Assassins Creed is Back!
Assassins Creed seems to be well and truly back in action with the new release of Assassins Creed 3! With the franchise having seemed to slow down a bit following Assassins Creed 2, with Brotherhood and Revelations quietly keeping the name alive without throwing too much into the story as a whole, Assassins Creed 3 brings a welcome freshness to the saga. With a new story and a new assassin to follow, the game has finally moved on from playing as pensioners to give fans a massive wake up call, and what’s more, it seems like something is actually coming of the Desmond story…
At the start of the game, by which I mean about the first couple of hours, you are going to want some patience and to hold an open mind. Everything starts off very linear, relatively slow, and you will find that you are constantly jumping in and out of cut scenes. It is entirely possible that, along with the complete switcheroo which has been done on the control setup, you are going to find yourself feeling a little bit frustrated. I implore you however to play on, because once you get used to the controls and really get rolling with the storyline, it is more gripping than a bear hug, and you will want to watch out for those bad boys here! I don’t want to give too much away, because there is an attempted twist (I worked it out before hand but if you don’t I suspect it is a good one!) and an intricate set of characters laid out for you to follow throughout the rest of the story in this first chunk of gameplay. It is really better that you play and judge the story of the game for yourselves. What I will say is that its’ a real treat when it gets going, which is something that the saga needed. The Desmond story is really kicked into some action in this game too, so for anyone else who was wondering if the whole thing was going anywhere, yes, but it’s still a little weird. As for the change in the controls, at first it seems like a bit of an unnecessary pain in the ass, but after some time you get used to it and in some ways it does make playing a little bit easier, particularly not that some things don’t require an extra hand to do. Free running for example is now a lot simpler, with only one button needing to be held, so that you can finally run without accidentally jumping off cliffs because the jump button needed to be held too
Possibly one of the bigger questions being asked before this game was released was will the tree-running work? The answer is very much a yes. This has been done very well indeed, and is smoother than a lot of the free-running elements of the previous games. The only disappointment is that there aren’t always trees to run in, but it’s a good bit of fun. Just in case you didn’t think some of the kills were quite brutal enough, you will be pleased to know that you can now also hang your enemies from these trees too, using the new rope dart weapon. Aside from this, the free running is pretty much the same dynamically when you head into the cities, but Desmond seems significantly faster and more agile now then any of the assassins so far. There are also some new toys to play with in the game, for when your friends decide they don’t want to be nice anymore. The rope dart is exactly what it says on the tin, although it is more of a knife than a dart, and can be used to simply drag people around or, if you are so inclined, hang them from a tree. The bow and arrow has become the new throwing knife, acting as your stealthy option to kill enemies at range, however the pistol, which is no longer on your arm but is now an actual pistol, doesn’t seem to draw nearly as much attention as it should with the noise it makes. The other main new addition is the tomahawk, which is exactly as much fun as people probably hoped that it would be to use. There are plenty of other options as well, including of course nicking the weapons of your enemies, so everyone will find something they like, and something they can laugh at the brutality of.
In case you don’t like being an assassin, at which point I would have to ask why you would even want this game, you may enjoy Assassins Creed: Pro Hunting or Assassins Creed: Pirate Style. With the new, massively open expanses of frontier land in the game, you can now head out between missions for a spot of hunting in the woods. This is maybe the part of the game that is somewhat mindboggling if any, not least because it is so pointlessly hard to do. There are very in depth way of hunting different woodland creatures; a small one such as a rabbit or racoon can simply be shot at, but if you want to catch a deer then your best bet is to either jump off a cliff and break its neck, or throw food on the floor in a bush so that it will unsuspectingly come and visit you. Larger, more dangerous creatures are really the ones to watch though, because these are possibly the hardest things to kill in the game and the most likely to kill you. On these encounters, if the wolf, bear or other dangerous beast sees you, you will be deadlocked into a quick-time event, where you are put under pressure to push the right buttons in order to kill it successfully. If you hit the wrong button however, you may as well prepare yourself for a good old-fashioned ass-kicking, because somehow these animals are a heck of a lot more deadly than any Templar you may meet! I think that everyone would agree that what was missing from Assassins Creed was not quick-time, button hitting events for a start, but one must also wonder why the Templar threat is chilled out enough now that you can take time out to casually hunt in the woods. Just putting the animals there to kill optionally while you do other things would have been fine on its own, so why so much effort has been put in here is a mystery, but seeing as this is only an aside to the focus of the game it is probably not worth worrying overly about. When your hunting is done for the day, you can head back over to your ship and set sail on the high seas to fight it out naval style! This is a strange feature to have been put into a game where in the past you have generally just run around on rooftops, but while the sense is questionable it is true that playing in this way can be quite fun, and a challenge. From the speed of your boat, to the steering, to which cannons to fire and at what, to when to duck to avoid enemy fire, you are quickly entrusted with running your ship while the Captain stands next to you and does very little at all. Controlling your ship takes some skill, but the whole setup of this part of the game has been done rather well. Indeed, Ubisoft may have been better off simply making a pirate game from which they could have made more money, but in any case this is a nice aside from running around all the time if you don’t find that so interesting.
So that is a bit about what you can do in the game, but following the stunning trailers for it people have got to be wondering how it looks. The answer? Pretty damn good! None of the Assassins Creed games have yet disappointed with their graphics, not least because of the size of the city or cities you have found yourself based in. The world is now huge, varied in its contents, and looks better than ever! The forested frontier areas are vast but beautiful, with rivers and lakes flowing though them with water looking as sharp as any of the other top games on the market today, if not a little better! The lighting is stunning, particularly the way that it has been made to work its way through these forests, and the vegetation itself looks healthy, if that is a good way to describe realistic looking flora and fauna in a game. The cities, while smaller than what players have become used to from the franchise, look very good as well, but more importantly accurate. Given the time and location of the game, mid-to-late 18th century America, the size and style of the architecture is accurate, with not massively tall buildings as in the other Assassins Creed subject cities and small by comparison too. This does not in any way take away from the experience however, and in fact somewhat improves it simply through its realism and the way that the people in the streets behave does nothing but compliment this. It is fair to say that it all looks very, very good. The sounds of the game are also something of a success, with some strong voice acting coming in once again, weaponry sounding as it probably should and animals, at least for the most part, sounding accurate. There was a situation where I thought a bear was chasing me and turned around to an elk, but this may have been my bad as much as it could have been a dodgy sound, and it would be unfair to judge on one event in any case.
The complexity of Assassins Creed 3, as with the other games, makes it hard to give a full overview of the game without giving away any spoilers, and to do this would be a very great shame. What you need to know is this; if you like Assassins Creed, you will love Assassins Creed 3! There are some bits of the game which don’t make sense so much, such as casual hunting given the pace and need for immediate action which is very much a theme, and it does require you to have patience to start off with, particularly with the new control system and the jumping in and out of cut scenes. As a whole though this is a fantastic, thrilling and incredibly gripping game to play, and if one thing is for sure, it is that Assassins Creed is back in business!
The Good – A fresh feel, an expansion on the key Desmond storyline, massive open world playability, stunning graphics, exciting and challenging combat, improved free running and more side missions than you can shake a hidden blade at, all complementing a very gripping storyline.
The Bad – A slow and linear start, some unusual new things to do in game and a new set of controls to learn five games into the series are all questionable decisions by the developers but not ones which bring the game down at all.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.