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Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft Annecy
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Release Date:
October 30, 2012

Shooting for the stars is a noble yet humbling endeavor. From one perspective, you are attempting to generate a timeless, masterful experience, and you should receive respect and encouragement. From another, more cynical perspective, you are taking too many unnecessary risks and furthermore, you are railing against both mammoth expectations and what one expects to be daunting deadlines. The business world clashes with the artistic realm. Disappointment may be inevitable. However, when all is said and done, if one becomes immersed in the colossal vision, the failings become nigh-on insignificant.

…that’s an elaborate way of saying that Assassin’s Creed III may be a vastly more subjective adventure than any of us had anticipated. I will explain.

Oddly enough, perhaps it’s accurate to say the following— If you love the graphics, you’ll love the game. No, I’ve never been a graphic whore in my life. The point is relatively simple: The visual presentation is very much a mirror image of the entire ACIII experience. In many places, it’s beautiful and moving and effective. It’s extremely ambitious in terms of scope and concept. But looking close may reveal a grainy texture, an animation that isn’t properly executed, a particular design that seems oddly subpar. You only notice these shortcomings because they contrast so sharply with the quality of the production as a whole.

And that’s precisely the point. Quality can be surprisingly subjective when the determination of that quality relies so heavily upon immersion. The sound is in much the same boat, as it’s another example of the sum being greater than its parts. The voice acting is fantastic and some of the best you will ever hear in video games, and the soundtrack is absolutely stellar. The effects are great, too. That being said, as is curiously the case in such huge, sprawling games, the balance and execution can be wonky. Voices can cut out and ambient audio can drown out important dialogue. All in all, though, the sound allows this world to live and breathe…a very high compliment.

Assassin’s Creed III sees the return of Desmond, the protagonist throughout the entire series, although most will associate his ancestors with each installment: Altair in the original, Ezio in the next three, and Connor in the latest. However, you actually begin the new adventure with a different character, which immediately hints at the ridiculously huge sweep of this game. In fact, in the first hour you’ll perform a simple assassination at a fancy theater, cross the Atlantic, and explore the unbelievably well designed colonial city of Boston. Heck, you’ll even run into Benjamin Franklin early on, so that’s an indication of what to expect.

Essentially, saying this game features an historic scope serves two purposes: First and most obvious is the allusion to the historical time period; i.e., the Revolutionary War. Secondly and more importantly, however, is the fact that we have rarely – if ever – seen a single game attempt to encompass so many facets of interactive entertainment. The story involves everything from pure fact to liberal fiction (and even a reference to the so-called end of the world date, 12/21/12), the gameplay boasts a mix of fluid combat, platforming, exploration, and even strategy. Toss in naval battles and massive vistas that will capture and enrich the imagination, and you’ve got a prodigously powerful title.