Assassin's Creed 3 Review (PS3)
key review info
- Game: Assassin's Creed 3
- Platform: Playstation 3
- Reviewed on:
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The Assassin's Creed series has been with us for quite some time, with developer Ubisoft Montreal delivering, with the help of the French company's array of global studios, lots of impressive action experiences that portrayed the fictional war between the brotherhood of the Assassins and the Knights Templar.
With new mechanics, a bigger open world, and plenty of changes to the combat system in order to reflect the new weapons used during the 1700s, Assassin's Creed 3 might be the most important game ever in the series.
Does it manage to complete its mission or does it end up getting desynchronized? Let's find out.
StoryWithout a doubt one of the main features of the franchise, besides its impressive gameplay, is the story, in which players control Desmond, a current-day assassin who explores the memories of his ancestors using a device called the Animus.
He already went through many adventures alongside Altair in the first game and Ezio in the three games after that, and now Desmond is exploring the memories of his ancestors from around the time of the American Revolution, in order to find a special key and, hopefully, prevent the world from getting destroyed by a giant solar flare.
While you'll spend most of the game helping Connor (or Ratonhake:ton, as he's known among his native tribe), you actually start the game by controlling another character, in the form of Haytham Kenway, as he himself explores the British colonies in the New World.
Story-wise, Assassin's Creed 3 delivers one of the most sprawling plots in the history of the series, with one major twist early in the game that will surprise many fans. What's more, this is the first game that delivers a more realistic view of the war between the Assassins and the Templars, and how they strive, more or less, for the same goals, albeit through different methods.
Sadly, the end of the Desmond arc isn't that impressive, although it does bring some closure for fans, while at the same time opening up many new avenues that can be explored by future installments.
GameplayAssassin's Creed 3 represents a huge shift in terms of mechanics for the series, as the American Revolution is a brand new historical period that's quite different from the ones already explored by previous games. While some of these changes work, most of them only end up complicating the whole experience.
Nowhere is this more different than in combat, as swords may still be used, but enemies will also employ muskets with bayonets as well as pistols in combat. While the same basic mechanics are still present, as you once again need to wait for an enemy to attack before countering, the presence of fire arms results in a much more hectic experience.
Now, during any fight you engage in, you need to be on the lookout for enemies who are getting ready to fire upon you. If you see them, you can either attack or grab a nearby enemy to use as a human shield. While this may sound great, the actual human shield mechanic is quite dodgy and rarely works.
You can now more easily run into and out of combat but, seeing as how enemies are much more observant and more numerous throughout cities like Boston or New York, getting into fights is almost unavoidable and you can barely escape your pursuers.
Another annoying trend in most of the missions in Assassin's Creed 3 is forced stealth. While previous games recommended sneaking and generally being a shadow, they didn't enforce this all the time. In the new game, almost every mission has one segment where you can automatically fail if you're spotted by a guard. Considering most enemies are extremely vigilant and quite observant, you'll end up repeating many segments until you figure out the ideal way of completing your tasks.
Free-running has been streamlined, as you now use just one button to get into "parkour" mode, but it can still become annoying, especially when you're exploring the Frontier. Here, there are only a few settlements with man-made buildings, so you'll have to jog through the wilderness while climbing trees and cliff faces.
While exploring the wilderness is one of the major new features of Assassin's Creed 3, it ends up becoming quite annoying, especially when trying to go up trees that act as viewpoints, as you'll no doubt fall a lot while trying to make Connor go up a certain branch.
The new game also boasts some truly sprawling environments, ranging from cities like Boston or New York, to the Frontier or your Homestead, which acts as a base for your exploits. While all the levels are quite impressive, they also mean that you'll spend a lot of time running from place to place.
You do unlock some Fast Travel options, but these are limited, and you can use horses, but the riding mechanics are quite problematic, as the animals sometimes stop because of small rocks or can barely be used for going up hills. As such, it's still better to walk around on foot.
Red Dead Redemption players will feel right at home in the game's Frontier area, as you can hunt animals, much like in Rockstar's classic Western experience. Once you trap animals through snares, kill them with your arsenal of weapons or through quick time events, when you're dealing with wolves and dangerous beasts, you can skin them and sell these items to traders.
While it's very much an Assassin's Creed game, as you still employ your trademark skills to find out details about your targets, the game focuses a bit too much on highlighting iconic moments from the American Revolution, like Paul Revere's famous ride to warn that the British are coming, which don't really fit with previous experiences in the series.
Like previous games, you do end up micro-managing your homestead, but the whole activity is way more complicated than in previous games, where you simply employed artisans that made you an hourly profit. Now, you need to actually manage your workers, craft items from the resources they can scavenge around the Homestead, and then send them on convoys to stores in the city. The whole thing is quite convoluted and you're probably better ignoring it and just hunting down chests and looting corpses to get extra money.
Another major feature of Assassin's Creed 3 is the Naval Warfare mechanic, as Connor commands his own ship, the Aquila, which can be used on a variety of side missions and in several main quests. Besides steering the ship, you also command your guns and must carefully maneuver it in battle so that you gain the upper hand on your enemies. The whole experience is quite impressive and feels like a breath of fresh air from the assassination missions.
MultiplayerEver since Brotherhood, Assassin's Creed games have delivered some pretty great online experiences, as players take on the role of Templar agents who train by using the Animus in virtual battles.
The same basic concept is applied, you enter a simulated environment where you need to hunt down your target, while trying to remain as inconspicuous as possible in order to prevent your own foe from detecting you.
Classic modes return, like Deathmatch, while new ones are introduced, like the Wolfpack one, which sees a team of up to four assassins try to take down AI opponents that become more skilled over the course of 25 stages. This provides a pretty intense experience and requires a lot of teamwork in order to remain within the time limits for each stage.
Graphics and SoundAssassin's Creed 3 is a great-looking game, as the AnvilNext engine delivers some stunning vistas across different seasons, from the sun-drenched summer, to the fog and rain-infested autumn, to the snow-filled winter.
Sadly, at least on the PS3, there are areas where the visual quality drops, like in the detail of certain non-playable characters. What's more, the different trees and bushes found in the Frontier aren't that impressive and you'll find yourself climbing a lot of identical buildings or trees, especially the ones that act as viewpoints.
In terms of sound, the game is truly impressive, as the orchestral score transforms Connor's adventures into truly epic experiences, while the voice acting is top notch, as you encounter a variety of British accents, not to mention plenty of scenes where Connor and his fellow tribesmen and women talk in their native tongue.
- Huge environments
- Wealth of activities to engage in
- Connor's story is quite varied
- Impressive Naval Warfare sequences
- Complicated combat
- Too many forced stealth missions
- Desmond's story fails to deliver a decent conclusion
Assassin's Creed 3 is a truly massive game that will easily require over 20 hours of your time. Sadly, in that period, you're treated with a rather mixed experience, as the game's combat is hit and miss (literally), the environments are a bit too big for their own sake, and there are plenty of forced stealth sections. What's more, while Connor's story is quite a roller coaster of emotions, Desmond's plot line ends in a not-too-impressive manner.
Even so, the game ends up delivering a pretty good experience that aims at introducing new elements into the series. While it doesn't exactly succeed, it's still quite good and shouldn't be missed by fans of the series.