I wish I could say good things about Assassin’s Creed 3, but unfortunately it was one of the most disappointing sequels I have played this year. I can’t recommend this game to anyone other than fans of the series.
Assassin’s Creed 3 suffers from poor writing, awkward “improved” controls and missions that fail to deliver. Despite this, the game isn’t awful. It’s possible to scrape a lot of fun out of the mess of gameplay. Certain features and gameplay are excellent and the game delivers the classic assassin experience that the series is known for. The issue is that for every hour of great gameplay, you must slog through two to three hours of below-average gameplay.
My largest gripe with Assassin’s Creed 3 was the writing. The main character is weak, the missions are illogical and the decisions made for the player during cut scenes betray themes of the series.
The main character, Connor, is best described as stubborn, naïve and ungrateful. He doesn’t fit the image of an assassin as defined in the previous games. Unfortunately, Connor isn’t the only element of the game that doesn’t follow the assassin’s code. The development of the plot through the missions and cut scenes is riddled with plot-holes and poor logic.
One mission has you run through the crossfire of a civil war battle on foot with no armor. In another mission you’re forced to kill one of your friends to silence them, even though earlier in the mission your objective was to subdue a squad of trained warriors using non-lethal tactics.
The worst thing about the game is the ending. The ending poses a binary decision of touching a magical orb or not touching a magical orb. This very easily could have been a choice left to the player. Sadly you can only watch as our hero decides for you. If you don’t agree with the ending, like me, then you’re left with a bad taste in your mouth. The writing does a great job at ruining immersion and is an ugly mark on the series.
The controls in Assassin’s Creed 3 were promised to be improved from the previous, but in my experience they were more clunking, less reactive and very unpredictable. The simplified combat system was a huge disappointment for me.
Previous titles had great combat which, in my opinion, rivaled the Batman series. The new combat does not seem as lethal and is unpredictable because the enemies seem to have a chance of blocking any combo you throw at them. It almost seems like a randomized system, which is widely regarded as poor game design.
I don’t know what’s behind the combat system, but after 40+ hours of using it I can say that it sure appears to be random. Enemies even block aerial attacks 50 per cent of the time. The movement is also just as buggy as previous titles. The forest environments double this, as the trees act like lampposts, which assassin’s love to stop and climb. To top it all off, when you climb an eagle lookout, your character floats in the air nine times out of ten.
Assassin’s Creed 3’s missions have huge potential. Sea battles, civil war battles, and riots in New York are all great scenarios to build fun missions around. Unfortunately, only the naval war battles take advantage of this potential. The civil war battles are dirt simple RTS scenes where you ride back and forth amongst ranks of soldiers mashing the A button.
The riots are simply a small combat sequence with a bunch of animated NPCs watching from the sidelines. The naval warfare does lower the damage though, as it’s exciting, visually stunning and sounds amazingly true to life.
Along with the naval warfare, trading, hunting, recruiting followers and building the homestead are all great features. The trading and hunting resemble the currency collection in previous games and can consume hours. The user interfaces aren’t as nice as previous games, but they function with minimal bugs.
Recruiting followers requires the player to play some of the best missions in the game. They are short, sweet and fun. The homestead is where you build a community of trained individuals and do fun missions in order to upgrade their abilities. This allows you to craft better items. I spent the majority of my time doing homestead missions as they’re well written, involve great characters and have awesome gameplay. It’s very easy to get attached to the characters that inhabit your homestead.
If you’ve never played the Assassin’s Creed series before, then I recommend Assassin’s Creed 2 over this game, but if you’re a fan of the series, then this game is worth a play if you can get it cheap. I would say that it’s a good buy in the $20 to $30 price range.
For more discussion of Assassin’s Creed 3 you can check out my YouTube channel at youtube.com/Vok250.