by Quinn Levandoski
reviewed on PC
Unfortunately, even the Animus sections are not perfect. While there are some great messages, they are sometimes undermined by pacing problems. When the game is hot it is an inferno, but when it is cold it stagnates and puts itself out. Some missions feature fantastic set pieces, epic battles, and take a good amount of strategy. Other missions seem pointless or repetitive, and are marred by silly requirements for getting full synchronization. At times I really wished that an hour or two would have been trimmed from the game just to remove these needless distractions. Additionally, controls sometimes feel a bit stodgy and imprecise. I occasionally found myself jumping to the wrong ledge, hitting the wrong enemy, or accidentally running into people that I didnít want to run into. (Perhaps you can mention here that this hallmark of the series is something that Ubisoft has utterly failed to improve or fix over five major iterations).
A Living, Breathing World
Story is important, but a game about Assassins doing what they do best clearly needs solid combat as well, and Assassinís Creed III delivers a mixed bag. On one hand there are some great new tools to use. The bow is fun, and the tomahawk is just plain badass. As I mentioned above, the game has the best animations in the series to date, and it shines as much in the combat as in the platforming. Fighting still boils down to block, break defense, counter, strike, but it all looks so much prettier now.
Conor can take out multiple enemies in a few quick sweeps, mixing stabs and shots and throws together to create scenes that would look right at home in a Zack Snyder movie. I had a bit more of an issue with the firearms, however. The commonality of them certainly changes the dynamic of strategizing, but controlling them does not feel as tight as it should. The game allows the player to snap between targets, but this process is not smooth and requires too many actions to be viable in the heat of the moment. I know this is not a third person shooter, but hopefully the system can be improved in the future.
Though the campaign is certainly the face of the Assassinís Creed franchise, multiplayer has grown into something worth paying attention to. I remember back when it was announced that Brotherhood would feature competitive multiplayer. I, like many others, was worried that it was going to be a cheap addition that would ultimately result in nothing more than a less polished campaign. Though it had its problems, I was wrong, and now I truly appreciate that the decision was made. There are a few different modes, but the core ones boil down to being placed in a map populated by a handful of players, or Assassins, and a few dozen NPCs. The player is assigned a human target to stalk through the map while simultaneously watching their own back to fend off the Assassins targeting them. In a world of twitch-based shooters, it is refreshing to see some multiplayer that requires thought, and where strategy is favored over full frontal assaults.
There are a number of tools to use, perks to unlock, and approach strategies to consider. Of course the fun is ruined when placed in a room with a full roster of people that just want to jump around on the rooftops, but in my experience with the community was generally positive.
In a sentence, Assassinís Creed III is a fun game. It does not make as huge of a jump as the series did between the freshman and sophomore efforts, but it is clear that the game is the product of a development team that really loves the franchise they have created. Only time will tell if Conor will become as big of an icon as his Italian ancestor, but if he is able to receive the time and attention that Ezio did, this should not be much of an issue.
Excellent animations, a fresh setting, and satisfying multiplayer.
Pacing problems, occasionally loose controls, and an unremarkable story for Desmond.