Tuesday marks the release of Assassin’s Creed III, the latest game in the critically-acclaimed stealth action franchise by Ubisoft. Known for its politically charged settings, the science fiction series now forays into the American Revolutionary War and, from the looks of it, is turning out be a fantastic game.
Having earned a reputation as the premier assassination simulation over the past couple of years, Ubisoft’s iconic series is built around the premise of exploring the memories of a test subject to unearth their ancestral background. The series has previously explored the ancient Middle East and the Italian Renaissance, while the third proper game is set during the American war for independence.
Assassin’s Creed III sees players assuming the role of Connor, a revolutionary that fights for freedom using weapons such as tomahawks and arrows. As the son of a British father and Native American mother, Connor is one of the game’s many racially charged characters and demonstrates the diversity America has always been known for, even during colonialism. Be it the politically formidable Scottish orphan, the Spanish crusader, or the ruthless Irish tomboy, there is no shortage of politicized and unique personalities in the game.
Ubisoft is known for its historically significant subject selection and this work once again sees players amidst an actual conflict. Highlighting specific events such as the Boston Tea Party, the game is a true masterpiece of alternative history. The reason these killings went unrecorded in history books, according to the game, is that the assassins were just so bloody silent.
In fact, this obsession with silence is reflected in the gameplay and the objective is to kill noiselessly. Be it hunting for deer or removing an imperialist soldier, the player is rewarded for discretion but still given the freedom to approach missions in numerous ways. Whether you wish to catch a thief by shooting an arrow at his legs, or sprinting recklessly in his direction, the choice is yours.
The game will take place across several locations, such as Lexington, New York, Concord and Boston. A dynamic weather system will come into play in each location, working to both aid and hinder your mission. The snow of the Appalachian Mountains, for example, will limit your vision but also conceal your presence and allow you to trail injured enemies using bloodspots. Even the howling winds will cover the noise of your footsteps, allowing you to tread unheard.
The environments, such as the silent forest or the unruly brewery, are unlike anything the series has attempted in the past but are done with a remarkably dedicated flavor. The game hosts timely artifacts such as British flags or aged rifles and individual characters display remarkable distinctions such as varied accents and culturally distinguishable attire.
The newest addition to the series, naval warfare, sees players taking charge of a ship in order to defeat enemies by sea. The player will have the option to either command his own ship for battle using cannons or board the opponent’s in order to engage in fisticuffs. Here, commanders will once again have to account for weather conditions, such as high tides that shield the opponent or stormy weather that weakens sight.
Although it may seem somewhat counterintuitive to the concept of creating a lone warrior, the game will also offer multiplayer options. Playing either competitively or cooperatively, the player will be able to take part in assassinations, thefts, and combat. The modes on offer, unfortunately, are sparse and even derivative. Granted, the stealth genre is not entirely conducive to multiplayer but the game only offers seven modes and each is shamelessly similar to first person shooters on the market. “Artifact Assault,” for example, is essentially Capture the Flag from Halo 3 while “Wolfpack” is just the Horde Mode from Gears of War 3. Action adventure games have historically been neglected in terms of multiplayer but this simply comes off as redundant.
Many games have been justifiably criticized for their amateurish take on socially significant and politically charged subjects but that can’t be said of this series. Here, the stories have both depth and intellectual nuance. As for the gameplay, Ubisoft has improved its core formula with each subsequent entry in the series and their sense of setting grows more ambitious each time. That having been said, Assassin’s Creed III is easily the studio’s most anticipated project yet and, with hype of this caliber, gamers are often unfairly relentless.