The revolution is here
The Assassin’s Creed franchise was always about great settings and great exploration. From the roads of the cities to the highest roof, the game developed both in length and verticality. This time these aspects are made even stronger and blended together. The new navigation system can bring you on and inside buildings and, with the great new feature, through high trees and forests. The scenario in the frontier is the great innovation, such a huge environment, overwhelming sometimes, with his profound detail and different paths. You can go everywhere, hunt, explore and collect items; all sort of collectibles.
It is possible to see something never tried before, and the new engine is one of the most emblematic feature of this game. Developed right after Assassin’s Creed II, when the franchise continued the story of Ezio, the team took three years to accomplish this game. And the result is visible. We are presented with a new top characters animation and the environment is more rich and alive than ever. The animations seem always different, when walking, climbing, or brawling your way in. For the first time you’re walking in the streets, not rushing in on high profile. The game requires you to do so, there is more a sense of being part of the city than seeing it from the rooftops. But with great features such as these, come the problems. The controls were redefined, and sometimes they don’t work at all. Until now they are giving me some troubles. A day-one patch has been delivered, but I think they’re already working on a second one because there are a lot of glitches and bugs, and sometimes they literally drive you out of the game.
One other challenge was the introduction of the new protagonist, Connor. He has not the charming of Ezio, and his involvement in the cause is very simplistic. You’ll see during your playthrough, but without spoiling everything, just say that the first impression I had was that the assassins where only a way for Connor to defend his land and people. Every other chance, he would have chosen it. He is a descendant of Altair and Ezio and so he is an assassin, but he learns everything about the history of the Order only after he starts his training. His first goal is to help his people, no matter what. I really like this aspect of the character. Back to the story, we are in front of the longest prologue in the gaming history. You don’t start as Connor, and you take control of him after good two hours in the game. For spoilers sake I stop here. You’ll see for yourself. But the game is slow to open itself and your movements are bounded by the story and for a world so full of things to do when it comes to missions you’re incredibly set on trails.
When you gain total liberty of movement new possibilities arise. I really hoped they would be available earlier. The story is rich with turning points and every encounter can hide a new twist (a little hint: don’t read the animus notes right when they show up. Wait the progression of the events. They inserted spoilers in their own game). This game has great new features, a huge world to explore and so much to conquer and collect. Not to talk for the amount of weapons and new fancy ways to kill your enemies. This world is populated with all sorts of animals and people, and you can interact with both. But here comes the flaws, with so much to do most of the things are left to the player to understand, there is no tutorial and sometimes what you have to do is poorly explained.
One of the first issues is the fact that there is no freedom in the missions, the stealth mechanic is not well implemented, with an impossible detection system, you can be in a bush near a guard and he doesn’t see you, you walk near a wall and a soldier on a tower shoots you. This is a problem from Brotherhood. And some missions fail instantly when you get discovered; when it’s obvious you could have killed a pair of guard, restore the order and go on. Why is it so important that nobody sees you? This is freedom taken from the player, and interrupts the experience because you have to start over and wait for a loading screen. I would be glad to renounce to some stealth for a more fluid gameplay. Not to mention the secondary objectives for each mission. I want to play my game my own way. Under this aspect Assassin’s Creed II is still the best. Sorry, Ubisoft.
With a game perfect in so many ways, but with some gameplay design flaws is very hard to take a position. Sometimes the sense of freedom the game delivers is lost. Assassin’s Creed III is the best the series has achieved but the revolution Ubisoft promised us is still to be delivered.
+ Great, beautiful world
+ Engaging story
+ Attention to historical and visual details
– Inconsistent stealth mechanic
– Guided missions