Assassin’s Creed III Wii U Review

Assassin’s Creed III (Available on PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: M
Number of Players: 1 to 18
Genre: Action
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Release Date: October 30th, 2012 (PC, PS3, and 360 version) November 18th, 2012 (Wii U version)

Parent Talk: Assassin’s Creed III is rated M for mature because of blood, intense violence, sexual themes, and strong language. Players take on the roll of Conner, the assassin, who’s primary goal is to take out key targets with extreme prejudice. Throw in countless henchmen along the way, and things get bloody very quickly, and don’t let up until the game comes to an end. Bottom line, don’t let your children play this one.

Plays Like: While a somewhat different take on the series, the key elements that made Assassin’s Creed so appealing remain largely intact. Players still hunt down specific targets, while hiding in plain sight, and use their environment to try to avoid as many confrontations as possible, or to escape after triggering the attention of would-be enemies. Essentially this is the AC you know and love, but with some very nice improvements and additions made along the way.

Review Basis: Finished the single-player campaign, and tried my hand at the multiplayer.

Ubisoft has the done the Assassin’s Creed series justice. They had a lofty goal ahead of them, trying to use open-world gameplay mechanics wrapped around the American Revolution, all while retaining the same excellent feel as the original games. So did they succeed, or does this latest installment fall flat?

The Great:

The setting and open-world gameplay take the cake. Being able to actually recognize certain areas in Boston and New York, and then be let loose to explore those areas at your leisure is an incredible feeling, one I’ve never had quite like this before.

The Good:

+ Story within a story. Sure most of you know the American Revolution, but I can assure you, you’ve never heard it like this before. Featuring a new assassin, Conner, players interact with many key moments from the Revolution, all while learning about the deep, dark history of Conner from his youngest days as a little boy, all the way through maturity. It’s a wonderfully woven tale of deceit, deception and intrigue.

+ Story-missions not only progress the narrative, but also follow a familiar structure. Players gather intelligence, locate and finally assassinate key targets.

+ Freedom to do as you please. While not taking part in the story missions, players can hunt wildlife, take part in brawls, or search for the game’s many trinkets, the choice is yours.

+ Customizable heads up display (HUD), allows players to highlight as little or much information as desired.

+ Refinement down to an art. Ubisoft has made slight modifications to the core gameplay, which allow new players to jump on-board without being intimidated by all the advanced features.

+ Multiplayer options are surprisingly fresh. Wolf Pack, a cooperative mode where players take on the computer is fast-paced and fun, while the classic Assassinate mode will keep players glued to their screens for weeks.

+ Absolutely the most technically impressive AC yet. The new animation capture technology is superb with character movement appearing extremely lifelike. The environments are spectacular, and overall attention to detail is phenomenal.

+ The audio is equally impressive. Beautifully composed soundtrack, inspired voice acting, and killer special effects enhance large-scale set pieces, which put you directly in the center of the action.

The So-So:

+/- While open-world gameplay allows players the freedom to do as they please, Ubisoft couldn’t veer too far off course for the narrative because it follows real-life events. As such Conner feels much more linear as a person than Ezio did in the previous games.

+/- The open-world elements cause a couple of wrinkles along the way. Some side missions are perfectly thought out, like the naval mission, while others feel tacked on or completely out of place.

The Bad:

– As with all new technology, bugs and glitches come with the territory. Even after updating the game on day one, there were still several noticeable issues including pop-in, texture flickering and strange facial animation issues where characters would speak and their lips wouldn’t move.

The Ugly:

The worst aspect of Assassins’ Creed III is one of a balancing and pacing issue. While it’s understandable to hold the player’s hand for the first few hours for those who have never played a game in the series before, it feels very shallow and time consuming for us old-timers. That changes once the game opens up, but it takes an eternity to get there.

Wii U Alterations:

The major difference between the Wii U version and all the others are several unique features added to the Game Pad. For starters not only do you have access to a much larger map, but you can also tap an on-screen button to whistle for your horse, allowing Conner to always have two weapons equipped. Players can also choose to play through the game on the Game Pad, although naturally the resolution takes a major downgrade as a result. The rest of the game, content and features are identical to the other version of the game.

The Lowdown:

Assassin’s Creed III is a fantastic game, one that surprised me far more often than I thought it would. Sure the pacing can be problematic, and yes some of the side-missions are questionable, but the setting, the incredible gameplay options and refinements made to the series as a whole make this the best AC yet, and one you shouldn’t miss out on.

Final Score: 9/10

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