Assassin's Creed 3
I don't think there has been a gaming series quite like Assassin's Creed. Traditionally gaming franchises tend to stick with what made the original successful and most of the time the subsequent games are merely expansion packs. But Assassin's Creed is different in the sense that although the top-level premise is the same for all three games, the nature of the gameplay is significantly different.
We saw this with the first two games where the series went from being focused entirely on the assassination duties and the skills required for that, to a more rounded game where economics and strategy played an important part. Assassin's Creed 3 moves the series on once again.
Again the overall story arc is similar. This time the hero is Connor, a Native American, caught up in the world of the 1700s on the eastern side of America. But we still have the connection back to the present day and the world of Desmond who is trying the resolve issues in 2012. Different hero, same dangers.
However, the world of the American Revolution brings a lot of variety from that of the previous games. It's no exaggeration to say that Assassin's Creed is a huge game. There is just so much to do and quite a lot of it is away from the main core story in side missions that you just wander around completing. It's actually quite staggering the level of freedom this game gives you.
The initial few sequences of the game are fairly linear as the story unfolds and some super awesome situations are revealed - especially the opening sequence. But don't be fooled by this lack of freedom at the outset. Things become very different, very quickly.
Soon you will be able to partake in a host of mission choices - rescuing townsfolk, collect Almanac pages from hidden locations, sail your ship into battle against the British, go hunting and trade in your spoils, attack convoys, speak to George Washington, assassinate Templars, capture forts or even build up your own guild of assassins. The list is endless.
The Assassin's Creed games have always had strong side missions, but with Assassin's Creed 3 these missions have become more part of the main game than ever before. That's not to say that the main story arc is weak or forgetful, it's not.
There is still a great sense of adventure for the main story and it's here that the true sense of Assassin's Creed is strongest. There are a series of 'Sequences' that take on the main story and each have a recognisable formula. Start off with some preparation work to establish information, such as intercepting couriers, following targets or simply getting to a key location. Then the assassination requirement kicks in and you need to take out a target in some fairly challenging situations.
The world map becomes more essential as you plan out your gaming session. Do you set off to accomplish a main story mission or do you need to go hunting in the Frontier in order to gain cash to purchase a much needed object. Everything can be tracked in a new Log Book that becomes increasingly helpful.
I suspect like me you will just have too many options available when you start playing. You'll set off on a mission that you have selected and along the way you will be distracted by a host of side missions that can literally have you forgetting what your initial mission was all about.
The Assassin's Creed world is also very striking. The cities of New York and Boston are impressive but the world of the Frontier is breath-taking. It's so vast and full of beauty that it's hard not to stop and just look around. There is also so much to do that it can become a complete distraction to the rest of the game. Running through the tall trees and against the mountainous cliffs in pursuit of an enemy is utterly incredible. Try throwing your tomahawk while at full speed and you'll get what I mean.
Some of the controls have been tweaked to make the gaming experience a little more fluid. Some of the movement/running controls have changed to make it less likely to make mistakes over cliffs and walls etc and the fighting mechanics have also changed slightly to be less confusing.
Assassin's Creed 3 is far too vast and diverse to try and capture everything within a review like this. The game has truly opened up new avenues from what the previous games had brought and each one is impressive. All of this has been achieved without sacrificing the core elements that we love from an Assassin's Creed game. It's also incredible value for money given to amount of time you could spend on the game.