In the very early days of XNVR, one of the very first articles I worked on was on my Top 5 and Bottom 5 games. Which Assassin’s Creed 3 was put on the shitheap for many reasons. I played the game fully way back in 2012 and as the remaster is out now, I thought it was worth a revisit and see if I was mistaken or revisiting traumatic memories.
The story follows on from the events of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and after finally saying arrivederci to Ezio, we now slip into the shoes of at first Haytham Kenway who was sent over to the American Colonies after a little mission in London to look for a precursor temple and after acquiring a few allies along the way and gaining the trust of the Mohawk people. It turns out Haytham and his allies were actually Templars (nice twist, at the time), before shifting focus to Haytham’s son Ratonhnhake:ton (thankfully goes by the name Connor) and later, his village gets burned down and mum also got killed. Before meeting up with a retired Assassin Achilles Davenport for training before dismantling the Templar’s operation in the midst of the American Revolution. Meanwhile, in 2012 Desmond Miles and the mystery gang of assassins including Desmond’s dad are working hard in averting the apocalypse, these sections also have a few missions that act as small breaks away from the animus
While not trying to spoil much about the story, I did find it bad and incredibly dreary. Characters for starters, particularly the good guys are fucking deplorable. Desmond having all of the charisma and likeability of a damp sponge, and the rest of the mystery gang are meh at best, bumbling about like a bunch of twatty nerds. Even with an apocalyptic event on the horizon and after 3 games of following dorky Desmond I was very much looking forward to it actually happening so this future nonsense can be forgotten.
Connor is demonstrably worse, much like Desmond that he has less likeability than humanly possible, as he wades through conversations and conflicts like a lobotomized bull in a china shop. Even when asking Haytham about if he had anything to do with the death of his mother which after hearing his reply responded like a teenager having a hissy fit – I just find him highly unlikeable, even when you take into account his naivety at the start, which is all fine but later on its.
Just like most Assassin’s Creed games, there’s always a plethora of famous historical characters to meet like its out from a Saturday morning kids show. As for the story while starting out as Haytham is a neat idea mind when previously you’ve always played as an Assassin so it was a nice change of pace. and while I didn’t like very much of the setting of the American Revolution as I’d rather be drowning in wallpaper paste than taking part in chucking tea away or signing some documentation with a bunch of men with excellent sideburns. Back to the future, the future/present day stuff is pointless in comparison and while it does serve context its tires to give it more purpose than it should, the story is just good enough to be engaging but not memorable for the right reasons.
Then we come to the gameplay and this is where it gets tricky to talk about. Compared to the previous games before it there are some obvious improvements and compared to the likes of the latest game like Odyssey they are a step above. Free Running compared to the previous games beforehand is much more fluid which is a big help in the cities and the frontier. However, it still has big bugbears.
Climbing feels more like luck over skill some of the time even when the British are coming and you’re fumbling about making suspicious hip thrust against the side because he can climb for reasons. Combat while demonstrably better than its predecessor with a lack of a lock on function and a more “Arkham Asylum” style of combat which for me has suited the series much better than the combat system in the latest games. However, it veers on the side of piss easy as depending on the enemy types. You can easily counter one fella and then take everyone down easy because after immediately counter one guy and kill him you can chain more kills on top of that. Combat can be too easy at times, and it is possible to counter two guys at once which is pretty cool, and using people as human shields is also pretty cool to do.
Connor has a range of weapons on offer from the hidden blades to swords, knives, axes, tomahawks, bow and arrow, guns and plenty more. My favourite is the rope dart which you can hang foes on a tree in a sort of horrific way that would make the Predators (the aliens that like hunting) blush. Stealth, however, is still a tricky awkward bastard, as you can hide in certain areas, and with no crouch option whatsoever. Connor trained to be stealthy becomes as stealthy as a fart in a school assembly. It’s just an awkward mechanic to use really, and tailing missions are just tedious chores.
