Assassin's Creed is a series which is so historically rich, yet has a totally fictional plot running in parallel. The returning Templars vs Assassin's storyline gets a little tiring, but can't be escaped as it's the base of the entire saga. Previous entries were set within Europe. Understandably as the developer Ubisoft is based in Europe, so moving the climax of the series across the pond to North America is quite a bold step and shows they wanted to go out with a bang.
The story is set within Colonial America throughout the American Revolution. You'll bump into characters historically world famous such as Charles Lee and George Washington. It's actually quite educational and interesting. Modern day Desmond segments are here but to be perfectly honest the main Native American assassin Connor Kenway is magnitudes more interesting. He has an agenda, primarily he wants to protect his Native American community, but he also wants to stop the British Templars from gaining power. The Templars are sort of like a magical version of the Free Mason or Illuminati conspiracy. The overall storyline kept me entertained and engaged. Along with a decent sprinkling of twists and realistic voice acting.
As the player you see Conor grow up, first he's a tree climbing child, then he's a winey teen and finely he becomes an adult. Conor always seems to have an unnecessary chip on his shoulder and at times comes across rather rude and arrogant. But then his brave and charming side is revealed also. You never really figure him out, leaving behind a mysterious man. Conor gets involved with the members of the Assassin Order in Boston and eventually learns the Assassin trade. All this happens rather quickly, making sure the blood shed comes quickly too, not to lose players attention.
The opening scene, plays out a stage show within London. Not giving too much away, you need to assassinate someone across the theatre within an audience box. But the means of gaining access to this target is very enjoyable. Cracking door locks behind stage, manoeuvring on the outside of audience box windows and jumping from light cranes located on stage, whilst trying to not to be seen is ambitious and what Assassins Creed is all about. The immediate action, gives a pleasant taste of what's in stall.
The game features unbelievably well designed cities of Boston and New York. The people and architecture are marvellously executed. Capturing the feeling of the time well. The sheer amount of design detail is definitely a level up from previous iterations. The environments feel refreshed with snow, fog, sun and rain all making an appearance as you progress. These two cities aren't the only places you'll explore, forests are also featured. These felt like a bit of an after thought. You become a hunter of the wildlife, to complete quests and earn money. But that's about all you do and then it's back to the cities. Free running in the forests is a blast but the cities are the better and more appealing setting.
The cities have a bustling atmosphere. And show off the free roaming and combat improvements. Everything feels faster and smoother. Jumping from rooftop to rooftop, swinging through branches and swiftly escaping over obstacles on ground is still fun, but better. Combat also feels faster and more brutal. The primary mission and side missions are stalk, kill and repeat, with a scattering of other missions like trying to convince people to settle in towns, chasing and collecting items ect. But the primary assassinating doesn't get old, keeping hidden and killing swiftly whilst undetected is still fun. The settings and build up of the combat evolves which is the sole reason for this contained interest. The main story will take around 15-20 hours to beat, so it's a lengthy release. As you progress through the game, you'll build strong relationships with communities and individuals who you help liberate and thrive. Weapons also become more powerful, these include tomahawks, muskets, flintlocks and swords ect. All upgradable via shops that open in the liberated communities.
But when you're not within story missions, free roaming will take up hours of time. There is so much to see and do. Collecting is one of them. Treasure chests, pirate trinkets and feathers are scattered across the map to be discovered. You can polish up on your combat skills, by provoking the red coat British soldiers, something the Pilgrims will admire. But you can also set sail, something the main story didn't take advantage of enough and side missions made more use of. Sailing ships is fantastic fun with the ship being guided by wind direction and speed. I really feel Ubisoft were scared to over do the amount of emphasis sailing had in the story.
The worst element of Assassin's Creed III are the glitches. The main errors are usually physic based but the occasional frame rate drop and weird graphical errors occur too. Updates have been released to address these sorts of problems, but games with vast free roaming environments like this, will always have glitches.
I feel I should finish this review by saying that Assassin’s Creed III can be played and fully enjoyed by those who have bought every entry in the series. But most importantly, if you're a newcomer and want to taste the series, this is the most suitable release to do so.