Tag Archive: Assassin’s Creed III

The bear necessity

When last we left Ratonhnhaké:ton, he’d escaped from Boston after striking down Israel Putnam on his quest to rid the New World of Mad King George. Sailing on a liberated Aquila, Ratonhnhaké:ton heads for George’s headquarters in New York—and is stunned to see a pyramid rising from the heart of this great city. Knowing Washington is past the point of no return, Ratonhnhaké:ton begins forming a plan with Ben Franklin as to how to deal with King George and learns of another ally he’ll need to recruit if he has any hope of succeeding: Thomas Jefferson.

Much like the episodes before it, Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington Episode 3—The Redemption (such a mouthful) follows a clear formula. Ratonhnhaké:ton explores a little bit of the familiar-but-changed world he finds himself in before ingesting the toxic tea that allows him to have a spirit journey. He then gets new powers, represented by an animal. Ratonhnhaké:ton kills someone with these powers, and we move on. And when you finish the final episode of this highly anticipated DLC, that’s all you do: You’ll move on.

That’s not to say this was a waste of time, money, or energy, although I think fans would probably have preferred to get the DLC in one 6-to-8 hour helping instead of having it broken into three 2-hour servings; on that front, this episodic DLC failed. Still, the alternate universe that The Redemption wraps up is an entertaining, well thought-out side story to the main Assassin’s Creed timeline that reaches a satisfying conclusion.

The Redemption starts off with a bang, pulling you in far more quickly than previous King Washington DLC offerings. You see, this is the only episode to feature the beloved naval warfare seen in much of Assassin’s Creed III. It was a rush to get behind the wheel of the Aquila again and take on another small fleet of warships. I even chuckled at the reference Ratonhnhaké:ton makes to his grandfather Edward, who we all now know will be the star of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

Unfortunately, this strong start and finish can’t hide the fact that The Redemption features weaker narrative buildup and action sequences compared to the previous two episodes. The quest for Thomas Jefferson feels more like a quick errand than some epic goal to reach before confronting King George for the final time. And while the outside of the pyramid feels appropriately daunting, it’s a letdown once you actually enter the structure. The final confrontation with George at least lives up to the hype, even if it’s a little on the short side.

I also will say that the bear powers that allow you to stomp the ground and send enemies flying everywhere—with those closest to you instantly dying—are much more fun to use than the wolf and eagle powers from previous episodes. But just like those enhancements, the bear powers make many of the missions far too easy and remove any thinking required from reaching the mission objectives.

The Redemption provides a fitting conclusion to this DLC storyline, and if you’ve come this far, you’d be remiss to not finish it off. I think only the most diehard of Assassin’s Creed fans will truly walk away from these three episodes completely satisfied, however.

Developer: Ubisoft Quebec • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 04.23.13
A strong start and finish to the final King Washington episode help carry what’s probably the weakest action and narrative of the entire DLC miniseries. The new bear powers are also more fun to use than the wolf and eagle powers from previous episodes, though only hardcore Assassin’s Creed fans will be totally satisfied with the experience.
The Good A fitting, satisfying end to this miniseries.
The Bad The weakest narrative—up until that end sequence—of all three episodes. 
The Ugly Ratonhnhaké:ton’s brilliant blue bear eyes.
Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington – Episode 3 – The Redemption is available on Xbox 360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN), and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

Fly Like an Eagle

Editor’s note: This review contains The Tyranny of King Washington: Episode 1 spoilers; it is recommended you play Episode 1 before reading our review of Episode 2.

Continuing the story started in the first episode of The Tyranny of King Washington, this episode, The Betrayal, features Ratonhnhaké:ton exploring a transformed Boston as he continues trying to unlock the mystery of how he’s ended up in an alternate universe.

After being captured by Israel Putnam during his assault against Benedict Arnold, Ratonhnhaké:ton is transported to Boston to be served up as a present to George Washington. Putnam has his own plan, however, hoping to use this gift to garner more favor with Washington and wrest Boston away from the clammy fingertips of the cowardly Ben Franklin. It’s while he is wasting away in a cell, waiting for Washington to decide his fate, that Ratonhnhaké:ton comes across an old friend from the past, learns that Sam Adams is a freedom fighter no matter what reality he’s in, and, most importantly, embraces his second spirit animal—the eagle.

