Assassin’s Creed 3 was released in Australia on October 30th. NaNoWriMo started on November 1st. I knew there was no way I’d be able to complete the latter if I dared open the former. Despite the temptation it presented, I managed to wait until December before opening it, and have only just begun with it.
I’ll try to be major-spoiler free, but the truth is by reading on, you’re opening yourself to potential spoilers. I’ve only completed AC and AC2, having had issues with AC2:Brotherhood on account of a stealth mission I just couldn’t get past, and had never tried out AC2:Revelations. Where the first game had you jumping around the Holy Land, and the second took you to the land of pizza, I knew that the third brought the series to a New World.
The game doesn’t start with that, though. To begin with, you’re running around as Desmond Miles, who comes from a long line of assassins. There’s some stuff with him, but before long, the people you’re travelling with plug you back into the Animus. It starts off with a little tutorial to get you attuned to how to use your various skills – the controls for which seemed to have changed since I last played an AC game – and then soon you’re placed into the memory of an ancestor. Based on what I knew about the game, I was surprised. Having expected to jump into a man in America named Connor, I instead found that the character we’d jumped into the memory of was an Englishman by the name of Haytham Kenway.
You do have access to Connor later (and it’s only that point of the game that I’ve played until), but to begin with, we’re Haytham.
While he seems to serve more as a tutorial character, there’s something about him that I like. The character has some meat about him, a proper English can-do attitude, and a huge dose of determination. I know that AC2:Revelations puts the player in control of an older Ezio Auditore, but as I hadn’t played it, this was my first experience with an AC playable character that seemed to be older than I am. Apparently he was only 29 at that point, but felt more like 40-something.
Perhaps it’s the authority of the character that does it.
I found him to be likeable enough, and his introductory mission has such a fantastic air about it. I don’t want to spoil anything, especially not about a mission in an Assassin’s Creed game, where you play as an Assassin that assassinates various people like most assassins tend to do. Nope, spoiler free as to the nature of that mission.
Eventually you end up with Haytham in America, after being introduced to some pretty ship interiors, and even prettier oceans. If anyone reading this ever played the old Pirates of the Caribbean game developed by Akella, it’s as pretty as I remember that being (despite the passing years removing the splendour first felt with it).
So far, I’m enjoying it. One of the other aspects that appealed to me about AC3 (besides it seriously annoying my history buff friends), was the fact that it seemed like climbing was even more of a thing this time around, to the point where some people referred to it as a climbing simulator. I haven’t gotten to that stage yet, and I assume that’s something that won’t come up until I play a little bit through some of Connor’s story, but trees, mountains and the like are meant to be very envelopable.
I don’t expect the same type of thrill that I had from AC2. Rome, Venice and Florence were all places I’ve been to, and AC3’s landscapes are going to be alien to me. Encountering new places is fine though, and it’s not as though I need to have been to a place to enjoy it – the sweeping landscapes of Red Dead Redemption were absolutely gorgeous, and staring at the stars in a game like Skyrim is captivating in its very own way. Sea stuff though, I’ve already locked in my goofy smile quota for the week, and will probably exceed it next time I play.
That’s the bit where I lose the blankness that usually surrounds me face, concealing all emotion, and smile like I’m staring at an actual landscape.
One thing that I need to point out, because it doesn’t usually stand out in games, is I am really loving the aural experience it delivers. The last time that I felt that from a game was when I first tried out a set of Turtle Beach headphones and listened to the rain in Skyrim, but this was with the sound as it came out of the TV. My wife actually came in at one point to say she wasn’t sure what I was doing, because it didn’t sound like a game. It’s a pity in one way – more games need to use sound like AC3 does – the sounds during the Opera were fantastic.
I don’t know if Haytham returns as a character, but there’s a goodbye to him for at least the moment.