Where do I even begin with this review? I guess I should start with saying that I absolutely loved Assassin’s creed 2, Brotherhood, and Revelations. I couldn’t get enough of them. Evenwith their minor quirks in the climbing system, and the occasional frustration with some missions, I never grew tired of the games by the time I was finished. I was wishing the story would go on, and I would have paid money to download more DLC’s had they been available. They were fabulous games that had a gripping story, and even better characters even with the occasional cheese. I never played the original Assassin’s Creed, but my understanding is that it was also a very good game, just not nearly as cool as the following 3.
Now, on to Assassin’s Creed III. I pre-ordered the game the absolutely second it was announced and could be reserved at Game Stop. I knew that I would love it the second it came out. I was even crazy enough to go to the midnight release and stand in a line for 20 minutes to be one of the first to get home and play it before having to go to bed on a work night. Needless to say, I was excited. My wife too. She’s played the games since the beginning, and was the one who got me into them in the first place.
I had the understanding that AC3 would have many changes to it. Climbing would be different, combat would be different, and biggest of all, it would be set in the time of revolutionary America. That said, I will continue on to why I think AC3 is the WORST of all of the AC games that I have played.
First, the game is rife with glitches and bugs all over the place. There are so many, that I can’t even begin to name them all as I played the game. Once I had to restart a mission because I had assassinated 2 guys in a ship, and the game thought the 2 guys were still alive, which wouldn’t allow me to go incognito so I could continue. What frustration that has never happened in any of the previous games. While playing Sleeping Dogs recently, I kept saying how much fun the game was even though it was so glitchy. I constantly compared it to the AC games, saying how non-glitchy they were, and how I thought the Sleeping Dogs developers could have done better. I honestly now think that AC3 is as glitchy as Sleeping Dogs, if not more so.
Now, don’t let that distract from the fact that this is still a very great game, and a lot of fun. I finished it a few days ago after giving up to wait for their SECOND patch since release, which was supposed to fix a bunch of bugs, and it did. Now, on to all the rest of the crap that really pisses me off about this game.
Free run: Free run used to require you to hold the right trigger and A (Xbox 360) at the same time. right trigger allowed you to run, and A allowed you to do the climbing or jumps and other special moves in the middle of climbing. This was redesigned and replaced with a BORING, non-technical version of the free run system. Now you just hold the right trigger, which causes you to run and climb. There are numerous problems with this, including the fact that it now causes you to climb when you don’t mean to climb. Get too close to the edge of a building while chasing someone down within one of the cities, and the character starts to climb, causing you to lose your target, and having to restart the memory. There is no longer a way to run without climbing. And now while climbing, there is absolutely no interaction to climbing like there used to be. You just press up, and he climbs. No special tricks or moves to long jump. Also, their claim that you won’t jump to your death while holding the right trigger, is absolutely not true. It’s true maybe 90% of the time, but I killed myself many times by falling off of rock cliffs and not using the A button even once. This redesign of the free run system made things worse in this game, and made it less involved. It also created many situations where you’d be hanging on the edge of a roof, and he simply would not climb on to the top of that roof. You’d have to move around to the other side of the building to get on top. This made me give up on chasing almanac pages because often the climbing system just didn’t work as well as older games.
Combat: Combat is still pretty cool in this version, but has been seriously dumbed down much like free run. It’s no longer a button masher, like it used to be. In the past you could just mash X and still win a battle, but you also had the capability to be a bit more calculating and use your special “trained” moves. You were actually taught how to do certain moves with certain button combinations and timings, which made the game a ton of fun. Going back to training made it easy to re-learn the moves you had forgotten after long periods of non-play. AC3 combat is so lame, it’s pretty much just A, X, and B. You must hit X only when you actually are ready to attack, and you can’t press press press press to endlessly attack until someone is about to attack you. If you press X after the red icon pops up over someone’s head, you’ve already screwed up your opportunity to block, even if you are capable of pushing the B button to block, a thousand times before the character actually attacks you. This made combat very slow and frustrating. When 2 characters would attack you at the same time, pressing block took away ALL control from you, and would assassinate the two characters in style. The only problem was that you didn’t have any control over it. It was just cinematic joy, and nothing more. Often someone would attack you, but the little icon would not pop up over their head, giving you absolutely no way to block their incoming attacks. To be honest, this was a terrible change to the game, and made it less enjoyable than previous versions.
