Throughout the Assassin’s Creed series we’ve traveled through different periods in time following the stories of Altair, Ezio, and Desmond as they fight the nefarious Templar order. In the final installment of Desmond’s story, Assassin’s Creed 3, we become Connor, the Native American freedom fighter from the Revolutionary War era. We, the fans, were expecting an epic conclusion to the roller coaster story that we rode throughout the series, waiting for the inevitable bang at the end where we would most likely be left wanting more, but knowing the story of Desmond had reached its end. What we got with Assassin’s Creed 3 instead was a plot line full of twists that went nowhere, unlikable characters, and one of the sorriest excuses for the end of a franchise that I’ve ever seen in gaming.
The game has many positives to it, the first being the upgrade to movements in general. Connor runs through landscapes quickly, leaps over smaller obstacles, and can fast travel instantly to any unlocked fast travel locations on the map, rather than having to seek them out as in previous games. Traversing the landscape is fun and easy, whether you run through the underbrush, climb buildings, ride a horse over the rolling hills of the frontier, or swing through the trees that litter the landscape.
Collectibles often appear in your path, but gathering them is not the chore that it was in previous games. From very early on, maps can be purchased that reveal the location of all of the hidden feathers, chests, and almanac pages scattered throughout the world. This cuts exploration down considerably, and adds an ease to collecting the vast amount of items.
In an earlier post I spoke of the naval segments, and my opinion of them has not changed. They are fun, fast paced, and a lovely way to break up game play by fighting pirates, attacking forts, and finding the lost treasure of Captain Kidd. Along your journeys you also run into people who are down on their luck, and you can trigger a Homestead mission. These optional missions add people to your base of operations, bringing in news items for you to purchase, and later sell at a higher price. These missions are quirky, quick, and a nice way to build up some cash for new weapons, outfits, and so on.
Another fun series of quests that break up the main story are the management of your assassins. Once you complete a certain number of objectives, all involving helping citizens of Boston and New York, you are rewarded with a new recruit. You can send these recruits on missions throughout the colonies via an early map of America, where they gather you money, trading supplies, and experience. The experience they gain levels them up and makes it easier for them to take on tougher missions in the colonies. This also feels slightly broken. For example: while playing through a particularly tough section of the game, I kept sending my assassins on missions. They would complete their objectives, earn me money, and I would send them back out. Following this method while continuing to fail at my objective earned my 50 thousand dollars in the span of an hour. The games are notorious for giving you too much cash too quickly, and while everyone might not take advantage of this, I certainly did, so there are bound to be others.
The multiplayer has also been improved, though not by much. My friend and I sunk countless hours into Wolfpack, a new, objective-based multiplayer mode. It’s a game where you and your friends murder targets, trying to gather bonuses for stealth and style to boost your combined score and shoot you into higher, and tougher rounds. It’s super-addicting, fast-paced, and a blast.
But the biggest complaint with multiplayer is also a problem with the main game: menus. The menus are extremely convoluted and bloated with sub-menus. Once, I picked up a quest to gather items. Not seeing the quest show up on the screen, I began digging through the menus in search of it. After around 10 minutes of searching, I found the quest listed under the collectibles tab, buried under all the actual collectibles. Moving the left stick when opening your menu cycles you through the different tabs, while the right stick controls all movement of the map. This system takes a long time to get used to, and I still end up blasting through my tabs when I simply want to glance at my map. The menus in multiplayer are even worse. Finding your list of challenges or upgrading a character takes far longer than it should. The radical change of the style from the last game is unwelcome, and hard to navigate. I’ve always said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and usually this applies very well to games. When companies completely change the structure of an easy-to-use system, it just makes the player less inclined to want to do anything outside of the norm.
I won’t go into the story, for fear of spoiling what little is actually good, but suffice to say that I found this game fell short of its predecessors. The main character was gruff, and most of the time unlikable because of it. It’s sort of explained that he had a rough life, but most of his angry outbursts seem out of nowhere, toward the wrong people, and unnecessary. Twists happen that completely shock you, but then are never followed up on or are completely brushed aside. A large twist is thrown right in Connor’s face, something that should have completely changed his views of everything he has been working toward, but he simply shrugs it off, saying that the matters at hand are more important.
I’ve always thought the story was what drove the franchise, and to see it fall so short hurts me. The Desmond segments are fun and full of potential, but the end result is so underwhelming that you just feel cheated out of a real ending. After completing the game I sat for a long time, waiting for some explanation of what had happened, only to be told virtually nothing. To be left out in the cold like that after playing through the last four games leaves me feeling hurt and angry. I can only cling to the hope that some DLC will explain the story further, but one should not have to rely on extra content for that kind of gratification. What if JK Rowling had stopped Harry Potter right when Harry decided to go off on his own to face Voldemort, and told the world, “Oh, you can find out what happens in the short articles I’ll release once every couple of months. No guarantees, though.” It’s a bad thing to rely on, and I’m not even sure more will be explained there.
In the end, I was beyond disappointed with how Assassin’s Creed 3 panned out. It was fun to play, and the multiplayer is still fantastic, but the drop off of good story telling leaves me with no desire to play the game anymore. I can’t recommend playing this game if you are as invested in the story as I am. There is a good amount of game play changes that make it stronger than previous titles, but because of how I felt about the story, literally my biggest reason for playing the games… I can only say that you should stop your quest where they left off at the end of the previous game because the outcome here does not deliver what was promised: an epic conclusion. That being said, if the story isn’t your main reason for playing it, the game is a lot of fun to play, given all the elements it includes. The single player, and multiplayer are both rewarding, and I would recommend giving it a shot. (Awful bipolar of me, I know, but there you have it.).