The latest installment in the Assassin’s Creed series, Assassin’s Creed III, is set to wrap up all the loose ends from the last couple of games. Specifically the enigma that is the First Civilisation, and the story of Desmond Miles, the main protagonist since the very beginning, will be concluded.
‘He stands at the entrance to this long-lost place, armed with the knowledge of Altair, and the abilities of Ezio. His name is Desmond Miles and he has brought us to the end.’ – William Miles (AC:3)
The story opens at the close of the last game. Desmond has managed to return to his own body, helped by Subject 16. Rebecca, Shaun and William Miles (his father) are beside him when he wakes up. And they are en route to the location shown to Desmond by his most recent encounter with the First Civilisation. Anyone who played the last game will know as much. However, things start to change very rapidly from this point onward. Anyone familiar with the last few games in the franchise will recognize an instant change in the team dynamics. Whereas before it was comical, jovial, and witty, it now takes on a more sinister and altogether darker tone.
No sooner have the team’s emotions been established however, than you are thrown once again into the world of the Animus, and another ancestor. As with before, you are following the life and events of an Assassin, this time called Connor. Unlike Altair, who acted under loyalty to his creed, or Ezio, who was driven on vengeance, Connor’s motives are much more simple and elegant. After witnessing the death of his mother at the hands of Templars (the baddies), Connor swears to protect the weak from evil, and uphold justice wherever possible. This time, during the American Revolution, one of the bloodiest battles in history.
As you might expect, the graphics are improved. Actually, improved is not the word I would use. ‘Tweaked’ is a more accurate demonstration. Especially when you consider what some other games can achieve with the same console (PS3). The graphics aren’t as clear and as sharp as you might be hoping for with a brand new game, which is a shame, but nothing more than that. It’s still a very impressive visual experience.
It’s the general interface and interactivity where this game really gets into its stride though. As with most Assassin’s Creed games, parkour/free-running is an integral part of the game-play But unlike before, Connor only requires you to hold one button down, and point vaguely in the direction you want to go to get moving at speed. This results in a smooth, controlled, and blissfully simple way of getting from A to B. It also allows the player to focus more upon the mission ahead, rather that concentrating on the job of actually getting there. A small change, but a big impact.
Gone are the counter/parry/strike ways of the old games, where it would take anywhere from 5 mins to 5 hours to finish of a group off enemies. Now you have a much more simple, fluid motion of combat, where you tell the character what you want to do a few moves in advance, and then he gets to work making you look good. But, there is an issue with this. The moves are apparently locked in, leaving players stuck with their moves, even if the situation changes.
The people who are familiar with the previous games will know that you could already dual wield the hidden blades , but this is different. Dual wielding hidden blades is all very well. You can block, you can stab, you can counter, but nothing much else (thanks to the old combat system). In the new game, you can dual wielding with an axe/sword and a smaller weapon. Couple this with the new combat system, and the result is you can be outnumbered 8-1, and still come out without a scratch. This means you can quickly and easily dispatch enemies, and focus on the main mission, rather than wasting your efforts on trying to get past a group of people (which is handy).
Being In the American Revolution, there are a massive amount of soldiers to contend with. This isn’t a problem though. The game actively encourages you to confront hundreds of people, as the marching armies cut across you rather often.
Assassin’s Creed III has been hailed as one of the most revolutionary games of 2012, and it doesn’t disappoint The almost fastidious attention to detail within the game is incredible, but not over-bearing. The combat is immersive, but not tedious. And the story is beautifully written. For those who prefer ‘3rd person action/adventure’ as opposed to FPS games, this is easily one of the best the genre has to offer. Even for FPS fans, it is well worth it.
On sale now for £49.99, its not a cheap purchase by any means. However, if the TV adverts are to be believed, a certain annual holiday is only a few months away. So, have you been good?
By Alex Riches