aarownd's Assassin's Creed III (PlayStation 3) review

Assassins Creed Pee.

The Assassins Creed franchise has been of a consistently high quality, even at its lower points, it functioned well for what it set out to do. Assassins Creed 3 does none of that. The game is mediocre in almost every area; the story, gameplay, graphics, frame-rate, characters, controls, camera, name any part of an Assassins Creed game, nay, a game, and you'll find it better in any of the other entries.

The story:

The story in Assassins Creed 3 seems like a side-note in a larger story. Without spoiling anything, the ending leaves the player with no sense of closure, and belittles most of the entire game.

The lucky ancestor Miles is conveniently descended from this time is "Connor Kenway" He has a traditional Native American name, but I'm not even going to attempt to spell it. But yes, he is a native American man out to get revenge against the men who burned down his village. The main problem is that he's not a particularly interesting protagonist, his arc isn't very meaningful, and his personality (What little is there) doesn't really change throughout the game. He also sounds almost identical to Hayden Christiansen, which gets to be really distracting, but also fitting, given how Connor is kind of whiney for the duration of the game.

So after Darth Jumper's village is burned down, he sets out to find the men responsible in a Kill Bill-esque setup. Then he finds an elderly black man (I only bring up that he's black because the game is set in the 1770s, and he is a rich black man who just happens to be an assassin. Now, I'm no history buff, but I'm pretty sure African Americans weren't exactly on great terms with the people of the whiter persuasion back in those days. If he was just some mountain man living in secrecy then it might make more historical sense, but he's rich, lives in a mansion, and goes into town on a carriage at one point, getting no odd looks in the process. At one point they acknowledge that whole Slavery thing, but only in passing, and it has no impact on anything whatsoever.) So then Rich old man trains young Connor to become a master assassin, I don't want to say he molested our young hero, but he is never shown to have, or have had, a wife, or any interest in women. So take that as you will. Then after this is when the game actually starts, about four hours in you get to start running around and working towards the actual goal of the game. Yep, that's how slow this game starts. You spend several hours not even playing as Connor, in what turn out to be some of the better moments of the game. None of that would be a problem if it weren't for the fact that the base story is only about 11 hours long. Which is only an adequate length by the standards of today, but personally, spending $60 for an 11 hour game with some mediocre multiplayer, and boring side content seems like a bum deal to me.

So once the story gets going, you find Connor meeting people from throughout American history, taking part in historical battles and events, and just being randomly thrown into places he doesn't belong. Maybe this only noticeable because of how much more recent and well documented these events are compared to the events in AC2 and the like, but Connor just seems really out of place here. They put less of an effort into putting him into the background, as if the assassins were secretly helping out, and more to front of things. By the end of this game Connor should have statues of him everywhere, he would have been an American hero. Which just seems to go against the basic idea of this series. Also, this is a little nitpicky, but the white robes are pretty out of place here. In the 1st game you were surrounded monks who were all dressed similarly. In 2, everyone was wearing garish outfits, so it fit. But in 3, everyone is wearing military uniforms from that era, there is absolutely nobody for Connor to blend in with. There's no reason why anyone would see this white robed Native American standing next to a bunch of Red Coats and think they're remotely connected. The white robes feel forced, like they're only still part of these games because that's what people associate with Assassins Creed, instead of what's best for the series.

The Gameplay:

The way Assassins Creed 3 plays is almost identical to the other games, except not nearly as fun or functioning. The combat is almost too easy to the point where you see a group of about twenty Redcoats and feel no sense of being overwhelmed. The only times I found the combat to be difficult was when the game was actively working against me playing it. Be it Connor getting knocked down and then just not standing up, enemies glitching in and out of walls, and enemies hitting me when I was nowhere near them. The combat overall feels needlessly easy, and turns into nothing but a chore to have to wait through. It's essentially just you hitting two buttons while not moving towards your goal for about 15 seconds every few minutes. I opted to avoid combat as much as possible, since it wasn't worth the time.

But what I think might be the worst part of the way the game plays is the traversal. The way you get around the city is (Like the rest of the game) almost identical to the older games, only different in that it's way worse. Connor would seemingly at random just jump at walls, run up nothing, walk in the opposite direction that I was aiming him, and just overall moving like he's trying to walk the dinosaur, but doesn't know how. The only times I found the climbing to be anything but frustrating was when the game did it for me. Just holding the stick in a single direction will occasionally make Connor move seamlessly through the environment. Which only adds to my frustration because the game doesn't let me have any actual control over the cool movements.

Another part of the movement that is absolutely horrible is the larger areas. Now, these areas are actually the best parts of the game in terms of style and function, but they're far too large, and the only real reason you'd spend any time in there would be to run through them to get to an area that you can't fast travel to, which only happens a couple of times, but still takes way too long and reminds me of games like Oblivion or Skyrim, except you don't encounter caves or anything remotely interesting in the large world. They try to do you a solid by placing horses near you whenever you need to go over a large area. But!...No, no no no, those goddamn horses deserve their own section.

