Format reviewed: Xbox 360
Other formats available: PS3, PC
Having flogged the renaissance setting for the various Assassin’s Creed II games, Ubisoft has moved the location of the latest in the franchise a few hundred years forward to the late 18th century.
So after three outings Ezio is no more. Or is he? If you have played any of the previous AC games you will know that just because things happened in the past, that doesn’t mean that they don’t come up again. That said, for ACIII we have a new hero, eventually.
In the run up to its launch all we heard about the game was that you play Connor, the son of a native American woman and an English man. So we were a little surprised when for a large part of the start of the game you don’t play as the aforementioned Connor. But as someone called Haytham Kenway, not in colonial New England either, but in good old fashioned old England. Old London town to be precise.
So who is this man with whom you learn the skills that will be required of you? Well as the story inches along you find out. The story, you won’t be at all surprised to learn, follows the events that became the American War of Independence.
This included the now famous Boston Tea Party and other events up to and including the first official shots of the war, if you can have such things, that were fired at a place called Concorde (if this reviewer’s memory serves them correctly).
This being an Assassin’s Creed game, although this time you are fighting the lobster backs (the nickname for the English red coats) they are not acting on their own volition it would appear. Oh no, guess who is pulling their strings? Yes you guessed it.
So although the main character has changed, the setting is different, very little is actually new in the game. Instead of the empire building of ACII you now have a homestead that you can develop by helping locals who then help you. There are various side missions, which now include some rather preposterous naval missions. You do these after helping a man, who lives near your homestead, repair the boat that he just happens to have.
Other side things include running after pages from various books. There is one word for these: annoying. The main reason is because the free running/roof climbing mechanic is as temperamental as a toddler full of E numbers.
One minute you are in hot pursuit of said page, then young Connor is busy doing a Marcel Marceau impression as if he is standing in front of a pane of glass and won’t jump up to the ledge / window / chimney that you wanted him to. These annoyances don’t just happen when you’re chasing the bits of paper either.
In ACIII you can swim and by pulling one of the triggers Connor can do a pretty good front crawl. However, that is also the button for quickly climbing out of the water and on to a boat in the middle of the harbour in full view of a garrison of red coats! This rather spoils the element of surprise we’re sure you agree.
Another annoyance is that there is no crouch button. Yes Connor/Haytham will crouch when near something they can hide in (bushes / tall grass etc.) but won’t at all other times. Seeing as the game wants you to sneak around more than a spy who is having an affair, this seems like something of a big oversight.
All this may make it sound as though ACIII is a bad game, it isn’t. In many ways it’s great fun. Yes the animal skinning thing reminds us of Red Dead Redemption and fighting often ends up being an exercise in button bashing, but the game is slick and looks great.
If you liked the first four games then you will love ACIII. Just don’t try and understand the story and you’ll be fine.
Review by Tuckski for BCS