Video Game Review: Assassin’s Creed III Remastered

Details: Played on the PC for about 26 hours. This is just a review of the base game, not of the King Washington DLC or of Liberation. Got the game along with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Gold Edition. Official site is https://www.ubisoft.com/en-us/game/assassins-creed-3-remastered/

Score: 7/10

Back when Assassin’s Creed III was released, I remember reading a lot of critique about the game. The general online consensus was that it changed too much and that the story was weird as were the performances. Personally, I vaguely remember playing the game, but from what I do remember, I enjoyed it. Fast forward to today and I am once again reminded why I enjoyed the game so much. In a word, it’s the story.

Assassin’s Creed III mostly takes place during the American Revolution. You play mostly as Connor, a half white half Native American boy who is thrust into the war after an attack on his village. Connor eventually meets up with an old Assassin who trains him to fight the tyrannical Templars who seek to control the war for their own goals.

One of the biggest complaints is that the first few hours of the game are a linear tutorial. I mostly agree with that, but the narrative purpose of the game justifies this. This game more than many other Assassin’s Creed games seek to incorporate history heavily into the story. This period of history was heavily documented with newspapers among other sources. All of the main missions are intertwined with major historical events, including the introduction. It’s a bit dull, but it helps convey the rigors of traveling to the original colonies.

After the first few hours, the game opens up and you can tackle a bunch of side quests and other missions. This is a mostly open world game with a few separate areas. As the game progresses, even more game mechanics are introduced and introduced in a haphazard way. In fact, if you don’t go looking for some of these things, you’re likely going to miss them entirely. I’ll just go through them below.

First and foremost is the traditional Assassin’s Creed gameplay. That means stealth and assassination. In case you do get caught, you can rely on the very outdated combat which basically consists of waiting for counters and then hitting a button. You can fight hordes of enemies with ease this way. It’s one of the things I’m glad they changed in Origins and Odyssey because it was so boring.

Parkour and traversal are big parts of the game. I remember that the newest feature of this game was the ability to travel through the canopy of the forest, which was really cool at the time. You need to remember that this was before Odyssey, where every surface became climbable. Individual hand holds had to be incorporated into textures, which meant that they had to be deliberate about how they placed trees and houses for you to climb.

The other new and revolutionary part of the game was the introduction of sailing. There are a number of missions throughout the game where you sail around and go into naval battles with other ships. This was a little simplistic, but still fun. Later Assassin’s Creed game further developed this and ironed out the shortcomings.

The in game economy is really interesting because it was implemented at a time before microtransactions really took off. So you get this system that is meant to inconvenience players in order for them to earn enough money to buy and craft items, but no where near as annoying as present day systems that try to be so annoying that you will want to spend real money to buy in game items.

You can make money a number of ways. You make money from missions, but not enough to buy all the items. In order to get that money, you have to trade goods by sending trade convoys. Trade convoys had a chance of failure. In order to lessen this chance, you needed progress through the game and to complete naval missions. You also had to complete homestead missions in order to unlock new materials for trading and crafting.

In this game, you get an area that is your homestead, which acts as your home base. As you progress through the game, you can invite more and more people displaced from the war onto your property and grow a town. Homestead missions associated with each town member unlock throughout the game. I love town building. It just gives you a sense of progression and homely feelings. You grow more and more attached as you interact with each town person. It’s my favorite part of the game.

There was also a maze mini game to unlock fast travel points. You pretty much explored a dark, claustrophobic underground maze in order to unlock new fast travel points. It’s a redundant system considering that observation points could easily serve that purpose. Luckily, future Assassin’s Creed games did not adopt this maze mini game and just used the observation points.

The strongest part of this game in my opinion is the story. I thought it was really well crafted, personal story that did a great job mixing in fictionalized aspects of real history with the narrative the game was trying to tell. As an American, I spent plenty of time learning about the American Revolution as a kid and interacting with these figures and events from history was great fun.

The other bit of narrative that the story does well is that it tries to give you a glimpse of what life was like during these time periods. For instance, after returning from a naval mission, I was surprised that three in game months had elapsed because that’s how long going to sea normally took. Achilles, your black teacher, asks you to buy stuff for him from the store because you being fairer skinned would receive better treatment. Another conversation discusses the contradiction between fighting for freedom from the crown while there remains inequality in the colonies.

The part of the story that left the biggest impact on me was the epilogue. Connor is native American and fights with the colonists in order to protect his village. If you’re familiar with American history, you know things don’t work out for the Native Americans. There’s this sense of impending doom and foolish optimism as you continue to help Washington and his crew fight the British. Eventually, the story goes the same as history and Connor is left at a loss. It’s sad, but I applaud the incorporation of the darker aspects of history.

Visually, the game looks great. The remaster updated the visuals so you can play the games in high definition and even 4k I think. The lighting is also much improved.

The music is fantastic. It reminded me of music from Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot,” and though not written by Hans Zimmer, sounds very Hans Zimmer-esque.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with this game. I mostly forgot it since I played it years ago. The gameplay is old and has many flaws that have since been rectified by the franchise. Even still, the story is strong and does a great job blending the well documented history of the United States with a personal, dramatized story.

Score: 7/10

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