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‘Assassins Creed’ 3 Review

by on November 4, 2012
 

STORY

‘Assassins Creed 3’ opens up a new and final chapter in the franchise for ‘Desmond Miles’ and gone has Altair and Ezio.  Desmond is armed with the apple of Eden, his father and the usual suspect Scooby gang embark on one more final assault in the war against the Templar’s.  With the help of the Animus, Desmond has to dig deeper into the complicated mind and now he must journey to the 18th century in North America; the Americans and British are on the brink of all out war, blood will be shed, innocent lives will be taken and a new hero assassin will rise.

Through Desmonds mind; you will assume control of ‘Connor’, who is the son of his Native American Mother and British Father and it, is his destiny to change the tide on the battlefield and shape the stories to be told in the history books.  Fight the good fight and join Desmond once more, along with his ancestor Connor, where the stakes have never been higher. Win the war on the battlefield and win the war to save the world!

Connor’s world is his oyster

GRAPHICS

My first impressions of ‘Assassins Creed 3’ were simply WOW! The environment is as living and breathing as any character that you will come across in the game, perhaps even more so.  There is not only so much going on in every town or city that you visit, but the countryside is buzzing with wildlife.  If any of you are familiar with the game ‘Red Dead Redemption’, then think of how awesome those towns looked, how amazing it was just to admire the open view of the free wilderness, well ‘Assassins Creed 3’ is that and then some.  Its world particularly looks stunning as the weather changes from the therapeutic snowflakes falling onto a cliff face, stomping your way through inches upon inches of snow to random people going about their business building snowmen, there really is so much to admire.  As the game progresses, so does the seasons, from Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, each one of them offers their own unique beauty and as a result, you’re forever changing obstacles along the way.  Speaking of weather, you just wait until your on board a ship and you have mother nature knocking you from pillar to post with crashing waves.

The character animations as you would expect, play a huge role too.  Every minor detail to every kind of facial expression is done superbly; you can tell what a character thinks of you during conversation without them even saying a word.  Without giving to much away, there will be certain characters that will double cross you and thinking back on what I have already played, it will be interesting seeing a certain characters mannerisms during a second playthrough of ‘Assassins Creed 3’.  Just like when you watch that movie which makes you notice certain little things that you may not have picked up during your first watch.  The attention to every detail in ‘Assassins Creed 3’ is immense; it really is leaps and bounds above its predecessors.  In fact because an ‘Assassins Creed’ game is released every year, it’s easy to forget that ‘Assassins Creed 3’ actually started development way back in 2009 and the time and effort shines through more than if you was being poked in the eye with the apple of Eden.

GAMEPLAY

There’s so much to ‘Assassins Creed 3’, it’s difficult to know where to even begin, so I’ll start with the combat.  First ‘Assassins Creed’ game was slightly flawed, but an iconic game none the less and it was certainly a benchmark for ‘Ubisoft’ to build upon.  So with every ‘Assassins Creed’ game released since then, there hasn’t been any drastic improvement, but a gradual improvement with every sequel that was released.  So since the original ‘Assassins Creed’ game, ‘Ubisoft’ have had six years to perfect the combat and have they? I hear you ask, well the answer to that is…no.

Combat is more interactive then ever

It’s pretty much impossible for any developer to perfect any game in all fairness, so that would be unfair to expect perfection from ‘Ubisoft’ or any other studio for that matter.  But what ‘Ubisoft’ does is make the gameplay, fluid, responsive and fun.  In many ways, I can see the ‘Arkham’ games influences, which to be honest there’s alot of games taken from ‘Rocksteady’s’ awesome game, but that would be a tough act to follow for any game.  For me having influences is all part of evolution and without it games would never improve and it’s fine as long as games are not carbon clones and ‘Assassins Creed 3’ is no carbon clone.

The combat builds upon ‘Ubisoft’s’ previous formula, if your use to how ‘Assassins Creed’ games play, then you will feel straight at home.  It’s more of a case of a little tweaks here and there, but in most cases, it can be the slightest improvements that make the biggest difference.  If there was one element that stands out in terms of ‘AC3’s’ combat is that it seems to have more interactivity.  Yes I know you could throw scumbags through market stall tables in the first game, but there’s something special when you send a new scumbag crashing through a table during a bar room brawl.  Though the best bit of combat interactivity that I’ve seen during my playthrough of ‘AC3’ is when I used a soldiers bayonet against one of his own, it was certainly one of those “have it!” moments.  One other minor tweak that has been made is with the free running. In previous games if you was participating in some good old fashioned rooftop free running, to make this larger jumps, you would be required to hold both the ‘RT’ and the ‘A’ button.  This time round, all you need to do is hold in ‘RT’, you no longer need to press ‘A’.  It may not sound like much, but trust me when I say it makes the gameplay a little more free flowing.

