Recently we had the opportunity to play a few hours of Assassin’s Creed III, in the midst of downtown Boston, where the game’s main story takes place.
With our single-player campaign setup, we jump in, about a few hours into the game, without much knowledge as to what has already transpired. Our new hero, an American Indian named Connor; we quickly learn that our tribe’s land is being sold to a smuggler that has no business even trying to buy it. Of course, this doesn’t sit well with our people, nor with Connor, so we’ll have to track this gentleman down in Beantown and have a little…shall we say, discussion.
In the meantime, I took advantage by getting a feel for the controls and the wonderful looking frontier, which was filled with small villages, huge bristling trees, , ledges, rivers and more. The parkour movement feels just as smooth, though in the forest, it’s a bit more difficult to get a solid grip on branches and such, but I dug the fact that the climbing controls have been simplified. If you hold R1, you’ll run freely and only make jumps or climbs if they appear safe to do so. On the other hand, if you hit X, you’ll climb no matter how tough the obstacle looks, so you have the freedom of choosing whether or not you want to be ballsy.
It wasn’t long during my exploration of this open-world area that I come across a hunter named Miriam who was being harassed by some poachers. In this small mission, I quickly rescued her and then proceeded to annihilate them by using all sorts of sweet kills, such as taking an axe to someone’s head, which greeted me with a nasty crunch and blood splatter that would’ve made Dexter Morgan proud. I was also able to hang one of them from a tree or simply go straight up to them and take them out. Having later spoken to a man sitting near dock, who asked me to find an artifact for him in the woods, I venture out to another short mission where I come across a host of pissed off wolves. My one complaint from the demo was how brutally difficult these wolves turned out to be. Even trying to sneak past one of them resulted in a few deaths and you can imagine what it was like when more than one came my way. Hopefully Ubisoft will dumb them down just a bit, as it was unrealistically difficult, to the point of becoming irritating.
Shortly after, I was ready to head over to Boston to find Sam Adams, who would help me find the smuggler who wanted to purchase my land. As I took to a ship, I found a smaller mission which tasked me with finding a map at Fort Walcott. Feeling adventurous, I took on the challenge and soon found myself on an island, hoping to sneak through a prison to find this map. Being confined into smaller spaces, it was more traditional AC-gameplay here, as I snuck up behind various guards to quietly take them out before getting spotted; climbing up on sides of buildings and flying through windows and jumping down onto unsuspecting targets. After finding this map, the island became under attack, which resulted in a fiery inferno of collapsing roofs and buildings, which also required me to take out more guards face to face while avoiding incoming cannonballs. This sequence was easily one of the more nail-biting experiences of the demo that required precision timing, smart combat and a sense of urgency. I also have to note that the audio was particularly fantastic in this mission as I could hear nearly every piece of stone and lumber fall to the ground, while the crackling sound of fire and hair-raising score felt like a movie scene, more so than a video game.
Finally making my way to downtown Boston, I admired how historically accurate the town seemed to be. How would I know that? Well we happened to get a bit of a history lesson around the actual city prior to playing the game, so yeah, I knew what to look for. Anyway, the Knights Templar, which have been a thorn in our sides, were ever present, in the days prior to the American Revolution. The many buildings and overall setup of Boston opened up the gameplay once again to the more parkour-style of play, with the ability to climb up any building and look about the city, or in attempt to spot a target. The townspeople went about their business as many Redcoats clearly controlled the city. With other folks unhappy about the taxes on tea and anti-British sentiments all around me, I felt engaged in what was going on and immediately felt as interested as ever in what everyone willing to speak, had to say.
Facing off with some Redcoats, I found the fighting system to be a bit random, as button mashing would usually get the job done, though you did have to either open up someone’s defense or counter an attack at times, to be able to get some offense in. When my antics were a bit too obvious, I became targeted by Redcoats, which required me to flee and find somewhere to hide; usually atop a building or between alleys. Bottom line, if they could somehow see you, they would attack, so I had to be very careful where I hid.
Having finally met up with Sam Adams, I soon found myself taking out tax collectors, blowing up crates of smuggled tea at the nearby harbor and causing as much havoc as possible, while eventually trying to liberate the city from Templar “influence”.
During the demo, I also tried out some multiplayer action, which included Domination and Wolfpack modes. In Wolfpack, the goal is to try and figure who my targets are from a crowd, and then kill them off as quickly as possible to score points. There’s also a timer going, which does increase if I manage to make successful assassinations. I actually found Domination to be more fun though, as the mode pitted two teams of four who compete for points by capturing and defending three locations on a map. In doing so, you have no idea who your opponents are so you have to be careful not to kill innocent civilians ore get penalized. This forced you to be very watchful of any suspicions movements that when making an efficient kill from choosing the right opponent, felt extremely satisfying. Likewise, if you ended up getting snuck up on and “laid to rest” if you will, was just as disappointing (not in a bad way, but more of a “dammit, I got snuffed out!”) You could activate other disguises as well to fool the opposing team so it was at times, a bit difficult to figure out who’s who, though you could tell who your teammates were.
To say that I thoroughly enjoyed Assassin’s Creed III is an understatement. I loved it! The core gameplay is there, but the new frontier is fantastic and the storyline, from what I was able to gather during my demo, is interesting and engaging. With the Oct. 30 release fast approaching, I truly can’t wait to get my hands on the final version to leave my mark during this historic time in Boston.