Assassin’s Creed III Remastered

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered

Written by Nicholas Leon on 4/29/2019 for PS4  
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It’s been seven years since Assassin’s Creed III originally launched, ending the story of Desmond Miles, original protagonist of Ubisoft’s flagship series. Here, Desmond attempts to finish off his quest against the modern day Templars. Desmond's Mohawk ancestor, Connor (Ratonhnhaké:ton in his native language), attempts to stave off Templar influence on the American Revolution. This game was the next big step for the series. Before coming to America, it had explored only the Holy Land, Italy, and Constantinople.

Assassin’s Creed III Remastered reunites players with those characters, stories, and gameplay. There's also a touch-up that belies a redo of this size. Coming back after all this time, with memories of being such an avid fan of this entry, left me conflicted. But it shed new light on the game’s place in the series, including newer releases and remasters.

The first thing players might notice in the remaster is how the game looks. My first double-take occurred during a cutscene in the first mission. The cutscene focused on Connor’s father, Haytham Kenway. Haytham chats with a contact about a target in the theater. The camera shifts between wide shots of the theater and medium shots of the two men. In this, there’s not much to notice. But it is when the camera cuts to a closeup that the remaster, ironically enough, shows its age.
 
Much was made of the graphical hiccups in Assassin’s Creed II Remastered. This graphical hiccup wasn’t as bad. But Assassin's Creed III's faces can’t do much better than making them sometimes look like a potato with eyes. At least in cutscenes. The lack of detail in the faces is surprising for a release not only of this era, but for the game’s original time frame. Compare that to another remake like Resident Evil 2, and the outcome is disappointing. Comparisons aside, when Assassin's Creed III gets going, its visuals range from impressive to lackluster.
 

The lack of detail in certain environments, mostly in the snowy hills outside of Boston, can be an immersion-breaking eyesore. They're a stark contrast to the knee-deep drifts found in the Frontier. In the towns, so much of it starts to look the same. Busy streets full of bumbling colonists. Regulars on patrol. All of it giving way to the same rooftops and climbable walls that players will traverse so many times.
 
The best urban environment, by far, is in New York, but only because there are a few places that actually change. There’s the west side, nearly burnt to the ground and remaining unreconstructed throughout the game. And one neighborhood where the roofs are slanted with shingles hobbled together. I like these places because they shake up the scenery. They give a greater variety to the repetitive parkour of the urban environments.
 
The parkour of the rural areas is a bit different. The forests are filled with trees sheared in half and overturned logs leading to more trees with split trunks wide enough for Connor to leap through. It’s a welcome complement to the overall setting. This, along with the west side of New York City, is where the game shines. Plus those moments, quiet or loud, where Connor runs seamlessly through new areas, escaping patrols or just running for the sake of it.
 

It was in the Frontier that I threw myself into a situation that successfully combined visuals, maneuverability, and combat. This, I feel, captured the thing this game was trying to be—and what it ended up being.

I was on the hunt for one of the numerous treasure chests, which hopefully contained the recipe for a unique sword or gun. The only problem was that it lay in the middle of a British Regular camp. I made my way over to a conveniently placed tree. I made a leap of faith into another conveniently placed bush. I whistled, distracting one Regular, then silently gutted him with my blade. But I had also attracted a couple guards on patrol. Rather than stealthing my way through the camp, I ended up in a full-blown brawl. I would end up wiping everyone out. The guards trudged their way up a hill covered in knee-deep snowdrifts. Their alert meters were going all the way to red. Connor automatically leaped out of his bush (which is what the game makes you do whenever your spotted, even if you’re hiding), and the melee started in full.
 
Going for the guards on the hill, I used the terrain to my advantage. Hilariously, they had as much trouble as I did. We went after each other, lifting one leg fully out of the snow and then following with the other. Using my hidden blade, Tomahawk, and gun, I countered the two guards with relative ease. But soon the rest of the camp came along. They cornered me.

It was in the Frontier that I threw myself into a situation that successfully combined visuals, maneuverability, and combat. This, I feel, captured the thing this game was trying to be—and what it ended up being.
 
I was on the hunt for one of the numerous treasure chests, which hopefully contained the recipe for a unique sword or gun. The only problem was that it lay in the middle of a British Regular camp. I made my way over to a conveniently placed tree. I made a leap of faith into another conveniently placed bush. I whistled, distracting one Regular, then silently gutted him with my blade. But I had also attracted a couple guards on patrol. Rather than stealthing my way through the camp, I ended up in a full-blown brawl. I would end up wiping everyone out. The guards trudged their way up a hill covered in knee-deep snowdrifts. Their alert meters were going all the way to red. Connor automatically leaped out of his bush (which is what the game makes you do whenever your spotted, even if you’re hiding), and the melee started in full.
 
