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3.6 out of 5 stars
Assassin's Creed III [Download]
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65 of 69 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2012
Platform for Display: PCEdition: Standard
It's safe to say that Assassin's Creed 2 set the bar very high for this series - a great mix of creative storytelling, good writing and excellent parkour and combat mechanics made it a real knockout of a game. Unfortunately, Assassin's Creed 3 falls short in pretty much every department. It's not a bad game, and there are a few improvements and new features that really stand out as amazing additions - but the flaws are so significant that it's hard to actually recommend this game to anyone other than enthusiastic series fans.

The biggest flaw is definitely that the game feels woefully untested. AC3 on the PC has a ridiculous number of bugs, from epileptic horses to menu freezes that make it impossible to proceed, and I've been encountering them in virtually every mission and quite often while just running around. There are also a lot of bewildering things that somehow made it past playtesting; I was killing bears with a hidden blade that was apparently coming out of my bare arm for quite a while before the plot got around to letting me have it, and at one point I was wandering around and completely by accident captured a British Templar fort, which replaced the flag and all the troops there with American revolutionaries... in 1770. In-game tooltips display at very weird moments, like a prompt telling you how to lower your notoriety at a time in the game when none of the methods described are available to you, and every cinematic has a prompt saying "PRESS E TO SKIP" plastered across the corner for the duration. You're also given no explanation or instructions for huge swaths of key game concepts. It's not just software bugs, basically - this game feels like the PC port was never tested at all, and that the testing they did do was mostly from people who already knew the game really well.

That extends to the writing, too. The story improves considerably around the halfway point of the game, but the early levels are plagued with scenes that drag on way longer than necessary, a weird fixation on narration and having characters describe things instead of showing them to us, and extremely bad pacing. Skilled voice actors do their best with lines like "what's true and what is aren't always the same," but there's just no saving a lot of these scenes, and the characters are mostly unlikable and uninteresting. We're given no reason to care about any of the characters until several missions into the game, and when we do finally meet our protagonist, our introduction to him is watching several scenes of mediocre voice actors monotone their way through extremely lengthy speeches in Mohawk. (I can't express how bad the Mohawk acting is, it's literally like hearing someone reading a technical manual.) The game is in serious need of an editor - things just move way too slowly, especially in dialogue and cinematics.

Gameplay itself isn't nearly so problematic, but still suffers badly from a lack of thorough testing. The developers made a big deal about the ability to pick up weapons on the fly, but I had trouble picking them up even standing completely still with no enemies around. The new lockpicking minigame is a perfect storm of unnecessary, no fun and unreasonably picky about precise mouse movement. I had problems constantly with getting stuck on the end of beams unable to move forward, having to realign to the precise right angle to climb certain objects, and attempting to climb impassable barriers that are completely indistinguishable from climbable surfaces. Combat is flashy (and extremely attractive), but is also reduced almost completely to a rock-paper-scissors game where each enemy requires one (and, barring exceptional circumstances, ONLY one) particular key combination to defeat. Several of the optional mission objectives are almost impossible to understand unless you've already played the level once. It's just rough, basically. The difficulty is a huge mess - I had no trouble taking on entire forts simultaneously from the very beginning of the game, but failed other missions constantly thanks to pointlessly capricious layouts for stealth sequences and unpredictable cutoff points for achieving secondary objectives. Even the historical hooks are almost completely ignored - aside from a few memorable (let's be fair, excellent) scenes like storming Bunker Hill, the actual history feels much more like a gimmick than an actual setting. One entire component of the game (the economic/crafting system) is only usable with an XBox controller and will freeze if you so much as move the mouse. A lot of the major components of the game feel like a rough draft, basically.

