Ubisoft are at it again with their latest action adventurer romp. The Assassin's Creed franchise has been well established now and with two main line titles (Assassin's Creed I & II), a few in-between titles such as Revelations and Brotherhood, not to mention books, comics, handheld console releases, iOS games and much more. It's safe to say that the game has proven popular with the gaming masses and that for fan of the series such as myself, we've become familiar with what the game has to offer and what sort of thing we can expect, but is this true of the new ACIII? is it just another Assassin's Creed game, or is there something new and exciting on the table.
Set in the time of the Revolutionary War in America, you find yourself in the role of Conner in a very open world landscape as a young man caught between the conflicts of two warring factions as you try to change the course of history through your own actions. It sets a rich and colourful world for the story and it's easily the most diverse and engrossing plot line of the series so far. While the game does still take place (mostly) in the Animus, you still play as Desmond a modern day man who is using a technologically advanced system to access the memories of his ancestors in a bid to find an item that could prevent the end of the world. A typical gaming setup if there ever was one, one man needs to find a thing that saves everyone, time is short, stakes are high and only he can do it. Typical setup, but a good one none the less.
The real story however takes place in the memories that you revisit as you explore newly founded American cities such as New York and Boston as well as the Frontier of the Native American Indians, as well as a healthy dose of each of their cultures, histories and historical figures.
You still find yourself in pursuit of the Templars, a plot line that has been key to the entire series of games and it’s something that still works well in the new title. The previous Assassin's Creed games have always had an open ending and it was always apparent that it was meant to be a trilogy, this story is a well-crafted chapter of the overall story, but it’s still by far the better of the three.
Gameplay is in many ways what we have come to expect from the franchise, but with nearly every aspect either tweaked or expanded upon to really bring the game into a new era. The first thing that really stands out is the graphics, with in some cases 100s of players on screen in the busier locations, namely a pack London Opera House as you climb from balcony to balcony sets a remarkably impressive opening sequence to the game, yet as impressive as the scene is there are still plenty more moment that are capable of stunning you visually. Take control of a ship and battle it out at sea, fight off 100's of soldiers in a pitted gun battle across a bridge, lay siege to Templar controlled fortresses, or of course climb to the top of an ancient tree to gain perspective of your landscape, all of which offer some of the best visual displays I've seen in gaming this year.
The controls are much the same too, while again refined you will find exploring and fighting feels familiar, yet more responsive. Playing off the much improved graphics are the general physics and animation. Climbing is once again more fluid and dynamic, so too is fighting as the game offers you a wide choice of swords, pistols, blunt weapons and more to dismiss your foes, all with their own unique moves and animations to keep things looking and feeling fresh.
Voice acting in the game is simply best in class and exactly what you would expect from a AAA multi-format release. The lip-sync could do with a tweak but otherwise its a premium job and the voice actors have been well scripted and voiced throughout. This also plays well to the persistent history and back story to almost everything in the game that seems to flow organically as you play. It makes meeting people like George Washington and Ben Franklin all the more fun too. While the sound is good, it still comes second place to the superb sound track, not only does the game feature some well-crafted dynamic and historical music but it also features some beautifully crafted sound effects that really make the cities and wilderness areas come to life.
The game is easily the biggest in the series, with around 40 hours gameplay for those who want to explore all it has to offer, yet there is still enough room for you to keep exploring and playing thanks to the large gaming world that prevents the game from feeling too repetitive after your first play through. The multi-player is a welcome addition too although it does offer a good few hours fun, I lost interest in it after a while, but this is still game of the year material based on the single player experience alone.
There were some pleasant surprises in Assassin's Creed III, fantastic plot twists, strong characters, great environment and stunning graphics make this the best Assassin's Creed yet.