How Has Assassin's Creed III Disappointed Me? Let Me Count The Ways

I thought I was going to love Assassin's Creed III. From everything I'd seen, it seemed like Ubisoft was doing everything in their not-inconsiderable power to push their flagship series into brave new territory.

Except… well, they didn't manage to pull it off.

Rather than taking the Assassin's Creed series forward in some bold new direction, Ubisoft has resolutely kept the series at the same level as before, and actually have taken several rather large steps back. Not everyone feels this way: The game has garnered plenty of positive criticism, including a mixed but generally positive review from our own Stephen Totilo. But try though I may, I just can't love Assassin's Creed III.

Of course, that's not to say I hate it — I don't. But after about 10 or twelve hours with the game, I have to say, I think it could have been much, much better.

Coming up, there'll be some minor spoilers, including descriptions of a few missions from around the start of the Revolutionary War. Nothing too major. Here we go.

1. Nothing Really Works All That Well

That sounds pretty damning, huh? Let's just start with this one, then. Nothing in Assassin's Creed III works all that well. Good video games have a good feel to them. Think of it this way: it's not necessarily that every toy, trick, and game mechanic feels intuitive and smooth. But in an action game, the core mechanics, the ones you use over and over again, should.

Think of a game where you do lots of shooting, like Gears of War. Gears' shooting feels good. The active reload feels good. Slamming into cover feels good. These are the core aspects of the game, the things you'll be doing hundreds if not thousands of times as you play it.

It's almost as though Assassin's Creed III has no core game mechanics. It's all ancillary stuff. Nothing feels "right," nothing works that well. Running is weird at best, laggy, and often leads you charging up a wall or tearing off in the wrong direction. Swordfighting feels less like a kinetic dance and more like a drunken brawl. Fistfighting is laughably bad. Shooting a bow takes forever and feels light and unsatisfying. Shooting a musket is worse (Using the top face button, Y or Triangle, to shoot a gun feels like trying to screw in a lightbulb while standing on your tiptoes.) Targeting is a disaster (Really? The left trigger is dedicated to toggling a slow-moving reticle that highlights characters for auto-target? Whose idea was that?). It should not still be possible to climb up to one of the game's iconic vantage points, synchronise, then press "jump," and... leap to your death on the hard pavement next to the pile of hay. And yet it is. Even air-assassinations, the one thing that the series had gotten pretty good at, feel finicky and difficult to land in the new game.

It's as though Assassin's Creed III has no core gameplay; it's so scattered that there's nothing to hold on to. As a result, it's rarely if ever satisfying to play.

2. It's All Rough Edges

There is a sense throughout Assassin's Creed III that the game's eyes are just bigger than its stomach. It feels as though it was crammed onto an Xbox 360 disc, its developers sitting on top of the disc while they zipped up the sides, praying it would fit into the overhead compartment. I couldn't go five minutes on the Xbox version without encountering some sort of rough edge or bug. Ubisoft have long been masters of the way too-good-to-be-true screenshot (you'll see several of those in this very article), but the gulf between how those images look and how the game looks in action has never been wider.

Constant loading screens between interiors and exteriors, cutscenes and gameplay, and everywhere else. Strange, abrupt transitions from the end of combat to the end of a sequence, where music would be about to hit a crescendo and would suddenly be cut short, replaced by a silent animus loading screen. Terrible lip synching during in-game conversations. Long pauses between characters' lines of dialogue in overheard conversations, as if my console was leaving them to ponder the most recent sentence while it desperately searched for the requisite sound file. And all of this is not to mention the many, many, many bugs in the game, most of which are cosmetic, some of which will doubtless be addressed by patches, and all of which conspire to make the game feel like less than it should have been.

Overheard dialogue, replayed ad nauseum, again, and again, and again. The "Mah-nee, mah-nee, mah-nee!" guy from AC II sounds refreshing compared with some of your cohorts' battle cries and the freaky, played-on-a-loop clown laughs of the little children.

The rough edges leave the world feeling clownish and false, like a scary amalgamation of a video game version of the past. It's not just unconvincing, it's often weird. It's strange that a game this high-profile, which has been in development this long, feels this rough and unfinished.

3. The Music Is A Drag

I just don't like the music in Assassin's Creed III. This is largely a matter of taste — when it comes down to it, I prefer Jesper Kyd's soaring, melodramatic themes from ACII and Brotherhood to Lorne Balfe's staid, dirge-like orchestrations and perfunctory ethnic wailing. It's all so serious and frowny, both in tone and in instrumentation. For a game that's ostensibly about freedom and flight, about leaping from rooftop to rooftop and tree to tree, the music feels lugubrious.

