Ubisoft has finally decided to continue the story of Desmond and his modern day assassins, after spending three games in the same setting. It certainly looks promising but can a new character breath some life into this now yearly franchise?
The story for Assassin’s Creed 3 feels very unique when compared to the previous Assassin’s Creed entries. There is the typical quest for revenge but it somehow still feels different. Altair and Ezio were both flawed in their own ways. Altair felt too arrogant at times and Ezio seemed far too preoccupied with the ladies throughout his story.
In contrast Ratonhnhaké:ton(Connor) is much more humble. He is also not given the usual super hero syndrome. His story has many ups and downs. Perhaps that is why it’s so easy to relate to him, since real life isn’t always fair. Ensuring that Connor is a likeable character does make it far more interesting to play through the story. Specially considering how little the main story arch was moved forward when taking the two previous Ezio focused games into consideration.
There’s even a few story twists that show the writers really went all out with this new chapter in the life of Desmond. Sadly Desmond feels underused throughout the brief appearances that he makes. It really feels like this is more of Connor’s show and Desmond is just there for the ride. Not that it’s bad since Connor’s native roots turn him into a character that players will want to get to know.
Combat has been simplified so that it is now far easier to get the hang of it. In theory this should make it less satisfying. However, it’s the best fighting system used so far, in an Assassin’s Creed title. The ease of the combat systems makes it intuitive. A few presses of buttons will result in Connor attacking and countering enemies with grace.
The proper introduction of guns, since it makes it relevant to the era that the game is set in, works out rather well. Gun shots, as expected, are deadly but it’s possible to dodge them or use a nearby enemy to act as a bullet sponge. It’s certainly a handy weapon for Connor though since it can one hit kill enemies most of the time. The slow reloading speed means that it’s not possible to abuse the gun’s power either.
Connor makes use of talents and gadgets seen in the previous video-games, such as eagle vision. What is great though is that new gadgets aren’t used as a way to slowdown progression. Gadgets like the rope dart are there to make for more efficient ways of killing enemies.
Since Conner is a native, it is also possible to go hunting animals in the wild. It’s quite enjoyable but fortunately it’s not necessary to hunt throughout the story. Specially since one of the main story chapters involves having to go hunting with Connor. It’s an ability that will not appeal to everyone. This is because hunting some animals takes time and not everyone will have to patience to do it.
Those who played the brief but painful tower defence style section in Revelations, will probably worry about the new warship sections. Fortunately it’s safe to say that these are actually quite enjoyable. It’s easy to get the hang of the controls and the tasks given are simple enough to achieve without any trouble. It ends up being an entertaining break from all the on foot combat and exploration sections.
The missions in previous Assassin’s Creed titles are enjoyable but fairly repetitive. The same does not apply to the ones found in Assassin’s Creed 3. They are varied and each of them feels unique to a certain extent. Perhaps it’s the fact that it feels like the player has more freedom to go about completing each of them. Unfortunately some of them are frustrating. This is the case with missions that result in an instant game over, if Connor is discovered. Obviously these missions emphasise the stealth aspect of Assassin’s Creed, but it’s frustrating to have to start a whole mission from the beginning.
It’s understandable that it’s not always easy to navigate the large areas that the player can explore. Sadly though, the way points that are set for objectives don’t make it an easy task either. They are often not clearly marked and it makes it tougher to get to the objective area. However, the system redeems itself by offering the ability to jump between locations with the help of map fast travel locations.
Visually it’s not as impressive as when playing Assassin’s Creed 1 and 2 came out. It’s clear that the team is pushing the current hardware to its limits. The new scenery does make for some fantastic opportunities to go around and explore everything that the vast Frontier has to offer. It’s certainly a nice change of scenery after being stuck in the Italian Renaissance era for three games.
The cast of characters that Connor meets along the way is an efficient use of the setting. Some of them are even key historical figures, such as George Washington. Historical key moments from this period of time are cleverly used to move the story forward.
People are not the only characters that Connor will encounter. As already mentioned, there are animals that he can hunt, such as bears. Less aggressive animals like sheep are also found in towns, and Connor can even pet them. It’s strange how such minor details make for a more enjoyable experience.
It’s impossible to not mention the subtle soundtrack that plays throughout Connor’s journey. It certainly fits in with the theme of liberation. It’s difficult to not just sit back and listen to the uplifting music that plays in the main menu. The music is superb and is fitting for the conclusion of a video-game that has inspired many all over the world.
There is quite a lot to get through the main story, but the journey is not over after it’s completed. As usual, Ubisoft packed Assassin’s Creed 3 with plenty of content to keep players busy long after the story is over. There’s something for everyone with different kinds of missions and the usual collectibles.
Ubisoft continues to invest in the multi-player aspect of Assassin’s Creed. It’s feasible to think of the multi-player portion of Assassin’s Creed 3, as a video-games within another video-game. On a basic level, it seems like a deadly game of cat and mouse. Players must hunt other players and assassinate them. What makes this unique is the fact that they must only go after the current target. To do so, each player must make use of the basic assassin skills, such as blending in. It’s not exactly easy to get into but it’s worth putting in the time to understand. There are also new modes, so that veterans can still enjoy this new version of the multi-player section. Server challenges ensures that there is always something new to do.
Ubisoft has managed to breath life into the story of Desmond with Assassin’s Creed 3. It’s clear the development team had to make some sacrifices in order to get it ready in time. However, such minor defects don’t ruin the experience. Connor’s story is captivating and he is a character that players will find themselves caring about.
Assassin’s Creed 3 is definitely a step in the right direction for Ubisoft and a sign that the assassins are here to stay.