Monday, November 12, 2012

30 Minute Playtest: Assassin's Creed III

Having been a fan of the AC series for some time, I was looking forward to spending some time in the world of revolutionary America – and I wasn’t disappointed. Having turned the game on, I was pleased to be met with a decent introductory video detailing the epoch-spanning battles of the Assassins and the Templars – rival groups working for freedom or order through control, respectively. So, if you were worried that you’d be dropped into the thick of it without a reminder of the AC series’ odd multiple-timeline sci-fi storyline, rest easy.

Stepping quickly into the boots of another ancestor of series hero Desmond Miles, AC3 starts out with sophisticated Englishman Haytham Kenway offing a gent at a theatre in Covent Garden, London, in the mid-1700s. This intro section does an admirable job introducing the gamer to the AC series’ trademark free-running gameplay, as the lithe Haytham shimmys his way around the theatre, before offing his target with a thrust of his spring-loaded hidden blade.

Fast forward a bit and Haytham finds himself being sent to Revolutionary-era America, just before it all kicks off and the yanks decide the rule of the King ain’t so good after all.

As usual, the true star of the show is the environment and historical period chosen for the game, and 1750s-era Boston, Massachusetts more than fits the bill. The city is bustling with settlers and pilgrims, full to the brim with British ‘Redcoats’, and offers a huge amount to see and do – but the majority has to wait for the next generation of assassins to make their first appearance in the colonies...

Control-wise, the game’s previous issues with the camera in fights and an overcomplicated interface has been largely done away with. Your character will now take actions which previously required specific button pushes, such as blending with crowds to disappear.


The combat is also a lot leaner, though as usual your character’s enormous arsenal beggars belief, also – weirdly – the black power pistols and muskets on offer in the firearm department take twice as long to reload as previous Assassin Ezio’s gauntlet-mounted weapon. This means that blades are still king, despite the advanced era – an admirable way of keeping AC’s swordplay at the forefront of the action.

Graphically everything looks better than ever, with only minimum pop-in and a little bit of rough textures in less-travelled alleyways.

The animation, score and voice acting is top-notch, as you’d expect from an Ubisoft game, and even my short playthrough left me wanting more. Whether you enjoyed the previous AC games or you’re a newbie to the series, you’re bound to love AC3, with its fresh, new feel and tighter gameplay.