- New locales are interesting
- Some parts of the game look fantastic
- Desmond sections are surprisingly enjoyable
- Far too buggy
- Connor’s story is predictable and drawn out
- Starts extremely slowly
We’re going to be perfectly honest here: Assassin’s Creed III isn’t as good as we’d hoped it would be. Now we’re not saying it’s bad, but after the promotion it has been given, the previews we’ve seen and the adventures we’ve already had with Ezio Auditore in all manner of exotic locales, it falls a bit flat.
Perhaps Assassin’s Creed III’s biggest problem is its slow start. Whereas Assassin’s Creed II started with a bang (quite literally for the young and randy Ezio), its sequel takes a long time to get going. You begin the game as Haytham Kenway, a British man who after the game’s opening sequence heads over to redcoat controlled Boston to meet up with a few chums. Once there, he meets a native woman and a while later, out plops protagonist Connor. This may all sound fairly basic but the entirety of Haytham’s game is spread across three entire sequences, the game’s name for chapters. Playing as Haytham isn’t exactly bad, but it all feels a little pointless when you know that you won’t be him forever.
Once Connor does finally appear on-screen, the game almost acts as though Haytham’s game never existed and begins another lengthy set of sequences that sees Connor growing from child to adult, training, killing animals and finding out a few home truths. Again, these aren’t bad per se, but they drag on for so long it can get boring, fast. The sections where you return to present-day bod Desmond Miles are actually some of the game’s best moments as you leave the Animus and travel the modern-day world looking for power sources that will help unravel and hopefully stop the whole “end of the world” thing. Because the end of the world is bad, apparently.
Another of Assassin’s Creed III’s downfalls is how often you’re required to do menial tasks for people you couldn’t care that much about. One mission had us asked by some Frontiersmen to go and find the legendary Sasquatch. The marker was placed a good 1500km away from the camp from which we’d received the mission so a lengthy traipse was in order – it’d be worth it though, surely? No. We won’t spoil it but for such a journey the reward was disappointing.
The main thing you’ll pick up on when playing Assassin’s Creed III is possibly that it tries too much. Whilst plenty of content isn’t a bad thing, when each piece is fairly shallow in ambition and the rewards for doing these things is minor, you often just don’t fancy doing them. To list a few things (deep breath), you can upgrade your home, hunt animals, engage in naval warfare, collect feathers, collect peg-legs, hire assassin recruits, train said recruits, recruit traders for your homestead, trade with said traders, do side-quests for frontiersmen, participate in fight clubs, take down redcoat strongholds… you get the idea.
Despite the multitude of things to do however, they never feel like things you must do, instead serving only as mediocre distractions from the main story. It’s fun duking it out with a bear in the woods the first few times you do it but when you’re pounced as you stroll through the woods for the millionth time and forced into a dull and uninspired Quick-Time Event sequence, it grows stale, fast.
For the faults which some may derive as picky, Assassin’s Creed III is still an incredibly strong game. The main story is as gripping as you’d expect (even if it is drawn out far too much) and the game looks stunning – especially in the vast Frontier. Combat has also been vastly improved with Connor having multiple ways to dispose of foes including a Scorpion-styled Rope Dart, his trusty tomahawk and a bow and arrows.
Steering away from the single player, Assassin’s Creed also brings back the robust multiplayer experience first introduced in Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Unlike most other multiplayer offerings, Assassin’s Creed has always been about stealth and patience and there isn’t much different in ACIII aside from new maps, characters and a few power-ups. There is an over-arching narrative that slowly unravels as you level up and complete challenges but it’s not really worth it unless you like watching mock TV adverts and reading facts about Abstergo.
At its best, Assassin’s Creed III looks fantastic but at its worst, the game can look incredibly ugly. Cutscenes in particular look great, with subtle details including facial creasing and some new game elements such as the weather system really add a layer of realism you didn’t necessarily need in previous games, but you would miss were they taken away now. Sprinting through a crowded New York as rain crashes down around you and lightning brightens up your surroundings can look stunning. As mentioned though, it’s not all good and it’s mainly down to how buggy the game is. Floating objects and people walking literally straight through you during cutscenes are only the tip of the iceberg and considering the game had a day one patch when it launched, it’s all a bit sloppy and really disappoints.
Assassin’s Creed III is far from a bad game but at its core, it doesn’t do anywhere near enough to differentiate itself from Ezio’s journies. To make matters worse, Connor as a character isn’t remotely as interesting as Ezio and by the end of the game his monotonous, boring voice and perfectly scripted lines really begin to grate. The content that is new feels pointless, the predictable story is overly lengthy and spread out and in general, the game lacks that final level of sheen you’d expect from a series now in its fifth iteration.
Undoubtedly good, but nowhere near as good as it could have been.