The eagle spirit power focuses on the second pillar of Assassin’s Creed: movement. Transforming into an eagle allows Ratonhnhaké:ton to fly short distances, making it easier to cover more ground than on foot. Also, when in eagle form, Ratonhnhaké:ton can literally get the drop on his opponents as he performs some impressive aerial assassinations. Much better balanced than the wolf power, the eagle can only be used to move between certain points—and although it takes some getting used to, the additional crosshairs become second nature by the end of the tutorial, disguised as your “spirit journey.”

Unfortunately, a fair amount of the DLC still requires you to use the unbalanced wolf powers acquired in the first episode, making your time in Boston poorly spent; you can easily avoid open combat once again. Moving along the streets among Washington’s Bluecoats is a breeze, as you magically camouflage yourself in a wide-open area and reach your objectives with alarming speed; this turns your early missions into glorified fetch quests.

Despite a slow start to this section of the story, The Betrayal picks up dramatically once you no longer need to rely on your wolf powers. The second half starts an inevitable ramp up in the action that not only sees this episode conclude on a high note, but will hopefully continue to a satisfying climax in Episode 3.

As is the case with most Assassin’s Creed-related items, the story is the heaviest focus; in that regard, The Betrayal does a fine job of moving this tale along. Combine this with the inventive eagle powers and amped-up pacing seen in the latter stages, and anyone who enjoyed Episode 1 will no doubt enjoy their time, short as it is (the episode shouldn’t take most players more than 2 to 3 hours again)

Developer: Ubisoft Quebec • Publisher: Ubisoft • ESRB: M – Mature • Release Date: 03.19.2013
7.5 The new eagle powers are far more impressive than the wolf skills from the first episode, and although the story drags early on, it picks up nicely towards the end, ramping up to a hopefully fittingand satisfying conclusion in the final episode.
The Good New eagle powers take some getting used to, but they make for interesting assassinations.
The Bad Needing to use wolf powers to worm your way through alternate-universe Boston.
The Ugly Ben Franklin as a sniveling coward in the mud.
Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington – Episode 2: The Betrayal is available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360.

Dances with Wolves

Editor’s note: This review contains Assassin’s Creed III spoilers; it is recommended you play ACIII before The Tyranny of King Washington.

Episodic content is hitting the game industry in full force these days. Halo 4’s currently on this trend with Spartan Ops, while The Walking Dead featured an enthralling episodic narrative that garnered several Game of the Year accolades. So, it’s no surprise to see Ubisoft taking a crack themselves with what’s being described as their most ambitious downloadable content to date—Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington.

In this first of three chapters—titled The InfamyAssassin’s Creed III protagonist Ratonhnhaké:ton (better known to fans as the far more pronounceable Connor Kenway) wakes up wearing traditional Mohawk garb in the forest…with his long-dead mother standing over him. Startled and shocked, Ratonhnhaké:ton can’t come to grips with why his mother is alive. Meanwhile, she can’t understand why Ratonhnhaké:ton is suddenly acting so strangely.

After speaking with his mother, Ratonhnhaké:ton comes to realize that he’s no longer in the familiar universe he once knew. In this world, he never joined the Assassin’s Order—thus, no one refers to him as “Connor.” Meanwhile, George Washington found an Apple of Eden, using it to help free the American Colonies from British rule. But instead of living under our beloved first President, the Colonies have a new despot to contend with now in Mad King Washington, who uses his Apple to govern with a bloodstained iron fist. So, was Ratonhnhaké:ton fighting alongside George Washington a dream? Is this new reality the dream? Could this be Juno’s doing? Maybe this is some sort of weird feedback from the Animus?

Or maybe, theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Ratonhnhaké:ton stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator…and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time who appears in the form of a hologram that only Ratonhnhaké:ton can see and hear. And so Ratonhnhaké:ton finds himself leaping from tree to tree, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap…will be the leap home.

Either way, the solution to this riddle eludes Ratonhnhaké:ton, but if he’s to survive this alternate world, he’ll have to adapt—and quickly—while searching for the answers as best he can.