Going for the guards on the hill, I used the terrain to my advantage. Hilariously, they had as much trouble as I did. We went after each other, lifting one leg fully out of the snow and then following with the other. Using my hidden blade, Tomahawk, and gun, I countered the two guards with relative ease. But soon the rest of the camp came along. They cornered me.

Here is where Assassin’s Creed III Remastered is at its best and worst. The Regulars came one after the other, in variations of normal types, heavies, and captains. I dispatched a few normal enemies with ease. Soon I was unable to do anything except counter, kill, and maneuver around the enemies as they kept coming. It was a pain and a joy all at once. I watched the enemies have as much trouble as I was traversing the snow. We took small jabs at each other, chipping away at each other’s health, blood spreading over our bodies and the snow. Eventually, after so many counters and final moves, I finished off the Regular patrol. I went over to collect what was in the chest (I can’t remember what was in the chest).
 
Our footprints through the snowdrifts, everyone having a hard time, and the repetitive combat represents, to me, everything that is good and bad about this game. On the one hand, the combat had evolved with new tools such as the bow and rope dart, but didn’t necessarily change. There I was, dodging and countering, comically taking a long time to dispatch everyone in full. But rather than escaping through a maze of buildings, there we were, on a snowy hill, with nowhere to go. I wanted to get that chest. I didn’t feel like leaping and bounding through the trees, only to have to fight those guys later. For the first time, the game truly felt new. It’s too bad the rest feels so old.
 
I want to be clear: the open-ocean portions of the game are the best. They’re the best because they are the most innovative, unique part of the game. Upgrading your ship, the Aquila, and taking down Man O’ Wars and sloops never gets old. All the extra content to go along with those segments feel worthwhile. Compared to the other extra missions plaguing the map, I'm compelled to do it because it’s actually fun.
 
 
The story infamously rounds out the struggle between the Assassins and Templars. Without going into spoilers, this is where Desmond’s part in the multifaceted saga ends. I should have felt something for these characters I sort of knew. But the game’s writing wasn’t cutting it for me. This was most indicative with Connor. A Mohawk from New England, Connor gets involved with the struggle after some Templars attack his village. It’s heartbreaking, but the problem I had with it was that the Templars were comically evil. I took issue with this because players first start the game as Connor’s father, Haytham, going through a lengthy sequence that lays out his character’s motivations. That is not the same with Connor. He simply sides with the Assassins because it’s the right thing to do. He gets roped into the American Revolution because it is just. While that’s all well and good, I personally need something a bit more than that.
 
This is especially true when, later in the game, Connor and Haytham team up. The dynamic between them is fine. The conflict between an estranged father and son is always ripe. But it becomes clear that Haytham has so much more to his character than Connor. It’s not just humor and emotion. I understand some cultures don’t emphasize the employment of emotion. But it’s Haytham’s full conviction of his beliefs, contrasted to Connor’s obligatory conviction, that strikes me the most. If I’m questioning my own motivation to continue the quest, then the game’s writing hasn’t done its job properly. That’s exactly what I did throughout my experience. It’s the worst aspect of the game by far. When I begin to question my own motivation to continue the story, I’m disengaged.
 
 
Thankfully, the one thing that Connor is beholden to is his Mohawk village. Given the narrative, that does provide an emotional punch. But that’s not where the writing focuses its efforts.
 
It is, however, the focus of the game’s included DLC, The Tyranny of King Washington. A welcome addition to the game, its zany story is a marked contrast to the main game’s self-seriousness. But what’s better is that there is a clear, personal motivation for Connor to fight. The DLC goes out of its way to literally put that in your face. This portion of the game provides Connor with new ways of traversal by way of Animal Spirit powers. I don’t care to go into the veracity or stereotypes potentially playing into that aspect. That a small part of Assassin’s Creed III Remastered, however zany, went to greater lengths to give me some personal motivation.

Assassin's Creed III Remastered is a mixed bag. It's repetitive combat and lackluster visuals, strung through with a few bright spots of naval combat and exploration, and unique displays of combat. Narratively, the game is as weak as they come. There's no mystery. Just an obligatory plot to finish the fight between the Assassins and Templars. Not to mention the mumbo jumbo with the First Civilization. The game is frustrating and not worth another look.

Rating: 7 Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I am Nicholas Leon. My nickname is Nick, and it all started when I fired up Super Mario 64. I then moved on to the Zelda series (I beat Wind Waker on my dad's old save file a couple years ago) and other Nintendo products. I then moved on to Microsoft products where I have played the majority of my games.

I got into first-person shooters in middle school, and although my interest in them has subsided over time, there are still plenty of interesting titles in that area. My first foray into online gaming happened in high school with Battlefield 3.

Now, I'm getting more into PC gaming, and I also just bought my first PS4. and own my very first Pokemon game in Moon. 

I love intelligent games. That doesn't mean they have to be smart, they just have to know what they are. Action, horror, RPGs, Wii Sports, you name it. I'm always down for new adventures. 

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