“Assassin’s Creed 3” review

This review is a bitter sweet situation for me because of the incredible amount of love I have for this series. “Assassin’s Creed 3” was my personal most anticipated title of this year. That being said, I’m going to have to be extremely harsh with it in terms of this review because there’s no way my love of the franchise could possibly overlook the glaringly obvious problems with this game.

Of course, I will be speaking on the awesomeness as well, but just know that stuff’s about to get really real.

I’ll try to avoid spoilers if I can.

The good news is that this game is incredible. It’s written well, the story does justice to the rest of the franchise and I’ll be damned if it doesn’t look better than previous “Assassin’s” games as well. Everything has been turned up to 11 and Ubisoft spared no expense.

Both Boston and New York are wonderfully built and lovingly re-created in a way that is both impressive and expected in this franchise. You really do get to see what 18th century living was like, and for American fans this will be a treat to see the early colonization of their country.

As is standard in the franchise, several famous historical figures make appearances throughout the game. From Benjamin Franklin to Sam Adams and George Washington, each individual plays an integral, through-provoking part in the story. Except for maybe Ben Franklin, but he’s the Leonardo da Vinci of the game.

Oh, and Desmond finally gets to go someplace other than the cushioned seat of  the Animus. We travel with him to New York, Brazil and even back to Italy where he was held in the first game by the modern-day Templar organization, Abstergo.

Honestly, the scale of the game and the sheer power behind it was extremely impressive and pleasing to someone who is a fan of the franchise.

With the addition of two new protagonists, Haytham and Connor Kenway, the game also has a deeper story line that breaches more on the topics of deception and right and wrong more than any other game in the series so far.

Pull out a dollar bill to see this guy from another angle.

Connor questions the propaganda that Sam Adams and his fellow patriots put out because it is dishonest and immoral, while Adams explains that it is necessary to combat the British rule. Connor also calls out the hypocrisy of their fight for freedom when they own slaves.

Haytham attacks the ideas of the Revolution at its core, and even provides completely logical reasons for George Washington to be replaced by a more capable individual. Clearly, the creators didn’t want to pull punches and really wanted to expose a lot of historical truths much like they’ve done in previous games.

Where combat is concerned, the game is a little more streamlined, but also a little more complex.

 While your character can string together attacks, heavy enemies need to be slowly disarmed so that they can be killed more easily.

Also, guns are still available, but they require a long reload time, so the player can’t count on just blasting their way through a situation like they previously could with Ezio. However, there are multiple ways other than the use of firearms to kill those around you that are just as effective.

With the silence of the rope dart that allows Connor to hang, pull and snare his enemies, you have an additional silent weapon to accompany your bow and arrow. The hatchet replaces the knife slot that was in previous games, and the weapon wheel is customizable so you can prepare yourself for any sort of engagement beforehand.

Did we mention that there is naval combat now? That’s right, you can now sail the East Coast and Caribbean Seas to thwart pirates and stop evil doers. Not only that, you can upgrade your ship as well.

Connor’s got a base of operations, like Ezio did with his villa, in the form of a settlement on the frontier. By visiting all the areas in the game, you can even recruit settlers from all around to improve your own settlement and up the amount of items you can trade or make to improve your home and the surrounding area.

Now for the bad news. I’m sorry to say that this section may even be longer than the good parts of the game.

Holy crap are there clipping issues with this game. I mean, really. I understand we’ve not really had steeple roofs in the franchise very much, but quite often I found Connor falling through them into nothingness. Be prepared to have a frustrating time running across these rooftops as the game often glitches when trying to climb all over them.

You’ll find yourself avoiding the rooftops almost entirely during this game, unless you absolutely have to use them, because honestly, they’re useless when getting away from enemiese.

Thankfully, the game has provided you with shortcuts through the buildings that you can exploit. But really, it’s best to just avoid getting chased. You’re better off standing and fighting.

The notoriety system has become more compartmentalized, giving you four levels. Incognito, Level 1 (where enemies sorta kinda notice you), Level 2 (where they will approach you quickly), and the incredibly tough Level 3 (where you are not safe no matter what you do).

Occasionally, you’ll do these awesome three-person kill combos.

Should you find a town crier, you can be reduced to Incognito if you’re Level 2. A Printer for wanted posters will eliminate Level 3 and only be available at Level 3. Wanted posters only take you down a single level. This would all matter if they were easy to find or come across. Which they really aren’t. So good luck with that.

