Ubisoft has once again amazed us with their third installment of the Assassin’s Creed series. This time you play as Connor, a Native American boy turned assassin after his village becomes threatened by expanding colonists. Many of the classic Assassins Creed functions and feels remained the same to give the player the familiar feeling of the series, yet there are enough new features to immerse the player into a whole new experience.
One of the most noticeable differences is the slight changes in controls. The first few missions of this game were spent trying to familiarize myself with the keyboard layout. I noticed that there are also very few options in terms of changing the key mapping. This was but a slight annoyance that was easily overcame. One of the amazing features is the revamped combat system. The system made it much easier to counter your opponents attack or break the opponent’s defense and disarm them. This also allowed for more varied combat as some enemies actually need to be disarmed, stunned, etc. before killing instead of simply countering them and killing them with repetitive finishing moves. In this third installment, the combat seems to flow much better with Connor taking more advantage of his surroundings; be it by doing a spinning spring kill off a wall or slamming enemies against the wall and putting his knee through their face. All of this allows for a smoother feel to your assassinations.
Assassin’s Creed would not be Assassin’s Creed without the parkour. I’ll be honest, half of the countless hours I have put into this series has been running around the city like a maniac. This game makes the process much easier by only making the player use two buttons to freerun: forward and right mouse button. In past games you had to hold like forward, shift, space, RMB and who knows what else. Next thing you know you fingers are playing twister on the keyboard to play the game. Here, the controls have been consolidated to make the experience much more fun and enjoyable.
Like the other games in the series, the playable world is big. Unlike the other games, it is massive. From the cities designed as a scale model of the actual historical places to wide open frontier that can provide hours of fun through hunting and helping colonists. Just watch out for the animals that are looking to make you their prey. On more than one occasion I have been stalking a deer, only to round a corner and have a black bear or a wolf jumping on me. To edge slightly off topic, these encounters allow for another element “popular” in gaming but rather new to Assassin’s Creed: quicktime events. I’m sure everyone here is familiar with suddenly having icons flash on your screen and then dying for no observable reason. It seems Ubisoft caved and allowed these into this game. In all fairness, there are ways to still walk away if you do not get the buttons in time, but you will be taking a lot of damage and you’d better hope you do not run into another wolf. What I do not understand is why they did not just make the animal encounters more like the combat system, which it almost is anyways. But I digress.
Ubisoft added a lot of detail to really make you feel like you are a part of the game and a part of the time period. As you walk around the city, you overhear colonists complaining about the oppression and plan uprising. There are little details like anti-British posters and the famous “Don’t tread on me” flag around the city to add that little bit of ambiance. You can also stop tax collectors from pestering colonists and break unwilling soldiers out of the Royal army. By assassinating key people, you win back or liberate parts of the city from the Regulars. Since the game takes place in the late 1700s, you as the player have a few firearms available to you. They are not accurate over distance and take a while to reload, but let me tell you, never have I felt more like an assassin as I do when slowly walking towards the inner fort and reloading my musket after just beating the ten guards at the gate to a pulp. Just that feeling of nonchalantly walking and shooting as the soldiers fall down around you is one of the coolest moments I have experience in the game, right before assassinating a soldier by jumping from my horse and onto his.
Though the premise of the other Assassin’s Creed games was also to immerse you in history, I believe that this installment did the best job of making you feel like you were a part of your history, right out of your high school textbook. You keep a journal of people and happenings, similar to the journal in the Mass Effect games, that provides pages and pages of actual historical information on the people and places, should you care to read it. As Connor, you will also be present at the Boston Massacre and participate in the Boston Tea Party, to name a few events.
One could go on and on about this game in a review, but I want readers to go out and experience this game for themselves. However, I would like to briefly touch on the multiplayer. I have to mention it because, when I saw that you could do online multiplayer, I had to wonder how on earth Ubisoft was going to handle that. It’s not like you are carrying automatic weapons or sniper rifles that can kill from a distance; you have to get right up close to your target. However, as I played, it made more sense. You alternate between being an assassin and a target. There are only a few different characters to play as and the map is filled with NPCs using the same characters. This is what allows you to blend as target. If you hide and use blend techniques, you appear as a NPC until the assassin uses the tools available to them. As the assassin, you are given a picture of your target and you must find them. Once you are in line of sight, you get notified, and then as you get closer you will hear a faint heartbeat sound. Then it is as simple as taking out your target, except if the target notices you approaching, they can stun you and you are then harmless. By being stealthy in your killings or lasting a while as a target, you gain points. At the end of the match, the player with the most points wins.
As before mentioned, one could go on for pages about this game, delving into every detail that makes this game so great but I think that players should go experience it for themselves. It would be impossible to relay all of the feelings and experiences this game has to offer. Besides, who wants to read about a game when they could play it? Seriously, play this game, you will not be dissappointed.