I played this for a couple of hours a few weeks ago, as I snapped it up for a tenner. I didn’t want to play it much more as I was still in the middle of Batman: Arkham City, and they’re reasonably similar game styles (hide-and-seek-and-punch), but the controls are very different, so going from one game to the other was going to be confusing.
With Batman out of the way last week, I was back to Assassin’s Creed III.
Now, there has been much said about the game. Disappointment in the direction, the lack of freedom in the assassinations, the lack of proper assassinations, the bugs, Connor being a dull character, etc. etc. Of course, I have my own thoughts.
Firstly, bugs. Lots of bugs. A few of the silly variety (like guards getting stuck on windows on roofs), a few of the annoying variety (like when I ran up a tree and then for no reason the camera flipped 90 degrees and I leapt off, clipped through a cliff wall, and fell into nothingness), but mostly of the JUST NO variety (like the game crashes every hour or so, and most times when I’m loading it up). Still, I can live with that for now – after all, I’ve played Assassin’s Creed games before, so they’re hardly one of III’s new features.
At the moment, I’ve played through Haytham Kenway’s section, been child Connor, and have just officially joined the Brotherhood. I was really quite disappointed they purposefully forwent the ceremony and the branding on the finger thing. Shame. Connor isn’t quite the dull character many have made him out to be – he’s just a bit wet and naïve. At least at the moment. The story is pulling me in, although several times now the characters seem to just know things without being told. How did Achilles know Connor was Haytham’s son, for example? Cut scenes are disjointed, and dialogue is stunted, almost like there’s bits missing or I’ve pressed the “skip scene” button – it doesn’t help create a believable coherent world, anyway. Yes, it’s only a game, and so on. But still.
What was good, and what I didn’t see coming at all, was the reveal that Haytham…
[spoiler]was a Templar[/spoiler]
I mean, well done Ubisoft. That was a stroke of genius. You told the story so well up until then that I didn’t even consider it, and nothing was said that suggested it. I actually said, out loud, in sync with Desmond in the game, “Wait, what?!”.
Other aspects of the game I like include (to my surprise) the hunting. At the moment, it’s completely pointless, but it’s a fun distraction. The actual Assassining around Boston is as good as ever too, although the roads are wider than they were in Rome or Constantinople, so jumping from one side to the other doesn’t happen so much making rooftop chases a bit of a pain.
What I don’t like, aside from bugs and cutscenes, include driving the ship (and the first naval battle), it taking forever to get anywhere (although Connor now has a horse, so that’ll help), the snow (you move sooooooo slooooowly in it), and all the “building up the homestead” stuff. In Assassin’s Creed II this seemed to benefit you, and was achieved mostly as a side effect of other things you were doing, but here it’s just a chore. Currently, of course. Everything is subject to change at this early (ten hours-ish) stage. Oh yes, and reloading your pistol. If Altaïr could have an almost-instantly-reloading pistol 600 years prior, seems odd that Haytham and Connor can’t.
The main thing I’m getting from the game, though, is this: it simply isn’t Assassin’s Creed (yet). It’s one part Skyrim, one part Red Dead Redemption, with Assassin’s Creed undertones. I’m sort of OK with that right now, but I think those expecting “more Assassin’s Creed” are probably those not enjoying the game all that much.