The best Assassin's Creed game to date!
I want to start with answering a question people have made when I told them I would be reviewing Assassin's Creed 3: "Why now? The game has been out for ages, so why put out a review now?" Well, back when AC3 released Duuro was small and many of the publishers wouldn't give us promo copies. Lucky enough, after countless emails, someone from Ubisoft (which I personally can't thank enough) replied and I finally got my hands on Assassin's Creed 3. And boy, was worth the wait!
Assassin's Creed 3 is one of the best open world games I have ever played. The story, the setting, the new and improved gameplay, the world, the characters, the graphics, everything was perfect. Assassin's Creed is one of the most intriguing and interesting universes ever created in gaming. Templars, assassins, gods, conspiracies, end of the world and these are only a few of the themes the AC universe tackles. I knew that this series would become bigger and better since when I first sat in the Animus back in 2007.
Assassin's Creed 3 is the true sequel to Assassin's Creed 2 even if there have been two other games in between them. Gone is Ezio and introduced is Connor. Gone is the Italian Renaissance setting and taking its place is The American Revolution. But these aren't the only changes in Assassin's Creed 3. No, the entire game feels like something new, like something we haven't played before. Basically even if you haven't played any of the AC games before, you will get right into Assassin's Creed 3 in no time whatsoever. Everything you need to know is explained through a series of cool training sequences. To say the truth the first 6-7 hours serve as training and prepare you for what's coming later in the game. Now, I have seen and I have read many reviews and articles complaining about how the story in AC3 unfolds and I have only one thing to say to them: F*ck Off!
We are entering into spoiler territory now, so be careful if you have yet to play Assassin's Creed 3. At the end of Revelations, Desmond after learning more about the end of the world and how to save it, he wakes up from his coma and say: "I know where we should go next!. Assassin's Creed 3 picks right after that. Desmond and his assassin crew travel to America to reach the cave from his visions. They enter this cave, settle down their equipment, set up the Animus and Desmond jumps right in it. This cave holds the secret of saving the world, but there are a few locks preventing the way. So Desmond needs to go back in time to relive as his ancestors to find the key of unlocking the caves potential of saving the world. Now here comes the part, people b*tched about. The story is, lets say, fractured into three "separate" ones. As you jump in the Animus, you start to play as Connor's father, Haytham a british officer (oh what the heck, I put the spoiler warning before!) who turns out to be a Templar seeking the location of the cave or the Vault for purposes I think you can imagine.
So he is not an Assassin, but a Templar, a fricking awesome one if I can add. He is probably my second favorite character I have ever seen in an Assassin's Creed game. He is a gentleman, he has an amazing accent and he is a total badass/nutcase as we later see in the game. So you play for a few hours as him, jumping and leaping accross rooftops in Boston, killing guys, eavesdropping conversations, following "bad guys" around, blow stuff up, amazing things overall. During these missions you meet new friends who join you in your cause. However things ramp up, powerful people are pissed off and you need the help of the indigenous people to achieve "your cause". Here's where Haytham met Connor's mother and one thing led to another, puff there's Ratonhnhaké:ton or Connor. With the indigenous help, Haytham and his crew reach their goal, find the key to the Vault and reveal themselves as Templars. This is the first among the many plot twists Assassin's Creed 3 has. The guys in the present time, Desmond and the other Assassins are shocked that an ancestor of Desmond's was a Templar. But there's still a world to save so Desmond jumps right back in the Animus in order to find the key Haytham has and now you start playing as little Ratonhnhaké:ton.
As soon as I started playing as little Ratonhnhaké:ton in my mind came that moment from The Hobbit, where Biblo says: "I am going on an adventure!" and boy, what an adventure this was. He was raised by his mother on his tribe's small village on the Frontier. He is not Ezio, he is not born inside a palace with everything at his disposal. He mus learn to survive in the wilderness, he must learn to hunt, to traverse through the world and to face danger. But he is also very similar to Ezio. He doesn't choose the life an Assassin, that is chosen for him the moment the Templars claim his mother's life and his village. They are back, Charles Lee and the rest of them are back and now want to spread their control over all of the colonies and the newly forming country. However Ratonhnhaké:ton manages to survive or better put, Lee spare his life just to make him witness all of their atrocities. Here's a very interesting moment, maybe the most of all, Ratonhnhaké:ton promises Lee that he is going to kill him. Like Ezio when he saw his father and brother getting hanged, this is the moment where the Assassin life is chosen for him. Like Mark Twain's quote: "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why". This was the day Ratonhnhaké:ton found out the why and as I said it is the best moment in the whole game!
