Opinion: Why The American Revolution Setting Wasn’t Right For Assassin’s Creed III
Let’s get one thing out of the way first – I absolutely adore Assassin’s Creed III. It takes the series to new heights in terms of narrative, gameplay and presentation, and as an overall package is an undoubtedly a favourite for 2012’s ‘Game of the Year’ award. As the title of this article suggests, however, I felt a little bit underwhelmed by the game’s setting.
Revolutionary themes are present throughout Assassin’s Creed III, with new protagonist Connor fighting red coats, encouraging riots and blowing up English frigates at sea. The problem is that these themes make Connor a vengeful, callous character that lacks the charisma of previous lead Ezio Auditore.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Connor as an assassin – his story is well explored, and his desire for revenge is perfectly understandable – but it often feels like Ubisoft shaped him around the setting and failed to give him any real personality. Here we have a fighter that’s just as talented at dispatching his foes as previous protagonists, but is lacking the same pizzazz as those that came before.
A bigger issue than this, however, is the chosen cities. Boston and New York were undeveloped during the 18th century, and lacked the history of Rome, Venice or Constantinople. Ubisoft have done a stellar job in bringing these cities to life, but interesting architecture and widely-known landmarks simply didn’t exist in the cities during the time period Assassin’s Creed III takes place. Some of the best moments in past Creed titles involved leaping from the Coliseum in Rome or the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, and in opting for an American revolution setting Ubisoft robbed the player of these kinds of experiences.
Graphically the fifth major iteration in the Assassin’s Creed franchise is by far the best of the lot – and yet the game’s two major cities simply aren’t that good to look at. It’s an accurate representation, and Assassin’s Creed III is extremely well researched in terms of plot and the layout of these now-great cities, but they’re just not that inherently interesting.
This lack of beauty and cultural depth really got in the way of my desire to explore these locations. As an open-world game there’s a hell of a lot to do if you take the time to look around the environments, but unfortunately I could never muster the enthusiasm to explore in the same way I did in Brotherhood and Revelations. Whilst that might suggest that the side-missions aren’t as interesting as before (which I would say is a valid complaint), I do feel the backdrop played a big part in this.
There’s so much to love about Assassin’s Creed III, and I don’t want to criticise it too deeply. Ubisoft Montreal have given us a glimpse into the next generation, provided a fitting swan song for Desmond’s story arc (which spanned five games in total), and even added a greatly improved multiplayer suite which I know I will continually come back to long after the New Year.
Unfortunately, something that was great about the last four Creed games was lost in the process, and I can only hope Ubisoft can revive it next time around.
The American Revolution proved a dull setting in my experience, and while it may be a very interesting period of history for both British and American audiences, it simply didn’t fit the requirements for an Assassin’s Creed game. Credit to Ubisoft for creating one of the most technically astounding games of this generation then, but the setting and character really tarnished what otherwise could have been a truly special experience.
What did you think of Assassins Creed III’s setting? Please leave your comments below.