Even 200 years of American history couldn’t make this story compelling.
The first thing that stood out during this play through of Assassins Creed 3 was the way Ubisoft captured the emptiness of the American colony’s frontier while still keeping it interesting. Despite this however, the formula is still very much Assassins Creed which means that while the gameplay is solid, nothing has really changed from ‘Revelations’.
AC3 spends plenty of time creating a setting and although this would usually be a positive point, the game spends far too much time doing not a lot in its opening section for the payoff you receive. What could have been displayed in a series of cutscenes or a playable section half the length of the one in the game takes upwards of an hour and a half of the game’s play-time to introduce characters whom we are re-introduced to via verbal exposition from Connor’s mentor during his training.
Continuing the theme of time spent on fruitless endeavours, much of our introduction to Connor is spent in a tutorial teaching the player to hunt wild animals, which while entertaining and well implemented, serves no notable purpose in the rest of the game, and the entire point of hunting the animals for the furs and meat is rendered moot two or three sequences later when Connor saves the life of a huntress who offers her services to him and his mentor in return. Meaning that you aren’t even required to perform any actions to gather those items with which you would trade, they’re just given to you to trade away for an absurd amount of money. Ubisoft missed a trick by not taking a system from their very popular FarCry 3 and including a crafting system, using the furs and hides gathered from the animals YOU hunt to craft into armours and such for the use of player.
Regardless of this, a refreshing gameplay element was the introduction of player-controlled naval missions, in which you command your warship the ‘Aquila’ against pirates and members of the British army who are harassing you and your allies. These sections are well thought through, incorporating wind direction and speed as well as sudden cross winds which work to throw you off course. Even though completing the naval missions appeared to have no tangible reward, they were satisfying and implemented well enough that they didn’t need a reward for me to keep playing them.
One thing the team working on this Assassins Creed have done well, is making Connor’s character believable. They have captured his naiveté in such a way that encapsulates the idea of Native American society’s ideas of freedom and the treatment of nature and the way that clashes so well with the British Empire’s views as a whole on the same subject. This is shown incredibly well when his mentor Achilles, who is black himself, takes Connor into Boston to buy supplies and states that Connor will have to buy them rather than himself, and Connor unknowing of the slave trade and the non-exist rights of black and minority immediately questions this while Achilles, who is experiencing the full effect of this discrimination, knows for a fact that he will not get served.
True to form the Assassins Creed team have created a setting that feels accurate to play in, from the recreation of early colonial Boston and New York to the believable characters from a mix of races and nationalities and the issues that were prevalent in the colonial era. However, none of this detracts from the fact that game seems to have serious pacing problems, the story seems to drag when Connor is not actively on an assassination mission. And when you are trying to assassinate a target, there’s so much story happening all at once that you miss it and end up hearing your target’s final words with no context for them.
By Chris Body
Overall score 6/10
Story: Ultimately dull and repetitive, one of the weakest in the series
Gameplay: Standard fare for Assassins Creed, nothing innovative, but solid none the less. Some new elements were introduced but found to be superfluous.
Presentation: Visually impressive with an intense soundtrack appropriate to the era
Reviewed on Xbox 360
Age Rating: 18