Put it another way: It's not a coincidence that several fan-made tributes to Assassin's Creed III have used music from Assassin's Creed II. Kyd's music is iconic, and nothing Balfe has created in the new game comes close.

4. The Intro? Also A Drag

The bait-and-switch opening chapters of ACIII have been a point of contention for many critics. I submit that it's not so much the nature of the introduction that bugs me so much as its design. Yes, you play as a different dude for the first four to six hours of Assassin's Creed III. (And yes, he is, oddly, a much more likable guy than the actual main character Connor.) I liked that; I liked the narrative twists and turns that this part of the story tossed out, and I enjoyed setting up the framework for the rest of the game.

What I didn't like was the actual way the prelude was designed — it was, literally, a series of cutscenes separated by some walking. Almost every time. My guy would wake up, then walk to a room, and a cutscene would play. Then he'd walk to another room, where a cutscene would play. Then maybe (maybe) there'd be a swordfight. Then walk to a cutscene. Sometimes he'd walk across a vast, snowy forest to get to his next cutscene.

The last straw for me was when I finished a cutscene and was set loose on the deck of a ship, en route to America. Land, I was told, was visible. I was instructed to climb the tallest mast and see for myself. I began to climb, excited to crest the top sail and set my sights on Boston Harbor. The music began to build as I climbed and… suddenly the game took over, and awkwardly transitioned into a cutscene of my character looking out over the Boston Harbor. Man.

5. Basic Interface Fail

The interface in Assassin's Creed III is far too sluggish. Everything moves slower than it should. Weapon selection is a disaster — like many games, you press RB to open up a menu that allows you to switch between your various tools. But instead of popping up an easy quick-select radial menu, the game pauses, zooms out to an entirely separate menu, then lets you move up and down a list of items, rather than around in a circle.

This is basic stuff to get wrong at this point — Red Dead Redemption nailed it four years ago, and Saints Row got it right even before that. There are too many tools in Assassin's Creed III to use the D-pad shortcuts; I always need quick access to more than four things. The amount of time it takes to select a new tool, particularly while in the heat of combat, is a groove-killer.

The map is even worse. It's become a given that Assassin's Creed games have terrible maps, but that does not make it OK. If anything, it makes it less OK. It should't "be a given" that a massive, multi-million dollar AAA franchise just has one very important element that sucks, forever. They've had five games to get the map right. Why can't they just overhaul it? It takes forever for it to load, it's difficult to read, and it makes it navigation more confusing, not less.

6. The "Gump Factor"

I'm a little bit worried about Assassin's Creed's fiction as it gets closer to modern times. In the earlier games, Altair and Ezio spent a lot of time tied up with the biggest political and social movements in their respective points in history. But, and this may be hugely ethnocentric of me, those conflicts, characters, and events felt far enough from our own time that it wasn't too big of a deal to see my video game protagonist taking a small but vital role in them. Even meeting characters I knew, like Leonardo DaVinci in Assassin's Creed II, felt a bit goofy, but fun.

Assassin's Creed III takes place during the American Revolution, during historical events that most people, at least most Americans, are much more familiar with. As a result, the story starts to have a Forrest Gump-y quality that feels more distracting than cool. You say Paul Revere went on a famous ride? Well actually, Connor rode with him! You say the British won a bloody victory at Bunker Hill? Well actually, Connor was there, and snuck across the enemy lines! You say the Colonials held the British at the north bridge in Concord? Well actually, Connor commanded the troops and told them when to fire! Why did he do this? Because the Colonial commanding officer decided to trust this random guy with the task.

I loved this re-done version of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride" over at Crikey. A choice excerpt:

And so our riders went swiftly through the night

With Revere giving directions towards the good fight,

When suddenly, without sure prediction,

It seemed a bug emerged with strong affliction

Revere was stuck helplessly in a dialogue cycle;

"Yes! This is exactly where we need to be!"

"Yes! This is exactly where we need to be!"

"Yes! This is exactly where we need to be!"

"Yes! This is exactly where we need to be!"

It all feels contrived, and unnecessary. I'm not sure of the exact solution to this problem — it is cool to read about and see the real story of Paul Revere's ride, and to see the events at Concord unfolding firsthand. But do I really have to ride on the horse with the guy? Must I command the troops, and if so, must Connor be the one to do it?

