ASSASSIN’S CREED III
★★★★ 18 cert, Ubisoft, PS3 (also Xbox, PC, Wii U) Ubisoft
It’s a few hours into the latest Assassin’s Creed before you get to don the signature clothes, complete with hoodie and hidden blades. “They have a certain allure,” says one character. That’s an understatement.
Having visited Renaissance Italy, the Crusades and beyond, Assassin’s Creed III brings the story to 18thcentury America. For this jaunt you play Connor, who is half-English, half-Native American. Connor becomes part of the ancient tradition, taking on the evil Knights Templar, many of whom are now nasty English colonists. The quest dovetails nicely with a personal vendetta.
Assassin’s Creed III is probably the most ambitious of the series so far, and definitely has the richest story and characterisation. The story bounces from present to the past, even including an extended prologue in which you play a secondary character. The big canvas allows for the story to take place on ships, in Boston and in the untamed American frontier. This extends to gameplay, which includes seafaring, big-game hunting, historical battles, and of course, assassinations.
Thankfully, despite the changes and expansions, gameplay essentials remain: free running, combat and stealth. There are some welcome combat additions, including fresh weapons (hello tomahawk!) and some nifty new moves.
The graphics are the usual mix of meticulous period architecture and elegant fight choreography. The rural areas shows the changing of seasons in lovely detail, and it’s a new hunting ground for the assassin, who negotiates hills, trees and rocks dexterously.
Any complaints are purely subjective. Some gamers might find that, thanks to the game’s sheer size, there might be too much plot and too many cut scenes; others might think that the series is becoming overly familiar. Fans of the franchise, however, will love the new setting: think Dances with Wolves with a dollop of Rambo.