Sunday, July 28, 2013

Assassin's Creed 3 *Review*

Okay, I realize that this game was released in OCTOBER, but I stopped playing it for a while. When I found out the AC4 was coming out this October I really wanted to know exactly what happened so I could follow the story.  Why did I stop playing it for a while you ask? ...Well it's like this: AC3 released the week before midterms at my school. I tried to play it some, but was preoccupied with studying. Two weeks went by and I had only played to sequence 6. However, with midterms over I decided that night (the last day of school for the week) that I would pull an all nighter and finish the game. Unfortunately that morning someone in my school was talking to his friends in the hall. As they were walking past me I heard him say "So Desmond basically *End of AC3*". How did I know he was talking about AC3? It was obvious, how many other main characters are there named Desmond? Once I heard the ending I lost all motivation to finish the game. Now that E3 has passed though, I felt like trying again. Here are my thoughts:

Main Character:
Conner is a Native American who watches his village burn, his mother die, and the land around him taken by invaders. His motivation in this game is vengeance against those that have wronged him and his people.

Connor is the opposite of Ezio in almost every way. While both witnessed their loved ones die Ezio was reasoned with and was able to step back and plot his revenge. Connor, on the other-hand is consumed by vengeance, refuses to understand the ways of the world and charges against his enemy in a barbaric and unrefined manner. I was really disappointed with the way the game developers went with Connor. I'm part Native American and found the portrayal of Connor down right offensive for the first 1/3 of the game. He was a whiny, unreasonable, barbaric, ignorant, hot-tempered, jackass that thought he knew it all from just a little training. The second third of the game I was confused, he was barbaric when in Boston or New York, but civil everywhere else. He was slightly more refined, however his mood swings came across as somewhat bi-polar rather than character growth (which is what I think Ubisoft was going for). The last third of the game Connor comes into his own more, he is less volatile than before and his killings seem less fueled by explosive anger.

I think Ubisoft tried to make Connor almost a coming of age tale, but instead it came across as a savage that was integrated into a civilized society. Connor never achieves the subtlety, grace, control, mystique, intrigue, or intelligence of Altair or Ezio. Instead Conner is just a cheap imitation, he never fully embraces the Brotherhood and instead, only uses it to further his own agenda. By the end of the game I was still slightly offended by Connor, but was comforted by the thought that the way Conner came across was not what Ubisoft originally intended.

Plot:
As always the historical accuracy and the integration of a fictional story with actual events is done marvelously. The events that involve Conner and historical figures are believable and the story is intriguing. Once again I get to traipse through history and make friends (and enemies) with historical figures. Connor's side of the plot is well done (except for Connor himself) and pulls you in.

Desmond's side of the plot however, could have been a bit better.  There are only 3 parts where the player actually plays as Desmond (apart from the very beginning). And they are all very short. Given the ending of this game I felt that more time spent playing Desmond would have made sense. Also, there was a new character added to the modern day portion of the game, Daniel Cross. He was merely a means to an end and didn't hold any real value. If we had seen him more throughout the series perhaps he wouldn't have bothered me so much, but he really felt out of place and I didn't like his addition to the cast of antagonists.

Gameplay:
Game Mechanics:
Free Running:
Free running in this game is far more refined than in previous games. Any leaps that need to be made from one foothold to another are done automatically and Connor can climb MUCH faster than Ezio. The problem is that because of the new simplicity of free running, climbing to viewpoints isn't as fun. In fact, in this game it's pointless. The game makes a map for you as you explore, meaning you can have a full map without using one viewpoint. And while Connor climbs faster, it isn't a believable climb. Most of the buildings I climbed I couldn't see most of what Connor was supposedly hanging on to. It may seem nitpicky, but it really bothered me. Free running before seemed like a fun puzzle and it was very satisfying when I would finally figure out how to get to the top of a really high structure. Now it's just a way to get around.

While we on the subject of free running I want to talk about the environment of AC3. In the towns, most of the buildings were too far apart to really jump from one to another. Historically this makes sense as building were spaced out more than in Europe, but gameplay wise it certainly wasn't as fun. As for the bulk of the environment, the forest, I couldn't really climb from tree to tree the way I wanted to. Most of the tree branches have one path, that's it. If one say, wanted to try to get from point A to point B without touching the ground this would be a next to impossible feat. EXCEPT during story missions. The developers realized people may want to assassinate people during memories in the forest, so they gave a path for those specific destinations. However, if you try taking the trees to get to a side mission good luck, because there are a lot of dead ends and false starts. Most of the paths I took in the tree ended up in the veering off course, even when I tried to force my way through in the desired direction.