Every previous Assassin’s Creed DLC has directly supported an established game world, such as Battle of Forli withAssassin’s Creed II. In this context, the idea of an alternate universe inspired by—but separate from—a game in the series is definitely a cool change of pace. Aside from the narrative itself, this twisted reality also provides a fresh coat of paint for everything you may have already played through. Each episode carries players through one of the three primary areas of the central game, with this first episode looking at the Frontier. Burned-down buildings litter Lexington and Concord, slaughtered animals dot the landscape of Charlestown, and even Ratonhnhaké:ton’s village and its inhabitants are different, as they, too, have begun to feel the pressure from Mad King Washington.

The story—combined with a fresh look at familiar locales—definitely kept me playing through the two-to-three-hour-long episode and see how the mystery would continue to unravel, especially once it’s revealed how other old friends have now become Ratonhnhaké:ton’s new enemies.

One new aspect didn’t quite click with me, though. Since King Washington holds an Apple of Eden, Ratonhnhaké:ton knows he’ll need assistance to overcome this Despot-in-Chief. The Clan Mother instructs Ratonhnhaké:ton—against his biological mother’s wishes—to drink tea made from the bark of the Red Willow Tree, a majestic beacon standing above the stark, wintry wastes that now make up the Frontier. By drinking the tea, Ratonhnhaké:ton embarks on a spirit journey, the first of three (one per episode), where he gains new abilities.

The first journey sees Ratonhnhaké:ton become one with the wolfpack, which allows him to sic spiritual wolves on groups of enemies—much like calling on Assassin trainees in previous games. Becoming one with the wolf also imbues Ratonhnhaké:ton with the ability to blend into the wilderness like a single flake of snow against the background of a blizzard.

At first, this super-camouflage feels amazing and gives the sense of a much more hardcore stealth experience, with missions tailored to take advantage of the new powers. For example, Ratonhnhaké:ton can move between hiding spots that are few and far between and cause panic among the enemy ranks with no one the wiser. But then, you realize that it feels like you’re using a cheat code and that the game has lost all challenge; Ratonhnhaké:ton is damn near untouchable, since no one can see him. The game attempts to balance this by only allowing use of the power for so long, as the special abilities sap Ratonhnhaké:ton’s health over time. But since it recharges in any hiding spot, all this does is delay its inevitable continued use as you move behind enemy lines, through patrols, and around any and all danger.

Assassin’s Creed has always been touted by the developers as being built on the three pillars of stealth, movement, and combat, and those have always been well-balanced throughout each entry (obviously better in some games than others). Removing combat almost entirely with this new power—and offering no challenge through the other two pillars—left me unsatisfied.

Despite the fact that this new grossly overpowered tool in Ratonhnhaké:ton’s arsenal holds the gameplay back, The Tyranny of King Washington weaves an intriguing tale that left me wanting more. And when it comes to Assassin’s Creed, the story’s always been the core focus more than anything else—at least for me. The free-flowing combat from Assassin’s Creed III is still intact, and the animation, voice acting, and new original musical score remind us how far the right coat of polish can push our senses.

If you play Assassin’s Creed primarily for the single-player experience, The Tyranny of King Washington is definitely worth it. Think of it in terms of Marvel’s alternate-storyline What If comics: It’s fun for what it is, but it doesn’t surpass the original in terms of enjoyment.

SUMMARY: Ratonhnhaké:ton’s new stealth powers are an interesting twist that causes some unfortunate gameplay-balance problems, but there’s enough classic Assassin’s Creed action and storytelling here to warrant the download.

  • THE GOOD: The beginning of an engrossing alternate-universe story.
  • THE BAD: The special powers don’t fit the established Assassin’s Creed vibe.
  • THE UGLY: George Washington wearing a crown.

SCORE: 8.0

Assassin’s Creed III: The Tyranny of King Washington—Episode 1: The Infamy is available on Xbox 360, PS3, and PC. Primary version reviewed was for Xbox 360. 

It was a weird year for games in 2012. A lot of highly anticipated triple-A titles got delayed into 2013, and although a lot of great games still came out, there wasn’t a clear-cut winner for me this year like there was with last year’s Batman: Arkham City.

