By Lucas Gonzales
The Assassin’s Creed franchise has always been known to take players back in time to some of history’s most interesting and memorable time periods. Players have explored places like Acre and Jerusalem during The Crusades, as well as Rome and Constantinople during the Renaissance. The series has consistently done a great job of immersing players into each game’s respective setting, and Assassin’s Creed 3 is no different.
While Assassin’s Creed 3 continues the story of Desmond Miles and his fight against the evil Templars players also step into the shoes of a new protagonist, Connor. Like the two previous games, Connor is one of Desmond’s ancestors whose actions are lived out through an advanced computer simulation. Throughout the game, players play as Connor and get to see what role he plays in the most defining war of The United States, the Revolutionary War. Connor is probably the most interesting of the other games protagonists, which is attributed to the fact that players get to see him grow from child to adult and observe key points in his life. This makes it easier to sympathize and connect with him as he goes from an innocent Native American child to an ruthless adult set on peace and equality through vengeance.
The game’s setting is unique in that this is the first time an Assassin’s Creed game has taken place in a setting that includes wilderness and forests. To accommodate this, Ubisoft has created a brand new game engine, Anvil Next. The inclusion of a new graphics engine is essential in this game given the setting. Because the game is set during the American Revolution, there are naturally going to be plenty of battles to take part in. While players don’t get to experience every single one, they do get to take part in a few memorable moments in American history. Running across the battlefield during the Battle of Bunker Hill to assassinate a British general and Templar double-agent is one of the game’s most memorable moments. It also shows off the power of the game’s new engine by showcasing a ton of enemies on screen at once. Coupled with the beautiful wilderness and vast ocean to explore, this game is one of the best looking games on consoles.
The entire scope of the game is huge. There are multiple things to do in each town and a whole frontier to explore. Diversions in towns include collecting pieces of Benjamin Franklin’s Almanac, to liberating citizens from oppressive soldiers and thugs. When out in the frontier, players can hunt animals and skin them to sell their hides in towns. Given the size of the game, it’s sometimes a pain to travel from one point to another.
There is also a trading and crafting feature that players can use to make money by sending out caravans to sell their animal skins and crafted goods. The game does a poor job of explaining the feature though, and most players are likely to spend a good chunk of time trying to figure out the mechanics. Another new addition to gameplay is the naval combat. While skeptical at first, I soon found myself drawn in by the intensity of trading volleys of canon fire with another ship. It’s a refreshing diversion from the main game.
The game still centers on gathering information and going out to assassinate key members of the Templar order. The combat also remains relatively simple and easy to master. It also does a great job of making the player feel like a Gerard Butler in the movie 300. Connor is a master assassin and he definitely acts like it. He can perform deadly counters and each kill animation is a thousand times more brutal than what were in the previous games. Small details such as the addition of facial animations add to the brutality of the combat.
Another staple of the Assassin’s Creed series is free-running. Running across the tops of buildings and through trees is visually appealing and fun. It’s also very simple to do given the controls. While free-running is simple to do, it also has its mishaps. I repeatedly ran into problems where I would jump off a building by accident while trying to reach a specific viewpoint, or I would hit an invisible wall while trying to climb to a rooftop. Little things like this can be annoying, especially during chase sequences.
Overall the game is very solid and definitely lives up to the likes of its predecessors. While the ending isn’t anything spectacular, it does a good job of wrapping up Desmond’s story as well as leaving the series open for more games later on in the series.