Too many collectables. Seriously. The pages of Ben Franklin’s almanac, or almanacs depending on how you look at it, are super hard to collect. You know why? They freaking move. Yeah, when you spot one, you have maybe 30 seconds to try and get level with the piece of floating paper so that you can catch it. I mean, I was running directly under a page for four roofs because I couldn’t get high enough to pounce on the flighty parchment.

You know what else? They disappear if you don’t get them within the time limit, and respawn at a later time. So you can scream and shout at the game again and again if you don’t get it the first time.

As for your settlement, I really found absolutely no need to do the trading system there, or even collect the settlers. I was there so little that none of it mattered. I was honestly there more times to do the naval missions (which are awesome by the way), than I was anything else.

Get this. If you send out a trading convoy, it has the possibility of getting attacked. If you don’t go to the frontier, find the convoy, and protect it, you will lose the money and inventory. I’m serious. When I got there the first time I saw about 10 armed guards and shouted at my game, “WHAT ARE YOU HERE FOR IF NOT TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING?!”

Hunting is…pretty useless. I hunted a crap load of animals even before I got Connor to be an assassin and had 3,000 British pounds before I even had to really buy anything. The hunting, frontiersmen and brawler challenges all add spice like the Courtesan and Thieves Guild ones, but they’re also just as pointless.

Again, you can recruit assassins and send them out to do missions and liberate states while training them to help you with missions. Certain assassins can be sharp shooters, brawlers and even start riots for you to cause a distraction. Too bad I never used them either. Seriously.

Oh, yeah, and remember how everyone complained about the traveling between locations in the first “Assassin’s Creed” on horses and crap. Buckle up, that’s back. Sure you can fast travel to certain locations, but be prepared for a five minute horse ride or a ten minute run somewhere. It’s…painful.

The secondary objectives to get full synchronization range in difficulty from doable to completely asinine. It’s not helped by the fact that the game itself is extremely unhelpful. Sometimes you’ll do all the secondaries, and find that you don’t get 100% because there’s a hidden secondary of doing all of the secondaries in a single playthrough without starting over at a checkpoint. Seriously, it didn’t tell me that during the mission that I had to do them all without restarting the mission to get 100%.

Sometimes the game glitches so poorly that the game won’t even realize it’s preventing you from continuing. The Paul Revere mission is a perfect example. During the mission, you ride with Revere to warn the patriots that the British are coming. Simple, right?

No. No it’s not. Because Revere will have to follow you to each door to tell you if it’s the right house. Guess what? Second time I had to do that? He just stopped telling me which house it is, so the mission would not go forward. I knew which one it was, but it wouldn’t activate the door until Revere said it was the right house. We just stood in front of each door for several minutes, waiting for something that wasn’t going to happen.

Those kinds of bugs will pop up every now and then. Sometimes the enemy will spawn so close a fire line will make it impossible to get to a location in the given time. Other times, things like the Revere incident will occur.

The problem with this game is that there’s too much. Too many extraneous things to do.

Eliminate hunting, and no one would care. Why? Because a settler you get will hunt for you and you can sell those pelts instead. Or just limit hunting to the settlement entirely.

Eliminate the travel in the frontier. No one wants to do that.

Don’t take out the naval missions, but get rid of the assassin recruits, or at least the missions for them.  Honestly, I rarely did those.

Get rid of some of the collectables, specifically the almanac pages. As the meme says, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

“Oh, let me just run right into this line of fire, no big deal.”

If some of these changes were made, the game would be perfect. Unfortunately, it’s not. This might be the most well written and creative of the “AC” games, but it feels like the most over-stuffed and poorly put together of them all.

I wanted to give it a 10. I really did, but I can’t even give it a 9. It’s a 7.5 or 8 if I’m being honest. A 9 feels too generous with the bugs and clipping that are too evident and frequent to be excusable. Especially when the bugs limit game progression. The annoyance I felt bumps it down a grade too. I’ve never gotten a headache when playing these games, but this “AC3” gave me one.

If you are a fan of the franchise, you need to buy this game because it’s incredible. But, you will be disappointed in a lot of areas, frustrated beyond reason, and utterly furious at times. Be prepared for that, and enjoy what you can.