Thus, the deliberations between the voices in my head continued deep into the year, coming right down to the wire. It was neck-and-neck between a handful of titles, but when the chaos finally settled down, a Top 5 list emerged of what are—in my opinion—the best games of the year. These are those games—enjoy!

Ray’s Top 5 Games for 2012

#5: Sleeping Dogs

Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: United Front Games
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Mixing Batman: Arkham City’s hand-to-hand combat with Assassin’s Creed–style free-running, Grand Theft Auto–inspired open-world mechanics and gunplay, and Need for Speed’s driving sequences sounds like the ultimate videogame Frankenstein’s monster. However, unlike Mary Shelley’s rotting, mindless beast, Square Enix created an Adonis of a game with Sleeping Dogs. Although there may be little left to the imagination in terms of gameplay, developer United Front Games wove these aspects seamlessly together with an original, engaging plot—and that made Sleeping Dogs one of my must-play games of the year.

#4: XCOM: Enemy Unknown

Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Firaxis Games
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

It’s never fun to die in games. But in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, you must get comfortable with the concept of making sacrifices if you ever hope to complete it. In fact, the game kills most of your team right away in the tutorial just to help get this initial shock out of your system. After all, if humans were actually fighting a war against a superior foreign invader, losses would be commonplace. But even through all that failure, I still had tons of fun as I worked to save Earth from aliens.

#3: The Walking Dead

Publisher: Telltale Games
Developer: Telltale Games
Platforms: XBLA, PSN, PC, Mac, iOS

It’s not easy to make a comic or TV show into a videogame—especially when your fanbase is as rabid as the zombies they read about or watch. The Walking Dead, however, successfully captures the spirit of Robert Kirkman’s original comic while introducing us to an entirely new slice of life in that crazed, zombie-filled world. The young heroine Clementine is arguably the best new character gaming’s seen in years—especially considering the emotional range she’s forced through—and the story’s branching paths afford dozens of playthroughs. The Walking Dead lets you know that adventure games are back—and in a big way.

#2: Borderlands 2

Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, OS X

I’ll admit that I don’t like to play games with other people. They slow me down—or I kill them too much, and they get frustrated, and it just ends up a mess with thrown controllers, slammed headsets, kids crying to their mommies, or me sleeping on the couch. One game is the exception to this rule, though: Borderlands 2. It’s got so many moments where you just wanna go “DID YOU SEE THAT?!” and you need to share that with someone. And if you do play alone, the game doesn’t suffer for it. Throw in probably the best all-around script of the year, and this should be on everyone’s Top 5 list.

#1: Assassin’s Creed III

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U, PC

The new naval battles perfectly balance the addictive gameplay and historical accuracy for which the series is known. The plot has more twists than a Twizzler, keeping you hooked the whole way through. The new Wolf Pack co-op mode helps strengthen an already impressive multiplayer suite. Oh, and did I mention you can now stab people in the face more fluidly than ever before? By the time you get to the fifth entry in any franchise, it’s damn near impossible to continually raise the bar. And yet, Assassin’s Creed has done it so spectacularly that I can’t help but give Assassin’s Creed III my game of the year.

Ray’s Off-Topic Awards for 2012

The People’s Champ Award
Street Fighter X Mega Man
Mega Man X Street Fighter - Header This year marked Mega Man’s 25th anniversary…and yet, we didn’t get an official game. For some reason, Capcom cannot remove their collective heads from their asses long enough to be bothered with a new title starring the Blue Bomber. It was Street Fighter’s anniversary, too, and that got a game (even if it was a piece-of-garbage crossover with Tekken). Well, Capcom may not care about Mega Man anymore, but the fans do, and one devotee in particular—a Singaporean designer named Seow Zong Hui—honored Mega Man with his own Street Fighter–infused take!
The Marlboro Man Award for Most Unhealthily Addictive Casual Game
Marvel: Avengers Alliance
I rarely play casual or browser-based games, but when I heard about one based on the Marvel Universe, I figured I’d give it a shot. Any good comic nerd would! Now, nine months after its release, I find myself breaking the level-70 barrier with my custom-created character—and I’ve compiled a true dream team of superheroes. All while devoting far too much free time (and occasionally money) to this free-to-play Facebook addiction, as I continue my quest to save the universe from the element ISO-8!
Popsicle’s “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award for Most Colorful Game
Dust: An Elysian Tail
I gave this award out last year, and I feel compelled to do so again—because it would be an indignity to not mention the stunning visuals of Dust: An Elysian Tail. Its hand-drawn animation left me in awe, and when you compound this breathtaking art style with the fact that it was created entirely by one man—Jazz Jackrabbit veteran Dean Dodrill—you can’t help but admire his extreme talents in crafting this intense labor of love.