Use stealth to prey on you’re victims

But what forces ‘Assassins Creed 3’ to make some big changes, is its new environment and setting.  Where cities played a bigger role in previous ‘Assassins Creed ‘games, they now make the way for the more natural environment.  This not only gives the game a new setting, but it also brings new gameplay elements to the table, because if ‘Connor’ is going to make it through his first game in one piece, then he’s going to need the skills and weapons to adapt.  The first and quite possibly the best known new feature to ‘AC3’ is free running in the trees!  This skill is vital for ‘Connor’ to utilise his stealth skills and stalk his prey, human or animal.  On principle it works in the same way as rooftop free running, apart from you have more of a narrow target and you have to press ‘Y’ to climb through ‘V’ shaped branches.  It’s all a little awkward to begin with, but it you soon start picking it up and it soon becomes a second nature.

Speaking of nature, nature is going to be a key factor in ‘Connors’ ‘survival as he stalks, hunts and creates his way through nature and he must utilise every element if he’s going to take on the bad guys.  Hunting the wildlife is a major factor in ‘Assassins Creed 3’, and depending on what type and size of the creature you hunt and kill, will depend on your reward, each can be used for food or creating weapons.  You can hunt anything from tiny rabbits, innocent deer (with an arrow to their knee), vicious shady cougars, wolves or big angry grizzly bears.  You can take down a rabbit with a simple shot of the Bow and Arrow, deer may need a little luring and a bit of stealth, but the cougars, wolves and bears are a different kettle of fish altogether.  Unlike many of the other creatures in the environment they will attract you without a second thought, but using your conventional weapons may not be so easy.  So to tackle natures most fearless creatures, you must bring them down using QTE’s.  I’m not a fan of over excessive QTE’s in games; thankfully ‘AC3’ is not one of those games.  It’s one of the rare games that use the QTE in the correct manner and it adds a little more tension when taking on natures finest.

Is this the final curtain call for the gang?

But for the much less deadly creature that you can hunt down, you do have some tools at your disposal.  By pressing ‘RB’ you will open up a window of tools, to begin with you can select from the following; ‘Snare’, which are traps for the smaller animal, set them up and come back to them a little later on to see what you’ve caught.  ‘Bait’, which does exactly what it says on the tin and is used to lure in such creatures as Deer.  You can also select from this menu, your Bow and Arrow, Tomahawk and Rope Darts and as you progress further into the game, you will unlock even more deadly tools.  ‘Connor’ does have some nifty natural abilities too, if you are struggling to track down a certain creature or enemy, ‘Connor’ can search his environment for clues, which will then narrow down his searching area, making it that little more easy to track down your prey.  ‘Connor’ has even added some locking picking skills to his repertoire; it works similar to that of the ‘Splinter Cell’ games, just a little more simple.

There really is so much to ‘Assassins Creed 3’, its untrue and I could go on forever.  The time and effort that ‘Ubisoft’ have gone to improve their product is immense and I tip my hat to them for that.

AUDIO

The journey throughout all the ‘Assassins Creed’ games has always been about the epic storytelling (which is probably why they are now making an ‘Assassins Creed’ movie) and ‘AC3’ is no exception.  The ‘Assassins Creed’ universe has a rich and deep story to tell, if enjoyed the previous games as much as I have, then I have no doubt that you know how the games grip you.  But it got to a point that no more could be told of ‘Ezio’, his story had certainly reached its peak (though I’d still love to see more of the great Altair), so it was a perfect opportunity to open a new chapter in the ‘Assassins Creed’ universe and ‘AC3’ would be that game.

As deep and immersive as ‘Assassins Creed’ story might be, no interesting story can be told without a quality narrative and top notch voice acting that goes for both the video game and movie industry.  Thankfully just like the previous games, ‘Ubisoft’ and ‘Assassins Creed 3’ know how to tell an epic story and they know the right people to bring in to fit into the roles of their leading characters.  Every single character that you come across in ‘AC3’ is acted out as good as you could hope, there’s no weak act that even springs to mind.  But for me the obvious standouts that spring to mind, is leading video game voice actor ‘Nolan North’ returns to his role as ‘Desmond’ and another returning favourite is the character ‘Shaun Hastings’ who is voiced by ‘Danny Wallace’.

Robin Hood hasn’t got a scratch on Connor

The musical score to Assassins Creed 3 compliments each character and their current scenario perfectly down to a T.  For example, during the early stages of the game when you are located on a ship and at the Boston docks, the music reminds me alot of ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, if your familiar with the movies then you should have some of its music playing in your head right…..now! Also when you play as ‘Connor’ during his early years with his Native American upbringing, the music represents his lifestyle perfectly,   in fact if I could build a camp fire in my living room, I would have been tempted to dance around a camp fire, the music is that good.

