As with any Assassin’s Creed title the creators of the newest incarnation have strove to create a living and breathing version of our past, a working world where we will kill people to complete the story. With some other games there’s the ability to play the pacifist and avoid taking a life but with Assassin’s Creed It’s all there in the name, it’s time to get murdering because for the last few centuries that’s what been deciding the fate of humanity. The war between the Assassins and Templars has raged across the ages and the bodies they’ve each left behind are a who’s who of world leaders and the political elite.
Now this war will spill out upon the towns and battlefields of the Eastern Seaboard of North America.
Assassin’s Creed III shoots us forward to period of the American Revolution where we meet up with the next in the line of Desmond Miles’ ancestors. Almost the entirety of the story takes place over North American soil, or water depending on which missions you’re playing. You will take on the part of Ratohnhaké:ton (Connor Kenway) the progeny of a Mohawk mother and a mysterious English gentleman named Haytham Kenway. If who you are is a key point of the Assassin’s Creed story than this, the 5th in the series, does more to blur the line between good and evil for the player. You will traipse along the rooftops of bustling New England townships, hunt small game in the wilderness with a bow, and most importantly target the Templar’s in power among the English loyalists for execution.
This time as Connor you will fight against the Templars who are working to discover a hidden temple somewhere on protected Native American land. In the game of Assassins and Templars whomever finds the key to the temple and activates its power first will decide the fate of humanity. The purpose of the temple once activated is mysterious but the general idea is that it holds within it a massive power that can reshape our world. The Assassins would hold the temple and prevent the misuse of it's technology, while the Templars would activate it believing it to be the final step in our salvation. Salvation or Protection, both could be the inevitable answer but it will be up to Connor to decide what to do next in the quest to decrypt the mysteries of the Animus. Since it is up to Connor it is invariably up to you.
Gameplay in Assassin's Creed has remained much the same. As Connor you will be required to sneak around, listen in on conversations, track people, steal items, kill people and solve some minor puzzles in order to unlock the secrets of the Animus. You wont be able to avoid killing a few bad apples though as the Templars will be doing their darndest to get in your way and and get to the Animus first, besides they were almost all bad.
By moving around in the towns and even the woods of New England Connor will take to the trees and the rooftops to gain a bird's eye view of his surroundings. Much like his ancestors he will have access to all of the Assassin's skills & weapons including but not limited to the Eagle Eye view, quick assassination wrist blade, and horse skills bordering on exceptional. Connor brings some new tolls to the trade such as an axe in the shape of the order's logo, a bow and his ability to live off the land. While that last one might sound stereotypical for a born and raised Native American, it does give Connor an edge as he hunts and stalks his prey (animal or human) in the wilderness.
Some of the gameplay elements seem a bit buggy. While hiding in a haystack I would pop out and grab targets who met the minimum distance requirements but sometimes this would lead to targets leaping into my arms to complete the "kill" animations. For the most part battle is smooth and even with the addition of new weapons (mainly guns) you can link together combos and kill large groups of enemies with ease.
When you make some of your more poignant kills you will be utterly surprised at how vicious Connor can be with nothing more than a sword, axe or his concealed blade. It is very satisfying to one moment be engaged in a prolonged battle with someone who can keep you at arms length with a musket and to quickly end another conflict with a single stroke of close-quarters combat.
Music/SoundThe music and composition of ACIII puts it head and shoulders above its predecessors in the series. New attention to detail has been paid to make regional and temporal choices for instruments and stylistic choices in the songs. There are key moments in the first 15 minutes of the game that create an epic atmosphere where the music plays an integral part in emotions the viewer will feel. Since the story takes place on the Eastern Seaboard you will find yourself on boats, docks and walking amongst seaside towns. With these shoreside locations you can hear the sounds of the sea including seagulls flying overhead and bay waters lapping at the docks.
Since you'll spend a certain amount of time in the wilderness get used to the sounds of snow crunching under Connor's feet, branches supporting his weight as he leaps from tree to tree, and wild animals. All of them are created dutifully. Lots of new content had to be created just in the sound department to move the game from Europe to America, Ubisoft has accomplished this and managed to create an environment where sound aids in creating a believable alternate reality.
