Assassin’s Creed III should be on your most wanted list this holiday season. I jumped at the opportunity to check it out on Wii U at E3, where it runs just as smoothly as it does on PS3 and Xbox 360. The Wii U’s tablet doesn’t add much to the experience, but it certainly doesn’t subtract from it either.
The new protagonist with the a colon for a name -- also known as Connor -- against the backdrop of the American Revolution will revitalise the once innovative experience, which has since shaped the landscape of open world acrobatics. For the first time, we’ll be able to enter buildings into the tight confines of some poor sap’s livingroom to evade an army of determined pursuers, and simultaneously stab one enemy and shoot another with the same weapon.
That alone won’t be enough, however, as it’ll take all your cunning to blend in with the crowd and infiltrate heavily guarded areas without being shot immediately. One key moment saw Connor pose as a prisoner with the assistance of his trusty brotherhood of assassins to sneak past the foolish law.
Assassinations are stylish and fluid; Connor can pick up a weapon and silently slaughter at speed without breaking stride.
Combat has been rebuilt from the ground up to better suit the new arsenal of weapons. Connor can quickly switch from close combat melee weapons with a quick draw to old-timey pistols that encapsulate the era. A combination of the two is the recipe for success, occasionally with a dash of running away (in a manly way) when you accept that you have bitten off more than you can chew, or stab.
While quick-firing a gun that looks like it might explode in your face doesn’t feel much like Assassin’s Creed as we know it, running along the roof, or tree, tops and making quick work of unsuspecting foes certainly does.
Assassinations are stylish and fluid; Connor can pick up a weapon and silently slaughter at speed without breaking stride. For a more subtle approach, the bow can be used from a distance to eliminate targets without a trace.
If we’re talking style, it doesn’t get much better than the rope dart. Lurking in the trees, Connor can snag a clueless enemy by the neck and jump down to act as the counterweight that seals his fate. The poor chap will never know what hit him. In reverse, it can be used as a nifty mechanic to disappear out of sight.
The environment is more diverse and varied than anything we’ve seen in the Assassin’s Creed universe before. AC games have always given the player free scope to run around the open world with limitations that we’ve just accepted from video games. It’s time to push the boundaries.
As well as the traditional rooftops, Connor can traverse snowy valleys, bustling markets and crowded docks. Swinging between trees -- without one glowing to signify that it’s the next link -- has never really been done before because of the inherently uncertain nature of tree branches. While I only got to experience becoming one with nature in a hands-off demo, everything suggests Connor can move just as swiftly through complicated branches as he does upon open rooftops.
The only difference I encountered with the Wii U version was the prominence of information on screen. Ubisoft promptly informed me that the full UI, including heath, weapons and a mini-map, can be displayed on the Wii U Tablet’s screen or the TV. The option to be devoid of clutter is given to the player. Otherwise, it is exactly the same as the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions.
Assassin’s Creed III is shaping up to be a compelling, original experience that will skyrocket the series back into Game of the Year contention. Whether you’re looking at it on the more established PC, PS3 or Xbox 360, or Nintendo’s HD leap with the Wii U, Assassin’s Creed III is one of the top games to watch this holiday season.
By Ben Salter - Bio