Let’s discuss what I called my early pick for the Game of the Year 2012 (which you’ll find out very soon which game got my nod), Assassin’s Creed III.
Not long ago, in the land of 2007, a game came out that got a 50/50 reaction from every reviewer online. That game, being the new IP from Ubisoft that dared to be different and new, that dared to take on the likes of Call of Duty 4 and Halo 3, Assassin’s Creed. Taking the role of Altair ibn-La’Ahad, we got an almost Hitman-type game, however it was set primarily in the year 1191. Critics hailed it for being different and its free-flow free running, but bashed it for its repetitive missions, and even though they loved the free running, it had its issues. Well, it was only 2 years later in the real world, however we shifted about 300 years in the game when Ubisoft brought us Assassin’s Creed II, the official sequel, starring Ezio Auditore Da Firenze. Everyone loved the game because Ubisoft improved and fixed nearly every issue from the first game and managed to tell a very gripping story. So even with a cliffhanger ending, we all assumed that Assassin’s Creed III was in our near future.
However, the next year at E3 2010, Ubisoft showed off Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood,which was a full sequel retail title that continued Ezio’s story. However this time, a new feature was coming to the franchise, a feature I’m not sure was needed, or wanted, multi-player. It was fun for the most part, but slammed for being pretty buggy. Once fans reached the ending of the game, most of us knew that we weren’t done with Ezio after another cliffhanger ending. And it was confirmed to us when Ubisoft once again used E3 2011 to show off Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. This time, they would be bringing back Ezio once again for his third title, but also would be bringing back fan favorite Altaïr. Ubisoft promised us that this would be the end of the Altaïr and Ezio story’s in the franchise. Multi-player once again returned, but this time was quite a bit better with more fleshed out modes. Still kind of buggy, but fun. So with both assassins in the history
of the franchise done, where would Ubisoft take us in 2012? We soon got our answer…
Ubisoft came into E3 2012 with guns blazing and hidden blades, uh, blading? Yeah that works. We were finally getting a numbered sequel in the series, 3 years after our last numbered title. Assassin’s Creed 3 was the front-runner in almost every gaming outlets Game Of The Year category by the time E3 finished. We were not only getting a new assassin in the form of Ratonhnhaké:ton aka Connor Kenway, the Half-British, Half-Mohawk, all bad ass from every video, picture anything we saw of him, but we were getting a new setting. Taking place during the American Revolutionary War, Assassin’s Creed 3 as coming at the end of October and it was pretty much marked on every calendar of every gamer. This game was set to be HUGE! It was announced as being the highest pre-ordered game in the history of Ubisoft. It was set to be the biggest, most bad ass game to come out this whole year. It surely wasn’t going to outsell Black Ops 2, but what game would? But it was going to definitely be the best story based game all year…so what the hell happened?
Let me make that last statement more clear. I love Assassin’s Creed III. I love the Assassin’s Creed franchise. It’s definitely my favorite franchise in this current gen console life. But as we all know, nothing will ever live up to its own hype. Which is why I tend to under-hype my games so I’m rarely let down, but more times than not, I’m blown away. And Assassin’s Creed III blew my pants off when I played it. But about half way through it, something had changed…drastically. I still don’t know what it was. Was there a change in writer half way through production? Did someone of importance to the game leave the company when they were only half way done with it? I have no idea. But the first half of the game feels like it should, a bad ass new game in a bad ass franchise with bad ass new features. It’s a bad ass game. But then around Sequence 6 or 7, (there are 12 by the way), the game just takes a nose dive into the ground and never pulls up from it.
When you start off, you will not reach the point where you play as Connor for a number of hours. You start off playing as his father, Haytham Kenway. Once the story with Haytham is done, you get a pretty big shocker that fans of the series will be kind of shocked by. Once you take over as Connor, it’s not long before you set out from your village which was attacked and your mother was murdered in, to find your destiny as an assassin. You wind up meeting a former assassin in the form of Achilles Davenport who after some persuasion, becomes your mentor. With him comes your own hometown which is called the Davenport Homestead. It’s up to you to travel around the different areas and recruit people to come live in the Homestead. You end up doing missions for these people, very small missions, that will then upgrade what they can craft for you. You can craft and sell items in the game for some easy money. Another new, quite welcome feature to the franchise, is Naval missions where you actually captain a ship and have full control over it.
