The Assassin’s Creed franchise is fantastic. I’ve been hooked on it since the first and completed each one. However I have felt that they are releasing them too often. I get the publisher, Ubisoft, is trying to cash in on the popularity of it, however it will succeed more with some breathing room and anticipation between releases. I didn’t play Brotherhood until about 6 months after its release, and the same with Revelations.
I was afraid of getting burned out on the series, and Revelations is easily the most forgettable of the series. Needless to say I was skeptical and excited with Assassin’s Creed III. A new protagonist set in the US during the American Revolution. Granted it had been in development since the release of Assassin’s Creed II, but it still felt like it was too soon after Revelations.
The new game introduced many new elements including; open wilderness frontier, full season cycles and weather, wild animal hunting, naval ship combat, and community building to name a few. Building on top of the established foundation the game is known from previous titles. The new elements helped make the game feel fresh and new. While it could have benefited from another 6 months of development and QA time, as there were some short comings and bugs, yet it was here and ready to be experienced.
Much of the gaming community was disappointed with the game for veering off too much from the formula of the past games and the lackluster ending. For me I didn’t focus on the bugs or missing elements, instead I embraced the all the new elements that made this Assassin’s Creed game a completely fresh gaming experience for me. I loved how the story built up and lead you into the story and characters, it had a natural cinema like experience that helped set the stage for the latter two-thirds of the game. Because of this approach you feel more engaged and connected with the characters.
Exploring and traversing frontier wilderness was easily one of my favorite parts of the game. The developers were heavily influenced by Red Dead Redemption‘s open wilderness, they took it and built upon it to create an immersive and very believable wilderness landscape. Being able to climb the cliffs and mountain sides, traverse the tree branches was exceptionally well done. Then adding full day and night cycles, weather ranging from sunny, to foggy, to light rain, to full down pour in thunder storms made it all the more engaging.
The living natural beauty in the frontier provided wonderful sense of immersion!
To top it off add in the seasons changing and you’ve got an entirely new experience in the winter with heavy layer of snow to trudge through and snow storms across the landscape. Even after clearing out the city areas I would go back and embrace wilderness experience. I spent most of my time playing and exploring the frontier and I still think about going back to collect all the feathers. For this portion of the game, I gotta hand it off to Ubisoft developers, they did an excellent job and I certainly hope they include this level of detail and immersion in the next release.
In past Assassin’s Creed games you made extra money by buying up shops and properties. Yet once you acquired them, that was it, there was no real connection to them. In Assassin’s Creed III, they changed that, by first helping someone, than learning that they are an entrepreneur looking to live the American dream. You offer them the opportunity to set up on land in your Homestead, and contribute to a growing community. They provide services like lumber mill, blacksmith, a doctor, a bar and lodging, etc. Once they settle in the Homestead, then you connect with them multiple times and through completing missions it levels up their abilities and contributions to the community.
Developing the Homestead established a strong flourishing community.
Through this process you begin to learn more about the characters and build a connection with them. This worked really well and felt like each person in the community had a strong purpose and connection with you and the greater goal of prospering and building the American dream. By the end you even help a couple get married and when the celebration comes together, you know each person and their story and background, giving it more meaning. This is another area that I gotta give kudos to the developers and hope that they expand upon this sense of purpose and community in future releases.
The third and completely new element in the game was the naval combat. This isn’t just a tacked on side quest, there are several naval combat missions to complete throughout the game. This caught me by surprise as I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the end result works incredibly well. The naval combat is so well done and provides complete immersion while introducing a fun new gameplay experience. Imagine being at the wheel of old colonial style ship (like the ships in Pirates of the Caribbean), you have the full view of the ship and your surroundings, you control the direction, the sails to increase or decrease your speed, and the cannons.
The naval combat created an exciting gameplay experience on the open seas.
You pilot your ship while commanding the crew to navigate the seas while trying to tactically take out fleets of pirate and colonial ships. Circling back and forth and around to be able to line up your cannons for a deadly hit on your opponents has never been so much fun. While there was a fair amount of naval missions, it left me wanting more. They could almost make a standalone game out of this and I certainly hope we see expanded versions of it in future releases.
There were some other new elements, but for the most part the rest of the core game was classic Assassin’s Creed gameplay of combat missions, big story driven assassinations, discovery and collecting. The scope and scale of this game is massive and even amid the bugs and issues gamers experienced, it still was exceptionally well done and made for some fantastic gaming. The combat and controls were tight and fun, providing lots of tactical options that kept things fresh and fun. The story is well thought out with strong character development that spans several decades of time.
In the end, I think Ubisoft bit off more than it could chew, all the new stuff shines here while the classic gameplay and latter half of the story falters a little more than it should. Still, I’m happy with the new direction and fully enjoyed everything the game had to offer. Let’s hope they don’t react too much to the negativity and strike a balance in the future releases.
Video: Assassin’s Creed III Launch Trailer
- Assassin’s Creed III on Amazon
- Official Assassin’s Creed III site
- IGN review (8.5)
- Game Trailers review (9.2)
- Game Informer review (9.5)
- My Top 10 Games of 2012
What did you think of Assassin’s Creed III? Were you one of the disappointed gamers or did you enjoy the game for what it had to offer? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.