories, they don’t really mean what they’re doing.

I just think the simple question should be; is the story any good?

Unfortunately, the rest of the game was just as confusing as the story. Little to nothing was explained about the game and anything that was explained was either done poorly or inadequately.

The new combat system, which was one of the few good things about the game, was almost directly ripped from Arkham City (a game that I love). However, AC3 forgot to do what Arkham City did so well: explaining how to counter specific targets, while making those targets very visible.

It’s easy to understand how to change your combat style when fighting a guy with a big shield, or a tazer that illuminates the darkness of night with a very visible intensity.

In Assassin’s Creed III, the different troops are only identifiable by slight changes in their outfits that are hard to notice, especially when you’re fighting a screen full of enemies all wearing the same vibrant colors.

You’ll find the combat to be frustrating, unless you’re part of a revolutionary war re-enactment. Otherwise expect to learn the intricacies of battle through a process of trial and error (mostly error). The brilliance of Arkham City’s combat was in how fluid it was.

Racking up 100+ hit combos was fairly easy because there were no complex move sets, and you knew how to properly engage every opponent. You get that same exact feeling in AC3; it just takes a lot of frustrating encounters to get to that point.

The feeling is perhaps even better in AC3, because of the way Connor slays his enemies with a certain elegance that is fairly reminiscent of the choreography found in the latest urban teen dance movie (playing in theaters near you), once you’ve mastered the combat system.

In retrospect, the combat system and how the developers treated it, probably represents how you’re supposed to experience the entire game – exploring it slowly, over a very long period of time.

To Ubisoft Montreal’s credit, they’ve created an extremely immersive experience, provided you play it while largely ignoring the main story.

With what is easily the best animations in gaming, Assassin’s Creed III allows you to move through a world in an unbelievably realistic manner; be it stalking animals while free running from tree to tree, or sliding through crowds in an attempt to blend in, effectively going incognito.

In a post Mark of the Ninja world, I find myself completely underwhelmed and often frustrated by the stealth mechanics in AC3.

Without a way to manually become more inconspicuous, or any way to understand the detection mechanics of the AI, the game felt, again, more like trial and error than me authentically navigating through the world with a clear understanding of the rules.

If I didn’t find and take the exact path that kept me in stealth mode the entire time, then I’d botch the mission, resulting in a complete restart or the murdering of many more innocent guards!

But I mean, that pretty much sums up the entire game for me–there is never a clear understanding of how to do anything. Take the homestead system, for instance; there was never any indication, that I could find, explaining how to “upgrade,” the artisans to get them to start crafting all the cool recipes that I had found over the course of the game.

Even the UI for crafting was confusing and uninformative; everything I learned, or thought I learned was done by more trial and error, culminating in a frustrating experience that I ultimately gave up with. Not that it mattered, given how pointless it was to earn money. As far as I could tell, based on the ever-so-confusing UI for purchasing weapons, the default tomahawk was the best weapon in the game.

Since there was seemingly no reason to care about the economy in the game, one of the best parts of the game, the hunting, seemed completely irrelevant. There was never enough of a reward to justify taking the time to slowly note, track, and hunt the wide variety of animals found throughout the game.

Performance wise, the game had its ups and downs. Indeed, the best feature of the game was its lifelike animations. However, the game had multiple dips in frame rate that were extremely noticeable.
Perhaps it was a result of the beautiful, realistic sandbox game that they had created.

However, there were some oddities with that; while the game from a 3rd person perspective was very impressive, the myriad of cut scenes were not. Indeed, many ‘art house moments that I would have loved in a film, ended up looking very cheesy in the game’s cut scenes due to poor models, textures and animations. Furthermore, the loading times were horrendous and seemingly everywhere.

I can’t tell you how many times I would sit in a long loading screen, literally walk a few steps in the direction of my destination, and literally be in another loading screen of the same duration.

While the multiplayer remains more of the same for the series, it’s still a unique experience, you can’t get anywhere else. It’s just that, it’s not really for me. While I certainly applaud Ubisoft Montreal for creating an intense cat and mouse experience, the concept of trying to blend in with the AI isn’t all that appealing to me, considering how awkward the AI’s movement and behavior is. If you’re into that kind of thing, then look no further, you can’t get that experience anywhere else but here.

Ironically, I feel like my greatest gripe with the game, was with how little I actually ‘sassinated people. I could assign contracts to my recruited assassins, but I myself could never take part in those missions. Alternatively, at least, if I could, I never figured out how, despite vigorous attempts at trying.

When the main quest is over, there just doesn’t seem to be anyone left to sneakily ‘sassinate in the middle of a large crowd, going completely unnoticed. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed the most from the series, and I felt that it was nearly non-existent in this game.

Indeed, the game seemed completely focused on showing off the new combat system at the complete expense of what I actually love about the series. Here’s to hoping that they make an Assassin’s Creed that takes place in Feudal Japan. I can’t imagine anything better than playing as a ninja, or a ronin, with the animation and combat euphoria of the Assassin’s Creed series.

There’s a good game to be found in Asassin’s Creed III, it’s just that, ultimately, I don’t feel like it’s worth finding.

Gameplay: 6
While there was a good combat system in the game, by the time I had discovered it, I was just too frustrated to care anymore.

Graphics: 7
The animation euphoria carries the game despite constant fps drops, loading screens and shoddy cut scenes.

Sound: 7
Mostly unnoticeable, didn’t really enhance or detract from the experience.

Presentation: 5
In a game this deep and unintuitive, you can’t get away with not explaining anything, including the story.

Value: 8
While the content may not be for everyone, you do get a lot of it.

Final Verdict: 7
I felt as if the game simply kept me from enjoying it, despite how much I wanted to. If that’s not broken, then I don’t know what is.

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