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Stewart: Assassin's Creed 3 from the eyes of a newcomer

BY SAM STEWART | NOVEMBER 01, 2012 6:30 AM

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The American Revolution was a time of great importance for our country, resulting in some of our proudest moments. Washington crossing the Delaware, the Battle of Bunker Hill, the patriots teaming up with an Assassin to carry out the Boston Tea Party. Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed 3 continues the series’ tradition of recreating history from the perspective of an Assassin. While it may be the most ambitious and interesting entry in the series, the story falls short of the greatness I hoped it could achieve.

Desmond Miles uses a machine called the Animus to relive the memories of his Assassin ancestors, giving us two stories to follow at once. In the present, a solar flare is set to destroy the world, leading Desmond to jump into the mind of his ancestor to learn how he can stop it. That ancestor is Connor, a Native American forced into the Assassin order after its rivals, the Knights Templar, destroy his village. As a newcomer to the series, the overarching story pulled me in immediately. Seeing Assassins alongside America’s Founding Fathers is surreal and lot of fun. However, story is the main place the game falls short. The story attempts to cover the entire war, constantly jumping through time to showcase major historical events. This causes Connor’s story to feel rushed, which is a shame because he, along with his Assassin mentor Achilles, are the most interesting characters in the story, and I wanted to get to know them better.

The Assassination missions are the highlights, and your targets constantly force you to question if you actions are moral. Does one person have the right to decide who lives and dies; are you helping or making things worse? These questions got me thinking, but the rushed story stole some of their impact.

Game play is Assassin’s Creed 3’s shining achievement, especially the combat. Fighting is fast, fluid, and easy to learn. Pulling off a counter kill never ceases to be fun, and the cinematic kills are gory and satisfying. Numerous weapon options allow you to mix up combat, but my favorite was the series’ trademark hidden blades. Exploring is equally fun thanks to the free-running mechanic. Holding one button causes Connor to run, jump, and climb over any obstacle; however, Connor can get overzealous at times, often jumping on and climbing things you never intended. The bummer is that the game suffers from an overlong tutorial that covers Connor’s life, and it takes about five hours before you are a fully trained Assassin with free rein.

The main story sports a variety of missions, but combat-focused ones are always the best. I appreciate the diversity, but sometimes commanding an army is less fun than fighting the redcoats myself.

New naval missions that allow you to become the captain of a ship are a lot of fun and mostly optional. Occasionally, you will retake control of Desmond for some present-day missions. These quick and simple missions add to the narrative and remind us what is at stake in the real world. Optional objectives add challenge to the story missions for anyone who wants it, but they are not always well explained. This is a problem with the overall game as well, and at times it seems to assume prior Assassin’s Creed experience.

The main story lasts a satisfying 15 hours, but dedicated players will get more than their money’s worth out of the nearly endless side quests. You can upgrade and trade from your Homestead, recruit Assassins, or even just climb buildings to sightsee and fill out your map.

The game world is visually stunning, as are its inhabitants. Areas are huge and full of detail. I had doubts about running in the wilderness, but I soon learned that climbing trees and mountains is even more fun than sprinting through the city. Characters look great, especially their faces, which are nearly photo-realistic. Most of these characters are accompanied by great voice acting, with a few major exceptions. The game has an amazing soundtrack that perfectly highlights epic moments in the story.

I was sold on Assassin’s Creed 3 the moment I learned of the American Revolution setting, and while the unique story still hooked me, it didn’t amaze me in the ways I hoped it would. Regardless the combat and feeling of adventure had me enjoying most of my time with the game, and the plethora of side quests will have me enjoying it for many hours to come.


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