In order for a video game to occupy a place in history, it doesn't necessarily have to place characters at the very centre of historical events. It would've been possible to put Connor into Paul Revere's ride, or the Battle of Bunker Hill, without making him an integral part of each one. And I worry that as the series progresses into even more recent history, that the Gumpyness will only get worse. I want to live through history, but I don't need to rewrite it.

7. It's Time For A Control Overhaul

In addition to the basic interface stuff, I think it's time that Ubisoft reassess Assassin's Creed's basic controls. Combat doesn't feel good, targeting is a disaster, and free-running should probably just be labelled a failed experiment. On a fundamental level, the game does not feature a strong connection between the player, his or her controller, and the game. That's a big problem.

Since the first Assassin's Creed launched in 2007, the series has been so thoroughly outpaced by so many games that the people in charge would do well to pause, study, and go back to the drawing board.

For example: With each passing year, combat in Assassin's Creed is further overshadowed by Batman: Arkham Asylum. While Rocksteady managed to raise their own bar in Arkham City, Ubisoft seems content to stick with a combat system that feels positively stodgy at this point. It's unsatisfying, hectic, and despite all that far too easy. They can add all the canned kill-cam animations they want, it won't change the fact that their basic combat is one tenth as enjoyable, challenging, and punchy as Arkham City on an off day.

Free-running, too, could learn some lessons from other games. Sleeping Dogs added an interesting trick where you hold down "A" to run, then press it in time to climb and jump over obstacles. Infamous forced players to actually press the jump button to climb walls, but managed to make navigation into a mostly-fun skate-park kind of thing. Dishonored added a teleporting mechanic to make rooftop navigation thrilling and empowering. I humbly submit that Assassin's Creed's next developers rethink what can be fun about running and leaping over things. The basic idea is still strong. But the execution needs work.

8. For A Stealth Game, The Stealth Sure Is Jank

And here, maybe my biggest problem with Assassin's Creed III: The stealth. The Assassin's Creed games are, ostensibly, stealth games. One of their oldest gameplay pillars involves your character blending into the crowd, striking, then vanishing into thin air.

And yet it never feels that way. Stealth in Assassin's Creed III is broken, plain and simple. This is best evidenced by an early mission in which you must sneak into an enemy encampment and steal intel without being spotted. If you're spotted, the mission ends, and you must restart it from the beginning. I failed this mission a good 20 times before finally succeeding, and I'd imagine I'm not the only one.

Here are the problems as I see them:

  • The camera positioning makes it difficult to see where everyone is, and despite the addition of an inconsistent corner-sticking ability, you mostly can't "stick" to cover and make yourself unseen.
  • There's no "stealth" button, not even a crouch button, which means that you can't tell the game that you'd like your character to be stealthy. That means you'll frequently just stand right up while moving through the underbrush, immediately tipping off every nearby enemy to your location. It's maddening.
  • Enemies don't appear to have a realistic line-of-sight, and can often see you from the strangest, most turned-around locations. I find myself playing more against the yellow arrows that have popped up at the side of my screen than against enemies I actually had any notion of when I started sneaking.
  • Crowd-sneaking feels inconsistent to the point that I never even attempt it. The stealth feedback is just fundamentally flawed. I never attempt to sneak using a crowd, because it's almost impossible not to get spotted.
  • Assassin's Creed III has also done away with the hireable helpers that made crowd-stealth more workable in past games. You can no longer hire courtesans and thieves to help you get past guards, giving you far less control over your work at street-level.
  • Sneaking in the woods is almost impossible, as well. Everything is so spread out that there are rarely good "stealth pathways" between you and your target, and there's no good way to quickly traverse open areas without being spotted. Far more often, you'll have to kill everyone who spots you before proceeding. I wanted to be a ghost in the underbrush, and instead I'm a thug with a tomahawk.

I've been playing a lot of stealth games recently. From Dishonored to Mark of the Ninja to Hitman: Absolution, which I'll be reviewing next week. All of those games, with varying degrees of success, have built-in systems that dovetail with the level design to make sneaking empowering, interesting, difficult, and fun. By contrast, Assassin's Creed feels like it has a stealth game's punishments without any of its necessary tools. It feels so clumsy. Connor is a constantly-spotted rube, a guy standing on a rooftop being yelled at by a guard.

