2012's Biggest Disappointment
I've neglected to write this review for the past two weeks because I've felt so strongly about my disappointment for what this game boils down to in the final hour(s), but after thinking long and hard, I can't sit in silence any longer. Note that this review will be full of spoilers, so if you haven't played the game yet, and you are brave enough, you can dive in, but note that I'm warning you here, Assassin's Creed III is a huge let down.
When I started my journey into the world of Assassin's Creed III, I was blown away by some of the detail on the characters during cutscenes. Ubisoft really outdid themselves at times in this game, yet at other times the game's graphics just don't stick with it. The first thing you'll notice, several hours in, is that graphical glitches and pop-in's abound in this game. They get bad enough at one point, that I had to ask myself "how many hours did this game get play tested?" It just seems like they really quickly rushed this game out at the end, when it could have really used an extra six months of polish.
That sums up a lot of my thoughts on everything experienced here. AC3 wastes no time setting up the story for the new hero, Connor Kenway, in fact, the first four hours of the game have you playing as Connor's father. It's a bold move, but it really does pay off for the first half of the story. In fact, up until the final two sequences of this game, I loved just about every minute of the story. While I won't share the fanatic surprise that is dropped on players at the end of the sequences involving Connor's father, I will say that AC3 does a good job of backing up and legitimizing the character of Connor Kenway, which is especially a breath of fresh air since we've had three games with Ezio Auditore Da Firenze. The setting of this game, The American Revolution, is also a fantastic idea on paper, but it really didn't pan out as well as I had hoped. The game hasn't removed itself far from the weaponry and concepts invoked in the previous entries of this series, and the combat camera this time around is completely awful. I'm not sure how this changed since the previous games, but here the camera is so awful that I found it leading to my untimely death several times. Combat also seems a bit of a mess this time around. No longer is combat as fluid as something like Batman: Arkham City, instead I found myself occasionally having to hit the same attack button two or three times before it would register. Putting combat aside, one thing that really took me out of the experience is there was a constant audio sync problem rampant through this entire game. Many times over I would watch a cutscene in which characters voices weren't matched up with their mouths, and this really annoyed me. It was especially annoying during the final moments of the game, and we'll get to that next.
The biggest issue I have with AC3 is..., (and this is the big, SPOILERS HERE ALERT, so if you don't' want to know, look away now), how this game ends. Rather then give you something to look forward to for an inevitable sequel, instead the game's ending is a gigantic cop out, not only for Assassin's Creed III, but for the entire franchise. While I've always enjoyed the real-world aspect of this franchise, I also always hoped for a full on Assassin's Creed starring Desmond Miles. But, thanks to AC3's wish-wash ending, that's all been killed because they simply, kill off Desmond Miles. That's right, he's dead. Through a scene that is not only confusing, but simply feels like it was written in a rush, Desmond Miles sacrifices his life for the sake of all human kind, thus ending this franchise. To add to the misery, during the credits, the alien lady (I forget her name, and it really isn't important) explains that while Desmond has now done his part, it's time for her to do her's. Gigantic failure on all accounts there. To add even further putdown, the final mission was almost unplayable, as it had me chasing an enemy through a fire, when I clearly shouldn't have been walking through this fire, the game told me I should! I had to look up a video to figure out that no, that's the wrong way.
Rounding out AC3 is the always-felt-tacked-on multiplayer mode. It's a cool concept, I'll give you that, but here it feels broken. The absurd reach that players have by hitting x on their controller to assassinate and the game gifting that person the kill is ridiculous. Wolf Pack mode really isn't that great either. 1 Minute for four people to assassinate a bunch of targets? Not enough time, that's for sure.
To be honest, at this point I'm officially writing off this franchise. I think Assassin's Creed II was the high point for this series, and this installment has completely crushed everything I loved about this franchise, in story, and overall gameplay mechanics. I always dreamed of a real-world Assassin's Creed, and now I know that it will never happen. Time to move on, Ubisoft. Let's hope you don't ruin anymore of your franchises.