Glitches and Gore Make Assassin’s Creed III
- Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Assassin's Creed III has been out for a few weeks now, and I've been trying to play it ever since launch day on my Playstation 3. I think the words I just used there, "TRYING to play it", are pretty much a summation of my feelings for this game. It's just SO. DANG. BORING. I keep trying and trying to like it as much as I enjoyed the prior entries to the series, but the game is making it nearly impossible to do so.
First off, the easy stuff. Ubisoft (the game's publisher) is kind of notorious for pushing out games that aren't quite finished. There are glitches throughout this game that, while never breaking anything other than immersion, make it tough to fully enjoy. I can think of instances where characters pass through each other, one character's voice is speaking but his mouth isn't moving, just little things like that. They all add up to a game that doesn't feel nearly as polished as a $60 game should be. Perhaps the PC version, which was released three weeks or so after the console version, rectifies all of these issues (but I don't bet on it). If you can get past these types of issues in daily life, then this probably won't bother you. But, if you're a little bit detail-oriented (or compulsive, whatever), this will annoy you throughout your entire time playing the game.
If you're able to get past glitches and bugs, you'll have to contend with characters and settings that are pretty bland when compared to prior entries in the series. The two former protagonists of the series (Altair and Ezio Auditore) were fairly interesting, charismatic individuals. I really grew to like both of them much more than their progeny Desmond Miles (who's kinda whiny and whose plot outside of the Animus has never really grabbed me). Unfortunately, ACIII's protagonist, Conor, is pretty much as boring as Desmond and definitely not as interesting as the heroes of prior games. I just wasn't able to connect with him in any way, and it made playing through the game that much more difficult.
Colonial America is likewise a much less interesting setting than either the Holy Land or Renaissance Italy from the perspective of the player who wants a lot of tall buildings to jump off of. When the setting of the game is added to the ongoing bloat of the missions, it becomes tedious in the extreme. The player can no longer enjoy the journey to the destination, nor the destination itself.
Ever since Assassin's Creed II, the games have been adding more and more mini-games, but I miss the focused nature we had in previous games of "get a mark - stalk a mark - neutralize a mark". This game is bloated with ship battles, cannon firing, chasing pages of Poor Richard's Almanac across rooftops (I wish I was joking), and other stuff that takes away from the core mechanic of being a stealthy assassin. There's still some of that in here, of course, but the side quests and bloat have taken over this game.
Ubisoft seem to have needed to expand the game to make it fit some arbitrary play-through time that a AAA title should take. I agree that I'd be pretty upset if I bought a game for $60 and it was over in 8 hours. But, if the side missions you have in the game (naval warfare, building a homestead, the aforementioned collection of Ben Franklin's papers blowing around Colonial Boston) bore the player, and more importantly, don't really add anything to the story, then I'll argue that I still spent $60 on a game that I barely WANT to spend 8 hours in completing the main storyline.
It's so frustrating, really. The Assassin's Creed story could have been so much more than what was provided in this final episode of the series. Desmond's near-future story does get some payoff toward the end of ACIII (you as the player get to control Desmond in the "real world" doing actual missions), but it all seemed rushed and tacked-on. If the Desmond story-line doesn't feel like the focus that we've been driving toward for five games now, then I'm forced to look at Conor's story as the real "point" of this last entry in the series. Sadly, what started with a bang in the original Assassin's Creed ends with a whimper here.
Assassin's Creed III is rated M for Mature by the ESRB. I noted the following things that may be of concern to some of our readers:
Language: Coarse. Ubisoft has been seeking an action-cinema feel for its games in this series, and the dialogue in the game is much like what you'd find in an R-rated movie.
Sexuality: Implied only through what I saw. However, I didn't complete every side-quest, so I can't say for certain that there isn't anything here.
Violence: Quite a bit, obviously. You can attempt many ways to stealth through the game, but you will, of course, need to assassinate a few folks along the way.
*This Review First Published 11/28/2012
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