9. I Avoid Doing Things

I find that in Assassin's Creed III, I avoid doing just about everything. I want the path of least resistance. I don't want to even try to use the rope-dart to hang a guy from a tree. I don't want to try to sneak through a fort undetected. I don't want to go hunting, I don't want to try to use feed to summon animals and shoot them from a tree. I don't want to try to dodge a firing-line and use a guy as a human shield. It's all just so difficult to manage, so I don't bother. And really, that's because…

10. It's Just Not Very Fun

And here we get to the crux of it, I guess. This one's more subjective than all the other ones, but it remains true: I just haven't been having much fun with Assassin's Creed III. When I started playing, I was also playing Need For Speed: Most Wanted for review. (That game? Very, very fun) Considering how much I've enjoyed past Assassin's Creed games, I was honestly surprised to find myself saying, many a time, "Man, why am I playing this when I could be playing Need for Speed?" Then I figured out why: Need For Speed is fun, and Assassin's Creed III isn't.

It's interesting, and often smart. The story is cool, and I'm one of the people who actually likes that twisty, silly Desmond meta-narrative. I love the sense of place, the meticulously researched history, and think that this time period is hugely underrepresented in video games and is very fun to explore. But the game, as it stands, just isn't fun. I'm not one to stand on a mountaintop and declare that all games must be "fun," whatever that even means. But surely this blockbuster action/adventure series is intended to be enjoyable to play. And yet, here we are.

Despite all the disappointments I just listed, I still don't hate Assassin's Creed III. It's a game worth playing, and its basic setup, setting, and story are strong enough to overcome even that laundry list of complaints. And hey, the naval combat really is as cool as everyone says. I'm going to wait to play it to completion until it comes out on PC, largely in the hopes that my more powerful computer can remedy some of the rough edges that so turned me off of the Xbox version.

But on the whole, I just gotta say it: Assassin's Creed III, one of the biggest, most ambitious, and most hyped games of 2012, is a disappointment.

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Comments

    I've started playing it, and although I'm not yet as disappointed as this writer, I didn't find a single thing in the article I disagreed with.

      Yeah, this. I wouldn't be quite so critical, but these issues are very disappointing - even a step backwards from what they did with AC2/Bro/Revs.

      Also, I should add that I am amused by the header image in this article.

        I am glad you mentioned that, I didn't notice the first time. Someone should make a custom cover using that image so we can replace the boring one that came with the game.

          I'm not entirely against this idea, somehow, but I ask myself: if I truly subscribed to the 'floppy arrow' perspective of AC3, why would I keep it on my shelf?

    I am loving AC3 however the free running really annoys me, in the other games I felt like I had more control, one button to run and hold another to "free run"

    but now its just one for all and I find myself runnning and leaping around when I dont want to be

      It's funny but that's exactly how I felt about the previous games. They make you hold down several buttons when you just want to free run over stuff and inevitably you run into leap of faiths that you didn't want to make. For me, that's been remedied by this game as holding one button allows you to traverse reachable gaps and stops you from making jumps you can't land, or using leap of faiths you didn't intend to make.

        To be honest, the new free-running system is more realistic. Sure, they removed the toggle controls like in the previous games, but I'm talking about the fluidity of Connor's motion. He can quickly change directions, and interact with almost every obstacle with absolute excellence (i.e. jumping over fences and stuff). And now there are trees. When I first saw Connor free-running over the tree branches in the launch trailer, I was stunned.

        So all in all, I think the free-running system is better than the previous games, but when it comes to the variety of controls (especially in combat), that was a huge disappointment in AC3.

    Not another ' How Ass Creed 3 disappointing me' article!

    Yes, the game is disappointing, but so are a lot of games. That doesn't forgive the flaws, but YOU FOLKS are the fools for eating up all the hype for the last 6+ months!
    The Ass Creed series has always been an average action experience. It's a time waster where you don't have to think. What where you expecting?
    It's not the end of the world. Accept you wasted $60+ on this and move on. Enough with the constant articles. Jesus Christ!

      I find it refreshing. We're in a time where most sites and magazines absolutely rave about very average games (remember COD: Black Ops? So average, 9/10s across the board).

      So I like actually having the articles match up with my perspective. It's not that I'm hard to please, it's that most games just aren't that good.

      Feel free not to click on the article next time. The title told you what you were in for if you decided to read it. Some people would be feeling quite validated that their experience of the game isn't quite measuring up to the reviews that they've read. Especially those folks who want to know if 'it gets better later on' or not.

