Assassin's Creed 3
PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, WiiU Price:
), $49.99 (PC
The closest analogy I can come up with for how the quality of the Assassin's Creed series progresses is the Evil Dead trilogy. If you've seen the movies (and shame on you if you haven't!) the first one is good, but kind of rough around the edges. The second one is clearly and universally the best. The third is still mostly good... but it's a little weird.
This time around we jump ahead in history to the 18th century and the American Revolution. Your half-English, half-Native American assassin avatar is Ratonhnhaké:ton (Connor for short) who sides with the colonists against their British oppressors while trying to fight the Templars. It's an interesting path to take with the story since we all know that things didn't really end well for the Native American people after the American Revolution. We get to experience first hand what most of us have only learned about in our US History books. Boston Tea Party (I don't see how that's a party?)! The midnight ride of Paul Revere (more like early eveningish?)! George Washington, bocce enthusiast (wait, what?)!
The core mechanics of the game are the same as the previous four. Run, jump, climb, stab. But now your prey are not only humans but wildlife! (Stab a bear in the neck with your hidden blade!) You can also skin your kills (animals, not humans) and sell your [things] to shops for profit (more on that later). It's eerily similar to the mechanic in Red Dead Redemption, where you could also kill and skin the things you killed (animals, not humans). But there's a little more variety to the way you can hunt. You have your choice of any of your weapons as well as traps and bait.
Naval missions have been added to the game in liu of Assassin's Creed: Revelation's tower defense minigame. Ship to ship combat can be a tricky thing to get right, since we're more used to fast paced action in our games now and ship to ship combat is traditionally not. But Assassin's Creed 3 makes it work. Although the ships don't move as fast as I would like sometimes, the missions never feel slow. It fits with the more planning and calculating style of the game while still being exciting.
Where the game stumbles is when it tries to update/change things introduced from previous games. For example, the economy. Beginning in Assassin's Creed 2, you had an economic system where you built up your town and in turn it paid you money on a regular basis. Things aren't quite so... easy this time around. The aforementioned killing and skinning of things, you sell can sell to stores. But you can also send out convoys from your home base to sell things to stores on your behalf. Which is a little cumbersome since it's something you have ton initiate. Also, your convoys can get attacked, which you'll need to defend. Unfortunately, the game really doesn't make it clear how you defend your convoy when it's attacked.
Recruiting new assassins has also been made a little more complicated. In the previous games, you completed a mission and you got a new assassin. Now, you have to complete multiple missions around the cities and liberate sections of the city before you get access to the mission which will unlock a new assassin (and their associated assassin ability). I don't mind those missions being a little more complicated, but you have to complete the same objective multiple times in the sections of city so it gets tedious quick.
None of this would be a problem if the game actually explained things to you properly. There's no physical manual included in the game, but there is one within the game menus. But it breaks the flow of the game if you have to pause every time you want to know how to do a particular thing.
The game also includes a few non-Animus Desmond sections. They pretty much play like the Animus sections except without the HUD or any indicators (i.e. when guards notice you/attack you). I wish there were a few more Desmond sections since this is basically the last game to feature him as a protagonist. Over the course of the series, you get to control Desmond outside of the Animus more and more, and I think most of us were hoping that one day we'd be able to control him for the majority of the game.
After the quantum leap in quality between Assassin's Creed and Assassin's Creed 2, I was hoping for a similar leap in quality between 2 and 3. Some of the changes in Assassin's Creed 3 are steps forward... but others are steps back. But I guess there's always whatever next year's iteration of the series is going to be, right? (Looking forward to Assassin's Creed 3: Connor's Revenge!)
If I had to rank the Assassin's Creed games, it would probably go, from best to worst, Assassin's Creed 2, Brotherhood, Revelations, Assassin's Creed 3, Assassin's Creed. Being at the bottom of the pack, it might seem a little harsh. But it's still pretty good. I'd say this is a definite rent.
Red Dead Redemption
- Think of it as Assassin's Creed 3 in the wild wild west, minus Will Smith.