It's not all bad news, of course. The new naval sequences are outstanding, and the special dungeons (featuring several shipwreck levels and some cool Caribbean areas) are finely polished. The the antagonist finally starts directly interacting with the protagonist, their character interplay is by far the strongest part of the story, and both fun and engaging (although don't be surprised if you find yourself liking the antagonist considerably more than our hero). Graphically the game looks pretty great, and the new weather system is attractive (especially localized effects like fog). The nature areas look particularly good (and are massive!), which was a wise decision - colonial America was perhaps not the best choice for this series, considering its lack of gorgeous, huge landmark buildings to climb on, but the game seems to be making up for that by going for knockout natural environments instead. Although a lot of the previous installments' RPG elements are gone, the new hunting system is pretty engaging. Aside from lipsyncing and occasional clipping problems, animation is extremely high-quality across the board, especially in combat. The world is enormous, there's a ton of stuff to play around with and climb on. And I actually did find a couple (non-mandatory) minigames that were surprisingly fun, where you play old-timey board games in taverns. Some of the other details, like set decorations that only appear once or twice in the entire game, are clearly labors of love. There is some highly polished work in this game.

Overall, though, I'd only really recommend this game to people who are already in love with the series. I think it could have set new standards in a lot of ways, with some of the extraordinary detail work poured into the game - but with such major flaws, especially in such key parts of the game, a lot of the excellence in AC3 is totally overshadowed by the mediocrity. If you do buy it, though, stick with it - the game's flaws become much less glaring once you get through the opening third (around the time you get to visit the third game region, the enemies become significantly more varied, you have access to a much larger arsenal, the levels become less railroady, and the plot picks up considerably).

Pros:
-Excellent and exhilirating naval combat, action-cinematic levels and special dungeons
-Very attractive, if not revolutionary
-Pretty much anything you do out in the woods is great
-Combat is fun to watch
-The engine can support huge numbers of NPCs simultaneously (crowds are, well, crowded)
-It is still pretty fun, once you get past the slog of a first act

Cons:
-Mediocre story editing and script and very poor story pacing, especially in the first third of the game
-Mostly uninteresting characters
-Zero effort PC port
-Absolutely overrun with software bugs and continuity errors
-Combat is highly repetitive and often turns into infinite loops with guards spawning faster than you can kill or escape them
-Possibly the worst mandatory lockpicking minigame ever made (it's not nearly as bad with a controller, but it's maddening with a mouse, and purposeless either way)
-The setting is not well-suited to the more appealing gameplay elements
-There's a well-documented bug that completely prevents you from progressing past a certain point without an XBox controller, which wasn't fixed in the recent patches
-Way too much tedious waiting
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2012
Platform for Display: PCEdition: Standard
Pros:

* Combat system was fun to use, although I did run into difficulty using enemies as human shields. It would not always work as it should which was incredibly frustrating.
* Town graphics / rendering were upgraded from previous versions
* It's Assassin's Creed
* Connor is a bada$$ when the combat system is working properly and that is fun to see and do.
* Desmond's missions. Awesome. Finally got to see him in live action on missions which was great.
* Weather. The added rain affects were awesome. Wish these could've existed in Italy with some of those scenes -- would've looked great.
* Climbing animation was significantly upgraded which was great!
* They developed the game in DX11 for the PC. Very happy to see them utilize the vastly superior PC hardware instead of just direct-porting the inferior console version to PC as they have in the past. I have played the game on XBOX as well, and it is no comparison. To use a common car comparison -- playing this game on the XBOX compared to the PC is like driving a Ford Taurus (XBOX) compared to a Corvette (PC).
* "Tomb Missions". These are now replaced with what are called "Captain Kidd" missions. It is basically a mystery you are trying to solve which is actually pretty cool. You get some great visuals in these missions that look AWESOME on the PC in DX11.
* Naval Missions. As part of your Assassin career, you also Captain "The Aquila", a warship you revive during the game and go out and perform various tasks (rescues, escorts, attacks, etc.). These missions are pretty fun.

Cons:

