Assassin’s Creed III: Great New Stuff
You may have already noticed we put up a full review for Assassin’s Creed III, but having recently acquired the newest installation of UbiSoft’s historical/sci-fi epic there are a few things that have been introduced that really deserve a mention and make what could have been just another ‘Assassin’s Creed‘ game, into the full fledged installation the series deserved.
1. Naval Warfare
Assassin’s Creed III perfectly captures the feeling that the open-sea and the new world were as intertwined as the Assassins and the Templars. The open-sea is simply breath-taking, and sailing in both calm and stormy seas is a real joy. But it’s not all about keeping your lunch down. It’s about taking the fight to the Templars and the British on the high-seas. UbiSoft managed to recreate the feverish, intense ship-to-ship battles of yesteryear, the ships pitching and rolling with the tide, volleys of cannon fire exploding every which way, crewmen yelling and screaming as wood shatters and splinters.
It is deeply entertaining and really creates tension as you frantically move your vessel into position, hoping to get a good clean volley on your opponent before another blizzard of iron-cast cannonballs come hurtling towards you. Ships slam together, gunpowder magazines explode and sails topple. It is wonderfully dramatic in scope and a hell of a lot of fun. It can be a little tricky, and the first few times I have failed to keep my vessel intact. It is without a doubt one of the outstanding inclusions in Assassin’s Creed III, together all the Naval Warfare missions could be a game of itself.
Assassin’s Creed III was all about getting back to nature, and a big part of that is hunting. I would like to note that I don’t actually enjoy the idea of killing animals in real life, but it’s good fun to feel like a talented huntsman in a game. There is plenty of reasons to hunt in Assassin’s Creed III. Hunting animals then skinning them will get you pelts, meat, teeth, claws, antlers etc. which can be sold for money or used in recipes for crafting specialty items and woodwork which can then be sold on from your homestead.
You can either track animals by finding clues in the surrounding woodland. Giving you the chance to stalk your prey, perhaps use a snare or bait to lure them into your striking distance. You can hide in tall grass or up in the trees, gingerly preparing yourself for the killing strike.
A nice little inclusion is that you have to provide a clean and relatively painless kill to get the best quality pelts. No one wants a deer, elk or bear hide with bullet holes or puncture marks from an arrowhead.
The hunting could be ignored really, and if you oppose hunting in any form then at least you can enjoy the presence of animals throughout the frontier. All the given animals do add a depth and realism to the forests of the new world. Wolves hunt in packs, you can watch two male elks fight, antlers locking together while they buck and howl, deer drink from the rivers and rabbits nibble on tender grass. It’s a living, breathing ecosystem that you can throw yourself into.
3. Side Missions
This is only a small inclusion or rather improvement. Side missions in Assassin’s Creed III are now actually side missions (excluding the Naval Warfare missions). You start them and then you are free to finish them at your own pace while still exploring, running about and doing main story missions. These include hunting particularly dangerous man-eaters in the frontiers, or assassinating five Templar targets in a city, or taking out groups of violent tax collectors. It’s a nice refreshing way of keeping the game flowing, so you can enjoy the game and finish side missions while feeling like you aren’t completely distracted from the main story missions.
The Frontier is beautiful and very atmospheric in its own way, but the changing weather and seasonal effects make the whole place come alive. You can feel the rain lashing at Connor’s face as he hops through the trees, the exhaustion of trying to move through knee-deep snow as you track an elk, the brutal heat of a sunny summer day as the flowers spring open and the forest comes alive with all manner of life, the murky humidity of the fog-bound settlements, the autumnal chill in the air as the skies turn grey and the sunlight becomes more muted. It’s not something that changes the game dramatically but it adds so much and makes the world feel more cohesive and thus more believable; you could almost get lost in these environments.