Cutscenes play a major part of the Assassin’s Creed storyline. You can only gather so much story from jumping out of haystacks and plunging a knife into someone’s neck. As such the voice acting in the series has been done by some of the most prolific and successful actors in the industry. Nolan North reprises his role as Desmond Miles, Connor is voiced by TV actor Noah Watts, and Adrian Hough puts in a wonderful performance as Haytham Kenway. The dialogue for various cutscenes is very well acted out and often times it is here that the game expands the most and really becomes enjoyable
GraphicsThis has to be the most ambitious Assassin's Creed title yet and It will be hard, if not impossible, for the developers to create a more beautiful and detailed title again on the current generation of consoles. The settings of the series have changed so drastically and western player will undoubtedly be more familiar with the locations and historical landmarks that are shown in the game. You’re no longer Ezio or Altaïr prancing around Europe but instead you’re a brooding Native American stomping around the eastern portion of North America.
The cities and wilderness of New England are vast and explorable but you will focus mainly on New York, Boston alongside the wilderness colonial settlements of Concord, Lexington, and Charlestown. As you run through Boston and New York the cities hold within them alleyways, fenced yards, public squares, and most importantly rooftops. Connor will find himself hunting small game and other targets in the wilds as well. Utilizing the power of the new AnvilNext engine, which is the next iteration of the Anvil (formerly known as Scimitar) engine from past Assassin’s Creed games, Ubisoft have managed to take the game that we all knew and introduced it to a completely revolutionary environment.
Dozens upon dozens of newly introduced characters have made it into the game as Ubisoft have not only needed to model a new branch of Desmond’s family but many historical characters of 1770’s Colonial America. Some of our countries most memorable politicians, military personnel and even civilians make it into the game and they are all modeled with loving detail.
FeaturesMultiplayer takes a backseat as the single player campaign for Assassin's Creed comes full circle to complete the story of Desmond Miles. The multiplayer aspect was developed by Ubisoft Annecy which worked to create the unique combative experiences of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed Revelation. Multiplayer modes from the past games return as well as new modes called Wolf Pack and Domination.
If you’ve played previous Annecy multiplayer content you will recognize the detail and effort that they put into the game. The mechanics of managing multiple players and a dynamic environment where anyone can win is a task that many companies choose to throw into a stand mixer and set on “blend”: anyone who kills the most people and gets the most headshots will invariably win. Typical mentalities and win conditions do not exist in almost any of the ACIII multiplayer modes, and this is a very good thing. If you enjoy sneaking around in a city trying to guess which one of the civilians will stab you next, or controlling portions of that city from roaming mobs of assassins then you’ll feel right at home in the multiplayer modes.
Unfortunately the added modes are not enough to change the entire way you play the assassination game with your friends. The most popular modes and layouts of the previous AC titles are all included but the major benefit of this release is the single player content. It’s really hard to articulate but honestly the multiplayer modes of Assassin's Creed III are basically the game of Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood mapped onto maps and cities of this new setting.
ConclusionDesmond Miles finds himself at the precipice of change & choice in Assassin’s Creed III. He’s not only subjected to a new era but a new continent in the Animus 3.0 and he will face a challenging problem that will reshape our world almost any way he slices the proverbial apple. With top notch graphics and a vibrant setting it is hard to find error through initial glance, when you get deeper into the gameplay elements you will notice bugs and oddities that will soon be nagging at the back of your mind though.
The multiplayer portion of the game includes new modes but essentially it is a version of Annecy’s old but spectacular mechanic developed for Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. If I had to complain it seems as though this mode was transplanted into the Assassin’s Creed III game with less effort than it originally took to create the mechanics for Brotherhood. All things being equal though the singleplayer portion of the game is so much the focus that this minor gripe can be ignored for the sake of actually progressing Desmond’s story to the point of climax. It’s very much worth checking out not only for the story but the intriguing singleplayer campaign. If you plan on playing multiplayer pick up the game at retail since the ability to use Ubisoft’s servers are locked behind a one-time use key that’s included with the game.