Then years pass, Ratonhnhaké:ton is older, wiser, and teaches his friend how to jump, climb, hunt, kill etc. Time passes, stuff happen which I would like to spoil, but I won't and after 8-9 hours into the game, you are given the name of Connor by the Mentor Achilles and you get to wear the white Assassin suit. All of the thing I did amounted to this moment and I have never felt a better sense of a satisfaction in a video game. What I don't understand is why the f*ck people b*tched about it? Without those moments, those pivot points in Connor's life, the epic story wouldn't make any sense and we wouldn't have those epic moments later in the game. So to all of you who went nuts on Reddit and NeoGaf bashing AC3, f*ck you!
After wearing the suit, Connor becomes a full time Assassin and meets a very interesting cast of characters. Some are made up (I think), but most of them are real figures who have lived in that time. Real figures like George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Lee, Thomas Hickey, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams and many other more. This has been a staple in the Assassin's Creed games, taking real figures, planting them in the story and making up a story that played out like the real thing, but with those AC twists. You will see these characters under a different light. You will see men that fought against the concept of slavery, having slaves themselves. You will see leaders become powerless. You will see the atrocities some are willing to do to achieve their darkest fantasies. The screenwriters have done an amazing job on re-writing some story bits and events to give them that AC twist. You will see the story as it unfolds, you will see the colonies merge into one country. You will play your role into the Boston Tea Party, the Battle of Chesapeake, what happened on Valley Forge, uncover the conspiracies of the time, you will play your part in the American Revolution.
During the story we witness how Connor becomes something more than an Assassin. He fights for justice and freedom. He wants everyone to be of equal. And you can clearly see these messages throughout the cut-scenes or the conversations you have with these real life figures.
How the story unfolds and play out is very interesting and frankly it is the best yet. But even more interesting is the relationship between Connor and his father. Later in the game, lets say, Haytham will join Connor in some missions. And the interesting part is their dynamic, how they cooperate, their relationship to one another, one is a Templar and one a devoted Assassin. You will see the clash of these two ideologies: One, much like Loki in The Avengers, wants to free people from freedom itself while the other one fights to protect this freedom. All of these sequences wouldn't have been possible without the 8 hours of introduction.
The ending sequence is mindblowing and, again continuing the Assassin's Creed lineage, it raises even more answers than it answers. It's pretty powerful, that's all I am saying!
Of course apart from Haytham and Connor, you also play as Desmond in the present time, but these levels are not that good to play through. You visit some bland environments, fight some dudes and instakill people using a silenced pistol. There is nothing cool about these sequences so much that these aren't even worth mentioning.
That's about it for the story, it's pretty epic and hands on, the best on an Assassin's Creed game yet. Now about gameplay. Everything is new here. The whole movement and combat system has been re-done and the end result is fantastic. The new engine they used specifically for this game, Anvil Next, is a beast of an engine. The world in Assassin's Creed 3 is big, like really big. You can wonder around Boston, New York, Davenport Homestead and The Frontier. There is a ton to explore, find and things to do even though some of them don't really make a sense. Traversing through these big open spaces is just fun. Free running has been simplified to allow for more fluid parkour in the cities and wilderness, such as climbing and running on trees, mountains, cliffs, etc. Connor looks unique, but also feels unique. He has totally new animations and moves and he feels more visceral, more predator, more badass. You really feel like you are there, like you are leaping across trees or you are actually rock climbing. There's a sense of satisfaction I haven't experience in any other AC games.
Assassin's Creed III also features new weather simulations such as snow, fog, and rain. The seasons can also change i.e., Summer and Winter, which not only effect visuals but also gameplay, as the player will find running slower in deep snow. Snowfall can reduce visibility for the player and enemies, aiding stealth.