      PS: Two articles is not 'constant', especially when they were written by different people, and act as a counterpoint to a positive review.

      "YOU FOLKS are the fools for eating up all the hype for the last 6+ months!"

      Please don't generalise. I was well and truly 'over the hump' with Assassin's Creed II after Brotherhood. I only forced myself to finish Revelations so I could move on to ACIII this weekend just past, and I'm finding it very difficult to disagree with anything in this article.

      I heard nothing but glowing praise from everyone I know who has played it. This game is a disappointment, and not because I was hyped, but because I was looking forward to something new.

      As Kirk wrote; it's exactly the same. I don't know what I was expecting, but a watered down step backwards of the high point ACII was not it.

      You sound like everybody is sending these disappointing letters to you. When you pay for a product you expect it to not be so flawed. People have a right go voice their opinions I think you should get over it. P.S. where and were are to different words. Learn how to use them properly. ;)

    The last time I played (two days ago) the game shat itself transitioning from a cut scene to the mission. White screen and looping Animus music, unresponsive buttons and I couldn't even quit to the PS3 home. Haven't picket it up since.

    Earlier in the game I experienced an awful glitch that caused a blue screen and loud, screeching sound that made me yank off my headphones. This happened 3-4 times (restarting from the same checkpoint) but was fine after restarting the console.

    There's a special place in my heart for the franchise but this installment has been a letdown across the board.

      This happened to me as well... I had to restart console and guess what was missing?

      My save game with 30hours of playtime. As much as I wanted to keep playing and actually liked the game there is no way I am sitting through that again.

    I haven't played it yet, as I am waiting for it on the Wii U.

    I am a long time fan of the Assassin's Creed series and I most certainly hope that it is not as bad as you say :(

      By the time it hits the Wii U at least some bugs should be gone.

    I cannot deny any of this at all. This is exactly how I've been feeling about AC3. Especially that last point. With Revelations, it started off slow for around two hours, but once I got the hook blade? Shit was *on*! It was great. Constantinople opened up and I was Ezio at this best again! It was lots of fun! Brotherhood was a *blast* It was AC2 truly on steroids. AC2 was the true game AC should have been in the first place as I always felt AC was more a tech demo than anything else?

    But AC3? It feels like a giant step backwards. Connor, is clunky and awkward, a poor fighter, not charismatic at all, I could honestly not give two craps about him. Altair I always thought had the 'cool factor' about him, Ezio had the true character depth (granted across 3 games but even by the beginning of 2 when his family was executed you cared about him) When we got to Connors youth at the indian camp? 5 minutes gameplay, village destroyed, MOVE ON TO ADULT CONNOR! Then some half arsed missions til I found his mentor.

    It's not all terrible for me, I think it does have some redeeming features. Hunting is fun, the rope dart is a great weapon and I'm loving the ship combat.

    That's about it though... I hope the next AC3 spinoff game (yeah we all know they will release one next year...) does an ACBR and ramps things up majorly. A trip to England maybe?

      More like France, notice how he became random best buds with Lafayette?

      I like Connor....the way he talks..he reminds me of altiair which is why I like him

        I think thats part of it, we've had Altair, I just felt like Connor was never really given his own true identity. I wasnt wanting Ezio mk2 but I was hoping for a little more personality?

          BUT and I will accept this wholely, that could also be down to the piss poor voice acting of Connor and not the written dialogue which wasn't too bad.

            I think that might have been intentional...his speech has that slow kind of "native american" thing

              Possibly, but I have heard much better in that area too. I wasn't expecting Christopher Nolan level performances, just wasn't moved by Connor.

              I mean being honest? When compared to other games out there AC3 stands head and shoulders above a lot of other games. It's just when I compare it to what came before it. That's where my problem lays. I know people can say 'Just compare it to itself or to two' but I can't. There's a 4 game history now, there's a lot of baggage that comes with being an AC game. But, that being said, lets see what the next iteration of AC brings. We all know there will undoubtedly be one next year anyhow ;)

    Yeah I totally agree actually the last good AC game was brotherhood, I think the blocking needs to come back it made the combat more fun I don't think people want it to be deliberately hard to take down 10 or so chumps and now that you can get shot whilst in a melee fight the blocking really is the least they could do,

    Connor is no Ezio and if they manage to do a spinoff / un-numbered Connor sequel like they did with ACB and ACR I don't think I'll buy it

    Also the ending left things far too meh for my liking,

      One combat feature I've really missed is the ability to pull people over ledges.

