Haytham: Don't think I have any intention of caressing your cheek and saying I was wrong. I will not weep, and wonder what might have been. I'm sure you understand. Still, I'm proud of you in a way. You have shown great conviction, strength, courage, all noble qualities. I should have killed you long ago.
-Assassin's Creed III
So before I even got halfway through, I heard some alarming things about this game's ending. The internet was blowing up again; up in arms just like they had been for Mass Effect 3. While I felt ME3 rage was extremely justified, I just didn't get that upset about this ending. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
So I've been eagerly awaiting AC3 since it was announced. Though I did have some trepidations about the time period, (it was a lot closer to modern times than I thought it would be) as time went on and more trailers came out I really started to get excited for this game. Even going so far as to purchase and pre-order the limited edition version. And in all honesty I don't regret that decision. There were a lot of good things about this game. And I'll start with those before I get all nit picky about the rest of it.
Overall, I believe Connor was the most well rounded assassin we've been given yet. He has the clearest character arc (Ezio had a tiny one in his first Assassin's Creed debut) as he sought desperately to protect those he cared about. He had a lot of naiive notions about the world, and was hurt many times by his own hubris. To obtain his ultimate goals in life changed Connor. He sacrificed more than, I believe, any assassin did before him. And his character was an excellent contrast to that of his badass father, Haytham Fenway.
Let me just start by saying that Haytham is by far the coolest character that the Assassin's Creed saga has ever introduced. And if for nothing else, I would adore this game for him. You play the first hour or so of gameplay through Haytham's POV. In fact, the game does an excellent job at getting you attached to Haytham and his merry band. And it's only until you finish the sequence and Connor is… well, conceived; that you realize that Haytham is a templar. Awesome plot twist, provided you didn't already know about it. I certainly was shocked. I really had to give the game a round of applause for that one. I totally didn't see that coming.
Charles Lee was a fantastic villain. I actually liked him best in my band of templars at the beginning of the game. Who would have thought that a saga that has for the last four games- completely dedicated to wiping out the templars, would succeed in making me feel like the templars actually had some good points? Especially when Charles Lee has his says about George Washington. This dialogue is just gold. I really can't help but marvel at the genius of it:
Connor: I know that the people wish to be free- and that men like Washington fight to make it so.
Lee: Please. The man is weak. He stumbles and stammers through each engagement, making it up as he goes along. His pedigree is pathetic- his military record even more so. I could go on and on but we'd be here for days, so manifold are his faults, so deficient are his merits. He must be dealt with. You as well. I will abide no more flies in the ointment.
It sounds even better when read by the voice actor. The venom in his voice as he talks about Washington... so passionate. It's really quite a marvel.
As much as I admire all of our founding fathers, I really wanted to applaud Lee for really hitting the nail on the head. He pointed out, invariably, all of George Washington's fault. So often we paint our founding fathers up like Gods, that we forget they were simply human. I think while it is hard to play a game where you are taking assassination missions from so iconic a figure like Washington; it's nice that the game took the approach to humanize him.
This game hit a lot closer to home than the other games did. I believe this took a lot of gamers off guard. It's weird running into historical figures and towns on our own turf instead of romping around in far away Italy or Rome. But I really don't think that the saga changed very much on that front. It's still the same sprinkling that AC has always provided. In fact, at least in the case of Washington, I believe they did an even better job this time than they did in past games. Leonardo DaVinci made me cringe. But often I would forget I was talking to historical figures in this game and instead remember them just as Connor knew them. Which is really quite odd since I know a lot more about Washington and Lafayette than I do Machiavelli. But there you have it.
No saving Ben Franklin though. Don't get me wrong. He was in character in every respect. It's just weird having a conversation with Benjamin Franklin. I don't think there was anyway to not make it so.
The gameplay itself is fantastic too. The naval battles are just spectacular. The controls for fighting are much more smooth and the combos more varied and entertaining. And aside from when I had to collect agenda pages and feathers, I was never bored. Every sequence riveted me. Even the homestead missions really got me invested into the game.
