I'm playing this at the moment and am about 10-11 hours in, and I'm about ready to give up on it.
ACIII is a huge, massively ambitious, at times beautiful, poorly-paced buggy game.
There seems to be little coherence to it. For example, despite how many hours I'm into the game it is still tutorialising. If I'm running from the guards and I hide in a hay-cart the game pops up with a tutorial regarding the notoriety indicator. It doesn't matter how many times I've hidden from guards, it is still telling about the indicator. Yet as I walk through Boston I see a prompts to 'press A to start riot'. Why do I want to start a riot? What does starting a riot result in? How can you be giving me info about a core mechanic 100 times, but never giving me info about another mechanic even once? Either give tutorials for everything, or give them for nothing; don't half-arse it. I have a new button on screen - press L to assassinate. When this appeared the first time I went was immediately taken into a totally out of place tutorial for sending my new buddy on a mission. Sure, I see why you need to tell me about that - but it was so unrelated to what was happening in the games mission at that point that it was just odd. It seemed even odder five seconds later when back in world, I was told to highlight a guard and press L to assassinate - which of course I could not do as that tutorial has just sent my guy away for 12 minutes! I keep getting new e-mail notifications. They are constant. I can't read them in the Animus so what is the point in having so many? I didn't know I couldn't read them at first, after all I can access the encyclopaedia at will, so not a stretch of the imagination to think I could also view the e-mails. So I went through all the menus looking for the option before remembering in previous games there would be a terminal in the 'real' world. Instead of the ton of notifications, why not have a simple piece of dialogue when you are climbing out of the Animus saying 'hey Desmond, you've got some e-mails'? Quick, to the point and not battering you with useless info.
The slow pacing is annoying but totally forgivable. Admittedly the pace has now started to accelerate, but it took around 8 hours for the game to stop feeling like its on rails. Half of that time seemed to be spent walking/riding huge distances to trigger a 10 second cutscene. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that the first 5 hours could easily have been cut in half.
Then there is the glitching, and man there is a lot of it.
Walking down some of the Boston roads is like walking through a nightmare. Buildings flicker in an out of existence on a regular basis. Shadows become undefined and I find myself walking along with a solid back rectangle instead of a human shaped body. Enemies suddenly appear from thin air and trigger alerts, or posses the ability to suddenly see through a solid wall - ie their awareness indicator isn't even activated then it will suddenly go red (even if I'm incognito)- I haven't moved in seconds, they haven't moved and there is a big building between us. Missions don't trigger meaning its time for a reload. I'm playing this on the Wii U, its been out for ages so why hasn't this kind of thing been patched? I really hate that I walk up to a guy, trigger a mission and then the cutscene always starts with me nowhere near the person and walking up to them. Totally petty, but again its a little thing that keeps telling my brain that I'm playing a game and not immersed in that universe.
I think my biggest issue with the entire game is the controls & related interface. Ignoring the PSP versions this is the 5th instalment of the series. In that time they've had a very established control scheme. You could pick up any of them and they will control pretty much the same way. But now in the fifth game of the series - and note that is series, not a reboot, not a remake but a continuation - they remap some, but not all of the buttons. I can't tell you the amount of times I fell to my death from a viewpoint because my muscle memory pressed the old button to do the eagle dive after synchronising and not the new button. That may sound trivial, but it destroys engagement, because instead of immersing myself into the game I'm constantly second-guessing myself with the controls. We're talking what, say 20 hours a game previously so 80+ hours of of using the same controls and then switching them? Button presses often decide to do the total opposite to the onscreen prompts - like when hanging on a ledge and the prompt is 'A - drop'. But a quick press of A finds Connor climbing back up instead of dropping to the ground. Other unnecessary tweaks include the map which is now a total annoyance to use. The weapon wheel is terrible, pretty much a game breaker for me. Previously a tap of the shoulder button and you have the wheel overlaid instantly, select your item by pushing in a direction and letting go - took a second, maybe two in total. Now you press the button and wait for a screen to load, then select the weapon by scrolling, then wait for the world to load back in. It may only be 5 or six seconds total, but again we're at the 5th game in the series and introducing things that are both slower and more immersion breaking then the established way. Oh, and of course someone decided to introduce quicktime events when fighting wolves etc.... great.
It feels like there is a great game that is being smothered by its interface and that is a shame, because I know from the previous games that they have a perfectly good one. How many of these changes are a result of making changes for changes sake I don't know. I've a feeling many of them came about because they were a quick way of making a distinction between the ACII trilogy and this title in an attempt to say - 'hey look, we have made changes' in response to the criticism that they'd effectively made the same game three times. I feel that is unnecessary as the movement from Italy to America with an entire new cast was enough. In fact you could lift these exact critisisms and apply them wholesale to the Vita version, which tells me that it is an interface problem not a game problem. That the footage they've released of ACIV, and the return of things like the health metre etc, would seem to indicate that they've realised this.
One last little thing. At this point in the game I'm being asked to perform 'Liberation' missions in Boston. Liberated from what exactly? At this point in history America was a colony and at again at this point in the games timeline we are seeing the start of the turn of events that saw America break away from the Empire. The only territory that has been occupied is that of the native people, and we're not returning the land to them in the game. In fact by looking to overthrow the established authority, Connor is acting as the aggressor at this time, so the naming of these acts as 'Liberation mission' is just wrong. Revolution missions, yes. Liberation missions, no. A small thing perhaps, but coming from a place that was occupied by an invader during WWII and then liberated that particular misuse of the language bugs me.
If ACIII does one thing exceptionally well it is this - it really makes me want to play AC: Brotherhood again.
TL:DR - a potentially great game buried under a mound of suffocating shit.