Video Game Review: Assassin’s Creed III (2012)
Killing time, 3.5 stars
Nevin P. Jones | Collegio Writer
As I popped in the disc for “Assassin’s Creed 3” and began my customary install process, I was rife with anticipation. I was about to embark on a journey through the American Revolution, reliving key moments of America’s independence through the memories of a deadly assassin. I had a hard time picturing a game concept that could be more enticing. However, when I had finished my 20-plus hour playthrough of the single-player campaign, all I felt was confusion about what I had just experienced. It was bold and sometimes glorious, but more often it was frustrating and boring.
The story opens with Desmond Miles and his band of misfit assassins finding their way into a first-civilization temple hidden in America. The tools needed to save humanity from impending doom are located within this temple, but to unlock the secrets a key must first be found to give them access. The search for this key prompts Desmond to enter the Animus so he may find the key to humanity’s survival among the memories of his ancestors. Enter the young, half-English, half-Mohawk boy Ratonhnhakéton, also known as Connor.
Ubisoft did a wonderful thing when it decided to tell the story of the American Revolution through the eyes of a half-Mohawk. By doing so, it stays clear of painting the revolution in a pro-American or pro-British light. Instead, the story shows an ambivalent view of the founding of America. Often times the founding fathers are shown to be foolish, hypocritical and just as untrustworthy as their British counterparts. Both sides were destructive forces to the land that Connor and his people live on. He only wants to do what is best for them. It is here that “Assassin’s Creed” finds a heart that it has missed from its other titles. Connor is a protagonist I could sympathize with. In doing so, it made the countless killings more meaningful. Sure the game devolves into a revenge quest like every other “Assassin’s Creed,” but the game features far more than the main storyline.
All of my favorite parts of the franchise have returned, in addition to solid upgrades where needed. The button layout for combat and free running has been streamlined, adding a degree of ease to both. The game engine has received a substantial upgrade featuring weather effects and includes fluid interaction with large crowds of NPC’s. The wonderfully original multiplayer mode has returned with more modes and options than before. One of the best features of the game is the newest: naval battles. Ubisoft has crafted such an outstanding naval battle system that the thought of it becoming its own game is not unbelievable. Sadly, this game is not without flaws.
The main missions often succeed with satisfying story moments and dazzling set pieces, but the same cannot be said for the side missions. The new homestead missions are often boring bloated quests that feature no excitement. What makes them more aggravating is that completing them is necessary if you want to have any kind of economic success with the menu-ridden system of crafting and selling items. The side missions actually come second in annoyance to the glitches present in the title. Around every corner is an irritating glitch, some trivial and some frustratingly large. Texture pop in, disappearing objects, such as weapons, characters and navigation markers, and game freezing bugs all occur with the former being more frequent. None of these are game-breaking bugs, but they mar an otherwise splendid game.
“Assassin’s Creed 3” is not a bad game. The story is satisfying and the staples of the franchise are back and improved. What is present here can be an amazing game when not hidden by a number of irritating flaws. With more polish, the game could have been astounding. For now, I am left only wondering what the game could have been.