Plot twists, bullshit conspiracy theories, lots of free running, and several points of view surrounding the 1700s in America are abound in this interesting tale of Revolutionary War era version of Assassin’s Creed. But is it new and interesting enough or is it just more of the same?
Available For: PC, PS3 (reviewed), Wii U, X Box 360
Release Date: 2012
Archetype(s): Action, Adventure, Platforming, Stealth
I’ve always been a huge fan of the Assassin’s Creed series. Initially it was just the free running and amazing graphics, but it’s expanded into a really interesting story that…well, has gone on longer than it really needs to, honestly, but it’s still fun all the same. The original AC was interesting because it took place during the crusades and featured locations like Jerusalem.
AC2 was interesting because it took place during the Italian renaissance, which featured all kinds of interesting and detailed architecture as well as new locations across Italy and a vendetta story, which was very fun. It was also cool that you could build up a city and upgrade your equipment, but the interface was a bit clunky and selecting between different weapons was utterly unintuitive.
AC3…well, it feels like I’ve played this before. On one hand, it’s interesting because you get to play as multiple characters, get into brawls and shootouts, go sailing, the free running’s improved, the city building aspect is improved tenfold, and production values have been vastly improved as well, but it’s very hard to make the distinction between this and Red Dead Redemption at times.
Now really that isn’t the game’s fault and I know that, but it diminishes the experience, especially when you can hunt for game and skin animals. Again, that doesn’t seem like that would be enough to make the comparison, but tie that into the fact that the AI for animals is TERRIBLE and you start to miss Red Dead’s system very quickly.
How bad is it? At one point I startled a deer and it started running. It hit a tree, pivoted, and ran in the opposite direction…where it hit another tree and did the same damn thing. I seriously let it run like that for a solid minute before I casually walked up to it and thumped it with my tomahawk. I wish I could say that only happened once.
There have also been several times that a rabbit has seen me and panicked…but ran TOWARD me instead of away from me. Yeah, BAM, tomahawk’d. The two things I do like about hunting are aggressive animals that try to kill you (you have to take them down with a well-timed quick time event) and the fact that you can spread bait, track animals, and set snares.
Another problem stems from that of climbing trees. Sometimes it’s obvious where to go and how to climb further and sometimes it really fucking isn’t. This wouldn’t be so bad normally, but it often leads to falling to your death. It also doesn’t help that once you find a sync spot and want to do the leap of faith into a haystack there are a bunch of fucking leaves in your face and you often jump the wrong way…leading to another death.
Combat is also ridiculously easy, but honestly, it’s at least a bit harder than AC2, which was WAAAAAY too easy. There’s also auto-recover, BUT…I’m going out on a limb here and saying I just don’t care. AC1’s lifebar system was alright and didn’t need modified. AC2’s lifebar system seemed to rely on almost random elements and lead to you constantly having to repair armor.
The controls overall have been more refined and simplified, leading to quicker, simpler movements that are still just as stylish as ever and make you feel like a real badass. While I mentioned it was better, I still feel obligated to talk about the town system in this one. For starters, it doesn’t really start as a town…just a single manor.
One reason this appeals to me is it reminds me of Breath of Fire 2. Further, you get to manage crafting and trading, including dispatching convoys and such. You also get to recruit people for your village and follow-up on them with various homestead missions. Honestly, a lot of thought was put into this aspect and it really shows. You’ll find yourself spending all kinds of time messing around with it…forgetting you’re playing a stealth/action/assassin game.
Honestly, there is a lot that sets this game apart from the previous two, but enough still there to preserve its identity…mostly. While some aspects are clearly better than others and could have used some further fine tuning before launch, I feel the game overall is definitely worth your time.