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The opening video sets the stage for “Assassin’s Creed III,” the latest adventure from Ubisoft. First impressions are important and as with each new Assassin’s Creed game, the opening sequence is both a return to familiar ground and an excellent addition to the epic Assassin storyline.
Right off the bat the music is grander, giving the game a much larger scope. The feeling in the game is that you have arrived, the end is near. In that sort of sense, it is both true and yet untrue: The game makes immediate mention of both your journey as Altair and Ezio Audiotore through the eyes of Desmond Miles. As many fans have always believed, Altair was only the introduction and Ezio the tip of the iceberg. In many ways, because Ubisoft pays attention to its fans, this may be a facet of art imitating life where Ubisoft has taken fan comments to heart and built them into the storyline.
Whichever the case may be, the game remains an epic battle between good and evil. Fans who expect to start off with Ratonhnhake:ton or simply “Connor” will find another character in his place: Grand Master Templar Haytham Kenway is who you start with and it seems Ubisoft has it in for players to love yet another complex character. It’s a good move, since Kenway is nearly evolved in his persona and skills, leads the story as a stoic alternative to Ezio Auditore. This gives the player a sense of picking up where the game mechanics left off, rather than starting an entirely new character with no backstory. The advantage is that new players to the Assassin’s Creed universe get thrown into the deep end of the Assassin’s Creed game play, parkour and combat mechanics. Meanwhile, veteran players who are an old hand at aerial assassinations get to brush up on rusty skills since the ending of “Assassin’s Creed Revelations.”
Newer features that will frustrate veteran players though, like the rifle combat, which has taken a realistic but annoying twist. Now, loading time and preparation are as accurate to the period weaponry as possible. Rifles will take time to load as they would in reality, but this does slow down the gameplay and is confusing at first. The lack of dedicated tutoring beyond a few cues means that players are left to fend for themselves when the bullets start flying.
That aside, the regular bladed combat for “Assassin’s Creed III” is as crisp and fluid as ever. Whether with sword or axe movement is clear, precise and devastating. Never one to shy away from the carnage, the game still packs a bloody good punch with plenty of weapon choices. The tools of the trade as it were, to assassinate have been updated to include different sword styles that should hopefully change the combat environment. At least that is the hope, rather than simply having weapons that look different, have different stats and yet play the same across the board.
At the same time, what may look similar in-game has been given a revamp as well. Familiar walls and other street furniture are in your free running path. However, the sense of space that has pervaded previous Assassin titles is noticeably lacking at first. True it’s stated that there are two cities to travel between but on first impression that traditional sense of open space isn’t here. Boston feels cramped and cluttered, feeling different from cities like Masyaf, Rome, Italy or Venice. The one comparison that is easy to make is that the city of Boston feels like Ezio’s place, formerly owned by his late Uncle Mario, the Monteriggioni estate. First impressions show Boston to be squat, low to the ground with plenty of obstacles and haphazardly-placed buildings at random angles.
Graphically, the game has grown with each successive release. The changes are noticeable if one compares Assassins Creed I directly to “Assassin’s Creed III.” Though they may graphically look similar in style, the devil is really in the details. That is, each and every detail, from facial cue to voice has been taken into consideration like never before. In the preceding games, the level of detail and articulation in NPC’s was good but not great. Similarly, the environmental backdrop has been given a huge overhaul, adding people, places, things and all manner of visual eye candy for this latest assassin game. Haytham’s arrival in the Port of Boston in sequence 02 as is the depth of detail during the ocean scenes in that very same section.
This many games later, having considered the wealth of work that Ubisoft has put into “Assassins Creed III,” it makes perfect sense that this game, the fifth in the series, possesses both a sense of finality as well as a feeling of new found wonder. Fans new and old alike will enjoy this rich and inviting world while traveling throughout an in-depth interactive history lesson.
Stay tuned to Toonari Post for the full review.