Assassin’s Creed 3 Review

The time has finally come, or rather the history has. The war between the Templars and Assassins reaches the summit of the battle between freedom with privileged chaos and control with enslaved order. Ubisoft grants us with the historic American Revolution and the present day Mayan apocalypse as the battleground, but the hype machine turns the expectations towards for the worse. The game feels simplified, segmented and forced at times.

Assassin’s Creed 3 jumps right to it, by picking up right where it ended in Revelations. The storyline is a vast one, spanning 35 years (1747-1782) and playing as several characters. With such a massive undertaking narration bridges gaps between years, teaching us the assassin’s history as it parallels with our own. The game begins in Britain with a Hytham Kenway, a man sent to search the new world with a mysterious key.

Just like any of the other in the series, AC3 is loaded with historic people, places and events without the patriotic propaganda. The early main-story missions cover one historical event after the next, but each feels as an interactive history lesson than an Assassin’s Creed game.  This is where the game falls flat. The story builds around the end of the world paralleled with the revolution, but it leaves us chasing the hype and build until the game just ends.

The game has its moments with gameplay mixing well with history and the great atmosphere the trilogy has always produced. From scene to scene, the game creates layers of gameplay, but without a foundation of consistent gameplay. Instead of building to the epic conclusion, like previous games, each mission feels like a separate mini-game from the last.

The story continues to remind players this time period was filled with doubt and mistakes. Each side shows a reasoning and understanding to the British, Americans, Assassins and Templars. Their enemies and friends overlap one another to create an un-American action story. Nothing is simple when enemies become allies and allies become enemies, leaving Connor in the middle of this historic conflict only to learn that his resolution is not as easy when he entered.

But as any Assassin’s Creed fan knows we’re not here for the history, but for the future, specifically 12/21/2012. After finding the first civilization room AC: Revelations lead Desmond to, two devices prevent him from completing his journey to save the world, a key and a few power supplies.

Desmond Miles has developed into a vocal character, a change from the popular silent-types. He continues to have a growing role in gameplay, but still falls short will limited gameplay compared to the expanded role fans expected.

The controls are awkward at first, but as characters change there is a realization that each character moves different. The adjustments remain smooth and intuitive with an occasionally improved tweak, like the previous AC installments. Climbing is easier with a more lenient and less precise stick movement allowing the player to just consistently push in the direction wanted and not needed.

Ship battles replace the unpopular Assassin’s Den Defense mini game. There is a learning curve, but more because most of have no foundation of sailing. When battle arrives three factors always apply: wind, position and weapons. Wind works with the sails, giving the ship three speeds. Position is the most forgotten when turning to line up the ship, because turning into the wind is disastrous. The weapon number and type can change any battle, or quickly end it. Cannons can increase in number with upgrades, while smaller swivel cannons can deliver a precise hit. Each needs constant adjustment if the battle is to be won. When it all comes together, it can result in yelling victory with Connor’s AI shipmates.

Every Assassin needs a manor to maintain and Connor doesn’t miss out. Most of the design remains the same from previous games, but it differs in money made. No more city reconstruction, each group is recruited through homestead missions. Each recruit added improves trade capabilities, the sole income for the manor. Crafting is also new, allowing players to create numerous products for profit, although it is segmented from the rest of the game and not required.

Other parts seem segmented and thrown into the game without any connection or requirement to the main story. Hunting is for fur and meat, but those only result in small funds. Money is less important, which keeps focus on the game at the cost of removing any purchasing of item collections and upgrades.

The Assassin’s guild is back, but this time it is another segmented afterthought. Recruiting assassins is practically the same, but now each one adds a special ability to aid Connor. The problem is nothing of it is needed. The guild and their missions are forgotten except for mini-missions and for unnecessary income. The frontier is another forced new idea in AC 3, but again it feels more as the area between cities, not something wanted to venture.

The frontier is beautiful, but feels more grueling than entertaining. Tree-to-tree movement is preferred, but too limited, leading to never looking for the opportunity at all. However, when finding the chance in the forest, free running is fluid with dash of sexy and a pint of blood. Not always available, swooping from tree to tree while hunting Connors enemies below seems reminiscent of the classic Predator movie, and you feel just as powerful with your own belt of tools. The rope dart is the new unique weapon that fits the assassins as well as it is deadly. The dart gives options for above and equal-level kills. From above Connor hangs his enemies and on equal ground Connor can pull his enemies into the bushes when out of reach for the silent kill. Unfortunately, there is never a time to use it, except when being trained for it.

Combat has received minor changes. Left trigger has been completely removed leaving no need for locking in and out of battle. If multiple enemies attack Connor a successful counter produces an action-packed double kill cinematic. The enemies keep the same variety requiring a different battle strategy with each new group faced, keeping the excitement throughout the game.

Assassin’s Creed 3 as a whole is not greater than the sum of all its parts. The game lacks the larger picture, connecting all of the nuances and side missions and abilities throughout that the series gamers are promised. The continuation of the present-day end of the world story shrinks in size with each new game in the series. The story will continue onward, but hopefully future games in the series will focus on the reason Desmond continues to enter the animus and not the animus itself. Or hopefully about assassinations and not being a financial assassin.