These are quite fun at first, but later on become kind of boring, but never become a nuisance. Along your way to beating the game, you will come across all kinds of actual characters from history such as George Washington, Edward Braddock, Samuel Adams, Charles Lee, Israel Putnam, Thomas Hickey, John Pitcairn, Thomas Jefferson, Mason Weems & Paul Revere as well as others. You will also relive actual events such as the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre, which actually gets blamed on you. It does a good job of reliving history while changing it just enough to make it fit in the game with the characters who aren’t actual people. Also, one of my favorite new features in this game has got to be the new weather system. From pouring down rain to snowing to rogue winds when sailing in your ship, the weather in the game is amazing. When it’s snowing and you have to pass through one of the many forested areas of the game, you would be very wise to travel via trees rather than on the ground. Trees pretty much replace the buildings from the older games. There are still buildings, but outside of towns in the game, are few and far between. However, trees are everywhere and are actually pretty fun to travel long distances through to avoid all contact with your enemies.
Ubisoft was sure to bring back the multi-player aspect of the game, and honestly, it’s the best of the series thus far. The weather system from the game even shows up in the multi-player. You pick a character and then get a contract on another character. However, every pedestrian in the mode, is dressed exactly like the actual players. You have to have a keen eye and sense of patience to locate your contract as well as to stealth kill them without giving yourself away. Because while you’re looking for someone, there’s another player whose contract is you. The best players online have mastered the art of walking and acting just like the NPCs while the newer users tend to run and climb which is a dead give away. So my tip to you new players, DO NOT RUN unless you are trying to get away from someone. Back to the single player portion, Ubisoft did one thing amazingly. They took some of the best combat from past games and made it even more free-flowing. This is some of the best combat I’ve personally ever seen in a game. Just the ability to stealthily move through a group of guards and kill 10 of them without any of them noticing because you do it so quickly. Also stuff like picking up a rifle on the run and jump assassinating someone with the blade on the end. It really is a great welcome upgrade to an already good system.
So what could be the thing to bring down all these awesome things? Well the sharp left turn the story takes into a tree shortly after half way doesn’t help. Some to most will disagree with me, I’m sure. And if you do, I respect your opinion but understand that this is MY review, therefore it’s based on my opinion from my time spent with the game. Another thing that really brings it down is how glitch filled this game was at launch. There has since been a huge patch right before Thanksgiving which was right before I beat the game. And I recently read the contents of their second big patch due out right before Christmas, but having already beaten the game, that patch will no factor into my review. The game when I played it was full of glitches, most of which are inexcusable and should have been caught during testing before the game went gold.
The ones I’m referring to aren’t the minor ones like when an enemy falls through the map after you kill him. I’m talking about the game-breaking bugs like the one where if you do the Liberation missions before getting the contract, the game will glitch and you will not be able to recruit that Assassin. It doesn’t break the game per say, but it does hinder me from getting 100%, which shouldn’t have happened. Ubisoft easily could have told you with an in-game prompt to visit the Contract before doing the missions. Also, without spoiling anything of the ending, I will say that after seeing it, I have no idea where they will or can take the story from here.
I don’t know if the next game in the series will have Connor or not like Brotherhood and Revelations continued Ezio’s story. Nothing at this point is clear if we will get another title in 2013, even though the entire game is about the end of the world in 2012. So who knows where they will take the franchise from here. Whether we will even get a title in 2013 or not. If not, it will be the first year since 2008 without a console release of an Assassin’s Creed title. But maybe with a 2 year development on the next game, they can work out the kinks better. Even though they say this game was in development since Assassin’s Creed II in 2009. All in all, Assassin’s Creed III succeeds more than it fails. I just wish the failures were a lot smaller and harder to notice. For what it tried to do, it succeeded well. It told a mostly enjoyable story, evolved the games features, multi-player continues to grow and grow, and with the upcoming DLCs, I’m sure the game will continue to spin in the disk trays of fans of the franchise.
Assassins’s Creed III – 8.25/10