As I finished a test on October 30th, I left the classroom defeated and broken. In a rage of impulsiveness, I went to the closest Gamestop and purchased Assassin’s Creed 3 on the fly. I had read a couple of reviews and I actually wasn’t expecting myself to buy this game. At least until the Game of the Year Edition came out with all the DLC loaded. But I was in such a foul mood after that test, I needed some immediate happiness. So after purchasing the game and throwing possibly over 10-20 hours into it already [maybe more], it’s been quite an interesting road.
Assassin’s Creed 3 picks up where Assassin’s Creed: Revelations dropped off [which I didn’t get]. My familiarity with the franchise only extends to 2 of the four previously released: Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood. The story is somewhat bloated between the present day Assassin/Templar conflict and the historical setting that’s essentially simulated. I have little care for the relation between the two and find myself loathing the present day stuff, so I’m going to focus this review on the historical setting chosen.
You play a Native American, Connor, during the peak of the American Revolution. The colonies are in conflict and the British Royal Army continues its oppression. Given the skills of a masterful assassin, it’s your job to turn the tides of the war making friends like Samuel Adams and George Washington along the way.
The 1770s Americas are a Great New Time Period
The previous 4 titles are set in super-old Europe. With strong historical references to those places, it was hard to identify what the heck was going on majority of the time. The 1770s in colonial America was much more identifiable in my opinion and overall I felt more attached to the setting as a whole. Knowing the actual events that conspired such as the Battle of Bunker Hill to the Boston Tea Party to Paul Revere’s Ride was delightful to be a part of.
New York, Boston, and the Frontier are Enormous and Beautiful
There are 4 Regions [that I know of] that you can explore and each are as expansive and teeming with life as the last. Cities have citizens always performing activities from grocery shopping to plowing fields. At once there can be up to over 2 dozen NPCs on your screen each as independent as the last with relatively distinct features and outfits. Architecture of the builds are also relevant as the windows and rooftops are Connor’s playing grounds. You can’t help but notice the wooden panes, doors, and roof materials as you scamper across them. The forests and frontiers are also another beautiful aspect of this game. Jumping through trees stalking animals, guards, and simply traveling is a blast. There are feathers to collect, trinkets to find and each are as fun to find as the last. When night comes around, the atmosphere changes, people go inside, and night dwellers remain.
Another interesting feature the game added was the changing of seasons. So for each of these four districts there are spring and winter seasons. Snow severely dampers your movement speed, but it’s still a beautiful winter wonderland to transverse. The scurrying of animals leaves marks in the snow and the the buildings of roofs and walls of fortresses are blanketed with white dust.
Spending Time in the Homestead is a Delight
The game’s homebase is a homestead where you attract business and artisans to contribute to your land. Expanding and helping these people are a blast and make the game rather personable. There is a mission which forces you to visit them frequently and it’s always nice seeing a couple who have are trying to have a baby or see the squabbling of two friends fighting over something trivial or even helping someone find love. These are great in-between missions that give you a nice break after assassination contracts and killing dozens of soldiers.
There is ALWAYS Something to Do Between Missions
Besides working on the Homestead there are also more things you can do in Boston, New York, or the Frontier. You can chase Ben Franklin’s Almanac pages across roof tops, liberate local civilians from oppression of British soldiers, attempt to control small pox spread in New York, and compete in brawler matches. There are so many challenges besides just killing people that always give you something to do. The game truly excels at keeping its expansive cities busy and relevant.
Assassin Recruit Abilities are Pretty Sweet
Ever since Brotherhood [I think], you’ve been given the ability to recruit fellow Assassins to help you cause. In this game, you get to recruit personable people [compared to the Brotherhood ‘nobodies who died occasionally and essentially meant nothing.’] who each have a unique skill. Some allow your entire entourage to follow you and protect you, start riots, and set up ambushes for when enemies walk into, they’re eliminated. These can change your approach to missions quite drastically and add quite an interesting element.
