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The Assassin's Creed franchise has been quite breath taking ever since the first game was launched way back in 2007. The highlight of the franchise has always been the awesome feeling of being a clod blooded Assassin wearing a hoodie blending with the crows and with the tick of the right moment, taking out your foes with precision, awesomeness and style.
Over the years the game has evolved and we have already seen some impressive improvements. From you ability to house two hidden blades, to gliding over fantastic landscapes and even calling your “brotherhood” to take out an army of foes. The series has always improved for the better.
With Assassin’s Creed III we have reached the fifth game in the franchise and thought the present day lead protagonist is the same, Desmond Miles, the ancestor whose memories you live this time around is different. The setting too has changed from Italy to America in the 1700’s. Does the series have what it take to keep this age-old gameplay fresh or has the Assassin reached his final hit?
If you haven’t played the previous four iterations of the game then the story of our present day hero, Desmond Miles will make no sense to you. Put simply, Desmond is a bar tender whose ancestors are Assassin’s and he get into a machine called the Animus to relive their lives to solve a great mystery involving the end of the world in 2012 which also links to ancient artefacts called Pieces of Eden that has some cosmic mumbo jumbo related to saving the world.
As we’ve said before, if you are new to the franchise you may want to read up a bit about the game. Once in the Animus however, you don the role of Connor during the 1970’s. Connor has a Native American and British origin making the American Revolution sort of a personal battle. Being a part of both British and Native America origin, Connor gets roped into a lot of conflicts which when broken down reflect the age-old war between the Assassin’s and the Templars.
Staying true to the Assassin 's Creed franchise, the game takes actual historic events and relates them to the story of the game. If you have the slightest inclination or knowledge about the American Revolution, you are in for a treat in this game. For the rest, it is still an enjoyable tale of history with fantasy thrown into the mix.
Be it the present day Desmond Miles or Connor, bot the protagonists have daddy issues and this is clearly evident from the story progression. Conner’s story however could have unfolded a little more dramatically than it did. There were a few “Luke, I am your father” moments that could have been executed a lot better.
Overall, this is the grand finale to Desmond’s and Connors tale and the ending will be a bit disappointing to fans of the franchise. For newcomers however the ending isn’t as disappointing.
Parkour and action is the core of the gameplay but there is more to it than meets the eye. This time around you even undertake missions as modern day Desmond and that is a very good thing. We sort of have a glimpse of what an Assassin’s Creed game may be like set in modern times.
Once again, if you are used to the Assassin’s Creed gamers, you will feel right at home with the controls but there is a catch. Some elements of parkour and combat have been edited and we must say, we appreciate the change.
Parkour: For the most part parkour is the same. You hold one of the shoulder buttons and run and Connor will traverse the environment, climb the building and basically make you look cool. The addition to parkour is the ability to climb trees and there are strategically located windows and doors scattered throughout the city that you can pass through as a shortcut.
Combat: The combat of Assassin’s Creed was quite simple. Hold the block button and wait for an enemy to attack. When he attacks, press the counter button and take him out. This mechanic was way too simple and the level of difficulty wasn't really present.
In AC3 however the combat has changed and for the better. Ubisoft has taken a leaf out of Batman Arkham City’s book and implemented a similar combat system. You can have any two weapons selected at any given point of time. When an enemy attacks, you can hold the counter button. This freezes time for a second giving you the time to counter with either of your two selected weapons or simply push the enemies aside. You can also directly attack with the attack button.
Connor has some impressive moves under his belt. The sheer variety of weapons and the number of combos you can do are just awesome. Sure, the combat is still simple and there are very few challenging moments but it is a lot better than the previous games where you just stand and wait for the enemies to attack. The depth may not be at the same level as Arkham City, but the implementation is good nonetheless. The game is still plagued with awkward camera angles at times that hamper the action, but these moments are far and few.
Stealth: The stealth aspect of the game too has improved. There are small bushes and moving carriages that you can take shelter in and the rest of the notoriety meter is the same as the previous game.
The health system is now regenerative rather than the need to find a heeler and heal you.
