I was looking forward to Assassin's Creed III as much as any title this year. The American Revolution seemed like a really compelling location and the hope for some basic changes to the somewhat tired Assassin's Creed series. Revelations had a very superfluous feel to it and I was hoping that this would lead to a change with the change of scenery, protagonist (OK, you're still Desmond, but different assassin, obviously).
I was terribly, terribly disappointed. This game might make my list as one of the my 10 most disappointing games in recent history.
The game does not have a lack of things to do. There is a remarkably wide and diverse array of things to do --- it's just that a lot of them are not that much fun to do. Hunting was surprisingly unenjoyable. The naval battles were...OK, I cannot lie and claim that I thought it'd be fun because naval battles never are. They did all that you can do with naval battles, but the pacing of naval battles limits what they can do. The things you have to do to get people to reside in your homestead just seem unbelievably banal for a game where you're an assassin neck deep in the American Revolution. Going from stalking Templar leaders to herding pigs seems to be a bit of a dramatic change in import. The biggest problem with all of the extras is that they are not much fun to do. The liberation missions seem pointless outside of it being the way to get new assassin recruits. Collecting the feathers and pages of Franklin's almanac isn't fun either. Getting trinkets for Peg Leg isn't a rip roaring fun time either. Trying to run caravans to make money isn't fun...but one of the more enjoyable parts of the last few titles, building up your Assassin Guild, gets barely a mention (and levelling up is such a long-term chore that it is just a grind). They have some really baffling choices here and they seem to misfire on most of them.
It's also a technical mess as framerate drops precipitously more than once. That is a limitation on the consoles however. The next gen AC titles should be pretty solid affairs.
The game starts as slowly as almost as slow any game I've ever played. I can appreciate the dramatic intent but it was a chore to play for the first several hours. That alone deeply hurts the game. You cannot be an awesome game if you are so tedious for so long. And they treat you as if you have never touched an Assassin's Creed title and while I like that they expect newcomers to come in, it'd be lovely if they allowed people who have ever played the game to skip the seemingly never-ending tutorials.
Desmond's stand out like sore thumbs. They just seem to be there to simply change the visual style. Short levels of not-that-great sneaking just aren't going to cut the mustard here.
It's sad that these problems exist because the storyline is actually really solid and once it gets going (admittedly, more than halfway through the game) it moves at a nice pace. The cutscenes are really good. I am tired of games forcing you to walk slowly while it unloads some dialogue on you (why have a marginally interactive scene as opposed to a totally non-interactive one? Marginally interactive is worse) but I can't hold a poor game convention against this game too badly. The visuals are amazing. It's a really good game base with a ton of annoying problems that overwhelm the positives.
At full price, this isn't worth the money. At a reduced rate, yeah, definitely. It's attempt to expand the game turned the game from good to mediocre. It's somewhat sad.