Sea Missions are Intense!
A completely new dynamic added were sea battles. Sea battles are such a blast and are incredibly intense. Lining up your shots against another ship with the risk of it firing back is hair raising and makes me yell “FIRE” in my chair every time I hit the cannon fire button. It can be a little hard to get used to, but when you start getting good at it, it’s definitely rewarding.
Things I Haven’t Tried: Multiplayer and Benedict Arnold Missions
As PS3 player, I was given access to some exclusive content that might be worth mentioning. Benedict Arnold, known as one of America’s most notorious traitors, is the target of one of your missions. It’s a very cool concept that I’m not entirely sure why they didn’t add into the game, but I look forward to playing it.
Multiplayer is another aspect I haven’t tried. I heard it was very intense where you are supposed to assassinate other characters. I kind of want to keep playing the story first before I start playing another facet of this game and get addicted to it.
Cutscene, 20 Seconds of Playtime, Cutscene
The game is very cinematic, bordering Mass Effect levels, but with more annoying aspects. There are scenes after a cutscene where you walk or ride a horse for a certain amount of distance and then you have a cutscene. Then there are conversations with other people that aren’t particularly mission conversations, but they still take you out of the game, make you wait a couple of seconds with a load screen, and then have the cutscene. All the jumping back and forth is kind of off putting, enough to the point where I actually do skip the cinematics.
The Writing is Something Awful
Connor isn’t a very great protagonist. Very generic and not very unique or likable. His reactions to everything is pretty much anger and naivity. Overall the writing is pretty awful and not very compelling. Some statements are awkward, forced, and are lost on me with Connor’s monotone voice.
The Main Missions are Loathsome and Tedious
While being a part of the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s ride is very cool, the way the missions are structured around them are kind of frustrating and make me a little upset. For a free-do-what-you-want-type assassins game, the main story missions are fairly linear and kinda dumb. They try to make some aspects of it cool like commanding a fire line when to open fire on incoming forces, but traveling back and forth between 3 different battalions and clicking a button is ultimately stupid and frustrating when you get stuck on a rock and your battalion is losing soldiers because they don’t know how to fire on their own.
The “History” Lessons are Fun, but Does Anyone Actually Read Them?
It seems to me that the Animus is updated all the time with historical facts regarding the random buildings you are climbing. At first I made a hilariously pointless effort to read them, and they were sprinkled with a little bit of humor and sarcasm, which made them fairly enjoyable. But as I kept exploring, more and more articles were added into the database, and it became far too cumbersome to read them all. And there are a sh*t ton of them in there. So I eventually just gave up on them. Why are they in the bad section? Because instead of writing all those pointless history notes they should’ve focused on the ugly…
The Game is Trying Really Hard to Turn Me Off it With the Amount of Glitches
3 times. 3 times the game has frozen on me and I was forced to turn off and reset the game. In between rage quitting in this manner, I’ve encountered a tremendous amount of glitches and invisible markers all culminating in one of the most frustrating ways possible. Despite claiming to have done a Day 1 patch to fix the major issues, the game is still plagued with an enormous amount of problems. Cows get stuck on fences. Mission icons don’t appear on the maps. Markers disappear and reappear in the middle of missions. I usually stumble into one every 20 minutes to 30 minutes and if I’m lucky, I can quit a game without having to force a shut down.
Assassin’s Creed 3 really is a great game. It truly captures the setting and combat and traveling system is solid and fun. Parkouring across tree tops to get to a target is a blast and adding nifty tricks like fellow assassins and dual pistols sprinkles in variety and freshness. With ambitious open seas battles and dozens of hours of side missions and quests, Assassin’s Creed 3 is only limited with its relatively weak story and glitchy gameplay. Hopefully the latter of the two will be fixed in intervals by Ubisoft, but until then, I’ll deal with the glitches so that I can keep slaying colonial soldiers by the dozens.