Assassin's Creed III Review

Greg Tito | 30 Oct 2012 12:00
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I don't think Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed III will have as much of an impact as the American Revolutionary War, but the masterfully crafted open-world game does give you a front row seat for watching the drama of the Revolution unfold. You'll get to ride with Paul Revere, fight in the battle of Bunker Hill, and meet a future President or two - which is great for history buffs, but you don't have to know who those guys are to appreciate the game. You might learn a thing or two as the story whisks you from Boston to Philadelphia to New York, but it's the richness of the world and all its diversions that you'll remember most about Assassin's Creed III.

The story starts a bit slow and I don't want to spoil anything by telling you exactly why. You should go in realizing you control a separate character to start out and this sequence serves as a tutorial for the game's many systems, but it drags a bit as you sometimes have to cross long distances of boring countryside. The game opens up considerably once you meet Connor, the half-Native American you see on the box, but unfortunately he's just not very endearing. He's had a hard life, but Connor reacts with anger or indignation at the slightest provocation and spends most of the cutscenes yelling or complaining. Thankfully the supporting cast of characters provides comic relief with scenes like Benjamin Franklin dictating his treatise on the virtues of sleeping with older women.

With the series' concentration on athletic leaps from rooftop to rooftop, you might be wondering how Assassin's Creed III pulled off the Colonial American setting. Brick buildings and ramshackle wooden warehouses are a far cry from the skyline of Rome. Well, you needn't worry, it's just as fun to climb cliffs and trees, taking the characteristic Leaps of Faith from the top of Beacon Hill or the upper branches of a tall tree, into handily placed piles of hay. Running and jumping is fluid, and other than the occasional hiccup making you zig Connor when you should have zagged, it's enjoyable to traipse through the woods of New England or the streets of Boston alike.

True to Assassin's Creed pedigree, there's a seemingly endless stream of secondary content to indulge in. First off, it's actually fun to play as Desmond as he explores an ancient temple to unlock the secrets of the meta-story. As Connor, the larger land mass gives you so much to do that it's almost overwhelming. You can map the underground tunnels of Boston, hunt animals to fulfill the challenges of the Hunting Society, and beat up boxers in the Boston Brawlers club. You have a homestead and you invite people to settle on your land. Once they move in, you buy materials like lumber or raccoon skins from them and then send convoys to merchants to sell your goods for profit. You can even assassinate Templars and infiltrate their forts to increase the Assassin's influence and attract new recruits to the order, which you can in turn send on missions. Each activity increases your emotional connection to Connor's home and to the land of the free that the story missions let you fight for.

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