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My Love/Hate Relationship with Assassin’s Creed III

Now that it is several months old (and much less expensive), I finally went out and picked up Assassin’s Creed III. After playing it for several hours I’ve decided that I have a serious love/hate relationship with this game. Here’s some of both sides.

 

Love: The fluidity of the combat and free running

This is Assassin’s Creed. It’s nice to feel like an Assassin. ACIII has, once again, advanced combat and free running mechanics to a point that there is enough variety to animations and responsiveness to on the fly decision making that it is arguably the most promising AC gameplay experience thus far. I say “most promising” because, much like with Ezio’s story, I’m guessing that the Colonial setting will also advance drastically over the next couple of games (here’s hoping that Black Flag is more than just a glorified expansion pack).

 

Hate: The lack of variety of places to fight/free run on

I get it- making the woods is an arduous and time-consuming job. But there’s very little to DO in those woods beyond running and stabbing woodland creatures (which is fun, but only to a point). Most of the interesting stuff happens in towns. The Colonies didn’t have big buildings. I get it. But rather than resigning us the players to a bunch of on-the ground running sequences, why not increase the number of low to the ground free running options? I want to be able to kick-flip off a wall and land on a sign while I shoot a dude with his own musket! The time that was spent making that one rock in the middle of nowhere look really pretty COULD have been spent on pretty much ANYTHING ELSE.

 

Though in Ubisoft's defense, that is a VERY pretty rock.

Though in Ubisoft’s defense, that is a VERY pretty rock.

Love: The interesting plot

I love Ezio with all my heart- I really do. That said, it’s nice to finally have the AC games move on to be more about Desmond’s journey (and new Assassins). The big plot twist that came out of nowhere right near the start actually caught me totally off guard and got me in to the storytelling where I had been, up to that point, tentative and critical of every event that occurred. There are lots of questions and loose ends being tied up, but also enough being asked that another game feels necessary. Well done.

 

Hate: The new voice actors

Where has the subtlety gone?! I know, I know, this is a video game. But the actors from the last three games had gotten very comfortable with their characters, and the animation technology has grown massively over the course of the series. The actors gave, or were on their way to giving subtle, nuanced voice performances. I enjoyed the long, dramatic dialogue bits because  they were well performed on top of being well written. In ACIII, the writing is still there, and not all of the voice actors are bad- I love Ben Frankin’s performance, Connor is acceptable, hell most of the good guys have solid performers- but OH MY LORDY LORD if I have to hear one more bad guy loudly and British-ly announcing that he is bad guy because he snarls or preens like a bad guy, I’m going to turn the wrist blade on myself.

"Yelling" is not an acceptable defining character trait.

“Yelling” is not an acceptable defining character trait.

But hey- maybe I’m missing the point. Perhaps the bad guys are supposed to be evil in all ways- even their voice-overs.

 

When I beat the game in it’s entirety, I’ll give my last thoughts on it. Either way, I’m probably buying Black Flag.



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