Assassin's Creed 3 is a drab mediocre gameplay experience wrapped in a stunningly beautiful and compelling world populated by intriguing, well acted characters.
I love the setting, I love the atmosphere, I could just wander the streets of colonial America for hours. Graphically the game is a feat, some of the best visuals this generation. The questioning if history and the question of basic human freedom and peace is more than most modern games deliver. And the animations a are just beautiful. Watching Connor walk, fight, climb and run is mesmerising. Few video game characters move with as much style and intricacy as the leads of the AC series.
It's just so unfortunate that the part where your hand meets the controller is so sub-par. The combat is embarrassingly easy, musket fire from a line of shooters can be shrugged with little concern. There's no need to upgrade any equipment or weapons since you start with the most effect tool strapped to your wrist. The rope dart, the guns, the bow an arrow are all fun to use but are otherwise inconsequential to the experience.
The homestead is a shallow waste of time that offers no incentive to engage in. Who really wants to navigate crafting menus to make items to use in the trading menus to earn money that can buy you nothing of use? It's menu after menu. It's dull and boring.
Hunting is a waste. It's a fun idea but to call it repetitive is an understatement. You approach a clue that takes no effort to find, a painfully obvious magnifying glass hovering over the clue that gives you the exact location of an animal. Forgive me for not feeling like a sleuth when the method of tracking takes absolutely no intuition or skill or effort. And when a hostile animal attacks you it's a quick-time event ... It feels so rushed amd so squandered. Sure these are option elements but they're not even deep or fleshed out in their own right. Even if you wanted to perform these tasks for role playing reasons they're not up to par. They're just supuflous tacked-on mini game shovel-ware. And you're constantly harassed to go and participate in these arbitrary, useless tasks.
Also, the lip synching is nothing short of a complete embarrassment.
The missions also range from fun and challenging to outright lazy and glitchy. Foot chases are just terrible. One chase scene asked me to avoid bumping into citizens which was frustrating when you are expected to turn tight corners with no camera control. Worse, the same button for running is the same button to dive into every haystack or climb any architecture you move towards. Once I discovered my quarry did the exact same loop of the city it was easy to exploit the sustem. Such a counter intuitive system is baffling and I find that achieving 100% synch has less to do with exerting real skill and cunning and more to do with overcoming bad gameplay systems and poor controls. Optional mission objectives should be a great way to add an extra challenge but they become a fight against sloppy systems and come down to learning to exploit the game.
To my pleasant surprise though, the naval combat is ingeniously simple and fun. I'd not been at all interested in naval battles anymore than I was at the thought of tower defence. The core gameplay of Assassin's Creed, free running, stabbing and badass combat, has been slowly drowning in a sea of tacked-on gimmicks and useless features and I really thought naval combat was jumping the shark but boy was I wrong. With my surround sound cranked, the creaking wood, fluttering sails, splashing water, sailors yelling, cannon balls whizzing, it all makes a symphony of fun. The simple loop of angling your ship and unleashing that perfect barrage is loads of fun.
It's beyond ambituous, it aims higher than most games this generation. The scope of the game and the amount of content shames most other titles. But overall, this game feels like it's bitten off more than it can chew. It feels like it needs more time to bake. The inconsistency is SO apparent, some parts of the game are polished and elegant while others are nothing short of tacked on and unfinished. It has high highs that are painfully punctuated by low lows. They really should have carved off most of the gameplay systems and polished the ones worth keeping.