‘Assassin’s Creed III’ highlights rich history with naval battles, but game problems sink its ship

Stunning. Beautiful. Well-researched.  These are the words that best describe “Assassin’s Creed III.”  Frustrating, repetitive, and even boring at times also best describe “ACIII,” unfortunately.

The game is set in the mid-to-late 1700s, hopping around the east coast of the eventual United States.  This is where it truly shines.  From naval battle to hunting in the woods, to even petting a roaming dog, “ACIII” is a living, breathing world that truly allows the player to get lost in its rich history.

This is due in part to the new AnvilNext engine, which provides a vast improvement graphically such as improved character models, textures and lighting that pulls the player even deeper into the world.

What pulls the player out, however, is when the game forces the player to perform mundane tasks.  Picking locks are a hassle, aiming a musket is tiresome and clunky, and the problem of accidentally jumping off a building instead of running up it still remains.  These issues should have been fixed, considering “ACIII” had about a three-year development cycle.

Ezio Auditore’s (da Firenze) character and story is definitely missed here.  In “Assassin’s Creed II,” the player really felt for Ezio’s plight and motivation for becoming an assassin.  The protaganist of “ACIII,” Connor Kenway, can be interesting at times. But compared to Ezio, he’s a bore.

The guy living through the memories of Connor, Desmond Miles, sees his story take the backseat for the third straight game, and when he finally gets some play time, it is nothing special and very brief.

The game starts off slow and uncharacteristically linear at times.  It isn’t until the fourth sequence that Connor shows up, and this is where the pace picks up, and when you can access the most thrilling part of “Assassin’s Creed III:” the naval battles.

Ships facing against each other in a rough ocean was exciting to see in “Master & Commander,” but having the option of steering a ship from the captain’s point of view, shouting orders and firing cannons during those face-offs would be absolutely amazing, and that is exactly what “ACIII” does.

The “Assassin’s Creed” series has always been about exploring historically accurate (for the most part) environments and taking out Templars.  While “ACIII” has expanded this these features with bigger historical figures and a “Skyrim”-esque frontier, old problems and even some new ones keep it from reaching its true potential.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

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