Warning: This review may contain spoilers if you haven’t played any of the Assassin’s Creed games before.
The world is set to end on the 21st of December, 2012. That’s the story behind Assassin’s Creed III, and all of the previous games in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. This time Ubisoft decided to give us a new assassin, Connor, a half-English, half-Native American. The game also takes place in a new time period, being that of the American Revolution.
At this point I feel I should point out that Ubisoft owes this website some money for ideas on this game. It’s been no secret that our founder, Brett, has been saying that the American Revolution should be the backdrop for one of the Assassin’s Creed games since before Brotherhood came out. I myself have also been saying for a while that because of the nature of the Pieces of Eden, players should be able to play as more than one character while in the Animus. I bring this up because wouldn’t you know that you actually start the game playing as someone other than Connor. You play as an Englishman named Haytham Kenway.
As for the game itself, it’s huge. How huge? This game is two discs. In previous installments, Ubisoft gave you the multiplayer and the story all on one disc, but between the massive new maps, and the impressively long story, there was no way one disc was going to cut it. That’s a good thing though, these games deserve to have longer stories because Ubisoft’s story telling abilities are incredible, and this game is no exception considering you are once again given a single player in the campaign and a multiplayer story through ranking up. You are truly immersed in the world set before you in this game, from the moment you step into Boston you really feel the Revolution around you. The story is also full of humor, action and plot twists, the last one being something that I’ve found has always been missing from the franchise.
Over the course of the game you also encounter many historical figures such as Paul Revere, Big Ben Franklin, and George Washington. You will guide Connor through the battlefields of some of the most important moments in The Revolution such as The Battle of Bunker Hill. You also get a view of these events that no movie or book could ever give you, and that’s because you experience it. The experience has always been important for the guys at Ubisoft, and once again they deliver. Because of the use of their new AnvilNext engine, they are able to have way more character models on screen which is demonstrated most during those big battles. That also means that if you get in trouble with the law, you’d better end it quick, otherwise you will be quickly overwhelmed. To further add to the difficulty of the game, the AI has been given a huge boost to their intelligence, to the point where it almost seems that at times they can anticipate your next move. However, for newcomers to the game this may not be a good thing. In a way, it has almost become like the sports games that come out every year, where if you’ve never played before it can be impossibly difficult on the easiest difficulty. But with Assassin’s Creed there is no difficulty, you are just sent off into the world to explore, fight, and pray you don’t run into 100 red coats. Also adding a little to the difficulty is the addition of seasons and weather, while for the most part these changes are just aesthetic, snow does make it much harder for you to move around quickly, while fog makes it much harder to see what is in front of you.
You’re also given new naval missions to play. These missions are one of the many new mechanics in the game, which to be honest are quite fun. With these missions you’re not just sailing to other places to get some little trinket for another mission, you’re actually sailing the boat. As the captain of the ship you control everything that goes on, from the speed, to the direction, to when and where the cannons fire. Yes, that’s right, you get to fire cannons at enemy ships. All while exploring everywhere from Jamaica to Canada.
If you read my review for Assassin’s Creed: Revelations last year, I mentioned that the control changes they made were unnecessary, that it was too late in the life of the series to introduce new controls. Well in Assassin’s Creed III, they’ve done it again. This time, however, I like the changes. The combat seems much more fluid and is therefore more enjoyable, the way you use your weapons also seems to make more sense. The new health system they’ve added also makes far more sense than the old one, although I do miss the ability to heal yourself.
Also, long gone are the days of buying entire cities and still having guards be mad at the guy who probably pays their entire salaries. Instead, Connor will use his skills in nature to sneak, stalk, and kill in the wildernesses of New England. You get to go hunting throughout the entire Frontier and collect usable parts of the animals you find. You can then sell these items for different amounts of money based on how you killed the poor little critters. This is the new economic system in the game and I like it quite a bit. Can also send convoys to different parts of the world to sell those items for varying amounts of money. Personally, I’ve wasted hours of my time running around the wilderness trying to catch different animals because I found it to be that much fun.
Fair warning, that’s the last time you’ll see the word fun in this review for a while, because this game is extremely buggy. Now, when I say buggy I don’t mean small stuff. It’s stuff that comes in during main missions, stuff that should have been caught during the three years this game was in development. For those of you that don’t know, three years is a long time for a video game. Any longer than that and the game is almost certainly doomed to stay in Development Hell, and to be honest, with how buggy it is after how long the developers have had to create and test this game, I almost feel like it should have gone there. When it’s working, gameplay is fantastic. However, it gets bugged out so often that it becomes infuriating and not enjoyable to play. In fact, if you plan on playing the story more than the multiplayer, I’d suggest waiting to pick up this game until a patch comes out. Perhaps you could convince someone to buy it for you as a holiday gift? You’ll be much happier in the long run.
As for the multiplayer, it’s really no wonder why the campaign is so buggy. The multiplayer is once again, greatly improved over the previous game. For anyone who plans to play multiplayer, you’ll be happy to hear that this is the case, but as a fan of the series since the beginning I feel that the main story was cheated out of some of the love it deserved. But on a more positive note, the new maps, characters and gametypes are all amazingly fun. The new “Wolfpack” gametype really stands out. Rather than playing against other players, up to four players are placed against computer AI and must work as a team to earn enough points to move through different sequences. As for the differences in the multiplayer, you can rejoice that there was no huge overhaul like there was from Brotherhood to Revelations. In fact, as far as I can tell, the most crucial change to the game mechanics is that in order to stun you now press the same button as you would to kill a target, which can be a great help in the split second it is needed. Also added to the game is the new gametype “Domination.” While it is basically the same as any other domination out there, it is still loads of fun, and because so many other games have something similar, it is a great starting point for new gamers to the series as it will be something familiar to grab on to. If I were to have a gripe about the multiplayer it would only be that they didn’t add more to it. With how big a deal they made the Naval missions to seem in the single-player, I would have liked to see some kind of sea-warfare in the multiplayer world, but I suppose that’s what DLC is for.
Finally, Ubisoft has proven to me that they made this game to give their fans what they wanted. They didn’t just make this game purely for the massive amounts of money they were guaranteed to make just by putting the Assassin’s Creed name on it. And on top of that, this game takes the series to a brand new and thrilling level. This is why I find it hard to put a grade on this game. The gameplay of multiplayer and the story are near perfect, but the bugs that made it through the release make the game almost unplayable at times. If I were going to give this game a score without taking the bugs into consideration, I’d give it a 97, but because of all the problems I’ve found I will have to score it a little lower. Overall, this game is a must buy. The only reason my score will be as low as it is is because of the bugs, and even then the score is by no means a bad one. Once Ubisoft has time to send out a patch and fix a large number of the bugs, I fully believe this game will be one of the best of the year.