Health and armor: I seriously hate the regenerating health setup. It wouldn’t be so bad if you had the capability to carry around some extra health for those moments when you are in dire need, but that’s long gone. If you can’t do it with the health you have, then too damn bad. Try again. There are no armor upgrades that you can purchase from shops in the game, which makes upgrading your character non-existent. It’s 300 years after the previous games, and we have LESS than what we had back then. It simply doesn’t make sense. I would love to say that you can get armor by crafting it, but unfortunately I can’t say that I know that for sure since the artisan part of the game must be done at specific points, which I’ll get to later on.
Weapons: BORING, BORING and BORING. I honestly expected better weapons in this game, but I really only bought a couple through the entire game. There was no reason to buy new weapons as you progressed, because new weapons really weren’t much better than the ones you already had. Personally, I’d just kill a Jager, steak his axe, and run around killing people with that. It was one of the best weapons I had. Previously, you were excited to make enough money to finally be able to buy that $50k sword, or armor, or pouch, or whatever. In this game, not so much. Every time I went to a store, there was nothing worth wasting my money on. So I ended up with tens of thousands that I never used for anything other than ship upgrades for the Aquila.
Homestead missions and crafting: I spent literally hours after finishing Sequence 8, working on getting my assassins recruited and upgraded. Then trying to do all the side missions, and trying to understand how crafting worked. I had only done a couple homestead missions prior to this, but wanted to play more of the story first. After countless searching, and reading threads about this, it seemed most people didn’t understand how this was supposed to work, and why homestead missions wouldn’t always be there when you wanted to play them. Come to find out, that if you miss one of the homestead missions, and go on to the next sequence, there is absolutely NO WAY to go back and do those missions without either finishing the game, or restarting. I even resorted to calling Ubisoft and asking them about this, and I was told that even after finishing the game I wouldn’t have access to the homestead missions if I didn’t do them at the right time, during each sequence. This was not something explained by the game, and I think it should have forced you to do those missions before continuing on to the next sequence if they are so specifically time based. NEVER have I played any open world game that would let you do what you want to do, but penalize you for not playing missions in the order they determined, and not giving you a way to play those missions if you had gone too far. Come to find out that even the guy at Ubisoft was flat out wrong, and after finishing sequence 12, all of the homestead missions I had missed, started popping up. I am still working on finishing them, but damn they did a terrible job of explaining how to actually do the “Encyclopedia of the Common Man” mission, and that it had to be done at specific times. What a failure by Ubisoft.
Assassination contracts and delivery requests: In previous versions of AC you were given an assasination contract by someone telling you a quick story like “This one guy stole my stuff”, then you go after that person and kill them. Or One would say “Can you deliver this letter to my great aunt in another place?”. In AC3, this is slightly improved by allowing you to do the task whenever you happen to be in that area, rather than having to do it immediately. However, now when you accept each of these the person says nothing more than “Thank you”, then an icon appears somewhere else on the map, which could be even in a different city. However, the game doesn’t tell you where that new icon has shown up. You basically have no choice but to hit every single icon for deliveries and assassination contracts, because it’s difficult to tell what is the contract, and what is the task itself. It’s strange, and a huge loss from previous versions. Most people who have never played AC wouldn’t understand what just happened after a guy just says “Thank you”.
Connor: What a douchebag. It’s like watching Heather Graham in Austin Powers. Terrible acting and voice overs, and it’s as if the lines being said just don’t fit well with the intonation of the conversation. Other characters seem to have no problem with this, but Connor seemed lost and acted like he was better than everyone else all throughout the game. Altair and Ezio were undoubtedly not this way. Even Haytham was a FAR better character than Connor. They should have done a better job on his character voices.
Graphics: This game definitely looks much better than many of the past games, including people’s faces. They made a huge difference in the world, and made it look beautiful. My one big complaint about this game is shadowing. The shadows are the worst I’ve seen of any game I’ve ever played on the xbox 360, and I could probably even include the original xbox in that as well. The original Halo had better shadows than AC3. Shadows on people’s faces are grainy and extremely noisy. It really ruined many of the cinematics of the game because it made everything look so terrible. I don’t know how they got this one SO wrong.
Glitches: I ran across many glitches in this game. So many that it drove me nuts. The second update didn’t really do much to fix the game much. Here’s an example of one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_3pRBvLJFo.
I know I’m forgetting something, but there are just SO many terrible things about this game, that I can’t remember ALL of them. I purchased the season pass when the game came out, so I’ll play all of them through to the end, as they come out. I hope they take the time to fix many of the issues with the game, because really it’s beyond terrible in comparison to the older versions. It’s as if a completely different development team worked on this team, and not one single person from the previous games was part of that team. Very sad. I know that this is likely the end of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, but if there is another one after this, I’m not so sure I’ll buy it without it returning to what made the older versions of the game so great.
Comments? Feedback? I’d love to hear it.