AC3 is the best Assassin's Creed ever... There, I said it
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Getting back into the game's main storyline, I navigated to a bar in the city where Connor met with famed revolutionary Sam Adams, getting me into the main story hook. Connor's ancestral land was being threatened by a British landowner, who sought to use the profits from taxing tea to buy it outright. The simple solution offered by Sam? Help to destroy the tea of course!
The first part of my mission involved full stealth mode, tasking Connor with using some explosive barrels to blow up three heavily-guarded caches of tea. Unfortunately, I wasn't expected the guards to be so eagle-eyed, and was easily spotted several times. Thankfully, I was able to lure some guards over to me with a quick whistle, before dispatching them and tossing their corpses into the sea. The game was a bit less than clear on the exploding barrel part, as only after using my timed bombs to destroy the caches did I realize I'd have earned a bonus for scouting out the red barrels on the map and using them instead. This was especially confusing since the same map marker was used for both barrels and caches of tea, though luckily I was able to brute force my way to the end of this introductory mission.
Following this, it came time for the true act of rebellion, the Boston Tea Party itself. Though I'm unable to resist snickering at the idea of a Mohawk assassin defending the founding fathers against dozens of armed British troops during the game's violent interpretation of the Boston Tea Party (the actual event involved not a single casualty), I know that the Assassin's Creed universe has always played fast and loose with history and accept the mission for what it is. I started by killing the British troops surrounding the boats, later realizing my task could've likely been made much simpler by using my new Canadian Stefane friend to help start a riot. Instead, I directed him to bury his clever in the necks of my enemies, something to which he seemed much obliged.
I then found myself on the boats with Sam Adams and Paul Revere, defending them from the troops storming the two adjoining boats while grabbing crates of tea and throwing them overboard. The mission has life counters for both men, as well as a counter of how much tea has been dumped, though it seemed far too easy to throw a ton of crates overboard at the outset of the mission, then let the other two men toss the rest as you accost their attackers. This is especially true seeing as how the British A.I. has no comprehension of the gap between the two boats, happily rushing off the edge into the water below. I'm personally hoping this is another error which will be fixed before the game launches, though it was still fun to participate in this ridiculous revisionist history (as well as witness the hilarious dancing animation of the celebrating colonists).
My only major complaint with Assassin's Creed 3 is that it suffers from a problem common to these big budget games, a plot which fails to connect with the gameplay. This is the great challenge our newly cinematic art form is wrestling with, how to keep the action engaging while crafting a plot that can be taken seriously. Consider the Uncharted series, where Nathan Drake can murder a few hundred Somalian pirates, only to wipe his brow and casually remark "That was a close one!" Similarly, though AC3's plot wants me to sympathize with the character of Connor, forcing me to occasionally murder seemingly innocent British troops makes that impossible. For instance, one mission involves following Stefane through the streets of Boston, jamming Connor's hidden blade into the back of any Redcoat his furious Canadian acquaintance happens to provoke. Again, these particular victims haven't done anything wrong, they've simply gotten in the way of your lunatic friend, and it's quite ridiculous to see Connor simultaneously begging Stefane to calm down while himself committing casual murders. Though Assassin's Creed 3 occasionally manages to sell the emotional narrative with the more intimate missions, set-pieces like the Boston Massacre bloodbath keep it firmly in the realm of schlock fiction.
Despite my misgivings with the plot, it seems obvious that Assassin's Creed 3 is a definite contender for game of the year, and a fitting send off for series protagonist Desmond. I can think of no other title in recent memory which promises the same level of content as AC3, and this preview didn't even touch on the robust multiplayer modes! (Check our previews section to read my take on the Wolf Pack co-op and Domination multiplayer). Whether you're a hardcore Assassin's Creed fan or you've never once stepped into the animus, AC3 is surely the must-buy game of this holiday season and a great way to celebrate your independence this November.
In short, Assassin's Creed 3 does not fail, and if anything, simply positions Ubisoft's status as the new leaders in next-gen gaming. We're still a ways off from the PS4 and Xbox 720 dropping, though this game assures me that Ubisoft will be there leading the charge on innovative, content-rich titles when they do.
Maybe time to start snagging some Ubisoft stock...