        I know! I was scaling a mountain and had 3 guys on a ledge, went to do that and Im like 'EH? WHY NOT????'

          I honestly can't think of a reason why Connor can't do that. It's not even a particulary "Assassin-y" move.

            He can, ive done it heaps

        You can still pull people over ledges. I know this because I've done it a couple of times, however I've tried to do it a dozen times!! Just another half-assed mechanic in the game that doesn't work properly.

        You know what's more frustrating? the roofs that Connor refuses to climb up. There's a few in Boston, and they look like plenty of other buildings and roofs that you can scale, but for whatever reason, he'll cling to the edge of these roofs and refuses to climb up.

          It's crazy that stuff like that doesn't work when it worked fine in the previous games. It's almost like they threw away everything they'd made before and started over from scratch.

          Agreed!! It happens to me all the time.. Connor just decides he'll stop climbing whenever he feels like it.. I also get him not wanting to jump off stuff.. it's usualy fences which i end up having to drop/hang to get off.
          The free run mechanic is definately broken in this game, there's also alot of other bugs in the game.
          Another that happens to me a fair bit is in New York where i can just be walking/running along while incognito, and then just randomly a bunch of guards will become alerted and start chasing me. Also the damn lumberers in the homestead.. I can't finish the stupid 'Common-man Encyclopedia' because they've bugged up and just stand around smoking or fishing all day..

          AC3 in the end is a major step backwards from AC2..

    Pathetic reasons, doesn't highlight what's wrong. The only real issues was the polish. Everything is is just personal bs except some stealth issues which is fair enough. This really is a sideways article because its not true, the combat is fantastic, just too easy. It doesn't need to change, and the navigation is fantastic, it has changed a little but taking ideas from a more clunky sleeping dogs? That's very one minded. Its the most fluid and quick navigation to climb. Take the running through trees, no game has come close to mastering that or evening trying. And yet it works so well, why on earth would you change that. And you do realise their is a hotkey for weapons, that other thing is just setting for setting up that hotkey even if it takes a little long... and the last "I avoid things" means nothing because they are all fantastic mechanics that make the game that much more interesting. Because its SO fun, and plenty would agree - especially the hunting. It seems as if your one minded and just " i just want simple thing". And breeze over the fact that this is a SANDBOX game.
    You didn't like the music? I thought it was great.
    I am not being a fanboy, because there are issues with the game that don't seem to be highlighted, bar a few. But this is just mostly a personal issue and nothing of the game because quite frankly, when a game does so much, its not really fair to criticize everything when other games do one thing only a little bit better. What Assassins Creed 3 does well it does fantastically, and it has many issues because it was rushed to release and was probably one of the biggest games of this year. I just find this article sad when I know your missing out on what is wonderful game.
    But darn it Ubisoft, fix those damn glitches!

      Yeah you're being a fanboy, you contradict yourself in the article, rage at the author and blindly ignore glaring *valid* flaws in the game. You said there's nothing wrong except the polish? Care to be more specific? They can polish the bugs, the gameplay, the combat, the missions (excise out the crap ones, retool them or add new ones to make it better).

      What assassins creed 3 does best, is underwhelm, at that, it's a master.

      Missing out? The game is unfinished at best. It's a rushed mess, and a terribly dull game to boot. While I'm not a fan of the series, I've finished 1,2 and brotherhood. This is easily the worst in the ass creed yet (oh wait, there is the even more boring and shittier version on the vita).

      Save for a few points, I agree with you. I feel like a lot of the author's complaints stem from a matter of personal taste. The only ones I agreed with were the loading stuff, the menu stuff, and the stealth stuff. The combat and Free Running are exceptionally improved. No more holding several buttons to cross simple gaps, no more accidental leaps of faiths --- which btw, the author claimed that he shouldn't be able to synchronise and jump to his death... well, he should actually look where he's jumping next time.

      I do think this game has a huge problem with bugs, and they clearly didn't have time to polish the game. And the hunting --- I'm not into it. It's too easy and too QTEy. Fighting bears and cougars should feel dangerous and incredibly risky (at close range anyway). That's why cougars are such a blast to hunt down in Red Dead. They came out of nowhere and often catch you unaware. Not so in AC3.

