I’ve been a huge Assassin’s Creed fan since AC2. I played the first AC and while I mildly enjoyed it (mostly for it’s setting), It was AC2 and Brotherhood (Brother, especially) that made me love the series. Revelations wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t as good as the two previous Ezio games. The big set piece battles were fun and the standard Ezio action was good enough. Revelations’ big problem was the stupid idea of having to keep the towers you took. The tower defense part of the game was laughable and was an obvious reaction to the popularity of tower defense games from a couple years ago. So, Ezio’s story wraps up and and Ubisoft announces that they’ve got AC3 coming and that they’ve been working on the game since AC2 shipped. It’s going to take place during the American Revolution, and you’re an indian.
The fact that you’re not in huge cities like in the Ezio games and you’re dealing with large swaths of mountainous terrain was a clear sign that the way you traversed the world in AC3 was going to be quite different than before. At first, the tree climbing and running from branch to branch felt awkward, but as I realized that Connor wasn’t going to jump off if I just held down the right trigger but he was still capable of doing all the climbing and jumping around in the trees that he needed to to keep moving, it started to feel very natural. In fact, he was much more enjoyable to swing through the trees than to run along rooftops in AC3. Compared to previous AC games, running along rooftops didn’t seem like a super viable option. I felt like I was getting spotted and attacked by enemies way more often in AC3 than in any other AC game when I was on rooftops.
AC3 allowed you to deck out your home in a similar fashion to building up your home in AC2, and in AC3, there’s a lot more story to go along with it. The upgrades to your homestead take a long time to complete, and you actually get to know the people in your town pretty well. I kind of hate to say it, but the mundane stories of homestead life were more entertaining than AC3’s campaign story. I helped a man get a girl, helped an inn get up and running, helped a minister set up a parish and after helping the couple get married (and saving the woman from cold feet) they were married by that minister and had their reception at the inn. Compare that to Connor’s lame-o main story about his estranged Templar father and his quest for revenge against the guy that killed his mother, the common man stories spoke to me in a very different way.
AC3 introduced the concept of crafting into the franchise. After recruiting people to your homestead, they can mine for minerals, procure lumber, make medicine and prepare weapon parts. You can then ship these items up and down the Eastern seaboard for sale, sell them at local shops or use them to build more elaborate items for your own personal use. I didn’t really get into crafting because:
- it wasn’t obvious how to ship stuff
- it took you out of the story
- the items you can make weren’t necessary to complete the story
It would’ve been better if you needed to craft certain items in order to complete the story missions. That would’ve given me the impetus to try it out. Like most AC games, you can complete the game without every buying a single upgrade. If you’ve got your hidden blades, you can complete any mission.
Hunting in AC3 was another one of those things that you don’t need, but a lot of the money I made came from animal pelts. As you’re roaming the wilderness, you’re constantly coming across deer, elk and pumas to kill, skin and then sell their skins. Most of the animals will run at the sight of you, however, predators like bears, pumas, cougars and occasionally elk will charge you and after successfully completing a QTE, you kill them and can skin them. It’s a quick way to make cash, so while not necessary to the Assassin’s Creed experience, it would up being nice to have.
Something I Missed
In the older AC games, there were a lot of temples, churches and caverns to explore. They might not have any enemies or maybe just a few, but they were big and they were all about jumping around and exploring the environment. AC3 lacks that almost entirely except for a couple of the naval missions that you get when you’re searching for Captain Kidd’s treasure. I guess they couldn’t justify why those kinds of places would have existed in America in the late 1700’s but I considered those temples, churches and caves as essential to the Assassin’s Creed experience.
Huge spoilers below!
Ubisoft blew the story… again. Like they always do. They blew it on two fronts.
With Connor, the final push to the finish isn’t satisfying, your Templar father seems like the obvious choice for the final struggle, but he’s not. He’s a shitty little fight that occurs in slow motion and winning it is less about your skill and more about just using the environmental triggers built into the scene. And when you are chasing down Lee at the end, he just keeps getting away when it makes no fucking sense. And when you finally catch up to him and deliver the final blow, you don’t get to push the button! They take all this time having you chase after him and letting you lose him over and over, and when you’re finally there, you’re gasping for air, you’re all messed up and you finally plunge the knife into him, you should get to press the button! It would’ve been cathartic, and would’ve made the last moment worth the dragged out chase sequence.
Desmond had a pretty interesting story in AC3. I loved running around the cave and listening to Juno tell you about the end of her civilization. The first outside scene on the crane was cool too. (Brazil’s scene can take a flying leap however. Desmond sucks if he is under attack.) When you’re finally ready to end the game, Desmond gets a choice, not unlike Commander Shepard’s in Mass Effect 3. He has the choice between saving a small number of people from the apocalypse (who will start a new civilization) or letting Juno out who will take over the world. It’s an interesting situation to be put in. But you don’t get to choose! Desmond just decides to let her out and the world is fucked. I shouldn’t be surprised. No other part of Assassin’s Creed has ever given you choice about anything, and Ubisoft needs a linear path to keep shitting out AC games. It was an ending with great potential, and it was squandered.
The shittiest part of it all is…even though I felt burned on AC: Revelations and AC3, I’m still gonna be there day one for AC4.