AS­SAS­SIN’S CREED III

★★★★ 18 cert, Ubisoft, PS3 (also Xbox, PC, Wii U) Ubisoft

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FUN& GAMES - JOE GRIF­FIN

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.

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