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.   

EGM Game Over Podcast 013: Ben Franklin’s Brothel

The EGM crew brings you the Game Over Podcast, our end-of-the-week conversation where we discuss some of the biggest recent events in gaming.

[Hosts] Andrew Fitch, Ray Carsillo, and Eric L. Patterson
[Date] October 5th, 2012

[News] Cliff Bleszinski leaves Epic, Mass Effect 1 coming to PS3 (and not Wii U), FIFA 13 copies are flying off store shelves, we bow to King Washington, and your Xbox Gamerscore will nab you discounts.

[EGM Reviews] Resident Evil 6, Pokemon Black & White 2

Want to send feedback to the show? Drop us a line on Twitter: @EGMLogin

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They may be two of the most anticipated games of the year, but getting information or extended playing time with Assassin’s Creed III and Assassin’s Creed: Liberation has been like trying to get blood from a stone. Until now. Last week, I had a chance to get some quality hands-on time with AC III’s single player campaign and new multiplayer modes as well as AC:L’s campaign as Ubisoft transported me back to colonial Boston to help immerse us in this revolutionary experience.

AC III Single Player

We started with AC III’s single player campaign and were immediately thrown into a never before seen area of Connor’s world: the Homestead. Similar in many ways to Ezio and Monteriggioni from AC II and AC: Brotherhood, Homestead is Connor’s home base out in the wilderness. Acting as a bastion for Connor between missions where he can gather his thoughts, learn more about the Assassins, and also do favors for others in the wilderness, Homestead is a much deeper experience though than Monteriggioni ever was.

By doing side missions for friendly faces, NPCs will set up shop in and around the Homestead so Connor can trade goods, upgrade items, and perform many of the same functions that you did in Monteriggioni. Giving a little bit of back story to these side missions though allows you to build a deeper connection to these extra characters in AC III and even after just chasing some poachers out of the forest or collecting trinkets for a retired pirate, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the idea of directly influencing the start of a new community with Connor as the lead.

After making a few new friends in my little slice of the wilderness, I wanted to test out Connor’s ship skills and finally take a whack at the naval battles. Not only were there battles that could forward that aspect of the story, but it had its own set of side missions, or could just be used as a quick travel between port cities. But I wanted to blow some ships up and so I just jumped right on into the next mission in the naval story.

In the mission, I was tasked with escorting some merchant ships to port, and after disposing of some small British warships in my way and completing the primary objective of the mission, I found I had stumbled upon a larger Templar plot when a previously abandoned fort in Martha’s Vineyard was suddenly alive and bustling…and targeting my ship! As I switched from half mast to full, this after easily disposing of British mines in the churning waters of the cape, I began circling the fort, pummeling it with cannon fire until its three towers stopped trying to rain mortars and death onto my ship. The best part of this mission was just piloting the ship though as it didn’t feel like I was fighting the ship to maneuver it where I wanted and the cannon aiming mechanics were simple enough to quickly understand.

After docking my ship, I wanted to get into the main plot of the story. Walking around Boston, I was to meet with Samuel Adams and other Sons of Liberty. But I wanted to push Connor to his limits in a fight first. And the British weren’t exactly fans of me killing their soldiers in the middle of the street.