What has changed is the mini-games you undertake in the game. Since the game takes place in just two cities – Boston and New York, there is a third area called the wilderness, which is basically a forest that links the cities. You can actually spend hours here finding and skinning animals, which are a part of some side missions as well as just for the fun of it. It is a different gameplay mechanic and may appeal to some. After the first few hunts we however got bored.
Another disappointing feature of the game is that for the first few hours it keeps you like a dog on a leash. You know that there is an open world out there waiting to be explored but you are too busy playing hide and seek as young Connor before being let loose, quite literally, into the wilderness. It may be a bit frustrating for some veterans of the franchise but some may appreciate the attention to detail this has on the story of the game.
Last but not the least is the naval battles in the game. You don the role as the captain of a ship and take on other ships in the open sea. It's a drift from the running and hacking and isn’t as bad as tower defence was in Assassin’s Creed Revelations. In fact, once you get the hang of navigating the waters, the naval battles do become enjoyable.
But wait: there’s multiplayer
Ok, we wont go into the details of multiplayer that much. Yes its here, yes it’s better than the predecessors and if you quit in the previous games after your third round, you’ll probably do the same here. Its no Call of Duty multiplayer and it doesn't have the zest to keep you hooked either.
Put simply, the gameplay of Assassin’s Creed III has a lot of content to offer gamers. If you want to just run through the story with enough side missions to keep your ammunition full, you are looking at 20 hours minimum. Combine the additional things there are to do in the game and you will cross the 40-hour mark with absolute ease. Add to that multiplayer and you are looking at a game that will sit in your console for quite some time.
Next Page: Graphics, Sound and Our Take
Assassin’s Creed Revelations was a good game but the Anvil engine began to show its age on the all-powerful consoles. Assassin’s Creed III works on an engine called Anvil Next. Ubisoft claims that the game has been in development for three years and the engine has been enhanced in many ways. Here’s what we thought of it.
The game does look gorgeous but it is plagued with the same drawbacks. Textures, characters and animations draw in as you progress, a problem that was present in the previous games. The animation of the cut scenes is good, but the lip-synching is off. The character animations especially during combat is simply awesome. Connors moves will leave you breathless especially when he jumps on foes with the tomahawk. Some of his moves could match that of Kratos and that's saying something.
You do get a true visual sense of what America may have been like in the 1970’s. The only downside is that there aren’t that many tall building to climb to get a true visual sense of the city but the ones that are there make the viewpoint finding a fun experience.
The weather change in the game is a nice addition. Connor makes an effort when he is walking in knee-deep snow and the effort taken to climb the side of a hill is very evident. These are the subtle touches that a sense of reality and believability to the game.
Overall, the game does look great but it isn’t the best looking game we’ve seen.
We loved Ezio from the previous Assassin’s Creed games for two reasons. A: we love the Italian smooth accent. B: apart from being a kick ass assassin, he was a charmer as well all thanks his smooth talking and awesome voice acting.
Connors voice acting however is quite bland and flat. There is little modulation and his voice is stiff even when he is expressing emotions like care or anger or even sympathy. Because of this, you can’t relate to the character and feel detached.
The rest of the voice acting is quite good and gives a sense of what the accent and talking style of the people would have been in the era.
The sound design of the game is very good. The swish and swipes of the weapons penetrating a body sound satisfying. The music to has a high beet to it especially during the chase sequences or combat which really does get your blood pumping. During the stealth sequences, the music dies down letting the ambient noise take over that really does give you the chills and makes you sit at the edge of your.
The audio has always been one of the best in the Assassin’s Creed franchise and it doesn’t disappoint here.
Overall, Assassin’s Creed III is a great game with combat and parkour elements that have been improved for the better. The game has its shortcomings but they can be forgiven considering the overall package on offer. It will take you nearly 20 hours to get through the story and another 20 if you want to take on all the side missions. A must buy for fans of the franchise and a must try for new comers.
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal, Ubisoft Annecy
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii U
Price: PC: Rs. 999, PS3 and Xbox 360: 2799