|System: Xbox 360, PS3*, PC|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal|
|Release: October 30, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Blood, Intense Violence, Sexual Themes, Strong Language|
by Matt Walker
Assassin’s Creed is a series I’ve always wanted to love. For one reason or another though, there was always one point in each title where I hit the proverbial brick wall and no longer cared about the game. This is not to say that any of the previous titles where bad, they just couldn’t hold my ever-fleeting attention span. Or, as I began saying, “They tricked me.” It became something of a joke in my household; every new Assassin’s Creed title would be exciting at first, but ultimately I would feel “tricked” by it. So here we are with Assassin’s Creed III. Does it “trick” me, or does it do something else entirely?
Primarily, I have to say that the narrative this time around is completely astounding. Moving Assassin’s Creed to an early period in American history breathes a fresh life into the story Ubisoft has created. While the stories of the previous protagonists have been enjoyable, they never fully resonated with me. Perhaps it was that I never really had that much interest in that period of history—or that I was at that time watching The Tudors and expected random pointless sex scenes. I can’t say for sure. However, with Assassin’s Creed III taking place during the American Revolution, I was engaged from beginning to end. (On a personal note, I am an American history nut, so being a part of a history that I know really locked me into the game.) And, of course, Desmond’s story continues in present day as well, which will keep longtime fans engaged in the continuation of the franchise’s story arc.
I won’t talk too much about the narrative though, because there are moments this time around that rival—surpass even—the first game’s big shock, and I’d hate to spoil those for you. Through the years, Ubisoft has seemingly tried to repeat the original “holy crap” moment in follow-up games—and they’ve come close—but this time around you’ll feel completely blindsided.
But one of the best things about Assassin’s Creed III is just how fresh it manages to feel. For example, hunting has been introduced as a way for the player to acquire funds in the game. With the skills of the assassin at your disposal, there are many interesting methods of hunting in the wild frontier, such as using snares, bait, bows and arrows, pistols, and even your bare hands. And there’s nothing quite like taking down a bear with your bare hands. Also, depending on how you defeat each animal, your game will determine how much each animal’s hide and various other elements are worth.
In addition to hunting, players will be able to utilize the resources found in the game (with the help of allies) to increase their funds. For example, there is a point in the game were you must rescue a man who is trapped on a log floating down river. Once you do, that man and his friend offer their woodcutting services to you. This enables you to sell your wares to the nearby general stores. It doesn’t just stop there, and with various other “Homestead Missions,” you will create new possibilities for making money in the game. Of course, if you don’t like this avenue, you can always loot the bodies of your enemies and pickpocket the random passersby as in previous installments.
Assassin’s Creed III isn’t just about bringing in the new, though; it’s also about refinement. The free-running, which has always been one of the most enjoyable aspects of previous entries, has been tweaked to allow you to climb through open windows or charge through open doorways to escape your assailants. You can also scurry up trees, hop from tree to tree, and jump right onto rooftops. The moments of exhilarating free-run have always added a cinematic flavor to the series, but with a few small tweaks they’ve been given an extra sense of style and presence.
Much like the combat.
While assassins are generally known for killing with style and finesse of the kill, these things seem somehow less articulated this time around. The beauty of the kill is still there, but there also seems to be this almost brutish, dirty style of fighting—it has an angry edge, if you will. And with dual-wielding, double-counters, multiple takedowns, and an arsenal that includes tomahawks, rope darts, bows and arrows, and, of course, the hidden blade, it seems this assassin is out for blood by any means necessary. With all of this, combat feels simultaneously familiar and better executed than it’s been in previous titles.
Even with all of these tweaks and additions, there is one feature that I love more than the rest—the naval combat. The first time I took command of a ship, I felt both intimidated and exasperated with how massive it felt. You can literally feel how big the ship is while commanding her around the waters of the world. Add the simplistic but effective way you’ll wage war in your ship, and I think I want a downloadable game to relive all of the famous naval battles of the past utilizing the already established mechanics of this game.