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Assassin’s Creed 3 Review

If history books were as interesting and as engaging as Assassin’s Creed 3 is in presenting a lifelike section of American history, then I would’ve spent more time reading them when I was younger. As soon as you step into the shoes of the brand new protagonist Connor, Assassin’s Creed 3 presents you with a believable simulation of life and times during pre-and-post Civil War America.

A big part of this is due to the game’s brand-new engine, the AnvilNext, which has the ability to produce some, if not the best visuals of this console generation. Add to that an engrossing story, literally thousands of things to do, as well as the addition of Naval warfare missions, and you’ve got yourself one of the best games of the year. It’s not perfect mind you, but you would be crazy to miss out on the title that rejuvenates the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

Hit the jump for our full Assassin’s Creed 3 review.

Meet Connor Kenway, he’s a badass. But he’s not quite as interesting as Ezio or Altair.

As much as I loved Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, it was pretty much almost identical to most of the prior games in the franchise. And by the end of the adventure I was losing interest in the centuries-old conflict between the Assassins and Templars. Not so with Assassin’s Creed 3; the combination of the new game engine as well as a varied amount of activities and mission types to partake in basically rebooted the franchise. Compared to the prior games in the series, this one’s a whole new beast.

Players are cast as both returning Desmond Miles and the new assassin Connor; two parallel tales with equally interesting characters and stories. I never found Desmond’s quest particularly appealing in previous games, yet Ubisoft actually managed to make him as interesting a main/supporting character as Altair was in Revelations. This is in large due to his now global search for artifacts that will help in his quest. Each of his missions present a number memorable moments including base jumping from a New York skyscraper and more.

Within the Animus, players take control of Connor Kenway, a half-Native American in his quest to protect his people from being obliterated by the British. He gets in contact with Achilles, who becomes his mentor and trainer in becoming an Assassin. While Connor is an interesting character, I found his interactions with key moments and people in American history more memorable than his actual character arc. Sad to say, I kept thinking to myself how much better the game would be if Ezio’s character type were in Connor’s shoes. He’s just not as remarkable a character as the ones who came before him.

Combat is cinematic, attacks flashier, and counter kills are more brutal than ever before.

That is until you see him move and fight; Connor’s animation and movement are miles ahead of any other game in the market right now (well, except for Uncharted). Connor’s animations are eerily lifelike and small additions like quickly vaulting over a low fence or climbing a tree just made it more fun to play and exhilarating to watch. I also loved how easy it was to traverse the game world; at first I had some concern as to how Ubisoft would handle tree climbing, tree-hopping, and sloped geography movement, but for some reason it works. And it works well.

Combat controls received an update too; attacks, counters, and finishers are more cinematic than ever before. However it comes at a price. I found that it requires less strategy to defeat opponents in Assassin’s Creed 3 compared to Revelations and Brotherhood. In Revelations, the differing enemy types required players to switch weapons, use kicks, bombs, tools, and throws to survive, yet the only real strategy I could find in AC3 was if I should use a firearm over my melee weapon. Sure, the kills and counters look badass, but it’s somewhat hampered by nerfed combat.

While AC3’s hand to hand combat isn’t as deep as Revelations, the track and kill assassinations are better than ever. The tools and the moves that Connor has in his disposal are staggering, they’re a lot deadlier, and definitely impresses. Especially the rope darts. Those things are nothing if not the coolest assassination tool ever made.

Speaking of switching tools and weapons, to do so in Assassin’s Creed 3 stops the game and opens up a new screen which slows the game down and adds an unnecessary break in action which can be annoying especially when you’re facing multiple wolves, bears, or rifle-armed assailants. They had made weapon-switching fast and easy in Revelations, why change what wasn’t broken?

AC3 introduces weather effects, new geometry, and a game world that’s much bigger than the games before it.