* Music. The Music is a significant downgrade from games like AC2 / ACB. The magic the music created in those games is non-existent in this one.
* Story. Very scattered and inconsistent story plot. Also the story overall was way too....sad. At every turn you're being betrayed, having family members / friends killed or being forced to kill them yourself. Bad ending both for Connor and for Desmond. Very anti-climactic. I hate the direction they are going with the series as far as the storyline. Also the way the start of each sequence forces you into a cutscene absolutely kills the chronology of the side missions and when they should be completed. Need a far better tie-in. Should have had the primary sequences just be placed on the map so you could start the next sequence when ready as far as the main storyline and have a chance to complete side missions before seeing an urgent cut scene that made you feel like you had to rush off to finish the primary story.
* Connor's personality. They made him into a robot. He has very little emotional development throughout the game. Some people say he seems "dumb". I don't want to say that, but he definitely has no personality, making it tough to get attached to him the way we did with Ezio.
* Hunting / Frontier: Waste of development time. Added nothing in my opinion.
* Mission Design. There were a number of missions that were just AWFUL as far as how they were designed. You had to perform certain tasks in a very precise manner or you would desynchronize. The other AC games provided freedom in how you wanted to complete a mission, and that's something this game missed in many instances.
* Side Quests. I miss the Courtesan, Thief, and Assassination contracts from previous games. This game had pathetic Assassination contracts (I mean really, there is literally zero backstory to them to tie in to the game), and the Liberation missions were only mediocre at best.
* Limited relationships. Connor is 27 by the time the game ends and has no female counterpart. This sort of ties in to the "robot" reference I made before. No guy is 27 and has zero romantic interest. Another part of the Ezio storyline that was badly missed here.
* The ending. Both Desmond & Connor's endings are so anticlimactic. As a Desmond fan, I *hate* how they have chosen to "close" his storyline. I don't want to give away the specifics, so I'll leave it at that. Connor's ending is also very open-ended, and so far, I'm just not attached to him at all as a character -- I am really hoping they can do a better job of developing his personality in future games, because he doesn't have one currently.

Other Thoughts:

Overall, I'm pretty disappointed with the game. Given how much it was super-hyped leading up to its release, it's been pretty mixed in terms of overall reception from the fanbase. AC is an absolutely epic game series. In 30 years of gaming, it is probably #1 or #2 on my list of best game-series. I really hope the crew that did AC2 and ACB are recalled to work on future games because those guys and gals just "got it" and knew how to make a magical game. Really hoping we head to France next for the French Revolution. The backstory has been created with Lafayette meeting Connor.

You might be wondering why I gave it 2/5 eggs since I still had a good list of pros. The ending of the game is so epically bad (Desmond specifically) along with how bad the storyline flows that it's just not a good game. There are also numerous bugs in the game that should have easily been fixed before release. My hope is that the next game (the DLC is on its way, maybe it will help also) will reinvigorate the series without destroying everything that it has been able to stand for thus far because this series is frickin awesome overall.

Performance -- I've read that ATI / AMD video cards are having performance problems with the game currently. Given that I'm running a GTX 680 and NVidia released a beta driver a few days before AC3's release, I have had flawless game performance, so for you ATI guys, I'm hopeful they will release a hotfix / beta driver for you shortly so you can play the game. Performance for me was great though -- 1920x1200 with every setting maxed out with the exception of antialiasing, which I dialed down a bit.

Gaming Rig:
Vista 64-bit
ASRock 990FX Extreme4
16GB DDR3
Phenom II 955
NVidia GTX 680 (310.54 Beta Driver)
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2013
Platform for Display: PCEdition: Standard
First some disclaimers. I'm strictly a PC gamer, no consoles (well, other than the ancient Atari and a Sega Genesis). Secondly, brand new to the AC line of games. With that in mind, there were some awesome things and some terrible things about this game on the PC. The graphics are gorgeous! And it runs at max on my rig built over a year ago. The history is interesting, and they give lots of detail about the characters and places. The combat looks amazing, and the main jumps and runs and climbs like a madman.

The downsides are that this game is a no-thought port to the PC. AFAICT, Ubisoft made zero effort to port this to a PC, and the lack of control suffers greatly compared to other games. For example, your character will climb anything he gets near, which is a pain when you are trying to run away from somebody then you have to figure out HTF to jump off that thing. There is no climb key like one might expect on a PC. Many reviewers have said "Chuck your keyboard, you need a gamepad for this game" and they are spot on.

The second main issue I have is that you have to complete the missions just as the developers want. There's not a lot of room for different approaches, pretty much only one way works. Ubisoft frequently ties down the areas you can venture into on a given mission, further restricting your options. Enemies spawn at amazing rates, faster than you can kill them in many cases. Sure, you can argue "That's why 'Assassin' is in the name, it's a stealth game!" and you would be correct. Fine, in that case make the mass murder approach unfeasible by having plenty of troops or some other realistic way - don't have people teleport in like there's a giant Enterprise above, watching the events and beaming people down. There's no save game feature, which makes one reluctant to try many new things, you might end up further down the path than you wish and be unable to go back.

