Assassin’s Creed III released this past November to mostly positive critical reception and a bit of a mixed response from fans. Last July I did a top 10 list of the things about Assassin’s Creed III that had me excited to play, which you can read here. Coincidentally, just days after I finished Assassin’s Creed III it was revealed that Ubisoft would unsurprisingly be continuing the yearly release schedule with a new game this holiday. Having just finished the game and Assassin’s Creed being in the news, I figured this would be a good time to look back at those 10 reasons I couldn’t wait to play AC3 and give my thoughts about how they turned out in the final product. This won’t be a review, you can read Jay Malone’s review of the game if that’s what you’re looking for, this will just be my thoughts on some of the key aspects of the game after having played it. The order of this list will be dictated by the original list of 10 reasons to be excited for Assassin’s Creed III, and there will be minor spoilers.
This was one of the more minor entries on the list, obviously not all ten would be the most unbelievable additions to the series, but I found it’s implementation to be handled pretty well. The snow effects are pretty good, and moving through snow feels very different from running on dry land. However, the season changing felt a little weird. Passage of time has always been a bit odd in the Assassin’s Creed series because the games frequently jump months or years ahead without the world actually feeling much like anything has changed. The changing seasons brought the dissonance to the forefront, making the jumps forward that much more jarring.
9. Naval Combat
I wasn’t sold on the naval combat before I played the game, but I put it on the list anyway because it was a new feature, and those are always welcome. In the grand scheme of the game, it wound up being about as important as the tower defense mini game in Revelations (meaning not very), but I thought it was a lot more enjoyable. The naval combat was pretty simple and not very challenging, but it was very cinematic and ultimately pretty cool. It’s just a shame that there were only a couple of main missions that had naval combat, with the rest of the content coming in the form of side missions.
8. New Combat Abilities
The gameplay demo I saw at last year’s PAX East made the improvements to combat seem drastic, but in practice the combat is very much like what was featured in Brotherhood and Revelations. Connor has some new weapons at his disposal like the rope dart and the tomahawk, but ultimately the combat just felt like Assassin’s Creed, for better or for worse. There were some new abilities that were pretty cool like the dual counter kills, human shields, and running assassinations, but at the end of the day the combat can be boiled down to the same gameplay as the past games; enemies standing around waiting their turn to attack, countering as they attack, and then chaining kills to clear them out quickly.
7. Improved Traversal
Once again, the gameplay demo I saw at PAX made the improvements to traversal seem much more extensive than they actually wound up being. The core of the traversal remains almost identical to past games, with some minor control alterations. The big addition is the rock and tree climbing, which were pretty cool. There were only very rare occasions where you have the opportunity to do the rock climbing, but trees play a major role in the game. The tree climbing animations look great, and moving through the forest without ever touching the ground is really cool. It falls apart a little when you realize there are only a handful of different tree types in the game, but you only really notice it when you’re looking for it.
6. More Familiar History
I, like many people, am much more familiar with the American Revolution than I am with the Crusades or the Italian Renaissance, and that ultimately wound up being both a positive and a negative in regards to Assassin’s Creed III. On the one hand, I found a lot of the historical stuff in this game very interesting. Seeing historic moments like the Battle of Bunker Hill and the Battles of Lexington and Concord rendered in a game is really cool, but for every moment like that there was another that left me scratching my head. A lot about how the history was portrayed seemed a bit goofy, which isn’t exactly new for the series (Ezio was best buds with Leonardo Da Vinci after all) but it stuck out more here because I had more personal knowledge of the historical events in question. Having Connor be at so many pivotal events of the American Revolution just felt really silly, with the most egregious example being the re-interpretation of Paul Revere’s ride as Connor’s Ride with Paul Revere on the back of the horse.