With my new favorite weapons, the rope dart and the tomahawk, I had the Boston streets running red with British blood by the time I was done. I began by pulling a sentry off a roof with the rope dart, and his death  alerted countless other red coats who then swarmed the town square. With the tomahawk, which is the first time in an Assassin’s Creed game that I preferred using a weapon that wasn’t the traditional hidden blade, I began hacking away at red coat faces, kneecaps, and anything that was within range of my righteous rage. I started by countering two guys at once and had them run each other through with bayonets before throwing my rope dart at a heavy’s feet to trip him up and then strike the killing blow in his neck with the tomahawk. Then, I would spin and roll over the back of another red coat, only to quickly whip around while he was off-balance and stab him in the back, grab him as he was dying, and use him as a meat shield as two other soldiers were now lining up rifle shots. Next, with the dead soldier’s rifle, I would take aim at the folks who just perforated their buddy, and take one out with a rifle, toss it away, and then take the other out with my pistol.

This is quite simply the most fluid combat system we’ve seen from this franchise and the bevy of options available to you in any given combat situation will blow your mind into itty, bitty pieces. I could not get enough of it and even after several hours play time, I was still seeing new animations, take downs, and maneuvers from Connor.

After taking part in my own little Boston Massacre, I knew it was time to actually see a little of the story and so I met up with Sam Adams at a bar, a fitting setting if there was one, and found out that my mission was to assist in the infamous Boston Tea Party. But first, I had to help an ornery French-Canadian chef named Stephane who was ready to wreak a little havoc on his own.

After protecting our friend from the north as he set out on his own personal crusade, I was pleasantly surprised that another feature from previous AC games was returning in that Connor gets recruits, and Stephane was the first. What has changed now is that each recruit has a much larger and detailed back story, much like the folks around Homestead, and so in order to help these characters feel more personal to Connor, there are only six recruits.

Another change is that Arrow Storm has been removed in order to help keep the game situations a bit more balanced once you begin unlocking your recruits. In its place, each of the six recruits has a special move besides assassinate. Stephane for example has ‘Riot’, which does exactly as it says and can incite a riot in order to help Connor move more easily through large open spaces. Another recruit has ‘Guard Post’, where the recruit can dress up as a red coat and help escort/sneak you through heavily guarded forts. Unfortunately, we’ll likely have to wait till launch to see what the other four recruits may have up their sleeves.

After I destroyed a lot of tea and killed a lot of red coats, the Ubisoft folks told me my time with single player was done and I needed to move onto multiplayer. Reluctantly (they had to pry the controller from my hands as I kicked and screamed, it took four guys), I left single player and moved into the multiplayer aspects of AC III.

AC III Multiplayer

So, many of the modes in AC III’s multiplayer are returning favorites in how to get your personal stab on, and so this section of the hands-on preview will focus only on the two new modes we saw and played: Domination in Versus and Wolf Pack Co-op.

Now, Domination is pretty much like Domination in every other game out there. You have three markers scattered about a map with the objective being to control these markers for the majority of the match and you score points every few seconds based on how many markers are in control by your faction.  The difference is its done with an Assassin’s Creed flair in that a capturing team cannot kill players who control the section, they can only stun them, and it takes longer to capture a point then it does for someone to recover from stun. This presents the interesting dilemma of knowing when to expose oneself, if at all.

The big draw for multiplayer this go around though was the Wolf Pack Co-op. In this mode, you and three friends attempt to perform as many assassinations as possible and each assassination is scored. By hitting certain point thresholds, the assassinations start to get harder and harder as you move through 25 point thresholds.

The most interesting twist here though is that by coordinating your assassinations with teammates, you can earn larger and larger point bonuses so balancing both quality and quantity is the only effective way to progress through the higher levels. Not to mention communication becomes critical. There are also special side missions that can add to the score and your experience if you can accomplish them with the most impressive being the multi-sync kill. This is where all four members of the team must lock onto their targets and execute them at the same time, triggering an impressive cinematic and massive score bonuses.

After several multi-sync kills and floundering a few times around level 19, it was time for me to move on to the bane of my sausage fingers’ existence: the PS Vita in order to play Assassin’s Creed: Liberation.

Assassin’s Creed: Liberation

Admittedly, my experiences with the Vita have been less than stellar as gimmicks have polluted my favorite franchises left and right when they try adding chapters to their story via this handheld. But I was pleasantly surprised with my first time with Aveline. From assassinating Spanish lieutenants after scaling a massive ancient fort, to making costume changes faster than a Broadway lead, Liberation feels much like other beloved Assassin’s Creed adventures without forcing gimmicky controls on you. They are there, but they are options, not required, to advance through Aveline’s Louisiana.