There are many reasons some of us play games on PCs: We can get more control, we can save and load games and we can try lots of stuff. This port allows none of this.

And finally, AC3 has an astonishing number of busywork missions to chase down, gathering feathers, running letters around town, going shopping for people, etc. It feels a lot like they did this busywork to add a lot of depth, but they ended up making a game that feels a lot like most missions are "travel to location X and press a button."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2012
Platform for Display: PC DownloadEdition: StandardVerified Purchase
I downloaded the game with no problem and it played very well. The game itself had both a new world that was new and exciting to explore as well a new weapons and new advances in fighting both alone and with your other assassins. The story was also very interesting adding new plot twists and and interesting developments along the way. There was one time that Ubisoft, not the game, glitched and it took one call and it was fixed. I was impressed with both the game and the company.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2014
Platform for Display: PCEdition: StandardVerified Purchase
The grandchildren play it and said they loved it. I have never tried it and I think I am to old.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2012
Platform for Display: PC DownloadEdition: Standard
First off I'm a huge fan of the Assassins creed series I never cared for the first one very much but AC2 and beyond I felt every game was better than the last one. This time around AC3 is better in many areas and also worse in a few other areas than previous games. The story is better almost but not quite as good as Ezio's and while Conner is a better character than Atair. I think Ezio is just too great a character to beat. Conner is nowhere near as smart as Ezio, he is arrogant, rude and rash at times just rushing into things and he is certainly no ladies man, but overall I still enjoyed playing as him. The gameplay is where this game really shines easily best control scheme free running and the combat work so much better now and everything feels more fluid. Conner will even use the environment around him to defeat his enemies at times and what a great environment it is I do miss the massive ancient cities but the wilderness is an amazing new addition as it is crazy huge and there is so much to do. The hunting is very enjoyable it is so easy to get sidetracked in this game with plenty of side missions from liberating Boston and New York, sailing a ship and wrecking absolute carnage on other ships (probably my favorite thing to do in the game), helping out settlers, finding treasure and trinkets, exploring, there is just so much to do. The cities in this game are not as big but they are far more lively and diverse. Weapons are best in the series and you get new better weapons as the game goes on of course but armor is one thing I was disappointed with there are no armor upgrades I know it wouldn't work for that time period, but they could have had leather upgrades or something. You can change the look of your outfit eventually but it is still kind of limited they could have done more with that as well. Making money is not as easy in this game at all and can be kind of confusing at first until you get the hang of it. Graphics are amazing and the PC version finally looks better than the console counterparts like it should with DX11, higher res textures, tessellation and better lighting. There where a few hilarious bugs around the beginning and some where annoying I fell threw the map and got stuck on one mission but by about halfway though I have not noticed them anymore maybe it was patched. Overall this was easily one of the best in the series and despite what other negative reviewers say it deserves a chance so borrow it rent it buy it whatever at least try this game out the majority of the way through before you go just toss aside like a piece of garbage it really is a great game.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2012
Platform for Display: PCEdition: Standard
ASS3 could have been a wonderful game. It has graphics as good as Skyrim and lots of wonderful bustling towns which have perfect historical architecture.

Thee are some nice twists and turns in the plot but the thing which I thought we'd all gotten away from in gaming is "having a linear, scripted plot which you have to follow or else.."

There are a few points in this "story" where you just have to keep doing the same thing over and and over again until you get it perfect and I really thought game design had moved on from that kind mindless adventure. "Break up the fight" is a perfect example.

This is not a game!.. it's a living movie and you, as the actor, have to follow the game designers script. There is almost no sand box feel. Even the "crafting" portion of this game is counter intuitive, cumbersome, and fiscally lame.

You have very little choice in ASS3. Every battle requires twitchy perfection. (bunker hill) There aren't even levels so to speak. you can unlock some new weapons after about two weeks but they still don't compare to the assnblade.

