Assassin’s Creed III: Hitting or Missing the Mark?

By Michael WORKMAN

Assassin’s Creed III has been played up as Ubisoft’s crowning achievement in the series with a redesigned combat system, naval battles and a brand new game engine. The question is: Has Assassin’s Creed III lived up to the hype? The answer is a resounding yes. The first thing players will notice in AC III is that the animations for their character are much smoother than in previous Assassin’s Creed titles. Movement feels much more natural and has been made easier by holding only one button for free running. This lets the player jump from one surface to another surface only when it’s possible to reach the destination, which prevents that nasty feature in older versions when the character leaps off a building only to find they missed the ledge, plunging to an embarrassing death. Combat in AC III is much more intense since dealing with different enemies require different strategies. Average British infantry can be defeated rather easily while officers and Scottish Highlanders can defend against most character’s attacks and must be disarmed or thrown off balance. Using the new weapons like the tomahawk and rope dart is incredibly satisfying, offering new deadly ways of dispatching enemies.

The main character, Connor, can wield his tomahawk and hidden blade to make brutal kills that are cinematic and stylized. The rope dart is used when Connor is hidden above enemies in a tree. He can launch a frightening surprise attack by catching an enemy with the dart and, using his weight to drop out of the tree, pulls the enemy up in a grim display that visibly disheartens other enemies who witness it.

Since ACIII takes place during the American Revolution in the late 1700s, enemies have guns and present a challenge for players. Musket-armed foes that are a few yards away will try to shoot the player while they are engaged in combat with other enemies. Players must either close the distance and attack the shooters head on or use an enemy close by as a human shield to soak up the bullets. As the player progresses, Connor will get the chance to captain his own ship and open up challenges in the new naval combat feature. Players command a small fast ship that fights against mostly the British and pirates. Wind and the weather can change, forcing players to be flexible in how they conduct the battle. Most ships seem to explode with one broadside, but larger ones take much more punishment. Missions at sea will become much more difficult, which is why upgrades to the player’s ship are available. Upgrades include adding extra cannons, reinforcing the hull, or achieving better turning with an improved rudder.

One of the most compelling features in ACIII is the story itself. In the first few chapters Connor is not even available yet; players use a new character for most of the beginning to learn how the game works. Connor is slowly introduced as time progresses and many powerful events unfold that make the characters very sympathetic or are fun to hate. There are a few enjoyable twists that will leave players dropping their jaws, wanting to find out what happens next.

Assassin’s Creed III is indeed the best in the series to date – which is saying a lot. Combat is so much fun that players will be going out of their way to pick fights, giving Connor the opportunity to perform crazy acts of violence. This in addition to the gripping story propel players on a path of revenge while saving the world.

Gamers will be delighted to find this title under the tree this coming holiday season.

A perfect 5 out of 5.