Fighting:
The way fighting is set up in AC3 is very different than in previous games. No longer does the player operate with different buttons to control different hands. Instead, stealing and passing people are done intuitively or with prompts. The fighting is done with different attacking and countering moves. I actually didn't mind the new fighting system until sequence 8, when for some reason I lost my tomahawk. I still don't understand why I suddenly lost it, but I was without it for the rest of the game. My best guess it that it broke and I was supposed to craft a new one. However, I have no idea how to craft anything in this game. If it's possible I don't think a tutorial was included. Anyway, without that Tomahawk the rest of the fighting in the game was done with my hidden blade and lead to a lot of swearing and rage quits. Ubisoft needs to ensure that while I can UPGRADE stuff and it may break, the original item that I am AUTOMATICALLY GIVEN stays in my hand. Or if it does break, how about a prompt that reminds me how to fix it or get a new one hmm?
Missions:
Story Missions:
The story mission break away from the tried and true methods in previous AC games. Instead of learning the target, learning about the target, learning about the target's location, and finally killing the target; we start the mission and everything has already been set in motion for us. There weren't a whole lot of actual assassinations in this game either. Instead there were several missions involved in warfare, such as defending the area, are retreating to an area within a set time limit. Many group battles too, there were some specific stealth missions, but few had to do with killing. In fact, for two of the biggest deaths in the game, you don't really battle them and kill them, what you really do is attempt to fight or chase them and then a cutscene kills them for you...it was really disappointing. Finally there were several chase missions that the player is forced to do, and they WERE NOT FUN! They were some of the most irritating things I've had to do in a video game in the past five years.
Side Missions:
I can't really comment on this much because I didn't do many of them. There were some homestead missions that were fun, and some delivery missions that were boring, but the main thing I tried to do were the liberation missions. In the liberation missions one must kill a bunch of guards while protecting those whom the guards were bullying. I failed every attempt to liberate the citizens and after defeating a bunch of guards 5 times only to realize that the potential assassins were all dead I gave up. I don't think it was the game's fault thought that I couldn't save the citizens, I think I just suck at this game. 
Music
The music in AC3 was rather charming. Some colonial music while spending time in towns and while in the forest the player is treated to some traditional Native American chanting. I'm not really one for dissecting music or commenting on what is good and bad about a particular track. So, instead I'll leave you with my concise opinion: It was nice music and I liked it.

Visuals
This is a BEAUTIFUL game! The open forest looks real, and the towns are done so realistically that I feel like I'm getting an actual glimpse into colonial America. The only negatives I found in the visuals were in New York and in Modern Day. In New York, well...it's really a small thing, but some of the trees around town just looked BAD. Like early PS2 graphics bad. However, this was in an odd location (I can't even really say exactly where) and was likely just the graphics engine being push to it's limits. As for the modern day critique, it's really more of a question. Was Desmond supposed to look emaciated? He looked like he hadn't had a decent meal in about 6 months. Well, perhaps it was because he was in the Animus for so long...I don't know.

Ending (Spoilers Of Couse):
Conner's Ending
Warning, Conner's ending is depressing, but incredibly accurate. Despite everything he does his family is driven from their homes and forced west. Near the end of the game his family believes he has betrayed them and in all honestly it seemed unbelievable to me. Really? You believe a white man over your own flesh and blood without even asking them first? Whatever. Anyway there is a discussion at the end of the epilogue that seems to hint that Desmond's memories are in a network now that others can reach. Definitely excited to see how this turns out. 
Desmond's Ending
I was disappointed when found out the ending from that guy at school. I had really been hoping that Desmond wouldn't have the messiah ending, but alas regardless of which ending Desmond chose this was the fate the developers chose for him. I wasn't prepared for the ending itself though. It felt rushed. The options laid before Desmond seconds before the decision had to be made caused a rather chaotic scene. I didn't really follow Desmond's reasoning. In Minerva's ending the world would be reset and history would essentially repeat itself, meaning that far in the future the same decision may have to be made again. In Juno's ending the world goes on as always, but Juno is released upon humanity. Apart from the loss of billions of lives or the release of Juno I don't really see the difference between the two option. Yet Desmond claimed that Minerva's ending had "No hope" in it. I fail to see how there was more hope in Juno's future than Minerva's . I hope his reasoning is revealed in time.

Downloadable Content:
I can't really comment on this much because I haven't, nor do I plan to play the DLC. From what I understand the DLC is set in an alternate reality for Conner. I thought that the Animus was meant to show us how things ACTUALLY happened, not a fantasied scenario. By having this DLC it shows that the Animus and the data it pulls can be manipulated, meaning that every game I've played up until now could have been a farce.

Whew! I think this is the longest post I've ever written! I hope you enjoyed it. Overall I enjoyed AC3, it just wasn't the best the series has had to offer.

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