If there is one sentence that can sum up my disappointment of Assassin’s Creed 3, it’s that bigger does not always mean better. Ubisoft did everything they could to push their game into bold, new territory, that in the end, was just too much.
Players will likely spend the first ten hours of the game just trying to figure out what to do. The game is truly massive, of which I think takes away from what past Assassin’s Creed games were. Too much emphasis is placed on side quest content and exploration throughout the massive game world, that it derives from what I used to love about Assassin Creed games and its maturely themed, story-driven narratives.
The game feels more like Skyrim and less like Assassin’s Creed. The acting is bad, the controls feel out-of-place, and the story is by far, sub-par. The game has a staggering sense of scope on the world, but loses sight on why its series veteran players play Assassin’s Creed.
A muddle-headed plot
At first, I was excited for the more “modernistic,” American-centric plot as it explored the birth of my country and its fight for independence. The way Ubisoft twisted and tweaked past historical events with the Assassin games worked relatively well since the majority of us probably had little to no background knowledge of the area.
But with Assassin’s Creed 3, the repeated little twist on events grew kind of silly since I already knew what happened. From the silly ride with Paul Revere in where he shared his horse with Conner, to the many sporadic battles of the revolution in where the Patriots would entrust a random stranger to lead and command them to victory seemed a little obscene.
The British weren’t the ones who fired the shots heard around the world at the angry mob of protesters in Boston, it was merely a Templar hoping to spark a war. Nor did the colonials hold the north bridge at Concord, it was Conner who saved the day.
Many of the events just seem to fit in. Although witnessing the scope of the massive battles of the revolutionary war was awesome sight to behold, I felt out-of-place being there. Being an Assassin in the past games focused on avoiding conflict and taking care of your Templar enemies from the shadows. Directing soldiers into battle and confronting them head on with an army at your command didn’t really seem like the “normal” route to go.
Speaking of things that seemed out-of-place, regarding how Conner came to be an Assassin fell right into that category. Altair was born into the creed, Ezio carried on his father’s work to avenge his death, but Conner was told to become one through a supernatural vision, in where he proceeded to hunt down and successfully find one of the Assassins in the brotherhood (I don’t think it’s that easy!).
But Conner’s drive to wipe out the Templar order seemingly blurred the lines with Ezio’s. His mother was killed by the acts of a Templar, sound familiar? Well it should if you’ve played any of the games in the past, where Ezio’s father fell victim to a Templar act. I was hoping for something a little new with Assassin’s Creed 3 instead just another rehashed, overarching theme to the plot.
Fidgety controls dampen the experience
The controls in Assassin Creed games have always been aggravating in the past, in particular running, which often leads to charging unintentional up a wall or scrambling off in the wrong direction. Climbing is by far the one mechanic that Ubisoft could never get right either and that all too familiar trend continues in AC3.
The controls for climbing sound easy on paper when the controls are written down on paper, basically only using the analog stick the maneuver around, but when it gets down to the nitty-gritty of it, one has very little control, if at all when climbing around. More than not, I would end up leaping off in the opposite direction in which I wanted to go. Annoying at its best.
But the one thing you can always count on for Ubisoft to get right in an Assassin’s Creed game is the combat. Swordfighting feels like one kinetic dance from beginning to end as you exchange blows one by one with your opponent. Shooting a bow feels like the real deal as you individually draw each arrow and pull them back on the string to gather power on the shot.
But my personal favorite is the new rope dart attack. They’re a long-ranged weapon that can be thrown at enemies and once anchored into them, can be used to pull your target into the deadly blade of your hatchet, or if you are above them in something like a tree, you can hang the enemy.
Perhaps the biggest noticeable change I found however when I first jumped into the game was the interface overhaul. Everything still looks relatively the same on the outside, but navigating between weapons is a sluggish experience that draws you out of the game, literally.
If you want to switch to a weapon or skill not on your quick-select radial, the game will open up a separate menu that will pause the game and force you to sift through every little thing you have until you find the right one. I always found myself in need of the one thing that wasn’t already on my quick-select radial, which only houses four items/skills, and the need to take the time to pop into a menu and search for the correct tool in the heat of battle was a big mood-killer.
An exemplary multiplayer mode strikes home
Once you’re done with story, you owe it to yourself to jump into the multiplayer in Assassin’s Creed 3. Most of the modes of the previous games have returned, but they have all been refined and polished up to the point where they really couldn’t get any better.
My favorite new part of the multiplayer is the new Wolfpack mode, which sets you up with a team of four to run around the map taking out predetermined targets, with an emphasis placed on cooperative work with bigger point bonuses given out for coordinating your attacks with your teammates.
And it’s always a blast to play the contract-like mode in where you need to hunt down a specific player on the map, all the while being hunted yourself. Blending in with the environment around you and trying to pinpoint the right character out of the many lookalikes roaming about never seemed to get old.
The rest is self explanatory. In each mode, you’ll complete challenges, earn points for things like customization, and progress through an all-new multiplayer story.
Assassin’s Creed 3 peaks in areas I least expected, multiplayer, but hits new lows in the spots where it should have excelled, the story. All in all, AC3 is the weakest game in the series since the original game, deriving from what made the series so great with its rich, story-driven gameplay, in favor of exploration and side content that I had little to wish to take part in.
Replay Value: Moderate