Review Price £39.99
Assassin's Creed 3: Gameplay and Graphics
Having found our feet in the great outdoors, we headed towards Boston to see how the main story missions work out. Here Assassin's Creed 3 feels back on more familiar territory; infiltrating enemy territory, making contact with counter-government forces and taking on missions against the fiendish redcoats and their flunkies. Mixing with founding fathers Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, and hooking up with a very angry Frenchman, Connor destroys a rich Templar’s black market tea supplies, harasses Colonial tax collectors and tea smugglers and tries to take over Templar districts before kicking off AC3’s own variation on the Boston Tea Party.
Assassin's Creed 3 Gameplay
This is closer to the Assassin’s Creed we know and love, but it still feels different. Boston isn’t as heavily developed as previous Assassin's Creed cities, and musket-sporting redcoats are everywhere. You can’t sprint across the rooftops with impunity, or scale walls without making a scene. While many of the activities – climbing towers, defacing posters, tackling oppressive troops – will be familiar, the way you do so needs to be a bit more cautious. Enemy AI appears to have been ramped up, and numbers and firepower mean the odds are not in your favour. This, we suspect, will take some getting used to.
But is it thrilling? Definitely. One of the complaints about Assassin's Creed: Revelations was that it all felt a bit by the numbers; while there were a few new twists, you were doing mostly the same stuff you had already done before, using skills and tactics you’d deployed many times before. With Assassin's Creed 3, a different hero, different skills, different enemies and a difference setting mean that the old routines no longer work. If you don’t think your way through each situation, you won’t succeed.
Some ideas make a welcome return. Before long your bloodthirsty French chum is a paid-up member of the order, and ready to assassinate or cause a diversion on your command. You can still hide from pursuit in carts full of corn or handy outhouses and parkour remains as fluid and easy as ever – in fact, you don’t even need to press X to jump.
Assassin's Creed 3 Graphics
Assassin's Creed 3 runs on a new version of the Anvil engine, dubbed AnvilNext, and there’s a lot of hype about this delivering next-generation visuals on current generation hardware. Well, we can see slightly higher levels of detail and some impressive natural scenery outside, but it’s hard to say that it’s a quantum leap beyond the graphics of the Ezio trilogy. In particular, character close-ups lack the texture and convincing animation we’re seeing in games like LA Noire and Uncharted 3. However, we’ve yet to really clap eyes on some of the game’s flagship features, including realistic snow and weather effects and scenes involving masses of soldiers on a single battlefield. This is where AC3 might deliver on its promise of new spectacle.
More good news: we’re promised that this Assassin’s Creed will feature less of present-day hero Desmond, and that it sees the end of the whole Desmond cycle. Given that even the series’ most ardent fans must be fed up with Desmond and the whole modern-day distractions by now, this can only be a good thing.
This is a surprisingly risky game for Ubisoft. It looks like Assassin’s Creed and plays much like Assassin’s Creed, yet it still feels subtly different. You can’t take tactics and strategies that worked for Altair or Ezio and apply them willy-nilly; you have to play to Connor’s strengths, and to the new challenges and opportunities in the environment. In our opinion, this is exactly what the series needs after four games in five years, but the question is whether Assassin's Creed 3 can be different enough without wrecking what makes the series work. Two and a half hours of action isn’t enough to answer that question, but we hope so. The world could still do with another big, epic and intelligent historical thriller, and Assassin’s Creed 3 could be it.
Last minute update: at a Nintendo Wii U event last week we finally had a chance to try Assassin’s Creed 3’s new naval missions. The one we sampled had Connor at the helm in pursuit of a fleeing ship, only to be ambushed by two Man O’War. As sun turned to rain and a suitably dramatic storm, the surging sea was realistic enough to prompt an outbreak of lurgy, while the weather effects bode well for those elsewhere in the game. Combat is pretty much what you’d expect. Connor can select from various type of shot, including grapeshot, chainshot and flaming cannonballs, then fire broadsides at ships to either side. Tall ships don’t turn on a sixpence and cannons take time to recharge, so there’s a need to choose your moment carefully. The naval action makes a nice change of pace for the series, not to mention some impressive spectacle, though it’s not the kind of thing we’d like to see become too focal a part of the series. All the same, it shows the willingness to explore new vistas that seems a signature of Assassin’s Creed 3 as a whole.
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