      Last edited 12/11/12 11:04 pm

    Couldn't agree more. It's bloated, archaic and punishing. Awful native voice acting, repetitive, uninspired score, dumb yet crazily intelligent AI, a simplistic, one-button combat system, PS1 era inventory management with separate screens that yank you out of the game, a map that is just a series of samey-colored icons on a graphic with non-existent topography -- it's a mess, and it is not fun at all. I played 15 hours with a perma-frown before saying, "Why am I doing this to myself?" and trading forever. Woeful.

    I had a particular annoyance/ glitch where the animus database updated after about the 3rd Conner mission with a spoiler which ruined an enormous chunk of the story!

    I was reading the database entry for one of the main characters and where normally they update with ‘***’ to denote additional content it updated two at once and ruined a major twist which didn't occur in the narritive for another 6 hours or so.
    Half way through reading it I suddenly realised that it seemed I’d read a major spoiler but by then it was too late. Fucking infuriating.

    I will wait on the WiiU review (as I’ve mentioned before). Maybe they fixed some of the controls and bugs (probably not). If not, I’ll wait for the next iteration where they’ll hopefully fix a lot of these issues. No loss to me, plenty of other games to play.

    Sure there are glitches and issues but they don't ruin the game, so Kirk I honestly think you are being a bit of a bitch get over everything and just enjoy how different and unique the game is! Shit just climb rocks or hunt do what ever that's why it has a massive open world, maybe that's why you think it's like or hasn't changed from the other assassins creed' games because you are playing ac3 like the other ac games!

    It's funny - all of this stuff you are complaining about comes across as if ACIII isn't up to par; as if previous games had it better, or at the very least had similar issues that weren't resolved. I hadn't played any Assassins Creed until about 2 weeks ago. About 10 minutes into the game I was sick of it. Non-stop talking - cutscene - take a step forward - cut scene -switch characters - cut scene - more talking - walk for a bit - cutscene. Finally get to control Altair ... he starts jumping all over the place - I'm not being so naive as to suggest I had no control over my character, I guess what I mean is that I would want to run and then he'd get caught on something, a fence, a seat, a barrel or a box, and then scale it, and before I could stop him he'd be jumping up onto a wall and I'd have guards after me. Galloping a horse is apparantly the tell-tale sign of a god damned asssassin - all of whom choose to hide their secret order in a giant castle at the top of a hill in plain sight with their banners draped all over it. Combat was pretty boring and I'd find myself spamming attack or counter. Throwing knives would always get thrown instead of him pulling out his sword (and they'd all miss). Some buildings wouldn't be climbable (or be half climbable) even though they were 6 ft tall and the roof was right there which really impacted the only fun (albeit entirely overused) aspect - the free running.

    It was annoying. I barely did any of the 3 or 4 ad nauseam side missions. Much like you I did the absolute minimum required to finish the game.

    Finally finished it and moved on to ACII to see what was fixed. Bit more exciting at the start (at least I get to play the first 20 minutes!) and then more of the same old stuff. Unresponsive controls. Ezio starts climbing all over **** because I asked him to run. Apparantly doing anything that isn't walking slowly is cause for concern. I give up. No idea why such a shoddy repetitive, cookie-cutter of a series got such praise let alone 4 sequels.

      "No idea why such a shoddy repetitive, cookie-cutter of a series got such praise let alone 4 sequels."

      Because it has 'Assassins' in it?

      I've never played the AC series myself, so I wouldn't know, but people generally like the word 'Assassin'

    I agree with some points in this, not all though.

    I cant stand the fact Connor plays such an integral role in the Revolution, Ezio and Altair were involved in big events in the past, but always on the periphery and only once or twice would they get themselves involved directly in events.

    What really killed it for me though was the final mission and the story payoff....I don't want to spoil it, but that last mission before you go back to the present just show cased nearly everything that was unpolished, from the running to the idiotic optional objectives to the unpolished nature of it. Its like this team didn't pay any attention to the refinements made in Brotherhood and Revelations and just made their own game which is 2 - 3 years behind what we have now....

    I still like the game, I like the flow of combat and feel more comfortable running into a group of Lobsters than I did in previous games, the hunting is pretty fun and the Homestead missions give more of an emotional payoff than the main story ever did.

    Its a good game, just fails to live up to the Ezio trilogy that came before it.

