Tuesday, October 30, 2012

REVIEW - Assassin's Creed III (360/PS3)

The Assassin's Creed series and I have a bumpy relationship. I liked the first game a lot, flawed though it was. The second game, however, evolved the gameplay so tremendously that after I had beaten it I declared it one of my favorite games of all time.

After that, Ubisoft saw dollar signs, and a duo of quick and dirty pseudo sequels were released. While not bad games, they stuck to the formula so closely that they retroactively diminished my enjoyment of Assassin's Creed II. I was Assassin's Creed'd out. What I wanted was a true sequel. A game that pushed the series forward the same way the second did.

Is this the game I've been waiting for?

First of all, shit yeah this is the game I've been waiting for. Finally the Assassin's Creed series leaves behind sissy-ass Europe and takes its unique brand of sneakin' n' stabbin gameplay to AMERICA. We do everything better here, and yes, that includes Assassining as it turns out.

Fuckin' 'Merica.

Assassin's Creed III features the most ambitious narrative in the series. You play once again as Desmond Miles, a man in the present working to prevent the upcoming apocalypse. There's quite a bit more story development on the Desmond side of the story in this game, and as convoluted as I found it (and that could be mostly my fault, as I largely ignored Revelations), it didn't prevent me from enjoying it.

"It's called Gangnam Style. You have to see it."

As always with the Assassin's Creed series, the real draw is experiencing the life of one of Desmond's many ancestors. In ACIII you play as Connor, a half-English, half-Mohawk tribesman. Initially ignorant of the long standing war between the Assassins and the Templars, he is drawn into the conflict to save his people. As it takes place in and around the Revolutionary War, there's plenty of material here to work with as far as the story is concerned. It's not long before he's meeting a who's who of famous and infamous historical figures. There's plenty of twists and turns, and perhaps the best "Got'cha" moment I've experienced in a game. Overall, this game juggles dozens of narrative threads with style and skill.

The gameplay initially strikes one as more of the same. For the most part, that's true. But there's plenty here to make this game feel new. Taking place in part in the primarily undeveloped American wilderness - a lot of navigating is less climbing churches and more nimbly hopping from tree to tree and scaling cliffs. Hunting and trapping also plays a large part, with a sizable host of wildlife to stalk or be stalked by. This more natural setting feels entirely different from other games in the series, and at times feels more like a prequel to Red Dead Redemption than a sequel to Assassin's Creed.

Not to say there aren't any large cities to hop around in. The likes of Boston and New York are just waiting for you to free run all over their exquisitely rendered landmarks.

"Pa' always said I would shoot better if I didn't have this hood in my eyes. If only he'd seen that arrow I accidentally shot at him."

Speaking of graphics, this game is beautiful. While, as always, the man made structures look far better than the organic ones, the environments as a whole are striking. Busy, populated city streets and lush, overgrown forests. The character models (of the main characters at least) are detailed, and the lighting impresses. This comes at a bit of a cost however. As is usual with the series, the framerate can be a bit dicey. In addition, texture and character pop-in rears its head from time to time. It's never terrible, and I imagine at this point it's largely a limitation of the hardware, but it is noticeable.

A great looking game is rather unimpressive if there's nothing to do in it. Assassin's Creed III avoids that problem by just including everything.

Seriously, this game is loaded up the ass with content.

Missions range from go-here-kill-this-guy to incredible set pieces that blow your goddamn mind. There's even bona fide Splinter-Cellian stealth missions, and the Splinter Cell franchise can't even manage that these days. New to the series is naval gameplay. Sailing the open seas and blasting the shit out of other vessels is exhilarating as all hell. If you don't want to play the main story missions, you can hunt animals, search for treasure, liberate cities, capture forts, chase Almanac pages, investigate ghosts, develop your Homestead, trade materials, send your Assassins on missions--

I could go on. It's fucking insane.

Honestly there's far more stuff than I'm even interested in doing. For example, early on I decided dealing with resource management is boring. So I killed cougars instead. The point is, there's gotta be something in here for you to do.

"Yaaaarrrr! Blast 'er arse back to da Jersey Shore!"

One problem I encountered multiple times was the inability to figure out what it was I was actually supposed to do. The objectives were sometimes unclear, or a path wasn't ascertainable. Perhaps you could chalk this up to me being a dumbass, but it did mar my experience from time to time.

As always, the combat in Assassin's Creed III relies more on liberal usage of the counter attack more than anything. There's plenty of weapons, both ranged and melee to take advantage of. But still it doesn't matter much when at the end of the day just countering it up is more effective than anything.

"One at a time lads! We'll all get our turn to get a tomahawk to the face."

I thought I was done with this series. But Ubisoft Montreal managed to pull me back in with a massive sequel that takes this formula as far as it can possibly go.


  1. Your review didn't suck as bad as it should, knowing you.

  2. Nice review!

    Ignore RPG... He's just mad at Sandy.

  3. Great review, cant wait to play this!

  4. Hm, I might actually have to try this out. Maybe once I figure out I don't need Skyrim anymore, I'll send it back to Gamefly and try to get this. I've never actually played an Assassin's Creed game, but I'm interested in this since you mention the game having an open world and lots to do with sometimes unclear objectives.

    Have you played Crackdown 2? Is it anything similar to that? In C2 they just had a map full of objectives, and you sort of just completed the game in whatever way you wanted to. Some people are turned off by this, but I think it allows the player an incredible freedom to play the game however they want. I really like this idea.

    I also am fond of stabbing knives in people, so I'll want to check that out too.

  5. Definitely looking forward to this one.

  6. Gorilla Emitting Perpetual Grinding NoiseOctober 30, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    Good shit. Can't wait.

  7. 8/10 Perfect Review!

  8. After reading the next sentence I stopped reading this review... Very unprofessional and short sighted and therefore not an neutral review. I love AC 3 in America because the game is well made. Not just because the game simply is IN America. Nothing wrong with patriotism, but it should not be in a game review!

    First of all, shit yeah this is the game I've been waiting for. Finally the Assassin's Creed series leaves behind sissy-ass Europe and takes its unique brand of sneakin' n' stabbin gameplay to AMERICA. We do everything better here, and yes, that includes Assassining as it turns out.

    1. It's less "patriotism" and more "joke". In any case, sorry you felt that way.

  9. Gorilla With Tom BradyNovember 2, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    @ Anonymous

    That part was not meant to be taken seriously. Dead give away being the picture under that sentence.

  10. I liked this review, but I disagree with you because I find the game to be a steaming pile of native American shit.