Game Review: Assassin’s Creed 3 – Connor’s Classic Adventure
The Assassin’s Creed series is well known for its acrobatic heroes and its loose ties to European history. In the franchise’s past, dedicated fans would await what new European city would be recreated in the open world adventure. So when Ubisoft announced that Assassin’s Creed III would be held in colonial times United States of America, the Assassin’s Creed buzz machine when crazy. Thankfully, Ubisoft has developed an epic of a sequel that is worth all the hype… if you can survive the intro!
In Assassin’s Creed III, you return as the hero Desmond Miles whose lineage of legendary Assassin’s have included Altair (from AC1) and Ezio (from the previous 3 games). His mission is to ‘absorb’ the abilities and knowledge of his ancestors by using a Matrix like device called the Animus. There, he relives certain parts of his ancestors lives in order to find artifacts called the Pieces of Eden. These artifacts are being sought by the evil Knights Templar who seek to unify the world via this artifact and rule it all. Desmond and his other assassin friends fight to oppose them. That’s the franchise is a nutshell.
Desmond finds himself at the helm of his half Mohawk half British ancestor Ratonhnhaké:ton aka Connor during the 18th century around the time of the American Revolution. Amongst the original colonies, your adventure is set as you tackle the amazing story Interestingly enough, you begin the game in control of his British father. An assassin himself, William Miles is actually a part of the Assassins’ mortal enemies, the Knights Templar. You spend a decent amount of time playing as him just to witness the enormous amount of combat skill that Connor’s father possesses. As you do so, on the Xbox360 version that is, the extremely poor shading really takes away from the overall beauty on display throughout this game. Scene to scene progresses the story along (at times even without any combat) and you witness the massive attention to detail in crowds, the buildings, the outfits, and so much more. Then, once some of the cut scenes play out with facial close ups, the blocky shading job becomes rather distracting at times. Thankfully, it doesn’t ruin the experience. Certainly, this issue isn’t seen on the PC version where even more powerful and clearer graphics are on center stage in the grandest of ways. As with most other graphically intensive games, the PC version is without a doubt the way to fully appreciate the amazing amount of work and care placed into this game’s appearance.
Don’t get me wrong, though. This game still looks stunning most of the time on the Xbox 360 as well. The third party perspective of this franchise really shines through as Connor completes his parkour style acrobatics about the huge open world featured in this game. Throughout the two decades of Connor’s life that the game spans, the game allows you to explore colonial Boston, New York, and parts of the eastern seaboard and the Caribbean. At one moment of the game you even visit Philadelphia. All the while, you are given a wide open unsettled area simply called the Frontier that allows Connor the freedom to explore, hunt, and expand his base of operations with others he encounters along the way with useful talents.
But before you can experience all of this open world goodness, you have to endure a truly grueling intro sequence of missions and cutscenes. Since I can remember there has never been a game where I wished the intro missions would simply be over with already. Acting as a kind of tutorial for the massive amount of abilities, features, and parts of the game, you must play as Connor’s father, become Connor at a young age, play hide and seek with friends, watch your home burn down, hunt with friends, leap through trees, and even earn your Assassin’s costume before you can truly have access to the ‘open world’ portion of the game. All of this can take upwards 5-6 hours depending on how obsessed you are with acing every mission you come across during this timeframe. Still, once you finally reach the promised land, you will be pleasantly thrilled at the empowering nature of controlling Connor however you want.
After learning how to hunt and how to properly, and beautifully dispose of dozens of colonial troops at a time, you will spend countless hours trying out multiple ways to take out large groups. There is nothing more satisfying than leaping from a rooftop onto two guards silently and then disappearing into an alleyway before a group of patrolling guards discover the bodies. Connor flips, contorts, and counters his way into several brutal looking sequences that are exhilarating to watch and quite easy to pull off in the midst of button pressing that for some may even deteriorate to wild button mashing. Amazingly enough, the controls are quite forgiving and that frantic button mashing can still manage some devastating combos!
These wicked combos utilize a staggering array of weapons and tools. Everything from swords, clubs, daggers, hidden blades, tomahawks, pistols, and muskets can be used to hunt both wild animal and man. There are even blow darts, rope darts, snares, and bows and arrows which provide a wealth of ways to hunt and stealthily kill your foes. As with the other AC games, performing each style of kill up to a certain amount typically unlocks some handy item or weapon that can be used to your delight in the game. Many times these challenges are a part of side missions and challenges. Simply put, playing as Connor is some kind of power rush with the various devastating kill stroke and assassination sequences that can be triggered as you off foe after foe!
While it may sound that the combat difficulty is low, it certainly isn’t all the time. While you may want to leap into every situation with swords shining and guns blazing, there are plenty of situations that require stealth. Thankfully, this element of the game does require a bit of patience as the sensitivity of soldiers at times is quite high. Especially when you are required to shadow a target and keep a minimum distance without being seen. It sounds easy but at times can be a bit challenging.
The combat can even mix things up against Connor as well. Just when you thought you had a platoon handled, another may run up with their synchronized shooting at just the most inopportune time. Throw in a few officers who wield quick sabres or heavy axes and you have enemies that can block and even counter some of your regular attacks just enough to disorient your fav combo.
As you progress through the story, you’ll recruit other assassin’s that will start riots within the town as a distraction, fight guards along side you, and many other actions. They will even equip items and gain experience levels as they are sent on missions of their own all along the colonies as you assign them to. Once the missions are completed, they provide money and useful items that can be used for trade or to make unique items and weapons.
Probably the best experience of the game, though, is the occasional high seas adventures that Connor takes on the Aquila. Armed with broadside cannons and a swivel cannon, Connor’s ship will take him into historic naval battles as well as a few against seaside forts. Surprisingly fun and deep, it is no surprise that the next Assassin’s Creed adventure will focus squarely on this wildly entertaining portion of the game.
Changing the setting and the hero for this series was just the shot in the arm that the franchise needed. Assassin’s Creed 3 is the buzz worthy epic that will keep this title on gamers minds for years to come. Classic.