Now on the same commercially-obsessed yearly schedule as Call Of Duty, the JJ Abrams-inspired Assassin’s Creed series hits several creative highs with this ludicrously-sized third main instalment.
After two watered-down franchise extensions in preceding years, this is a genuine sequel, with an Illuminati-style tale that stretches across past and present. Even if lacks a little in terms of interactivity, the game’s recreation of the American Revolution, alongside its intriguing alternate history premise, is so impressively realised that it’s simply worth admiring on an artistic level.
The same Matrix-style idea of a present day man accessing his ancestor’s memories stands – and annoyingly, it’s the 2012 end-of-the-world stuff that still drags the Assassin’s Creed story down. Far more interesting is the tale of half-English, half-Native American Connor, who, despite having an origin tale stitched together from about a dozen Hollywood movies (particularly The Last Of The Mohicans), is characterised pretty well as the only force that stands against bad guys the Templars and world domination. Those nasty bastards are searching for an artefact that can unlock the secret of ‘those who came before’, the Apple Of Eden, which is AC’s main MacGuffin.
Alright, so the story is a bit Bill And Ted in its approach to history, but the setting is the star of Assassin’s Creed 3 anyway – old America is gigantically-sized, with enough of a landmass along the Eastern coast to permit weeks of exploration, by sea, horse or bounding through dense forests like some kind of scurvy-era superhero. What disappoints is that in an obvious concession to landing the biggest market possible, you only really need to hold one button to move through the entire world, as extravagant as the visuals and animations are.
This reduced interactivity is the main issue with the third Assassin’s Creed, even if the scale and detail of the backdrop never loses impact, and the narrative thread between two eras manages to just about hold together through the prolonged campaign.