No assassination without representation

The American Revolution is one of the most significant moments in the history of the world. And I don’t just say that because I’m an American; I say it because it set off a chain reaction like few other events in history. It marked the beginning of the end of British Imperialism. It would inspire other countries to similar revolts. It would also completely change how trade could be conducted. But we’re not here for a history lesson. After all, it might be moot; as Assassin’s Creed III shows us, the history we know and true history may not be the same thing.

Assassin’s Creed III sees us relive a new ancestral life of protagonist Desmond Miles as the remnants of the Assassin Brotherhood continue to try to stay ahead of the Templars and unlock the remaining puzzles revolving around the Pieces of Eden. After jaunts in the Crusades-era Middle East and an extended run through Renaissance Europe, we find ourselves learning how Desmond’s bloodline traveled across the pond and settled into the American Colonies—and just how much an effect Connor Kenway, his half-British, half-Native American ancestor, had on the American Revolution and what role he played in the Assassin-Templar war.

Much like the previous installments of the Assassin’s Creed franchise, the clear emphasis in Assassin’s Creed III is on the conspiracy-laden plot as Connor tries to use a steady hand and a clear moral purpose to guide history in favor of the Assassins, while Desmond tries to learn from his ancestor key clues in order to unlock advantages for the Assassins in the present day. More than ever before you will be blown away as this newest chapter in the franchise is chock full of twists and turns that quickly turn everything you know on its head both in terms of actual history and the canon laid out thus far in the series. The only gripe I can see some folks possibly having is that in order to introduce and establish a lot of the new characters this go around, the game starts off a bit slower than you might be used to with an Assassin’s Creed title.

A lot has changed though besides just a new protagonist in Assassin’s Creed III and some plot twists. In terms of game play there is a marked improvement in both variety of missions and the hand-to-hand combat system this go around. In regards to variety, the new naval missions are the prime example as you explore the waterways around the Colonies as the sea battles of the American Revolution were integral to the Colonies winning the war. You get to pilot your own ship around key strategic ports and carry out specific missions as you order your crew to blast away at various British ships that impede your quest.

Most of your time will still be spent on land, however. And if you are to make any progress, you need to be well versed in the tools of the assassination trade. Channeling his Native-American heritage, Connor uses traditional weapons like his bow and arrows and tomahawk to wreak havoc on British troops. The fluidity you now have in combat is at an unprecedented level though as you can counter and kill multiple enemies at once and perform killing strikes in quick succession with everything in your possession including the new rope dart or pistols or weapons in your enemies’ possession. And don’t worry, Connor still has his traditional hidden blades as well, although this was the first Assassin’s Creed game where I found other weapons, specifically the tomahawk, to be more to my liking.

So, you’re definitely going to get your combat fix in with this game, but there is so much more to do besides just hack your way through red coats (although that is my personal favorite element of the game). The new frontier affords so much exploration that you could get lost in it as you get in touch with Connor’s roots and get back to nature. From hunting animals for their pelts to trade to helping other folks around the frontier in order to procure their services later, the open world frontier affords you a bevy of side quests that could occupy just as much of your time as the main story if you let it.

But if you don’t want to occupy your time in the single player (you might be a few feathers short of a headdress though), there’s also the top-notch multiplayer. The Assassin’s Creed multiplayer has always had the benefit of being unique compared to what’s out there, but now they’ve decided to put their originality to the test by incorporating their versions of classic versus mode Domination and a co-op mode called Wolf Pack. Domination was thrilling in Assassin’s Creed III because it requires you to think more than your standard-take on the mode. Wolf Pack though was the real eye-opener as you and three friends must perform assassinations in unison in order to score points within a time limit and only by truly working together to get the highest scores do you have a chance of advancing through the mode’s 25 levels.

When all is said and done, it’s hard to argue with how polished and deep Assassin’s Creed III is. From new game play elements like the naval battles, the expansive frontier, new multiplayer modes, and the smoothest combat to date, any fan of the franchise will not be able to put this down and newcomers will be awe-inspired by the world laid out before them.

SUMMARY: The more fluid combat system and diversity of gameplay combined with the series’ most expansive setting and a still-engrossing story makes this the best Assassin’s Creed yet.

  • THE GOOD: Bigger world, better combat, and more diverse gameplay.
  • THE BAD: A bit of a slow start to the story.
  • THE UGLY: Have you actually ever tried to skin a bear?

SCORE: 9.5

Assassin’s Creed III is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.