Running through the city centre, vaulting over obstacles and skipping from rooftop-to-rooftop, as you try to escape the onslaught of enemies; this is either your typical Saturday in Birmingham or, more likely, the return of Assassin’s Creed. Having exhausted Ezio Auditore da Firenze in Assassin’s Creed II, Brotherhood and Revelations, Ubisoft has introduced a new hero for Assassin’s Creed III.
Despite its name, Assassin’s Creed III is the fifth instalment in the series and is a direct sequel to Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. Desmond is back in the Animus, as the plot centres on Native American assassin, Connor. Gamers play out his life, starting as a small child and growing up to become an adult out for revenge.
Along the way, he finds himself at a number of key moments during the American Revolution. Without giving too much of the storyline away, Connor isn’t the only character that players will control, providing a welcome change of pace and variety to the game.
Whereas we fell in love with Ezio, Connor doesn’t have the same charm and likability of the previous assassin. Needless to say, this isn’t down to the script-writing, which is to the same high standard as the rest of the series. Despite getting off to a slow start, the game’s missions and assassinations are as exhilarating and enjoyable as ever before.
As well as the main objectives, each mission also contains optional objectives. On completion, players are rewarded with extra synchronisation – the Animus’s visual representation and measurement of its user’s memory. While the only real achievement from completing the optional objectives is to 100% the game, there’s certainly a feeling of satisfaction that comes with it.
From a development perspective, Ubisoft has ensured that the game is flawless. Free-running is as smooth as ever, having been modified to allow for more fluid moment over obstacles. Combat has also been improved, most noticeably, the addition of muskets and rifles, each of which has a considerable reload time and the inclusion of disguises, so that assassins can fool troops.
Previous Assassin’s Creed titles only allowed players to reveal more of the map area by synchronizing a viewpoint. This has been modified in the latest instalment, allowing for the map to be revealed as players explore the area. Other alterations include the weather conditions affecting how fast the protagonist runs and hiding places, such as haystacks in wagons, can now be moved in order to sneak up closer to targets.
Connor is now able to hunt animals, including rabbits and deer, by planting traps and through surprise attacks. The rewards for successful hunts are skins and body parts, which can be sold for gold. However, animals, such as bears and wolves, can fight back. The incorporation of animals into the game adds a whole new dimension and provides a welcome change to the game’s pace.
If that wasn’t enough, arguably the biggest change to the series is the Homestead, which has players building a community. Players start off with a single house and a few outbuildings and, by performing missions for people, they convince others to settle near the Homestead. Doing so provides raw materials, craftsmen and more for the players, a beneficial factor in the title.
One of the major problems with modern videogames is the length of the single player campaign, something that certainly isn’t applicable here. To fully 100% the game and all its achievements will take a considerable amount of time (approximately sixty hours), and the multiplayer ensures there is plenty of replayability on offer.
In some titles, multiplayer game modes often feel tacked on and it’s clear that very little time and thought has gone into creating it. However, the same doesn’t apply with Assassin’s Creed III. Similarly to previous games in the series, there’s a range of multiplayer options. “Deathmatch” has players assassinating a specific player target, while also trying to avoid being killed by other opponents. While the game mode is fairly slow-paced, there’s a great amount of skill involved, which comes with experience.
Meanwhile, the remaining game modes are more intense. Assassin Creed III’s equivalent of capture the flag, “Artefact Assault,” has players stealing and escaping with the enemy’s artefacts, whereas “Domination” sees players infiltrating and capturing enemy territories. Each of the game modes is excellently explained in the game’s tutorial and there are plenty of customisable options to keep it fresh.
Graphically, Assassin’s Creed III looks brilliant. The sheer size and beauty can only truly be appreciated when players stand on the top of synchronization points and the menu design fits in nicely with the Animus theme. As for the game’s audio, the voice acting is to a very good standard and the musical score makes for pleasant listening.
Unfortunately, while the overall package is outstanding, there are a few minor bugs within the game. Whereas the bugs don’t make the game unplayable, a version of the title with all the bugs ironed out wouldn’t have gone amiss.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed III is an excellent addition to the series. While there a number of bugs and the protagonist isn’t someone players will feel particularly attached to, the lengthy campaign, the range of objectives and the well thought out multiplayer ensure there is plenty of replayability to keep gamers occupied. This is a title that should be on every Christmas list.