The Assassin’s Creed series isn’t so much about the events transpiring in the past as it is about the story of Desmond Miles. Despite spending a large majority of each game taking place inside the Animus, the machine designed to allow Miles to experience the events of his ancestors, the machine driving the story is his desire to find the ‘Pieces of Eden’ with the intent of saving the world. Assassin’s Creed III is no different, as players are this time whisked away to colonial America and injected into a volatile period of our own history: the American Revolution. Again, Desmond must take to the Animus to relive the history of his ancestors and again, the combat is crisp, the story is interesting, and there’s much to do. Unfortunately though, as gamers we expect our favorite franchises to evolve. Assassin’s Creed III delivers an experience that differs minutely from the other games and by the end you realize it’s time for a big change.
Playing as Desmond Miles is certainly a treat, as previous games your interactions with what is essentially the main protagonist of the series has been minimal and lacking. Even as the storyline progresses and more exploration and combat are introduced, playing in the modern-day gives the series a nice touch and perhaps a glimpse of what’s to come. However, most of the 30+ hour single player experience is spent playing as Connor, the ½ Native American, ½ British protagonist introduced into the Order of Assassins by the aging father-figure Achilles Davenport.
Achilles is responsible for introducing Connor to the life of an Assassin and does his best to train him in both body and mind. The storyline plays out as expected, with Connor learning the difficult life lessons and Achilles confidently training him in a Miyagi-like way. While visiting Achilles, Connor will open up additional play options to embark on. Homestead missions require Connor to seek out and help random strangers in an attempt to have them move onto the land and establish a small village. It’s a nice change of pace from the typical combat, sprinting around and stabbing people. Naval battles and game hunting are also introduced, with the sea battles being the biggest and most impressive change. Taking the helm of monstrous sea vessels to do battle against smaller, more agile boats radiates a feeling of absolute power. The landscape itself is perhaps the most impressive, presenting battles in day or night, clear skies and rain each mission, while requiring similar controls, feels different due to the constant change of scenery.
The unfortunate truth of Assassin’s Creed III is that despite new implementations to the game, it remains largely the same. Combat remains the constant wait, counter, execute strategy, though the implementation of multiple weapons and firearms is done nicely. Additionally, recruiting and training assassins as a clan returns and with added choices. Instead of simply running in to dispatch enemies, your brood can implement multiple skills to allow Connor a level of subterfuge not yet seen in the series. The issues is that, while it’s new and interesting, it’s not quite perfected and frankly not needed to finish the game.
em>Assassin’s Creed III presents an interesting setting with the dawn of our country, but without large changes to one of the best franchises of this generation players will feel it starting to fall stale. With some of the worst chase scenes in recent memory and largely the same landscape -- Boston and New York look strikingly similar -- it’s a solid game for any fans of the series, but anyone looking for an evolution will be disappointed.
Overall Score: 7.5 out of 10