THE HORSES:

The horses are the worst thing about this already irritating game. Not only do they move at a snails pace, they can't really go off the main road, the road which doesn't necessarily take you to your destination. So if you try to ride a horse, you're going to need to go off road at some point. Which, the game lets you take them off the road, but they really shouldn't. The horses can't go over most rocks. Even small or flat rocks, horses are apparently the mortal enemies of rocks. They refuse to even associate with each other. Except on the random occasion where they do choose to work together, where the game breaks, and the horse can't move off of the rock, then ends up glitching out and being useless, forcing you to abandon the horse. The rocks are the worst of it, but trees are also pretty bad; they're worse than the rocks in a few ways, like how the rocks will randomly let you over them and destroy the minuscule usefulness of your horse, the trees will randomly not let you pass, and randomly disappear. The trees and rocks that don't let you through are somehow worse than the gamebreaking rocks, because these ones turn your horse with no indication as to why you can't pass them. And hey, you wanna hear something funny? They put rocks and trees fucking EVERYWHERE! Even on the main path! it's as though they designed these huge sprawling environments, then realized it takes way too long to traverse them, so their solution was to throw untested horses in there. I refuse to believe anyone play-tested these horses and thought "This meets the level of quality associated with the Assassins Creed name" Unbelievably horrible.

Back on Gameplay:

The other gameplay segment that needs to be complained about is when they make you take part in ship battles. These segments aren't good. That's all there is to it, they're not fun to play, they take too long, and (Like the rest of the game) are very poorly checkpointed, also, they just don't control very well. There's nothing horribly offensive about them, they're just tedious and boring. They don't have any sense of urgency or feeling of being a cool ship captain. The aiming on the cannons is poor, and the handling on the ships is sub-par. Luckily there are only three of these segments during the main story, and they only last a few minutes each, but they just don't belong in the game. They feel like they were from some other game and thrown in to fill some time and reuse some assets.

Now, you know those mission types from the other Assassins Creed games? Like, tailing, chasing, and going unnoticed while working your way through an area? Well those are all back, only made frustrating by the glitch-ridden controls, and the piss-poor checkpointing.

  • The tailing missions are made frustrating by Connor jumping around like he ate the Spring-Spring fruit without my consent, which either lost the guy I was tailing, or threw me right next to him. Every time I had to play one of these missions was incredibly frustrating.
  • The chases were made frustrating solely by the controls being as sloppy as they are, Connor not responding to my commands, and enemies hitting you when you're nowhere near them make these missions unnecessarily tedious. The worst of this is a chase near the end of the game, I'm not going to spoil it, but the game is very specific in how far you can get from him, and if you make a single mistake then you're too far from him. All of this is made worse when Connor gets hit from four feet away, then lies on the ground until the mission fails.
  • But by far the worst of these mission-types are the sneaking missions. They're only slightly different from the tailing in that while tailing you can only not be noticed by one person, in the stealth missions you have to not get noticed by anyone. And according to Assassins Creed 3, the person getting stealth killed counts as someone seeing you. I was on a ship, had stealth killed everyone but one person, I check the mini-map, looked around, then stealth killed a guy...Desynchronized. Ridiculous.

But you know the main issue with all of these? If you mess up at any point, you have to start from the beginning of the mission. The checkpoints are almost non-existent. I found myself cursing at my screen under my breath every time the game messed up and forced me to play another segment again. I was only so upset by it because it wasn't that I messed up, I could deal with the game being difficult, but difficult isn't a word that should ever be associated with this game, if you fail then it's more than likely because the game glitched and cheated you.

The game also suffers from what I call "Uncharteds Disease" and that means that it has set-pieces shoe-horned in. Which, I'm fine with, I like set-pieces when they're done well, I think they can be cool. But Assassins Creed 3 doesn't do them well. They make it far too easy to fail, forcing you to start it over from the beginning. It robs you of any cinematic tone it might otherwise instill. The moment you have to play a cool part over again it's immediately an annoyance. It just devolves into memorizing what you're supposed to do instead of being overwhelmed by the set-piece. People often say they would like set-pieces to take less control away from the player, but if this is what they meant, then please no.

But, just because there are several really poorly done set-pieces, a few of them (When they work) are actually pretty awesome.

But those cool moments are few and far between, so you just end up playing frustrating set-pieces that barely work, and are underwhelming when compared to the standards set by pretty much any other game that uses set-pieces. I would say that I'm happy there are no QTEs, but whenever you're in the forests running to the next location, the animals who attack you will force you to take part in pointless button prompts, which don't kill you if you fail, but will take almost all of your life. You're also only given a very small period of time to press them.

The Graphics:

First off, while it isn't directly related to the graphics, it is related to the way the game looks. What I'm talking about is the frame-rate: It's awful, the textures aren't so great, and there aren't bustling crowds to warrant it. The frame-rate remains consistently low throughout the game, but is made way worse whenever you trigger the guards to chase you.

Now, the textures are okay, they have some good leather tech here, but faces looks awful, towns look bland and washed-out, and character animations are extremely stale and cheap looking.

Hey! You wanna know a fun fact about Olde Time America? It looks largely identical to ancient Italy! Who knew?! Seriously though, the two cities you're in are a mess of reused assets and recycled character models. It often looks like you're playing AC2, but dim with bad controls.

Overall, this game looks dated, it's on five year-old hardware, and it shows. But I know, graphics don't make the game, if the game is fun then the graphics don't matter. But this game isn't fun!

Final Summary:

When looking at Assassins Creed 3, I just feel disappointed. I see what could have been. The story could have been something special, but fell to several poor decisions. The gameplay is there, it just doesn't work very well. The frame-rate makes the other parts worse. But this game had so much potential, it makes me sad that I don't like it. It's such a great concept, a revolutionary war action adventure game! Who would have thought that we'd get that? I love that we did, I just wish the game worked more consistentlyz.

But you know what, even if the game did function well, it would still be a boring experience overall. There's nothing special here. It's short, boring and the side-content is pointless/boring. Don't buy Assassins Creed 3. Just go get it from Redbox or something.

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