    Anyone else notice that some of the Animus loading screens that pop after you kill a templar, and have seen the cut scene, you can take damage while your screen is blank? I almost died this way, and came very close to ragequit... Such a very rushed/broken game. Still, someone raised an interesting point on some forums that all of the glitches, poor controls and bad lip sync aren't AC3, it's the Animus just being sucky haha.

    Havent played 3, but Liberation is much the same so far. Except that I like the interface, touch makes it much better.

    Oh no, this is what I feared. I haven't been able to get into any of the AC's as the boredom sets in, and controls begin to frustrate me. I hate dev's that make a big world and just give you the same side quests over and over again. I'd rather a smaller world that has more in it. I'm waiting for the PC version, but I just don't know.

    The Forrest Gump comparison is so spot on. If it weren't for the naval battles this game would be nothing.

    Apparently you're not the only one. I've read a few reviews that think it's a real step back from 2.

    I ADORED the first 2, but it looks like I'll skip this one, at least till I can get my hands on it some other way to try it out first.

    Haha laughable article, the game is the best in the series so far. Personally they shouldn't have made brotherhood or revelations now they were bloated wastes of time

    Ubisoft obviously haven't learned from Eidos.

    AC3 is Tomb Raider Underworld. Same shit different disc.

    The only problem is, Ubisoft don't have the option of "rehashing" the series, not from my perspective anyhow. I'd be surprised if AC4 was announced and if it is, it doesn't matter how good they make the game, this cash cow is dead. Move on.

    most of this sounds like a platform issue... rather than a game issue. i wonder if you would have the same problems on a PC?

      He does mention serious design flaws that make the game hard to enjoy regardless of the platform - things like the changed controls, stealth mechanics or really frustrating and linear mission design. Even without the bugs, it's just not as fun and rewarding as its predecessors, in my opinion.

    Couldn't agree more. So many times I've found myself thinking, "How did this get through the testing phase?"
    Right now I'm only playing it because I've invested too much time and money into the franchise that I can't NOT finish the main story line. Forts? Collectibles? More settlers for my little town? Forget it. I'm heading straight for that big "!" on the map.

    I have one problem with a point made - the game isn't a stealth game.

    I agree that it should be, and sort of agree that it's supposed to be... I mean, Assassin's are suppose to be about finesse, right?

    But it's giving too much credit to say it's a stealth game. There are, like, 2 mechanics, tops, that bolster any sort of stealth gameplay; and they're all incidental and built into the environment.

    Connor, himself, has no stealth abilities. A stealth game is all about movement - how I get from point A to point B without being detected, using a combination of my characters abilities in conjunction with the environment.

    The fact that there's no crouch button irks me no end. At least include it, even if it has no bearing on visibility... Let me feel sneaky damnit!

    You can't even peek around corners without relying on the games 'intelligent corner detection' system - on one 'tailing' mission I failed several times because the target would stop down an alley, and turn around.

    The closest and most suitable wall for peeking had a cart parked almost all way along the last section of wall. However there was enough space between that, an the edge, to peek... JUST enough room. Trying to get the game to understand what I wanted, in that tight space, lead to many frustrating moments where I walked out in plain sight and failed.

    The gameplay in this game would better suit a pirate game. Sure, the protagonist would be a dexterous pirate, but the swashbuckling, brawling, treasure hunting (and now ship sailing) would work much better in a game not trying to be an assassin game.

    At every corner you're made to fight bands of enemies. Assassin's don't do that. Good Assassin's make it so they were never there.

    I feel the game's design would fare better if each mission didn't have such a hard fail outcome and instead had some dynamic qualities where objectives would shift if you fail a certain approach... Rather than animus resetting and forcing me to walk a tightrope. Then award full synch for perfect execution but still let progression happen for sloppy outcomes to preserve game flow.

    Also design the game so you can complete it without killing anyone - just that alone usually means problem solving will have to be implemented and a good stealth game will emerge from that one requirement.

    Anyway - good article; thoroughly enjoyed!

    I pretty much agree with everything in that article. I finished the game last night and I was just so disappointed not only because the whole thing feels like its missing whatever awesome spark the first 3 games had but also it was the biggest meh ending to a game I have ever had to witness. It made Mass Effect 3 look good.

    I got to a point I didn't care if I finished anything, because of shitty gameplay and stupid bugs. So I don't have all my assassins, don't have all the collectables, Conner is short sighted so I couldn't be bothered trying to complete maps on foot, every mission I did turned into a shitstorm and I didn't care. I think I will go back and play Brotherhood to recall the good old days with AC was a great series.

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