Assassin's Creed 3: not what I was expecting

03:37, Nov 08 2012

For a game that is supposedly about stealth and assassins, Assassin's Creed 3 doesn't have a lot of actual assassinations going on, at least in the first handful of hours.

I'm seven hours, 22 minutes into it - 18 per cent of the game - yet much of my time so far seems to be escort-type mission and helping NPCs in their battle against the British, who they're feeling more and more resentment towards. It's a sprawling game world, for sure, with most of its time so far being spent in pre-American Revolution Boston and the frontier but to me, it seems in the effort to AC3 a sprawling epic tale, spanning 30 years, Ubisoft has forgotten to make the game fun.

It seems that the first few hours of the game are little more than a tutorial for the game mechanics - mechanics that players of the previous games in the series will be well familiar with.

Set before and during the American Revolution (1753 to 1783), gamers (eventually) play Rhatohnhake:ton (who is later named Connor by a mysterious man called Achilles), a young half English, half Native American boy who is trained by Achilles as an assassin. Connor vows to stop the Templars, who are infiltrating the upper echelons of society.

Desmond Miles, the annoying modern-day character who lives the lives of his assassin ancestors through a machine called the animus, is also back. After spending time in the Frontier and Boston, I've sadly come to the conclusion that while running through trees in the Frontier is great fun - and it is -  Boston itself just isn't as exciting as Renaissance Italy, the setting of Assassin's Creed 2 with hero Ezio Auditore da Firenze.

And it seems I'm not alone in my frustrations with the game, with many of my Xbox friends also finding this new edition disappointing. At times I'm actually finding it a chore to grind through all the mundaneness, hoping to find the meat of the game.


Surprisingly, the game opens with the player not controlling the leather boots of Connor but another character, but I won't spoil it. I was initially sceptical about this sequence but thanks to an inventive twist at the end it provides a nice bit of back story. 

Seven hours in and I'm yet to actually do any major assassinations as Connor, and it seems that the early hours of AC3 are all about Connor helping set up great moments that lead to the American Revolution. So far most missions have been things like "chase this person", "kill those tax collectors", "stop that convoy and get the goods", "throw the boxes of tea overboard" and the like. It's hardly exciting stuff - and that's a shame. That said, there is incredible depth when in the Frontier with Connor able to hunt animals, set traps and search for treasure.

I've just been introduced to the naval combat and it looks promising but it's a pity it took so long to get to it. At one point Connor says to a colleague that he has gone from "One bit of madness to another with nothing to show for it": that's how I feel a little about AC3. I've put almost 10 hours into it so far and it's not really delivering the thrills.

Sure the game is deliberately slow paced, setting the scene for the eventual Revolution, but how many gamers will get frustrated and give up before they reach the end?

I'll continue with Assassin's Creed 3 because it's a series I've invested in a lot of time in (AC1, AC2, AC: Brotherhood, AC: Revelations) and my opinion may change dramatically once I've finished it, but I'd be interested to hear anyone else's thoughts on what they think of it.

If you haven't played AC3, when was the last time you were frustrated with a game that held so much promise?

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