The best part of this game is the Ships/Naval region BUT... once again there are very few missions. You can't just go sail out into the Atlantic, "lookin fer prize matey" You have to wait again, for some missions to come your way.

I hate this game SO much because it could have be great if someone... in UBISOFT had pulled their head out of their bu77 and really thought about what (30-40 yo -- that is the average gamer age atm) and made something smooth and intuitive with a Story Line that didn't insult everyone on all sides of the Revolution.. should I go on?!

no.. goodnight.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2012
Platform for Display: PC DownloadEdition: StandardVerified Purchase
The amazon Digital Delivery System worked flawlessly!! It was easy to use and pretty fast. Very satisfied and would definitely prefer this against physical media
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2013
Platform for Display: PCEdition: Standard
After playing all previous AC games (just finished AC: Revelations with 100% score), I wanted to continue story and FINALLY get AC 3. I have to admit that I'm quite disappointed. Game is NOTHING like previous AC games. While story is still amazing (really a masterpiece, in my opinion), everything else seems to be done wrong somehow.

Please note, my review is for PC version only.

I have installed this game on a fairly powerful laptop (Samsung Series 7 gamer) with i7 CPU, 16 Gb ram and nVidia 675M graphic card. It also has SSD 240 Gb as primary HDD, newest drivers for graphic card etc.

That being said, game is glitched to the boot. It looks more like a bad port from consoles than a proper sequel to one of best PC game franchise of all times. I'm not sure how much DLCs can repair this, I still didn't install any of them as I was hoping to finish the original game first.

Second, the rich, open world of AC is nowhere to be present. Yes, you can EXPLORE around, it is easier to get to vantage points and synchronize but pretty much every other aspect of AC is gone (at least at the beginning). No purchase of buildings, no opening new gear, every other roof has eagle-eyed soldiers and streets are full of soldiers too. It feels that there's more potential enemies around than regular NPCs. Very restrictive start.

On top of that you pretty much have to follow a single mission because, well, there's pretty much almost nothing else to do! Yeah, deliver the letters (occasionally) is a welcome break and you can play a few games (mostly early versions of actual table games we know today) but that's it. After couple of hours of playing I feel bored - yeah, there's that feeling that sometimes soon this should become a full fledged AC game but somehow, I doubt it.

On a more positive note world is much more detailed now, graphics was never better (although I don't care for quite angular and sharp-edged ground) and at least that pulls the game up a bit.

Still, it is AC and I will finish it which means that this review will be updated but so far, this is extremely disappointing game from the AC series. I do hope that AC: Black Flag will be better.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2013
Platform for Display: PC DownloadEdition: Standard
I am quite dissapointed with Assissins Creed III. I did the PC download, which was fine, but was getting really frustrated with the keyboard controls because the game did not perform as the previous two have. This new version of the Assissin's series is not quite as intuitive about where to go and what to do as the preceeding two were(in my opinion). The PC performance was great and the graphics were also great, but for the life of me I could not get the correct keystrokes down. Even looking at the keystroke assignments in game was no help in most instances. So, I thought I'd cough up the money and buy the Official Guide for another $15 and that would solve all my problem's. I was wrong!
It did help me with where to go and what to do and had good maps and other info. I was trying to use the Bow and arrow and could not figure out which key to use so I looked it up in the book. What the book said didn't help so I started looking around and came across a small box on one of the pages with a reccomendation the said, to properly use all the functions and the weapons it would be best to buy the X-Box controller for Windows. Otherwise you just couldn't play the game correctly. I purchased the PC version of the game (as I did with I & II) because I am used to using a mouse and keyboard to play games and dislike trying to use console controllers. This just makes me mad that to correctly play this game I am suppose to use a console controller and nothing is said about this ahead of time. I already have the Windows X-Box controller (used it for a previous snowboarding game) but I hate it because I cannot use it in a regular game. I have a PS3 but I use a T.A.C.3 to play Call of Duty MW3 because I don't like the PS3 controller. This is a long winded way of saying I would love this game if you could control all functions with a mouse and keyboard since it is a PC version of the game. Since you can't it is just one frustration after another and I really wish I hadn't wasted my money on it. IMO
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