This does not however mean that I liked everything about this game. I did have quite a few issues. One being the many hundred glitches the game seemed to have. Falling through walls, bodies randomly convulsing on the street with arms shooting out like party horns, the many non-rendered sections of the map, and the bonus outfits messing up Connor's hair during cut scenes. These are things that were really quite obvious and should have been hammered out through in the testing phases. But they were in such a rush to release the game before the holidays that they must have just decided to release it as is.
I didn't like how the new viewpoints in this game did not span the whole map. I ended up running around in circles for hours , trying to fill my map in. It got really annoying. What was worse yet was the way some cut scenes could be activated before the others, in no particular order. This often led to me being awfully confused. I remember this came up with the topic of Lucy and her being a traitor. I had been waiting forever for this to be discussed. Ever since Desmond woke from his coma, but they skated around the topic. Then, at long last, I activated some cut scenes. The result was that I was really confused and frustrated over them. It felt really odd that they would just suddenly bring up Lucy but then not mention what happened to her. It wasn't until later that I found the cut scene with Minerva in which Desmond confesses to being posessed (but yet not really) by Juno and how he could see Lucy was a traitor. Would have been nice if you mentioned this earlier Desmond!!
But more on point, how are you supposed to know in what order to play these cut scenes in? The results are that you get a very skewed series of conversations; hearing certain pieces of information before you should know about them.
Another example, I played the Benedict Arnold missions before I finished the Battle of Monmouth. So Connor's behavior towards George Washington seemed out of character and baffling. I had no idea why he was so angry at the commander. I thought maybe Connor was getting annoyed at being sent out to clean up the patriot's messes all the time… but that didn't seem right. I don't think this mission should have been available for me to play until after I completed the main mission that preceded it.
And finally, the ending really shows this rushed pace of production. In the final stretch, the quality and entertainment of the game plummets. As anyone at Bioware can now tell you, the ending of a game is the most important part. Connor's final show down with Charles Lee was rather disappointing. An epic chase that ended with a simple shanking at a tavern bar. The two characters just seemed sad and tired. That would have been fine if they at least… said something. Anything. I think the ending was creative but it felt unfulfilling. I wanted more.
And even though I loved Haytham and Connor's final beat down, it did seem to come out of the blue and ended way too quickly. At Haytham's funeral, Lee makes many threats against Connor's remaining family and friends but yet never acts upon them. Why would he make those threats and then walk away? Come on, Charles! I wanted blood, man!
Then, of course, the ending ending that got everyone up in arms: Desmond's death. Honestly, I saw his death coming a mile away. I thought that Minerva or Juno would use Desmond as a host body to enter the earthly realm once more. But really, I didn't expect Desmond to survive the encounter.
Did that mean I was okay with the ending… eh, not really. It did seem pretty rushed. Desmond makes a very sudden decision to sacrifice himself and there is no time for him to say goodbye to any of his friends. Even his farewell to his father was very cold. After all the father/son relationship build up in Connor's timeline, I would have expected something a bit more from Desmond's plan to sacrifice himself. At least have the Dad offer up his own life instead (even if they don't take it). Throw in some tears! Something guys. I know you can make me feel. You did it with Haytham and Connor. So who dropped the ball in the relationship between Desmond and his Dad?
So would I say it's a bad game? Not by a long shot. The game is fantastic with a great story, great voice acting, and it's super fun to play. But if they just took a little while longer to hammer out some of those glitches and really give us a powerful and lengthy end scene (what ever happened to the epic Lucy death scene? Now that was a badass game conclusion), I would have rated this the best in the saga by far. But because they didn't, I'd have to give a more vague recommendation. It's a great game but you'll either like the ending or hate it. And if you hate it, then you probably won't like the rest of the game in consequence. It's as simple as that.
You know I really think game developers should take a tip from the backlash of these two games. Hammer out your endings first, guys. Endings are the most important things aside from the beginning. You need to work out those endings before you do anything else!
Gameplay: ★ ★ ★ 3 out of 5
Enjoyment: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 5 out of 5
Story: ★ ★ ★ ★ 4 out of 5
Overall Opinion: Great game from beginning till right before the last scene starts playing. Many glitches that can effect gameplay. But if you like the other Assassin's Creed games, you'll probably enjoy this one too.