[dropcap]E[/dropcap]very now and again, something happens for a video game developer that they could only dream of previously. A product they release becomes so successful, so phenomenally acclaimed for its concept that it sets the stage to become a cross-media franchise of truly biblical proportions. For Ubisoft in 2007, this game was Assassin’s Creed. Skip ahead 5 years later, and with the release of Assassin’s Creed III (actually the fifth main series entry, and the 12th if including side games) this particular arc has come to an end. While it may not be the end for the franchise, it is the end of the story for many of the characters we have been introduced to over the years.
Assassin’s Creed built its popularity on two things: incredibly well-reproduced cities of the past and then providing those cities as a huge playground for the player to experience. Nevertheless, some sort of goal was necessary, and for that purpose, the role of the Assassin was created. Somewhere in-between providing interesting people to kill, a story developed, one was transcended generations to tell the long story of one family of Assassins. Tied into this was a complex conspiracy and a doomsday prophecy, playing into the very real (although alarmist) theory of a 2012 apocalypse. What made the story of AC very enjoyable was the way the player almost discovered it on their own; how side quests and extra efforts all added into the overall narrative. For fans this means that playing AC 3 is almost essential to see how these plot points resolve; but for new players it can make the storyline somewhat dense to penetrate. Especially seeing as certain aspects are included from supplementary novels and comics, not only from the prior games. Regardless, the game does its best to catch people up to speed, and there’s certainly no detracting from the fun gameplay to be had.
The world to be explored on this outing is the good ol’ USA, but thankfully a rather underused part of it in videogames. Taking place between 1753 and 1783, the player will get to experience the build-up, be involved in, and see the aftermath of the American Revolution first hand. The player controls Ratonhnhaké:ton, otherwise known as Connor Kenway, a young half British, half Mohawk Indian. Occasional missions are done in the present with Desmond Miles, the overall series protagonist, in order to bridge the gap between events. As a very nice touch, the game begins on October 31st, the date the game was released in real life.
The play is given the huge sandboxes of Boston and New York at this time period, and they look magnificently realistic. Some concern was raised early on that the buildings would not provide for the appropriate scale of free-running that had been seen in the series previously, but you will find yourself not noticing at all, especially with the addition of trees and natural features being fully climbable. As well as these cities, there is a large open expanse with a few smaller towns known as the Frontier, which allows Connor to engage in sidequests of all types, hunt animals for profit, and generally explore a wide open world. The other notable area of sidequesting is in the maritime missions, where the player gets to command their own ship and do battle against others; which I found to be very engaging.
A lot of the time the player is of course engaged in combat, which doesn’t differ much from previous entries. The player has a wide range of weapons, ranging from heavy and powerful, to quick and stealthy. The counter command is still god, and will be the solution to most situations; however the increased involvement of firearms in this period does offer some new abilities. The newest and most present addition is the bow and arrow set that Connor uses, in conjunction especially with his native hunting kits. The only point that I find a bit negative with the combat is that guards seem to have gone from merely being aware to being psychic at some points, which can ruin many stealth attempts.
AC3 also continues to include a multiplayer, which can be very, very fun at times; transferring your Assassin skills onto another human player is an experience that rarely gets old. The game as a whole seems packed with content; enough to easily last 20-30 hours if you’re going for that platinum trophy. There are a few negatives, such as plethora of bugs that can be entertaining at times; and otherwise annoying. Also, the ending feels a little rushed and a bit too open-ended, but in the interest of avoiding spoilers, I won’t say any more.
Assassin’s Creed 3 is definitely a good game, a great game even, I certainly thought so. It has a lot of playtime-for-money, and a variety of gameplay activities to keep you going. Definitely worth a buy for fans, and worth a look for newcomers as well.