If there is one other strong character that also has an interesting story to tell and that’s the wilderness and wildlife.  As you find yourself making your way through the countryside, it’s so easy to forget how important of a role the audio is playing.  Every seasonal weather, bird, deer, wolf and bear plays a huge role in ‘Assassins Creed 3’s believability.  Just imagine travelling about the countryside with no sound effects, it would simply have no soul, it’s certainly one of those cases in which the most minor detail, make the biggest difference.

REPLAY VALUE

‘Assassins Creed’ games have always been huge, but ‘Assassins Creed 3’ is all that and then some, it’s easily the biggest from the series yet.  To put in into a little perspective, that ‘Assassins Creed 3’ is roughly three times as big!  If you embrace its worldly environments and explore its nature with some tree climbing/free running, participating in some good old fashioned hunting, you could be doing that for hours upon end, without even touching any of the story.  Then of course you have the main campaign and all the side quests that you come across along the way, hidden items to explore for, the possibilities and the amount of interactivity in ‘Assassins Creed 3’ is immense.

Connor loves a spot of hunting

The multiplayer to ‘Assassins Creed’ was first introduced during ‘Brotherhood’, it’s never really been anything special and in  way I’m glad as it means that the developers have concentrated more on the single player experience.  The multiplayer has always just been a little something extra, to take you away from the single player campaign.  Since ‘Brotherhood’, we’ve had ‘Revelations’ and now ‘Assassins Creed 3’ and to be honest the multiplayer hasn’t changed all that drastically, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun, because it is.  The multiplayer to ‘Assassins Creed’ has always been based upon a certain principle, hunt and be hunted.  Before you indulge in the multiplayer you are given the option to play a tutorial and whether you’re an n00b or a seasoned pro, I’d still recommend you give it ago as it gives you the chance to recap and fine tune your skills.

Altogether you have five main modes, ‘Free for All’, ‘Deathmatch’, ‘Wanted’, ‘Assassinate’ and ‘Wolfpack’.  ‘Free for All’ is a collection of three of the modes in one game, ‘Wanted’, Assassinate’ and ‘Deathmatch’.  ‘Deathmatch’ aim is simple, kill your targets and avoid being killed.  ‘Wanted’ is similar to the deathmatch, but this time round, the higher your rank, the more pursuers you will have hunting you down.  In ‘Assassinate’ you must identify and kill the target of your choice.  New to ‘Assassins Creed 3’ we have a mode called ‘Wolfpack’, in ‘Wolfpack’ you must work together as a team; kill the designated targets and reach the top score before the end of the countdown.

If you’re going to take a chance on one multiplayer this year, make it AC3

 

There is more customisation this time round in ‘Assassins Creed 3’, but it will cost you and this is where ‘Ubisoft has been a little sneaky themselves.  You can customise anything from a characters physical appearance, what they wear, straight down to your own personal emblem.  There will be items available to you from the offset and through unlocking further items by ranking up in the multiplayer.  But if you want to get those extra items that can’t be unlocked via ranking up, then you will have to purchase in game credits known as ‘Erudito’, with real world money. Now of course it is up to you if you purchase these credits and if I’m honest, I will probably be a sucker and purchase some myself, just to give myself a little edge in the competitive multiplayer.  If you want to know a little more about how ‘Erudito Credits’ work, then you can do so by clicking here.

The multiplayer of ‘Assassins Creed 3’ won’t blow your mind, as for me it’s all about the single player experience.  But the multiplayer is there for you if you want to try something a little different and believe me when I say, it is fun!

CLOSING VERDICT

When ‘Assassins Creed 3’ was first announced and when the gameplay trailers started to leak out, speaking as an Englishman, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t just a little uncomfortable with the anti British angle.  Now that I’ve played the game, those worries have now began to ease (though it’s still just a little bit uncomfortable), as you just get lost in ‘Assassins Creed 3’s’ immersive gameplay and edge of your seat storyline.  I have become completely gripped with its storytelling, the characters are interesting, the world is hugely interactive and visually it looks dam impressive too.

‘Assassins Creed 3’ is not only the biggest game from the franchise, as in my humble opinion it’s arguably the best ‘AC’ and then some.  It takes all that what you loved with previous games, improves on its elements, adds a whole bunch of new features and then injects it with a 1,000,001 ml of testosterone to boot! Simply put, this game deserves an automatic spot on this year’s Christmas list.

If you want a little more ‘Assassins Creed 3’ goodness, then you can see my video unboxing of the ‘Freedom Edition’ by clicking HERE!

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