SCORE: 7.25

Valhalla: The Historic Choice, Gameplay, Naval Battles

Hel: Desmond gameplay, No strong core story, No Risk to the next level, Ventures away from original AC games

Here at Top Tyr each game is played through its entirety before the review process begins. The review is based on entertaining gameplay, story and innovative advancement in gaming. Intangibles and changes between sequels are also viewed.   

Top Five Games Rising from E3

# 5: Splinter Cell Blacklist

Release date: Spring 2013 (PC, 360, PS3)

The sequel to the successful Splinter Cell: Conviction was finally announced with Splinter Cell: Blacklist during this year’s E3. Sam Fisher and Ubisoft have expanded upon the mark & execute strategy from SC:C and better integrated it into gameplay with smoother action instead of the stop execute and start gameplay. Co-op is back after a beloved response from SC: Conviction’s story-connected co-op. The biggest announcement: Spies vs. Mercs is back by fan request. Every aspect from Conviction is taking a step up to entice fans for Blacklist. Tom Clancy has already added more gadgets to be detailed later, but there is silent downside. Michael Ironside, the strong and powerful voice of Sam Fisher, will not be returning.

# 4: Halo 4

Release date: 11/6/12 (360)

The first game of the next Halo trilogy has declared war on the Prometheans. This series is determined to link every gameplay aspect into the story and not just be another popular multiplayer shooter. The story shows a more in-depth attachment to the beloved duo of Master Chief and his female oriented AI, Cortana. Chief is fighting many new enemies including a possible confrontation with Cortana, herself. Multiplayer has a slim story attachment to spartan-on-spartan action, but Spartan-Ops create a newly created version of multiplayer for Halo fans. The idea is integrated from co-op, spec-ops, and weekly challenges to form four-player co-op missions. Spartan-Ops is based on a weekly episode per season, which includes missions and a video surrounding them. It gives a newly addictive reason to keep putting Halo back into the disc tray. With the story and the large fan base begging for more, Halo 4 should looks to satisfy all FPS fans.

#3: Assassin’s Creed 3

Release Date: 10/30/12 (PC, 360, PS3)

The final conclusion to the epic battle between assassins and templars reaches its climax in Assassin’s Creed 3. Soon to be released, many fans still have their doubts about the location and forest gameplay, but Ubisoft has yet to fail its fans in the series. E3 showed new game developments with multiplayer and naval battles. These battles will replace the den defense of AC: Revelations. It promises to allow players to still play as Connor by driving and potentially boarding other ships. Multiplayer has a new look with new modes. Domination was revealed and is the AC style of Call of Duty’s domination mode.

# 2: Dishonored

Release date: 10/9/12 (PC, 360, PS3)

Bethesda has displayed new gameplay at E3 raising the stock of Dishonored by the minute. They keep combining genres to push gaming to new heights. Dishonored embraces player creativity to an action RPG in every way different action RPGs have in the past and combined them into one game. Choices for story development attached to personal choice of super natural powers, like freezing time or human / animal possession, allows gamers to attack each room differently. A game designed with freedom for stealth or power styles of gameplay, having the option to kill or avoid every enemy and multiple powers to abuse and overpower every part of the environment combines for a mind-blowing game. Oh and yes, that means you can potentially avoid every enemy in the entire game. As long as the story surrounding in a unique steam-punk universe holds up, the game plans to give ultimate replay value with creative and choice freedom.

# 1. Watch Dogs

Release date: Unknown (PC, 360, PS3)

With so many sequels and safe picks for developers and their companies, Ubisoft has continued to pump out original content, peaking with Watch Dogs. The first glimpse and feel of next-gen gaming may have arrived with brilliant graphics and unique gameplay. In what looks like the near future, the protagonist is a hitman who uses elite hacker capable of controlling and tapping into seemingly every electronic device. The game premiered with no subtle CGI movie, but actual gameplay of you hunting a target. After subtle heads-up-display nuances resembling Assassin Creed and Splinter Cell gameplay, the game climaxes after causing the target to end up in a car crash caused by a hack into the street lights. Afterwards, the escape from local police shows beautiful life-like city in a downpour just before hacking into the drawbridge to complete his getaway. With a possible open-world environment and visionary gameplay we may never look at our games or real-life cities and electronics the same way again. It has also been confirmed that it will be Smartglass compatible.

Notables:

First, it appears I am not just on, but driving the Ubisoft bandwagon. I just feel after Ubisoft made their ultimatum to game developers to create new ideas they have decided to lead by example. With the AC series wrapping up they are not looking to milk the cash cow. They are the biggest third party developer for the new Wii U games leading with eight games, including ZombiU and Rayman Legends. They have consistently avoided the basic FPS and RPG with unique niches or with entirely original ideas.

As for the tech in E3, Microsoft Smartglass seems to lead the way even over the Wii U. The ability to use your tablet or smartphone to aid in controlling the 360 menus is the answer to our lack of force powers to bring the remote or controller to us without leaving the couch. It is not the big leap in tech innovation, but it is another step in linking our tech together to make life just a little easier.

The Last of Us needs to be on this list and I want it to be after the new gameplay reveal, but it looked entirely scripted. The impressive and innovative outlook from Naughtydog continues to push it up the list.