The weather can also play an effect particularly during the winter where a blizzard while limiting your visibility. But as well as your foes so stealth is easier, and running in thick snow does slow you down greatly. Improved upon from brotherhood you can recruit citizens to your cause through completing liberation missions (i.e liberate the districts in the cities, a classic Ubisoft tactic) which each have their own unique skill sets, from starting riots to a personal bodyguard or offshoring assassinations. So there is a little help from your “friends” if needed.
The Davenport Homestead is where the bulk of the economy is based. How it works is in between the main missions you can help out regular townsfolk who are suffering from the war and encourage them to relocate to the homestead. Which allows you to craft various items and trade with them, which then can be sold to the cities via caravans. Now, while it’s a good money making scheme it’s a shame aside from equipment and ship upgrades – there isn’t a lot to reinvest into really. So, you could break the economy and the ship missions quite easy and it’s just a stupid gimmick that almost makes the game a bit Farmville like, which for a game based on assassinating people is just silly really.
Speaking of which the ship part of the game (the one that nearly everyone creamed themselves over) while short is very good fun. As you navigate the high seas of the Atlantic, factoring wind direction and speed and dealing with storms, rogue high waves and jagged rocks to boot makes it a blast to sail. Combat itself is good with cannons on the port and starboard to give broadsides to ships and rivet guns to expose weaknesses i.e exposed explosive barrels. It’s just a blast taking on man-o-war’s on the high seas and fortunately, in the next game, it became bigger in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag. While it was arguably the most fun part of the game in my books, and then lead on to the excellent Black Flag it can somewhat be forgiven for how much you can do with the ship.
Other aspects to mention, hunting was introduced into the game for the first time. So, on the homestead and on the frontier, there will be wild animals around that you can hunt and skin to be used in crafting and selling for profit. You do have bait and traps to use, and the quality of the kill determines the price. You can use pistols and muskets to hunt with and you may not get as much money from, blades and bows and arrows are your best bet if you want to be profitable. Though wolves and bears and deer may attack you, with a simple “Simon says” QTE does make it busy work when wolves and bears are coming after you.
Lots of side missions including one involving Captain Kidd and collectables. Coming back to my earlier point of the American Revolution as a setting it makes the level design rather dull and forgettable as Boston and New York vastly different now compared to the colonial days so there is no relation to those places at all. Take places like Florence and Paris as examples there are still places and buildings that you can still see today like the Notre Dame or Big Ben. It’s just forgettable really.
Now, with the remastered version, there is no multiplayer as it originally had previously. You can whistle from all hiding places and not just from corners. Better free aiming, ability to do double assassinations without being in high profile, slightly better UI and maps, better crafting and economy, and better lighting and textures of cause. There are a few rough patches with textures and polygons not in the right places and texture stretching as well in places does dampen the remastered quality. Framerate was good and there where a few physics fuck ups and bugs and glitches so on a technical level not that much improved on In 7 years.
So, has my original opinion changed – in most of the aspect not really. The story while ok, is populated with protagonist’s who whine and bitch like teenagers forced on a museum trip with the estranged parents. Combat caught between a bit too easy and dull, stealth being awkward, while the ship missions are a blast there aren’t enough missions to do really. Even with all the little add ons like Hunting and the Homestead and side missions (aside from the Captain Kidd stuff) does make the game more of a chore than it should be. The American Revolution just isn’t a good setting for the series. It just doesn’t really excel in any area for me just a mess with no real high point for me really.
On all accounts, it’s not a bad game per se. It’s just disappointing really for what it really could have been for me. Would I replace it on my bottom 5 list? Yeah, it’s not that bad compared to the likes of Need for Speed: Payback, but would I consider it the worst in the series? Yes, I would.
Assassin's Creed 3
Assassins Creed 3 is a dull, uninteresting game that doesn’t really excel in any particular area whatsoever with poor characters and an ok story. Combat is just borderline easy, stealth being an awkward mechanic and the ship combat it doesn’t give a lot to make the game a worthwhile experience.
- Ship Combat
- Decent graphics
- Good playtime
- Poor characters in a poor story
- Doesn’t excel in any area at all
- Forgettable locale
- Graphics 0
- Gameplay 0
- Narrative 0
- Audio 0
- Technical 0