I wanted to do an AC3 review by the end of this week, initially. I had run into a spot of trouble in completing the review, unfortunately- it’s hard to review a game when you’re hopelessly disenfranchised with the latest installment, and can’t bear to play the game. I started this game earlier this week, but as I’ve said, the playing’s been slow- a lot of small issues with the game built up in my mind, and really kept me from putting more than an hour or so at a time into the game. Initially, I was going to come out here, and tell you guys everything that I really admired from AC2 and AC: Brotherhood was gone. I was going to tell you that the story was lackluster and forced, that the game pushes its plot upon you, that the mechanics were clunky and clumsy, and that there were a whole manor of buggy, terrifyingly bad art glitches.
Fortunately for me, as a huge fan of the first 3 installments, I managed to get past the first major plot twist of the game. Having gotten past this plot twist, my mind being thoroughly blown, I’ve discovered the purpose behind the awkward plot, the forced feeling behind the narrative, and the clunky controls- it was all intentional! While my mind is thoroughly blown, and as a long-running fan of the AC series, I definitely had fun with that plot twist. Honestly, I would have found it to be a horrifyingly awful and awkward experience for someone who hadn’t played the game before, and thus, this is why I’m reviewing this first half separately from the next.
Haytham Kenway carries the manor of a British noble, on a quest to the Americas to find a hidden temple of the First Civilization, to which he holds a key. This first part of the game, right up until the (withheld) major spoiler, involves him traveling to the Americas and searching for said temple. I have to say that this chunk of the game was the single worst chunk of AC gameplay since AC1’s enormous, lackluster environment in between cities. Anyone who played that game remembers spending maybe a fifth of their time sitting on a horse and waiting for the next city to show up- it was a huge pain in the ass, and nobody really enjoyed having to do it.
I could elaborate on the faults of AC3’s opening sequence, but honestly, it doesn’t deserve the time it would take to write it out. So, in a quick summary list, the things that are wrong with the first two hours of AC3: the gameplay was slow- Kenway is incredibly slow, unable to either climb or run with any reasonable pace. The plotline was rushed and quick- I found that more often than not, instead of being forced to explore the world from one quest to the next, I would just appear in the spot that I was next needed. The plotline was consequentially fairly weak (for an AC game- I hold the story telling of AC to an unreasonably high standard ever since the end-of-the-game plot twist of AC1.). The environment was under-stimulating- where the previous games had given us full, rich cities with endless exploration opportunities, colonial Boston was boring and simple by comparison. Not enough buildings or exploration opportunities, not by comparison with the previous games. The AI was goofy- more than once I had to ask myself, what did the developers do differently? I never noticed the soldiers standing within eyeshot of the player going on a massacre and just standing there, not doing anything. I had one moment where there was a dozen and a half men standing in front of an archway, and I literally walked up to half of them, stood directly in front of them, and stole their stuff, one by one, going down the line. Not a one of them so much as flinched- they just stood there and took it. There were notable glitches during gameplay. Whenever my character ran into a tree, he first tried to interact with it- running up on it, climbing on it, etc, but after a second Kenway would collapse, fall off, jump out of the tree. It didn’t make any sense. There were noticeable art glitches- a handful of broken fragments, and some painfully poor skins- Desmond in particular has an awful tumor that extends into his backpack, check it out when you’ve got the chance. If I could have taken screenshots on my xbox, I would have posted them here to show you- but I can’t, so I won’t.
This first part of the game get’s a 5/10- but, as I’ve said before, I discovered that some of the worst offenses from above, most of the ones I listed first, are actually intentional (to a degree). While I think that there would have been better ways to go around it, the existence of that single, glorious plot twist revived my faith in the game’s storylines. It gave me the hope to continue on, to play more, where I saw a lot of the gameplay issues fixed. I still have more gameplay to go before I can really give a solid judgment of the game as a whole, so I’ll hold that in reserve for, say, a week or so.
I’ll leave you guys with this parting thought. In the beginning of the game, Haytham Kenway runs into Benjamin Franklin. Later in the game, I encountered Franklin again- who proceeded to tell me one of the most appalling (and hilarious) treatise on the reasons why a man should take an older woman as his lover. Benjamin Franklin is a dirty, dirty bastard, and I loved it.