We’ll be the first to throw our hands up and admit that when the first Assassin’s Creed game was released back in 2007 we were less than impressed. While it was certainly an ambitious project, in our opinion it fell a little short in the gameplay stakes due to repetitive missions and an occasional lack of direction. Despite our grievances the game went on to sell huge numbers and pick up plenty of awards, so it was inevitable that a sequel wouldn’t be far behind.
When Assassin’s Creed II followed in 2009, our opinion of the fledgling franchise took a massive turn for the better. The development team at Ubisoft Montreal had clearly taken on board the criticism they had received for the first game and, this time around, they delivered us what is still one of the best action adventure titles we have ever played. Out went the slightly dull Altaïr ibn-La'Ahad and in his place came the enigmatic Italian Ezio Auditore da Firenze. With a Renaissance setting, Ubisoft was free to introduce some well known historical figures, while also offering a far more varied style of gameplay. It was clear that the series was here to stay.
Concerns were voiced, however, when the arrival of a further two games in 2010 and 2011, namely Brotherhood and Revelations, made some sections of the gaming public feel that we were yet again seeing another promising franchise milked for all its worth. For our money, both games were fantastic additions to the series, taking Ezio’s story through to its end and adding plenty of worthwhile features like multiplayer and the assassin management system.
Despite the fact that the franchise has been kept fresh with these additions, as well as the strong story telling that plays such a key role in the game’s folklore, we were somewhat relieved when Ubisoft confirmed that Assassin’s Creed III was on the way, and that it had been in development for more than three years. The last time an AC game had such a long development cycle we were treated to a massive improvement with the first sequel, so our hopes are incredibly high this time around.
There had been much speculation as to where and when the game would take place before the official announcement was made. Rumours included feudal Japan, Victorian England and South America, but the confirmed setting is every bit as interesting as the postulated ones; for Assassin’s Creed III will take place during the American Revolution, one of the most turbulent times in the States’ history.
It’s not just the setting that’s new either; we’ll also be introduced to a brand new protagonist. Calling himself Connor, our new hero’s real name is Ratohnhaké:ton. As you might have guessed, he’s part Native American, which puts a nice new spin on the Revolutionary setting. Historical figures such as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and Charles Lee join Connor in the cast and, of course, his modern day descendant Desmond Miles, voiced by the ever reliable Nolan North, will see the continuation of his story.
The most exciting announcement to date, however, is the fact that the game will feature a brand new engine which Ubisoft hopes will be able to offer next generation visuals and physics on current generation systems – though to say that the game will be solely available on the current generation would be something of a half truth, as it has also been confirmed for Nintendo’s forthcoming Wii U, perhaps giving an insight into when we can expected that system to launch.
What we’ve heard about the gameplay so far is exceptionally promising. Things to look forward to include a game world that is approximately one and a half times larger than that found in Brotherhood, and which features changing seasons – so you’ll be able to tackle the same environments both in winter and summer, offering a wealth of variety in how to approach each setting. Combat and stealth abilities have been completely reworked, while players will be able to hunt animals to collect valuable resources.
All in all Assassin’s Creed III is shaping up to be the epic culmination we have expected from the trilogy, and we’re going to be keeping a very close eye on it over the coming months, so stay tuned for plenty of updates!