Assassin's Creed 3: The good, the bad and the glitchy
Am I not a ninja? Let me bore you to death!
This inevitably leads to you trying to avoid fights by taking advantage of the idea that you are what basically amounts to a white-robe-clad, death-dealing ninja assassin.
Unfortunately, the stealth system is almost non-existent. There is no way of manually sneaking. Perhaps the developers don’t want to risk Connor not looking 'cool' while he defiantly walking completely upright, plain as day in enemy territory.
Judging enemies sight range or auditory perception is near impossible, as it never seems to be consistent. Granted, there are stationary hiding places and strategically placed foliage that you can crouch through to avoid detection, but these systems feel artificially limiting to a game that seems to want to encourage smart play and quick thinking. You can't help but feel the game would be immensely improved if you could minimise your profile at your bidding, like every other third person game containing stealth elements. Sadly this is not the case in this game, meaning more bottlenecking into yawn inducing combat.
Subtlety! No, really! Connor sticks out like a sore thumb in enemy territory.
When the metaphorical excrement hits the proverbial fan, and it certainly will, for the reasons noted above, you can opt to simply flee (heroically) from your pursuers. Assassin's Creed has always touted a very intuitive and impressive free-running system, and here it shines through once again as one of the better mechanics of the gameplay.
Ubisoft was kind enough to add some refinements and new bells and whistles to the movement system. Connor can now scale practically any surface you point him at, darting across rooftops and over, or under obstacles of any shape and size, even navigating relatively effortlessly through dense treetops. The movement system incorporates the same minimal effort approach as the combat, but I feel in the case of having to travel as much as you do in this game, the simplicity is welcomed and works well in comparison to the insultingly bare bones combat.
Action on the side
Outside of the main story missions, there are hundreds upon hundreds of side quests to dally in. Sadly, almost all of these are essentially rudimentary fetch quests, but standing head and shoulders above the tedium are the hunting and naval combat missions. A personal favourite, the hunting, is a pleasantly surprising time sink. With Connor's trusty bow, some bait and an assortment of lures, you can find yourself completely enthralled with seeking out the wildlife of the American Frontier.
Keen eyes can find evidence of various animal's presence in the area, from nesting grounds to freshly eaten carcasses, allowing you to actively prepare and stalk your chosen prey. To complement an already rewarding mechanic, hunting and selling the resultant spoils to traders is extremely profitable, and I never found myself wanting for in-game funds when it came to improving my gear for missions.
Naval Combat - Excitement in the high seas!
Initially pegged as a cheap add-on in a shameless effort to bulk up the game’s feature list, the naval combat actually turned out to be one of the strongest parts of the game. Fighting frigates while battling unpredictable weather, all the while trying to captain and manage your vessel through turbulent seas makes for some fresh and very exciting gaming. The visuals during these segments are something to witness, as monstrous waves bombard your ship and ominous lightning cracks threateningly across the open skies, it’s clear the developers put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into making these segments shine. Going full sails with a strong wind at your back as you try to maneuver your array of earth-shattering cannons into position, waiting till the last possible moment until you give the order to fire all guns into the flank of an enemy ship is utterly exhilarating.
Finally, an excuse to learn the difference between starboard and portside. No, really!
Crawling with bugs, glitches and frustrations
Before closing, something has to be said about the game's numerous glitches and bugs. I have played a lot of games in my life, it comes with the territory of being an incredibly enthusiastic nerd and slight social pariah, but never before have I played a game of this calibre that is so completely filled with glitches. From harmless and entertaining bugs like guards' voices being randomly swapped with that of female characters - the resulting effeminate grunts from burly axe wielding men making chases especially comical - or your character's arms locking into place, to incredibly annoying artificial intelligence mishaps that force you to restart whole missions from their start, it's clear Assassin's Creed 3 was rushed to release.
After the game was launched, Ubisoft released a patch to address some of these issues, but the game sadly remains horribly infested with bugs and glitches.
As much trouble as the game may cause, I can still readily recommend it to die-hard fans of the series. Assassin's Creed 3 may still suffer from the same stagnating issues that have pockmarked the series up to now, but it is still by far the best of the bunch. It tells an intriguing story, excels in the visual department with epic vistas and sprawling urban colonies, and the separate “Assassin stalking Assassin” online multiplayer is an excellent, if completely optional, compliment to the single player campaign. Those willing to pay the price of admission and whose expectations are adequately prepared will find themselves mostly pleased, but newcomers should consider giving it a little more thought before diving into Assassin’s Creed 3’s proverbial haystack.
Assassin’s Creed 3: 6.5/10
Available on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3
- Incredible visuals and seamless animations
- Strong characters and driven story
- New systems and features, like naval combat and tree free-running, are impressive and well-implemented
- Best game in the series so far
- Shallow combat
- Very glitchy
- Repetitive side-quests
- Weak stealth elements
- Newcomers to the series might feel a little out of the loop story-wise
- Solid online multiplayer component