Like I mentioned earlier, Assassin’s Creed 3 features environments, effects, and geography that affect gameplay and that’s previously unseen in other open-world games of this magnitude before.  AnvilNext technology is able to generate amazing graphics and the addition of mountains, hills, sloped surfaces, even dense forests and waterfalls. It really goes a long way to immerse players in 18th Century America. I’ve spent my fair share of time just slowly walking around the game world gawking at the vistas, the astonishing views, sights and sounds; especially after the latest update.

In addition to that, there’s also weather effects and they just add to the game’s realism and adds more character to the game world. Certain environments and effects actually affect Connor’s movement and speed; for example, running through a stream or on snow has him slowly moving forward while lifting his leg higher, struggling to move.

Then there’s the Naval warfare missions, which have players taking control of the battleship Aquila and it’s crew against the deadly open seas. There’s homestead missions which have players build a community with the people they help or save. Once the community grows, people in the homestead offer Connor equipment and helpful items that can aid him in his adventure. Seeing the crew of the ship work together as they load each cannon, and keep the Aquila afloat and seeing the Davenport homestead prosper makes the game and the story all the more personal and add depth to Connor’s adventure.

I haven’t even mentioned the hunting and trading minigames, the hundreds of treasures to collect, and the high places to synchronize with. Not to mention the multiplayer, which has undergone a few key changes that may attract players new to the series or those who’ve avoided it in previous titles.

The Naval Warfare missions are the best part of the game. Here’s hoping it gets it’s own spinoff in the future.

TECHNICAL PRESENTATION

GRAPHICS – One of Assassin’s Creed’s achievements is it’s graphical fidelity. Not only does the game showcase spectacular indoor and outdoor environments, there’s also a rich attention to detail that must be seen to be believed.

  • Snow gets pushed down and leaves a trail when walked on
  • Trails of wheel and foot prints left on wet mud IN REAL TIME!
  • Staggering amount and variety of flora and fauna in the great outdoors
  • Secondary/supporting characterse get almost the same amount of care and detail in their clothes, facial expressions, and movement animations as much as Connor and Desmond

AUDIO – Like the previous games before it, Assassin’s Creed 3 features impressive audio presentation. From the professional voice-overs, to the sound effects including flintlock pistol and rifle shots, to the rousing background music, you’ll only find high quality audio here.

PROS

+ Impressive scale and visuals
+ Large number and variety of activities to partake in
+ Attention to detail in characters, environments, and effects
+ Naval Warfare missions
+ Loved the interaction with key moments and people in American history
+/- Streamlined controls

CONS

– Connor isn’t as memorable a character as Ezio or Altair
– Streamlined/nerfed combat
– Frustrating amount of load screens before, during, and after missions

FINAL THOUGHTS

The more I played Assassin’s Creed 3, the more I thought of it like a Mixed Martial Artist. It employs a lot of techniques from different genres (art styles) and does them well; a superb generalist. But if you look at each of the game mechanics and features in detail, it doesn’t perform as well as a martial artist that’s a master of one art form.

In the end though, with Assassin’s Creed 3, you get a lot of quality content for your money, you get a fun and frantic multiplayer experience, and you get to experience a believable recreation/simulation of life pre-and-post Civil War America. If you’re a fan of the series, purchasing the game should be a no-brainer, but if you’re new to the series, prepare to be blown away by one of the best games of 2012.

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About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming. http://jtmgames.com/

Posted on November 26, 2012, in Game Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. dude i love the mma comparison! great review. tough game to review as there’s just so much to touch on! well done.

  2. haven’t had the pleasure of playing it yet. probably going to pick it up for my pc. might not look much better but it will probably have less load times and stuff like that.

  3. Just started into this, and I’m enjoying it so far. I have found the graphics to be very weird though – For example, the character models look great, but fall into the horse when you ride, or through a chair when you sit during cutscenes.

    Already I’m loving Connor though, although I just made it to Achilles. I also LOVED the twist that happened early in the game – one of the first times since AC:Brotherhood that my jaw has dropped due to a twist.

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