Broad, majestic landscapes are a backdrop to the final chapter in the Assassin’s Creed saga, as the battle between the Assassins and Templars turns to the American War of Independence.
A new engine makes moving and climbing smoother, though combat’s still a little jerky, and the addition of flintlock muskets and pistols – and three-masted sailing ships – gives this game the feeling of Red Dead Redemption crossed with Last of the Mohicans and Master and Commander.
The scope and scale of the game is truly impressive: 30 years of pivotal American history, played across the 13 colonies and up and down the Eastern Seaboard.
There’s an impressive cast of historical characters, including George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, and some truly impressive battlefield scenes.
All those factors which made Red Dead such a hit are present: an open world environment with beautiful landscapes to explore (and they are truly beautiful), game to hunt and missions to fulfill.
The game starts, as with its predecessors, with Desmond Miles, the modern-day descendant of the Assassins, searching now for the Key which will open an ancient temple. Before long, he heads into his ancestral memories to find it.
The first character you play is Haytham Kenway, a suave English Assassin with a stiff upper lip and a plum in his mouth. Kenway, who seems like Roger Moore’s James Bond with a frock coat and lace at his wrists, will travel from London to Boston in a series of vignettes intended to introduce new players to the controls, then seek to create allies among the native Americans.
Eventually, the action shifts to Haytham’s son, Connor, the iconic half-English, half-Mohawk Assassin you see on the cover of the game. If there’s a model for this character, it must surely be Daniel Day Lewis’s Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans.
Playing the game is only half the pleasure in Assassin’s Creed III. Taking advantage of the open world and head out to explore the untamed wilderness is just as much fun – rather like it was with Red Dead.
There’s a multiplayer mode, but we’ll have to give that some time before we really rate it.
The Assassin’s Creed series has earned an impressive reputation; this final installment seems ready to justify the passion with which gamers regard the series.
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Genre: Historical third-person sneaker
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360 (PC and Wii U versions to follow)
Version tested: Xbox 360
Age rating: 18
Star rating: 5/