The latest Assassin’s Creed game brings to a close the story of Desmond, the reluctant hero who explores his ancestor’s memories in a race to forestall Armageddon. Viewing the American Revolution through a lens of conspiracy theory and political intrigue, not to mention more than just a little stealth and rooftop running, AC3 is an exciting romp. But, that’s not to say it’s flawless.
There are occasional graphical glitches that can be an annoyance, and then there are glitches that are truly game-breaking. Witness the “walling through the world” glitch, where your character will drop through the solid-seeming ground only to fall forever. The voice-acting for the game’s main character, Connor, is somewhat stilted and makes it difficult to connect with him. Sometimes, the game doesn’t recognize when you’re lined for that perfect jump, or a special combat move, and you’re left to haplessly claw for balance (or have your quarry escape). The opening section of the game takes far too long and feels far too languid for a storyline that’s supposedly about staving off the destruction of the world.
One the positive side, the over-arcing storyline of the series so far comes to a satisfying conclusion while still leaving open the possibility for more stories to be told. (Hey, this is a lucrative franchise!) The free-roaming parkour gameplay that is one of the franchise’s hallmarks is expanded from cities to the frontier wilderness of 18th-century America. You’ll need to practice your tree-leaping skills, but when you do the sense of freedom is exhilarating. The settings of Boston and New York are recreated with great detail and are a lot of fun to explore.
One of the inclusions that intrigued me the most, and I ended up enjoying, was the “homestead” feature. After Connor makes a home for himself in the wilderness, he can perform a variety of tasks for his neighbors. Everything from protecting a prospector looking for ore to rescuing a wayward doctor from his own vices, and more. As he finishes these, Connor’s home and surrounding area changes as people become more friendly and helpful. This, in turn, allows better items to be created and purchased. Yes, it’s a mechanic to keep you playing longer, but it’s fun, and the side-stories were engaging (and occasionally amusing).
The main conceit, that of taking part in important moments of American history, is well thought out and mostly fits within the framework of the game’s storytelling. You’ll work with Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin and other notable figures from the American past. The action is pleasantly varied, from battles on the sea between massive ships to stealthy assignments in New York to racing through the trees of the frontier to chase down an escaping loyalist. I think my favorite parts were the too-short sea battle sections; the level of detail is gorgeous and the action is frenzied. I hope more sea-based missions are in the works for downloadable content.
The gameplay is enjoyable, and the story contains relevant commentary to events happening around the globe today. Overall, Assassin’s Creed III is a worthy entry in the franchise; more than the sum of its parts and better for that.