Assassin's Creed III 1-Year Later ReviewGuest_Jim_* - November 6, 2013
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As mentioned in the Graphics section, I had have stability issues with Assassin's Creed III, and in the Story section I mentioned that the prologue of the game, during which you play Haytham Kenway, instead of the main character of the game, lasted two hours and forty-three minutes for me. I mention them again, just in case you skipped those sections.
Though the larger gameplay is definitely Assassin's Creed, like the games before it, Assassin's Creed III has its own spin on the mechanics. The free-running, stealth, and hidden blades return, though with changes to work with the wilderness of America. You can now climb trees and free-run along their branches, as well as hide in the bushes off the beaten trails. Combat has also seem some alterations as firearms, such as long-barreled rifles, are in use at this time, so you do need to take care to not be shot. Of course you can pick up and use these weapons to kill your enemies, but be careful because black powder is loud and draws attention. One thing I have found decidedly annoying about combat is that the countering system has been changed. I have no idea why it would change in the fifth game of a series, but change it did.
The entirely new mechanic of sailing has been added as well, so now you can captain a ship to open trade routes and protect shipping vessels. Your ship, the Aquila, is equipped with large cannons for broadsides and swivel guns, for more precise, but less powerful attacks. With proper situational awareness you can dominate the sea, but it is not as simple as that, as you must also be skilled with the rudder and canvas.
Trade is also a new mechanic, as you can develop your homestead to grow food and produce lumber and other goods for sale. To initiate trade, you have to send a trade caravan and, to put it simply, this is probably one of the worst thought out mechanics in the game. You have to do this once in the course of the campaign, and beyond that there is really no designed interest in doing it ever again. You will have to remember the mechanic exists and then choose to use it if you want to send another caravan, but even then you may not be able to. The first caravan I sent was attacked and there was nothing I could do about it. It just sits in my accounting book. Only after searching for it online did I learn how to send another caravan.
Hunting is much the same way, I found. You have to do it in the campaign occasionally, but outside of that, there is practically no incentive to do so.
Two more issues I have with gameplay are the map and free-running. With the previous titles, I noticed the free-running becoming better and better, so when I bump against an obstacle, I actually bump against it instead of leaping on top of it, completely changing my direction and getting stuck on another obstacle off of my intended path. Well, the free-running in Assassin's Creed III feels to be a step back as bumps become leaps and sometimes when I want to leap, I instead just bump against something. Running along trees is also frustrating as sometimes you end up climbing up a trunk, when what you wanted to do was round the trunk to get to a branch on the other side. Also I have found myself trying to get down from a tall tree, but because Connor dropped down on the wrong side of a limb, if I drop I will fall to my death instead of to another branch.
A strategy I used in the previous games was to immediately find the viewpoints to reveal the map. Sometimes memories restricted where you could go, so viewpoints were not accessible, but eventually you were able to visit them all and reveal the entire map. That is not how it works in Assassin's Creed III. Viewpoints still exist, but do not reveal the entire map. If you want a revealed map, you are going to have to travel everywhere, on foot or on horse. Annoyingly, the amount revealed this way is a fraction of what you can actually see. Why the design was made to marginalize the viewpoints like this in the fifth game of the franchise, I do not know. Perhaps one could argue that it is to demonstrate just how large the map is, but then one could argue that there are plenty of tall structures Connor could climb to observe the landscape from, just as he does from the viewpoints.
The final issue I have with the gameplay is perhaps also the most important. Another mechanic returning from the earlier games is the one to bring people into the Assassin Order. Once this is done, you are able to call upon them to help you in battle. In the previous titles, I really enjoyed going out of my way to rescue the people and get them to join the cause. This game left me with no desire to rescue anyone. When I did, I never felt like I was building the Order and I did not feel like it was worth my effort. Before you could send the assassins on missions to collect rewards and experience to make them more effective, but in Assassin's Creed III they can only be called upon to do battle. I do not need them to fight, and they can make being stealthy very difficult, so I left them alone.
According to the save game, it took me approximately 14 hours and 49 minutes to complete the campaign. This may be inaccurate though due to crashes causing me to replay sections.
For what it is worth, the basic gameplay itself is enjoyable. It is just that a lot of the higher-level gameplay elements seem rather poorly executed. This has left me with no desire to return to them or wondering why the developers changed them as they did, especially when compared to how they were implemented in the previous titles.