Assassin’s Creed 3 Lacks Pulp
Some of the best games brought to us have always been the heavily story-driven. Some of them guided by rails, some others a bit looser with an open-world environment. But what happens when a game feels conflicted by the two types and constricted by its own technical limitations? Well, Assassin’s Creed 3 happens.
Ubisoft was not only able to treat our eyeballs with amended graphics but bring us a series of games to which our high school history teachers could only be proud of. Being able to create a bigger reach than ever with their Assassin’s Creed series, one could only imagine the anticipation its third installment would spawn.
Having had my first week with the game, I don’t have much to complain. But, here’s the thing: there is to complain. The game takes us forward in near the American Revolution in the early settings of Boston, a big leap from AC2. The game visuals and settings are nevertheless stunning and probably its main source of attraction. The problem relies on its gameplay mechanics and its bigger open-world.
First off, controls can tend to be somewhat annoying when trying to execute simple tasks such as running. It just doesn’t feel as natural as its earlier installments and climbing buildings is faster as well, although realizing you’re just not participating as much as you’d wish. You feel more of a passenger in these moments instead of in the driver’s seat.
Combats mechanics can get a little clumsy and not as staggeringly intuitive as its predecessors. Having to spend five minutes in a small battle only to die and restart from the beginning of the mission can get old really fast. That not being the case all the time, you get over it once you’re past your checkpoint.
By making AC3 a much more open-world experience, you can get easily distracted from main missions to just wander off into the woods and hunt some bears. Or rabbits, your call. But even there, its in-game mechanics for fast travel are annoying to say the least, by always being stuck selecting your destination in your current map only. That means if you’re going to Boston from your Homestead, you have to get through Frontier first, then chose your path, loading again, then selecting Boston, load time and taking that path and your last load screen. So expect to see the loading screen very often.
Not being aware of having to run into these stumbles, this was still a big selling point for me, giving the nature of the game and its New-World root-felt surroundings. Although one of its issues relies right there; the story feels diluted.
The task that are given to you feel, in the grand-scheme of things, very small and aren’t always the most attractive. Like a lot of fetch missions, a big portion of the game feels like filler tasks, not always making you feel like you’re actually having the impact you thought you would.
Don’t give me wrong, some of the stuff you get to do is great, but I just can’t help but feel that the game suffers an identity crisis by trying to do too much at once. The story isn’t gripping enough and the game always gives you reasons to do more than just story-related missions, and yet, the story itself follows a rail. Meaning no matter what you do, the outcomes will always be the same.
But it’s hard to look at it this way when a game has a stronghold on its story even when set on a predestined course of actions. Take a look at Red Dead Redemption, or even the Halo series; both strong stories, one with open-world, the other very restricted, but both story-driven. No one wants to wander off as Master Chief to catch whatever new creature wanders off in that planet because there is no need, the players want to go forward and relish onto the story. Red Dead, a sandbox game, had a bigger story to unravel even though players could do what they wanted into its open-world, and yet did not affect the weight of the story.
Assassin’s Creed 3 feels kinda undecided so far, it wants to satisfy a bigger reach by incorporating all these new aspects into its gameplay, but still feels dull and sometimes unsatisfying.
Not being done with the game, this is an opinion piece open for discussion and is merely to satisfy my unsatisfactory experience so far, after close to 20 hours of game time.
Editorial by Emi Bonaffini