Aveline’s combat and abilities also were a pleasant surprise as they rivaled that of Connor’s as she fluidly used her meat cleaver and various other tools to bring the pain to the Spanish who occupy and enslave much of her home. But the little bit of what we saw of Aveline’s story may have impressed me the most as she has an array of unusual allies and is torn between her sense of duty to the people, her own morals, and the Assassin’s order, which leads to a wide variety of missions for Aveline to perform. And watching how these all conflict with each other in the story is very intriguing.

There were some concerns though with certain aspects of Liberation. Possibly being spoiled from playing AC III first, I felt the AI of enemy troops was a little lacking in terms of reacting to Aveline and her actions, and her blow dart made her feel almost omnipotent as she could stealthily eliminate foes from a distance. She carries only a limited number of darts, of course, but when you only need one or two to carve a path through Spanish sentries, there was a lot less challenge it felt like.

I suppose part of the challenge as playing with Aveline though comes with her notoriety and the requiring of costume changes. Aveline’s Assassin garb has guards constantly on the lookout for her, whereas her slave garb has varying levels much like the other Assassin’s Creed games, and then her aristocratic garb has her always inconspicuous because no one suspects the lady in the flower dress. These costumes have their own unique positives and negatives, but if you’re like me, you welcome the challenge of constantly being under scrutiny from guards because the combat is so superb and so the Assassin garb was my primary choice.

When all was said and done after our trip up to Boston, the entire slate of everything we saw involving Assassin’s Creed blew me away. Liberation seems like it’ll be the first game for the PS Vita that I’ll thoroughly enjoy and AC III is quite simply a game changer for the franchise and possibly action/adventure games as a whole due to the most immersive and detailed story yet, plethora of side quests, and fluid combat system. After getting my first taste of these two games, I know I for one cannot wait to embody the spirit of revolution come October 30th and play as both Connor and Aveline in what are shaping up to possibly be the best AC games yet.

Incase you missed it, Ubisoft announced a new trailer and collector’s edition for ACIII last week. My good friend Ms. Hailey Bright delivered us the info over at Clevver Games, and yours truly made a quick cameo to help her newscast. Look for me around the :30 second mark. Thanks Hailey!

Starting a Revolution

The Assassin’s Creed universe has become one of gaming’s most dynamic and fluid on-going stories as it explores history in a unique and thrilling way. Turning some of history’s most interesting personalities and settings into some of gaming’s most interesting sidekicks, antagonists, and levels, you never really can predict where they are going to go next until Ubisoft reveals the next step themselves. And now that they’ve pulled the veil back on Assassin’s Creed III, the questions have all shifted to just what can we expect next from a game that is being put together by the team who did AC1 and AC2 and has the best and brightest from Brotherhood and Revelations coming on board as well. Fortunately, EGM has some of the answers.

The first thing we have to talk about is the time period. Many have stated that the game takes place during the American Revolution and although this is true, it might be more accurate to describe it as Colonial America as the game will actually start in 1750 and end somewhere in the 1780s so you’ll see many events leading up to and post-war as well. There will be plenty of battles from the American Revolution, of course, as this wouldn’t be the largest Assassin’s Creed yet if they didn’t explore much of that in detail, but don’t be surprised if a lot of the fun is just trying to work your way through 1760s and early 1770s Boston and New York with a heavy red coat population looking to hunt down our newest assassin. Boston and New York will also serve as your two primary hub locations during different years for much of the game.

And speaking of our newest assassin, we finally have learned how Desmond’s bloodline made the great leap across the Atlantic. Connor, a half-European, half-Native American, will have to explore and embrace both his Native American heritage as part of the Mohawk Nation and his European roots if he is to overcome this new Templar threat that will have him working both sides of the American Revolution as he fights the Assassin/Templar war from the shadows. Part of him embracing his Mohawk bloodline will be in the form of the weapons he will use.