Being an Assassin is all about stealth, how you approach a situation without being seen or heard. Crouching first come to mind much like Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell, but we can't yet do that in Assassin's Creed? Why the hell is that? How can someone standing up be stealthy? Here in this game, they try to fix that by introducing hiding spots, like bushes, where Connor crouches and becomes invisible but can still move through the environment. It's very cool and it kinda makes a whole lot of sense, but why isn't that standart, like pressing a button? In Black Flag need they need to fix this.
Combat is also totally new. Connor move set is bigger, better and badass. You can still do killstreaks after you kill an enemy, but it is not that easy like it used to be in past games. The enemies are a little clever this time, where two or three can attack at the same time, but Connor can still counter that and it's beautiful to see. Guns play a bigger role now as you can use them during combos. There are new additions like the bow, dual pistols, tomahawk, the rope dart which all are amazing and uber satisfying to use. It has a more visceral feel, that really fits with the game story, Connor fights for something that goes above and beyond him that's why he is a total badass.
Another big addition are the naval battles. These sequences, even though they are heavily scripted, are amazing. You will drive/pilot the Aquila using the wind direction and speed through high waves and rocks into fierce naval battles taking down enemy fleets, protecting ally ships and taking down forts with it's cannons. All of these missions are fantastic and I wish there were just more. And after saying that I cannot wait for Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag, that game is going to be sick!
The metagame of the Assassin's Guild from Brotherhood is back as you can recruit citizens to join you cause. But this time they have a much larger skill set, which allows them to start a riot, provide a covert escort, act as a personal bodyguard, execute ambushes etc. Economy is now based on the Davenport Homestead, which also acts as Connor's adopted home. As you progress through the game and as you complete certain missions, people with specialty feats will come and live in your homestead. A carpenters, a tailor, a hunter etc. will become part of your homestead. And doing missions for them, will unlock new items that you can craft. Crafting is even more bigger here, as you can craft anything from glass bottles to ship masts. Trading these items you crafted is how you earn currency and although it's a new addition and really fits in the setting, I didn't like it one bit. Selecting the products to trade is slow and very very time consuming. Let's say that I missed the old bank economy system.
Hunting is also a new feature. Unlike the past games, this one includes animals varying from domestic (horses, cows, dogs) to wild (deer, wolves, bears). The wild ones are found in the Frontier, and can be hunted for meat or marrow in order to be sold. The quality of the kill determines the price, encouraging the player to hunt silently. For this, traps and bait can also be used. After each kill, you have to collect the hides, bones, whatever (if you don't want to desync) and you can use these items to craft new items to sell for a profit or sell them as raw materials.
Other side missions include collecting Almanac pages, exploring underground tunnels to locate fast-travel stations, joining hunting and fighting clubs, investigating frontiersman rumors about UFOs and Sasquatch, "peg-leg" missions in which Connor goes to underground forts and wastelands to uncover the legend of Captain Kidd's treasure, and others. There is a lot of activities, missions and stuff to do. I achieved 100% at around 39 hours, so yeah this is a big big game.
Visually Assassin's Creed 3 is outstanding. Everything, from level design to environments, The Frontier, the lighting, character models and animations, everything is spectacular. The weather simulation is also spectacular as it changes the whole look and feel of the world. Connor moves and animations will change with each season, as you will see him struggle a bit running in the snow or going up a cliff. All of these might sound not that important or useful, but is the attention to details that make an already amazing game a spectacle to see. The facial animations have also received a boost from the previous installment. Anvil Next, as I said, is a beast engine and I cannot wait to see what they will pull off in Black Flag. Voice Acting is top notch as are all of the other sounds and soundtrack, perfect!
The frame rate is steady for most of the time, but really start to suffer when there's a lot happening on screen. Also this is the most glitched/bugs filled Assassin's Creed game to date. Open world games usually suffer from these problems and for most of the time these glitches are only visual ones. But here I also encountered some game breaking ones, like 5 or 6 of them, where I had to restart the whole mission or my PS3. I encountered a glitch while a naval mission where my ship after crossing a big wave started spinning like a wheel and I couldn't do anything. Another time while I was stuck between some rocks, the falling animation triggered and I couldn't stop it.
Multiplayer is back in Assassin's Creed 3, but I am not going to say anything about it since I don't really like it. I played it for some time and found it very similar to the one Revelations had. If you liked that, then you are going to love the multiplayer here. If you hated it, you will still hate it here.