Half-Ass Gaming Reviews: Assassin’s Creed 3 Single-Player
The Assassins and Templars have been at each other’s throats for decades. Desmond Miles is in the middle of the war, he was pulled into a Matrix like world to learn how to fight and about where his ancestors held secret artifacts His final discovery is something that neither the Templars nor Assassins expected, a date shrouded in mystery that could destroy the world or rebuild it. Desmond follows the advice of a ghostly figure named Juno, and heads to a secret location that could provide him with the answers the world seeks.
Assassin’s Creed’s story line utilizes key historical events from the shaping of The United States. Players will don the robes as, Connor, a native-american half-breed with ideals unfit for the world he lives in. The twists and turns of the narrative don’t provide much of a cohesive mark. Connor constantly disobeys the laws of being an Assassin, oddly shirking his chance to kill a target because he was told to by non-assassins. His childish behavior is an unwelcome annoyance, and his decisions will often cause players to cringe.
The wider scope of the story shows that all the other characters have their heads on their shoulders. The Templars and the Patriots are clearly thinking in terms of reality, but Connor is a boy with dreams of a free world for all. I know this is the point of the tale, but as it gains headway you’ll start to wonder if Connor was ever a character that was worth playing as. He feels as if he’s a middle man so that you can find out where this story leads. It makes me wish they’d have just finished the story with a more familiar character like Ezio or allow you to play as Desmond for the entire game.
It’s a new era and it’s obvious that a lot of detail was placed in getting everything just right. The cities are possibly more alive than they have ever been in any of the previous titles. Civilians are incredibly active with their everyday lives, and the architecture of Boston and New York is well worth the price of admission alone. The Frontier is the area where the most change has come to the franchise. The ability to use trees to move across the terrain is a wondrous addition.
The weather shifts dynamically from rain, fog, and snow. It can affect visibility and even Connor’s movement speed. It’s stunningly beautiful when out to sea, the wind will cause the sails to ripple or the horizon will showcase an elegant sunrise. The focus was without a doubt placed on the technical aspects of the graphics. The entire movement animations have been fine tuned to give all NPC’s a sense of weight and balance. Connor’s fluid fighting transitions are expertly conveyed, and his effortless parkour jumps are a sight to behold.
The high octane melee system is still in place, and each attack performed by our assassin is more brutal than the next. Little has changed in the way that battle is carried out, and the multi-faceted combat system is still in play. It’s not a smoother experience than previous games, but it all comes together with a much better animation package. Health and Armor have disappeared, and our hero is given a healing factor to take its place. This slightly shifts the difficulty upwards, as players can no longer bail themselves out with a plentiful count of healing medicine.
The new aspect of gameplay comes in the form of the boating missions. Connor can take to the sea and rescue boats, or outright destroy pirates with their cannons. The wind dynamically shifts and players will have to adjust the sails in response. Combat on the ocean is fast-paced, fun, and good for a change of pace from the on foot antics. There are also mini-games littered about in various Inn’s and Bar’s to partake in.
If that’s not enough the onslaught of side-missions will keep you busy for days. Go for a hunt in the wild, help many people around Boston and New York, build your homestead up for crafting resources, or send your assassins out to oppose the Templars. The world is your oyster and there is plenty to keep you from gaining the demon called “boredom”. Assassin’s Creed 3 effectively poaches the gameplay mechanics of Red Dead Redemption and Batman: Arkham City.
The Frontier is almost pound for pound the same experience gained from RDR. The only difference is that players will find themselves performing quicktime events to take out attacking animals. The investigation elements are pulled from the world of Batman, the game even uses the same icons for clues. Eagle vision is now Detective mode, and pinpoints stealth locations that Connor can use to hide. Hey! They say that copying is the sincerest form of flattery, and AC 3 has cloning down to a T.
AC 3 is pure fun right out of the box, and visually it improves over the games that came before it. Nonetheless, there is a great many things that it blunders on the road to beauty. The new camera system is by no means perfect, and finds a way to keep enemies outside of Connor’s field of vision. It also has a tendency to lose functionality and stay locked behind the controlled character.
The User Interface is absolutely unwieldy; I played the game for over 20+ hours and still managed to fumble with changing weapons. Holding the top button down on the controller and scrolling through the menus with the left and right analog stick is exasperating. It’s especially tiresome when introduced to the assassin wheel, which utilizes the other top button on your respective controller to cycle through assassination skills and bring up the guild menu. The crafting system is useful for upgrades and ammo, but crafting weapons is restricted to late game alliances.
Unless these weapons are dishing out the power of Thor’s hammer, I don’t see a reason to even waste your time trying. Finally, we come to the convoy system which replaces the random generation of money from previous titles. Players will send a convoy out with a bit of risk and possible taxes to make some extra cash. At first you only get one convoy with 3 slots, but later you can send out 3 with 6+ slots. The thought of being a resource trader was an amazing one, but when I realized that I had to individually select each item from an out dated interface every single time… I knew that I’d just rather do missions to get money. You can’t even send a convoy out before going to bed, because it will still be at the same time when you get back. Oh, and they can also be attacked but sometimes you aren’t warned and you lose your convoy and inventory, Bogus!
The big issues start to form in the way the game performs technically. The world is tightly knit together by a slew of code, but that code tends to unravel every 20 or so minutes. AC 3 tends to fail at keeping its realm from looking outright ridiculous. It’s literally impossible to not run into an unsightly bug that ruins the feel of the universe. Some missions are even victims of buggy code, and will cause the player to restart because of something they have no control over.
As good as the title looks there is occasional pop-in characters, people walking through the air or sunk into the floor. Random NPC’s will just outright disappear from view, or blink into view if you turn too fast. People will do ridiculous things like walk in place, or run around in circles. You can even fall through the world only to die and appear somewhere you’ve never been before. It’s safe to say that you’re beta testing a game for $60. I know people are going to bring up Skyrim and RDR, but I swear I didn’t have this many visible issues in those games. HONEST!
The animations have been fine-tuned and all of the extra button pushing has been removed. Yet, the series problems of keeping your Assassin from jumping where they damn well please remains. I still don’t see why they have optional missions like “Don’t touch the water”. If I’m just holding the free-run button and pushing the analog-stick forward without much control of my direction, why should I be penalized for something I can’t really control? Restarting missions because my character decided to bounce off a building is completely unreasonable.
I’ve stated a lot about Assassin’s Creed 3′s problems, but even with all of the issues… it is still a fun game. How much fun you have depends on the randomness of the bugs, or how much you wish to see the ending of Desmond’s story. I for one can say I wasn’t impressed completely with the title, but I didn’t find it a complete slog-fest either. Half-Ass Gaming gives Assassin’s Creed 3 a C+, the end of the series may boast some impressive visuals… but it is by far the messiest of the bunch.