The first new weapon that fans will immediately embrace is the tomahawk. For those who prefer up close, brutally bloody moments, this handheld axe will fast become a favorite for many. There is also the bow and arrow that will lend a completely new element to taking out enemies stealthily due to the quiet nature the weapon. Although we did not see any game play with the bow, we were promised it would be there and that it would change how many approach missions as assassins. There will also be the return of iconic weapons such as hidden blades and there will be A LOT more guns due to the advancements in gunpowder over the years that Connor will be able to take advantage of if he can get his hands on a few. I’m sure the British can lend our new hero a few, no questions asked, right?

Another new weapon though that got most of our attention was the rope dart. Not quite a grappling hook, the rope dart can also give Connor some ranged attacks as well as really strike fear into nearby patrolling troops. We also saw it in action for one encounter, but it definitely let its mark on us. Connor was perched in a tree as a British patrol of about six soldiers walked by. Connor threw the rope dart into the chest of one of the patrolmen and then jumped off the branch of the tree still holding the rope, basically hanging the now dead red coat to serve as a warning for later patrols. Connor then leapt into combat with the remainder of the group and we saw some thrilling new counter-kills including one where he placed a rifleman’s head against his own gun and used his foot to blow the soldier’s brains out.

Now, I had mentioned that Connor had been in a tree when that sequence started and that is because many of your missions, about 30% to be exact, will be taking place on the frontier. Since much of America was still wilderness in the 18th century with just a few cities serving as colonial hubs that would later expand outward, it would make sense that much of the game has Connor moving through this untamed land. And since the game takes place over such a large period of time, you will see many areas in both winter and summer. So a lake in one level could be frozen over in the next so you could then run over it. And being in the Northeast, this also means a lot of snow for you to move through that affects Connor’s speed and stealth abilities, but was absolutely gorgeous to look at, even if it is more recommended that he try to stick to tree branches.

And since much of Connor’s free-running in these areas will have him moving through trees and over rocks, the AC team gave him the most fluid climbing mechanics yet as many of the foot and hand holds that we are accustomed to are no longer present and Connor will have to improvise on the fly. And with the frontier being 1.5 times bigger than Rome was in Brotherhood, it’s a good thing that Connor can climb trees to help get around more quickly in this massive piece of real estate.

Another interesting aspect of the frontier, and again continuing with Connor’s Native American heritage, will be his encounters with wildlife. Startling animals could alert soldiers to his presence, but skinning and killing them could also allow him to sell meat and fur back at the city hubs for money and I am sure several side-missions will center around this mechanic.

And speaking of city life, Connor will spend a good portion of his time here, too. More NPCs than ever before will be seen on screen in the hustling and bustling Colonial New York and Boston that will be in ACIII. There is also new free-running mechanics here as the chase-breakers from multiplayer have found their way into single player. Now you can dive through open windows and cut through actual building or apartment interiors when being chased to escape your foes, making this easily the largest Assassin’s Creed game yet, inside and out.

Mentioning NPCs reminded me though that Connor will not be alone in his fight. Some of history’s greatest characters will once again be getting the Assassin’s Creed treatment as George Washington and Ben Franklin will be mission givers in this game as you take part in history yourself with Paul Revere’s Midnight Run or take orders from General Israel Putnam at the Battle of Bunker Hill. And speaking of Bunker Hill and NPCs, the most impressive thing I’ve seen in games in a while was the rows upon rows of individually rendered and modeled British soldiers during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

When prompted as to how many were on screen at any given time, the folks from Ubisoft assured us there were over 2,000 British soldiers on screen at any one moment firing volleys of bullets from their 18th-century rifles as we moved through the trenches, trying to be stealthy in the middle of a war and not get shot by accident, as we approached our target, a British captain and high-ranking Templar official, who was assassinated in one smooth running motion as Connor took advantage of the chaos of battle around him.

When all was said and done, with everything that we had seen, I was quite simply in shock. The massive world, the new characters and weapons, and the setting were enough to knock my socks off. The new game play and combat elements the Ubisoft team had implemented along with working our way through the frontier were absolutely gorgeous to look at and if they are anywhere as smooth as many of the elements from the previous Assassin’s Creed games, then there is not a doubt in my mind this will be the greatest adventure yet. I just wonder how Desmond feels about all this.