The Segment They Didn’t Teach In Your US History Class

Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: Action
Release Date: 10/31/2012

It’s time to hop back in the Animus with Desmond and friends in the newest installment of the Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed III. The game is a mixed bag. It includes some things you’d expect, some things you wouldn’t expect, and some things you don’t want to endure.

Taking place around the time of the American Revolution the player takes control of a new character, Connor, a Native American who’s out to avenge the death of his friends and family all while aiding the Americans to fight off the British. Connor might even uncover a Templar conspiracy along the way too.

The story is well-constructed and one of the better, if not the best, stories in the series. Without giving anything away you will see some twists that have never been seen in an Assassin’s Creed game. I also welcome the change from religion to politics because quite frankly the religious aspect was wearing a little thin. This game has some of the most memorable characters in the series. Up until this point you probably couldn’t name anyone other than Ezio or Altair. But not all is perfect in Colonial America. As superb the story is the game is highly inconsistent in other areas.

The tried and true gameplay you’ve come to know and love has been tweaked. For the most part the changes make playing the game frustrating. The controls are simplified now in numerous ways. The biggest change is in the free-running system. In previous games you needed to hold the right trigger to run and hold the A button to climb, jump, swing etc. In the new game you just need to hold the right trigger. I don’t know why they made this change but I found it to be a hindrance more than anything. There are many occasions where my character jumped to something I didn’t want him to just because there is only one button to climb. Sometimes if you’re sprinting after a target you might mistakenly climb up a wall instead of running down the street. I can’t say that this has happened to me in any of the other games. This is a new problem starting with this game.

Gone are the buttons for gentle push and horse whistle from past games. In order to to use your horse whistle you have to equip it to a slot, something that is so bothersome I didn’t care enough to do it at all. A strange change because you can do another sort of contextual whistle to distract guards without having to change your weapon slot. Which brings up another issue equipping something is done though a big cumbersome menu. This wouldn’t be a problem but all of the menus in this game are laggy. They are too complicated and pretty for their own good.

They also changed the targeting system from prior games. Before you could lock on to anyone you want. In this game it does targets for you which again can lead to unwanted targeting just like the free running lead to unwanted climbing. Now the left trigger is mostly useless. It has a “precision” targeting reticule but it’s not like if you fire your weapon it hits where you’re targeting it just means you want to aim at a certain target. It also awkwardly shifts the view so you can’t really play from this angle. It is just a really cumbersome system. It is also worth noting that an aerial assassination is no longer silent, I don’t know if this was intentional or not but it is something you will have to live with.

There are a lot of gameplay changes but the game doesn’t really tell you how to go about using these changes. One of the biggest changes is the item crafting and trading. In the game you have a homestead, this is similar to the bases in the other games you upgraded that would make you money. In this game to make money you have to buy resources from your farm and craft them into other resources to trade throughout the land. It’s really not the most intuitive system and you’re on your own to figure it out for the most part. Other quick notes I can add is now you can hunt animals (this also factors into the trading and crafting part I mentioned earlier). Previous faction missions similar to the earlier games are different too. They don’t have a story element anymore. There are assassination contracts, these used to have a story and a purpose. In this game you just go to a guy and then kill targets. A disappointing change or maybe they didn’t have time to flesh it out.

One of the best changes in the game are the naval missions. The developers nailed this. You sail the ocean on the Aquila, your ship, and go on missions and battle ships. It’s all quite thrilling and is really the spark this series needed. Other than the multiplayer the most fun was had on these naval missions. Speaking of the multiplayer it has returned yet again. It’s pretty much the same but with new balancing issues, the hunted now knows when the assassin is around him. There is also a new wolfpack mode which is just like a timed co-op game vs the computer. Not a bad mode but could use some work, hunting human players is much more fun.

The game is a mixed bag graphically. The multiplayer looks and runs great but when it comes to the single player there are some rough edges. You can tell the system is being pushed to the limit because it sort of looks good but nowhere as near good as preceding games. Pop up is abundant. People will pop in and out of view five feet in front of you. In fact I once rode straight ahead, stopped and a tree drew in right above me. The game has some graphical issues that I’ve never seen in a game before. Impressive but not in a way you want to impress someone.

There are some objects that should have physics such as hanging store signs which will stop you in your tracks like a brick wall. The same can be said for clotheslines. If on foot you can step under the clothes and they will act as if you had walked past some clothes hanging on a line. If you are on a horse or carrying a body the clothes will act like a solid object and you’ll have to go around. There is one positive to note about the graphics and that is now that the seasons change. If you’ve ever wanted to run around in the snow in an Assassin’s Creed game now is your chance.

The game has a good amount of bugs as well. I’ve seen characters stuck on a rock running in place. I’ve killed enemies in the game and they still show up on the radar as alive. Sometimes you can’t pick up a body unless you loot the body first. Amongst a group of guards I’ve strangled a guard while I was unarmed. The rest didn’t react and let me choke all of them out one by one. The list goes on. In fact I seemed to encounter an issue that only affects people with the original big Xbox (before the slims) rampant freezing issues. I couldn’t get much help on the issue, this probably won’t affect you but for me it did and it was very frustrating.

But that is Assassin’s Creed 3 in a nutshell. A frustrating game. It’s buggy, a graphical mess but there are some bright spots. The story is great. You should keep up with the series just based on that. The naval missions are an excellent addition and the multiplayer is still fun. Assassin’s Creed 3 is worth playing, I just hope they can work the kinks out before the next game.

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