REVIEW: Assassin’s Creed III (Wii U, 2012)

Nintendo’s new hope gets another ported game. Andy investigates. 

Today’s review will be about a Ubisoft multi-platform game. However, because I’m covering the Wii U version, I will be rating it on not only the game itself but also the effectiveness of the gamepad controls, as well as a mini FAQ for people wondering if its worth getting for the system.

Assassins Creed began life in 2007 as an extremely unique idea that has seen its list of plagiarism controversies. It’s a sandbox, sci-fi action/adventure game heavily based on parkour-style gameplay. Set in 2007, it follows the kidnapping of Desmond Miles (played by Nathan Drake himself, Noah North) by a powerful company called Abstergo Industries. Here he is subjected by a machine called the Anminus – a device that can help the subject relive “genetic memories” of their ancestors. Desmond lives the memory of Altaïr ibn-La’Ahad, a member of a brotherhood of Assassins during the time of the third Crusade. The plot unravels a conspiracy of the Knights Templar and a prophecy to do with the 2012 apocalypse.

The sequel sees Desmond in another relative, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, where the plot thickens and eventually bleeds (pun intended) into the game Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. Eventually, we are up-to-speed and following Desmond into the next generation of memories. The race is against the clock as he enters the consciousness of his relatives in the 1700’s as he must figure out how to defeat the Templars once and for all, and fight for the freedom of mankind.

I won’t give any other spoilers for newbies, but the plot is decently written and keeps your interest with some twists and turns that’ll keep you on your toes. The story seems to go on forever, and just when you think it’s about to end, the game has mission after mission for you to try. It’s simply jam-packed with storyline. However, that doesn’t mean all is rosy here. The main game suffers from repetitiveness like so many others. While it isn’t as egregious as Grand Theft Auto IV with its repeated formula, if you play it enough you’ll soon see a pattern. However, Ubisoft do a great job of trying to make the missions different and interesting so that you don’t get too bored.

The gameplay basics are quite simple to get used to, and in a way this is a double-edged sword. In one way, it’s so simple anyone can play which is great for sales and great for getting casual gamers into something more “hardcore.” However, I do miss the days when doing something as amazing as the things in this game required a lot more skill than mashing two buttons, and holding down one for the majority of the game. It’s something that frustrates me, and yet at the same time my lazy side is praising the gaming gods.

The gamepad features are pretty basic but aren’t gimmicky like so many Wii titles were with the Wiimote. You are given an extra large map, which has saved me more time in avoiding enemies and gives me the ability to quick-call my horse. Again, something that shouldn’t be considered amazing, but it really helps me stay in the game instead of going to sub-menus. While I do think more could have been done with the gamepad as far as inventory is concerned, I don’t think Ubisoft has been lazy. I’m sure they tried all sorts and found what was best for the game at large.

Another great feature is the ability to switch the entire game to my pad, unlike ZombiU. This has been a lifesaver in my multi-tasking life, meaning that my flatmates stayed happy and undisturbed, along with my ability to play the game at the same time as working in my home office. While having to go to a specific part of the game set-up was tedious rather than having an instant switch (something I’ve not encountered in any Wii U game so far), the ability was still there. It makes this version of Assassins’ Creed III worth getting if you own a Wii U.

The main problem I have with this game is the loading times, where Desmond or one of his ancestors are stuck in the Aminus’ white space with nothing to do whilst the next part loads. Ubisoft don’t even make it fun – all you can do is run about. They could at least have made it more like a virtual training range where you can hone your skills. Alas, you end up making yourself a cup of tea instead. I’m not too sure if this is just for the Wii U version or if the PS3 and Xbox 360 editions suffer the same problem. It’s just odd.

The visuals are pleasant and I have no real issues with them. Although I did expect a prettier version of the game, you can’t imagine Ubisoft pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into improving the graphics and tailoring it to the Wii U’s unique CPU architecture. There’s not too much difference between the U edition and the PS3/360 versions, so all I can say is that they’re pretty nice in general but a bit glitchy – especially when it comes to hair animation in close-ups of character models. Also, this game still suffers from the dreaded pop-up render syndrome with some objects suddenly appearing in front of you for no real reason.

The sound quality is smooth and the ambiance of 1700’s Boston makes you feel like you’re living a real world. While some effects seem to be taken from the stock library, most are mixed so well with the visuals that your brain tends not to notice or care.

The game has some replayability, and some DLC should be out soon over all platforms.

To finish, here’s a handy FAQ:

  1. Does this game alone warrant the purchase of a Wii U?

No, not alone. While this is a great port of an HD game, if you already own it the upgrades are minimal if appreciated.

  1. I own another HD console and I own a Wii U, which version should I purchase?

In my opinion, I’d say the Wii U version is the best version to play rather than the others purely due to the gamepad features mentioned above. You won’t regret adding this to your Wii U collection.

  1. I’ve never played Assassin’s Creed before, does it mean I have to purchase the others? Does it mean I have to purchase a PS3 or 360, too?

No and no. If you already own a PC, PS3 or 360 then pick up the others by all means.

Overall, Assassin’s Creed III for the Wii U marginally improves on past editions to give the console another winner. A solid title in any games library which is heartily recommended to anyone with Nintendo’s new console.

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