To get things started, dear reader; I would like to say that I write this article with frustration. I’m tired. Tired of scouring through websites, day after day, seeing criticism for a certain game that hit shelves in October – Assassin’s Creed 3. Each time I see one of these ‘critics’, they start with the exact same sentence each time; “I had high hopes for this game, but…”
Why? Why does this continue to happen? I hope here, in this page, I can somehow put an end to this unfair, and just wrong, slating of a game that should be commended for what it has done, relighting the flame of a series close to death, and showing us that the current generation of gaming will never expand without some sort of evolution. Simply put, this article is about the mistreatment of a phenomenal game.
Why’s the game so bad? I just don’t know. Honestly. Many have stated that bugs have made the game impossible to play, yet three patches have been released, described to have cured over 90% of them. And besides, with a new AnvilNext game engine, it was certain that some would come to fruition. The same was with Skyrim and the Creation engine – with many glitches still existing today because of it. Yet, with even more expectations on its shoulders, Skyrim was nowhere near slated enough as AC3 for it.
People also mention the mission structure. With this, there are maybe faults in the eavesdropping – but that’s about it. The tracking sequences add stealth, the assassination missions are essential to the series, and the chase scenes are challenging, following Connor’s role as the hunter. But finally, there’s Connor himself. Some call him uncharismatic, boring, and one-dimensional. At first, I kind of thought that myself. He was not the best character to succeed Ezio, as Ezio is just as widely known as Master Chief nowadays. But then I listened to the voice actor behind Ratonhnhake:ton, Noah Watts.
He explained what he did with the protagonist’s voice, for instance, never using slang throughout the story as English was the character’s second language. This means that a formal dialect was always present – making that one-dimensional quality existent. Also, if you think that Connor is an angry teenager who sulks and shouts, play through the Homestead missions.
His lighter and compassionate sides are shown with his new friends and family, revealing that he loves Achilles just as much as his mother, who passed away when he was five. Its where his character development really takes place. And besides, he’s a badass when he’s slitting throats. Who doesn’t want a guy tomahawking brits in the face and rising the colonial flag? Murica!
On a serious note, what about the actual critics? I mean, don’t get me wrong, many of them acclaimed the game, with Game Informer giving a 9.5 and Gametrailers titling it as an Editor’s Choice with a 9.2. But there were some disgraces in how some sites treated the game. For instance, our old friend IGN (the ones that said The Avengers was better than The Dark Knight Rises; I still weep for humanity) gave the game an 8.5. Fair enough. I mean, an 8.5 isn’t a bad score. The full review didn’t exactly match up with the points, and also classed its shameful predecessor, Revelations, to be of the same quality.
However, it’s the other scores they gave that worried me. In the same year, Black Ops 2 was given a 9.3, Most Wanted a 9, and Hitman Absolution a 9. So, apparently, these three games not just matched the scope, breadth, character, and story of AC3; but also bettered it. I just simply cannot comprehend that. But I do not end with IGN there, my friends, for it was the post-release treatment of the game that hurt the most. Apparently, according to the site’s Game of the Year awards, Lego Batman was a better action game than AC3, earning a nomination at the expense of the other.
In fact, the Ubisoft title had no nominations altogether. Another influence was editor Colin Moriarty; basically, he slammed the game into the depths of Hell at whatever chance he could – despite not even liking the series beforehand (that includes the masterpiece of the second). Contrary to this, he thought that he would enjoy everything about the third. He didn’t. So, he came out criticising the game for personal errors, including running into walls while getting around Boston.
He also slated the start of the game. Instead of enjoying the story of charismatic Haytham and being involved in the game during the amazing plot twist, he sulked over the fact that the inevitable Connor sequences had not come yet, like the gaming ‘expert’ he’s paid to be. He later went on to place the title in the “games we will never play again” series of the website. I mean, what the hell, Colin?
Why’s the game so good, then? What does it have over every other game in creation? I could simply refer to Ashtyn Marlow’s article, as she mentions almost everything I love about it. Yet, there are things most significant to me that she, nor anyone else in the world, bothered to mention. I know it may seem specific, or even unimportant, but the quality of the execution is unseen in any other game. Now, that doesn’t have to have anything to do with glitches and certain specs, but when you watch some cut-scenes in the game, the amount of emotion and dedication in them is breathtaking.
Say, for instance, how Connor speaks with his targets after assassination. For the first time ever in the series, we believe that the antagonists of the series do unspeakable things in pursuit of the greater good – maybe even peace. We believe that the order, and our hero of the story, is naive; chasing butterflies while being completely oblivious to the ways of the world. Simply see the cut-scene immediately after the assassination of John Pitcairn as evidenc; the execution is also shown in the way the characters interact at more personal and humble meetings.
During SPOILER ALERT the homestead missions, Connor digs the grave of Achilles on the hill (who is beautifully portrayed by Roger Aaron Brown); the narrative by Achilles is astonishing, showing how he, and even Connor, have developed since the game’s opened. Without using another adjective, this, and nearly every other scene, was something out of a film – not a video game.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that the treatment of AC3 since its release hasn’t been right, or fair. Its flaws are nowhere near enough to be treated as a disappointment, never mind a poor game. For what it loses in glitches and pacing, it gains in storytelling, setting, gameplay, and character. Its size and ambition, combined with the graphics of such a live and immersive world, show that the next generation consoles of tomorrow must come soon – gaming simply cannot evolve any more without it. To me, Assassin’s Creed III is pretty darn fine, and I’d happily go against anyone who says otherwise (as long as the Desmond ending wasn’t mentioned).
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This article was first posted on February 6, 2013