Electronic Theatre Preview: Assassin’s Creed III: Not Just America’s Revolution

Many of the biggest names in videogame entertainment seem to be receiving annual iterations in modern times. Call of Duty, Halo and Marvel Vs. Capcom, amongst many others, are all receiving brand new outings within each calendar year, and Assassin’s Creed has fallen into the […]
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Electronic Theatre ImageMany of the biggest names in videogame entertainment seem to be receiving annual iterations in modern times. Call of Duty, Halo and Marvel Vs. Capcom, amongst many others, are all receiving brand new outings within each calendar year, and Assassin’s Creed has fallen into the same pattern over the years. However, just like with each of the above franchises, suggesting that Assassin’s Creed III has become a victim of the ‘EA Sports Syndrome’ is taking things too far. Assassin’s Creed II, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Assassin’s Creed: Revelations were all cut from the same cloth, but Assassin’s Creed III is a brand new, hand woven experience.

The most immediate reaction to Assassin’s Creed III is one of awe. The visual quality has received a makeover, though not a significant enough one to convince gamers that a new generation of consoles is needed, but what it has done is expanded the playable landscape considerably. Traversing between towns in the original Assassin’s Creed wasElectronic Theatre Image a fairly lifeless experience, and it took until Assassin’s Creed: Revelations for some true depth to be offered in the space between. In Assassin’s Creed III, the wilderness of the uncivilised mountain ranges and forests play host to some unfortunate encounters with the lowest form of human existence, and how you behave during these encounters will surely affect you later in the videogame; whether it be a new helping hand or simply a friendly face found amongst the common folk.

The mission structure blends into this more freeform design just as well as with Assassin’s Creed II. More than a simple series of fetch quests and stalking assignments, Assassin’s Creed III’s mission designers have made use of the tools the world designers have given them. Players will locate their next mission on their mini-map and make their way towards it, whether a story mission or one of the many sidequests available and upon arriving at the destination will witness further exposition of the storyline or characters involved. It sound fairly straightforward, and it is, but therein lies the beauty of Assassin’s Creed III’s construction: it’s a videogame experience which flows from one moment to the next, everything is fluidElectronic Theatre Image and incorporated into the whole with the same attention to detail as even the most grand story elements. You could say it was simply attention to detail, but when even the most subtle occurrences are as involving as the story lead missions, Electronic Theatre would argue that it’s nothing less than innovative design.

The world is designed in much the same way, wherein delicate signposting invites the player to explore further than may have been the case otherwise. The navigation system has been made simpler in terms of demand on the player, but in the same respect has been made more accurate in the on-screen output. Far fewer will be the occurrences when the player finds themselves propelled off a ledge rather than climbing further skyward due to holding the analogue stick millimetres beyond the intended point, and far more often will they be able to plan four or five leaps ahead thanks to a more automated, forgiving sprint system. Again, it’s only subtle changes from Assassin’s Creed II, but it’s in that subtlety that long time fans of the series will findElectronic Theatre Image the rewards they’ve been hoping for. To the casual observer it’s simply being able to climb up rock faces and sprint across tree branches, to the invested fan however, you will be able to do these things without a second thought as to which rock faces and tree branches are scalable.

In addition to the navigation, the combat system has also been refined considerably. Assassin’s Creed III still takes the measure of pacing over strength, with counterattacks being more beneficial than straight forward assaults, and once an enemy has been taken off balance follow-up attacks include straight kills, tool use or the option to break the block of more skilled opponents. However, running assassinations are now also available simple by holding the X button (on Xbox 360) while dashing towards an unaware target. It’s yet another simply addition that may not seem to add too much to the balance until you play any of the earlier Assassin’s Creed titles and wonder how you ever managed without it.

This is where the beauty of Assassin’s Creed III’s design lies: it’s all-out function in favour of form. Yes it’s prettier – very few videogame sequels have ever taken a step back from their predecessor – but that’s not Assassin’s Creed III’s unique selling point. It’s a videogame experience that strives to be a cohesive whole. A campaign that grips Electronic Theatre Imagethe player throughout its highs and its lows, it’s up tempo action sequences and its freedom to explore with stealth as your only weapon. Based on the evidence presented to Electronic Theatre, these are the goals it’s strived to achieve, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t accomplish every single one of them.

While many gamers might have become disillusioned with the franchise after Assassin’s Creed: Revelations – and some would say rightfully so – dismissing Assassin’s Creed III as ‘more of the same’ would be nothing short of criminal. Assassin’s Creed III is promising to deliver the same evolutionary jump that was witnessed between Assassin’s Creed and Assassin’s Creed II, a remarkable feat by anyone’s standards. If Assassin’s Creed III wasn’t on your watch list prior to reading this preview, it most certainly should be by now.

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