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Assassin's Creed III
Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Style(s): Third-Person 3D Action
Ubisoft's epic struggle between Assassins and Templars heads to a new location and a new era as gamers take control of Ratonhnhaké:ton, also known as Connor Kenway, a half-Mohawk and half-English rebel who battles for the liberation of his people in the years before, during, and after the American Revolution. Assassin's Creed III finds players bounding through the trees of a sprawling frontier wilderness, battling enemies throughout the fledgling cities of Boston and New York and the fields of Lexington and Concord, and engaging in naval combat along the roiling Eastern Seaboard.
Created for Assassin's Creed III, Ubisoft's new Anvil Next game engine was designed to offer more fluid action, allowing for seamless transitions as Connor switches weapons, battles groups of foes, clambers over forest snags, and performs stealth kills. Gamers can make use of a variety of new weapons, including more advanced firearms, rope darts, and classic bows, but Connor is a dual-wield specialist whose signature blade is his new tomahawk. New assassination and fighting techniques abound, but new features like mobile hay carts and the ability to run through buildings ensure that stealth and evasion are still key components of the series.
The mission structure in Assassin's Creed III remains relatively similar to previous titles in the series, with targeted assassinations, side missions to help the downtrodden, and platforming sessions inside iconic buildings, but one big change is the addition of naval warfare. As the commander of a ship, Connor can engage in a variety of sea-based missions that include navigating minefields, boarding enemy vessels, and large-scale ship-on-ship assaults. All of the action can be dramatically altered by a new system of dynamic weather, with thick fog and giant waves providing cover but also making assaults more difficult.
Connor's travels throughout the colonies will put him in contact with iconic figures of the American Revolution, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Paul Revere, but as always, the entirety of his 30-year experience as an Assassin is witnessed through the DNA memory of Desmond Miles, who players will also take control of for the portions of the game set in 2012. Multiplayer action returns to the series with a variety of modes, including Domination mode, in which Xbox 360 gamers vie for control of certain points on the map, and the Wolf Pack mode, where teams work together to assassinate NPC targets. ~ Christopher Brown, All Game Guide
Package Contents: Uplay Passport
While playing as a hooded protagonist that can take out a garrison's worth of guards with a hidden blade is undoubtedly compelling, the Assassin's Creed series owes a lot of its success to the sense of wonder and discovery players feel when visiting each historical setting, settings completely overlooked by other open-world games. The good news is that Assassin's Creed III's Revolutionary War setting isn't like anything you've experienced before in the series, with an untamed frontier to explore in between missions that take place in colonial Boston and New York. The bad news is that the gameplay has taken a step back from previous Assassin's Creed games, thanks to oversimplified actions and a staggering amount of glitches and bugs.
In a curious design choice, the developers begin the game with a character who's not the main protagonist. You'll control this individual for a surprisingly long time, although "control" is a bit of a stretch. For five hours, yes that's <i>hours</i>, you'll be doing little more than walking your character toward a green dot and tapping a button upon your arrival. This is not a tutorial, because you don't really learn anything about the game, but rather a long setup to a story-related "twist" that isn't much of a surprise. Many will likely give up before the "real" game starts, and it's hard to blame them. The developers essentially hold your hand and tell you precisely where to go, leaving little room for error.
The main storyline's missions are better, but only because they can't get any worse. Most of the basics will be familiar to veterans of the series, such as eavesdropping on people, following targets while staying out of view, and slinking into areas to sabotage or assassinate. The problem is that the cobblestone streets of Boston and New York are more open and offer fewer places to climb, so the parkour element has been significantly reduced. The dwellings and shops that make up colonial America take much of the franchise's vertical element out of play.
To make up for this, there are trees to climb across a massive frontier that's home to a variety of animals that you'll be able to hunt for their skins. Unlike the hunting in Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption, however, stalking animals in Assassin's Creed III is largely uneventful. You can place snares on the ground and wait, throw some food on the ground and wait, or climb a tree and wait. The more interesting animals to hunt, such as bears, wolves, or cougars, are senselessly reduced to quick-time events instead of direct encounters.
Other activities you can do include playing several different board games against the computer, going on quests to add people to your homestead, and crafting items to decorate your home. Your time spent in the wilderness is where the game begins to shine, and you'll wish there were more survival-style elements built into the game. The outdoor environments are often breathtaking to look at, particularly during different seasons, and fun to explore. While you can't purchase buildings like you could in previous games in the series, you can earn money by sending out caravans for trading purposes and even defend them against attacks. There are also various frontier-related challenges to work on during your excursions out in the open air.
Yet the best part of Assassin's Creed III is the naval missions. Yes, you actually have a ship to command on the high seas. The action on the water is extremely well done, mixing the arcade-style action of Sid Meier's Pirates with the cinematic thrills of Master and Commander. Sailing has you controlling the action from a third-person view of your ship's stern, while your crew frantically works to keep the ship afloat. You'll be able to switch from half-sails to full sails to take advantage of the wind, and attempt to sink rival ships by using your vessel's cannons. It's easy to imagine a full game built around this naval system, just as it's easy to imagine a full game based on the frontier aspects. Yet there's not quite enough depth in place to fully satisfy those interested in either component.
While you will also participate in historical events during the campaign, your role is often boring. Helping Paul Revere warn townsfolk of the British does not involve a high-speed, thrilling gallop through the forest, but rather a slow, meandering trek as you listen to Revere's directions on where to go while sharing a horse. Yes, he's the colonial equivalent of a backseat driver. The Battle of Bunker Hill doesn't have you using hit and run tactics to disrupt formations and eliminate scores of soldiers amidst the smoke and chaos of gunfire, but rather crouching from cover to cover until you reach a checkpoint. You'll even get to toss boxes of tea off a ship in Boston Harbor, but at least that's a side objective instead of a mandatory requirement.
The uneven feel of its varied components is the most frustrating aspect of Assassin's Creed III. There are some fascinating elements to the game, which includes the addictive multiplayer component that rewards players for being sneaky, but the main campaign is more tedious than exciting. That's on top of the numerous glitches to deal with, from minor annoyances like animals getting stuck in the environment or things not appearing on the map, to serious problems that can cause the screen to lock up, forcing you to reload a mission. Assassin's Creed III is unquestionably an ambitious title that blazes a trail for the series, while also hitting just about every branch, boulder, and ditch along the way. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.