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Assassin's Creed III Gameplay
The gameplay in Assassin's Creed III is pretty intuitive. It isn't hard to pick up and get started playing. For a controller, you can use your keyboard and mouse or you can use an attached Xbox style controller. One of the first things that bugged me about Assassin's Creed III, however, is that if you have a game controller connected, you can't opt to use the keyboard and mouse. I normally have a game controller connected, but I had to disconnect it to play with the keyboard and mouse. This is unfortunate because I found it much easier to play the game with keyboard and mouse than with the controller.
Assassin's Creed III gives you a detailed tutorial of how to do things each time a new type of activity is encountered. Even afterward, when you are fighting for the hundredth time, the heads up display still clues you in to what you should do. While this makes Assassin's Creed III easy to pick up after a long absence or if you are brand new to this style of gaming, I kind of think giving you all the keys is a little bit much. My brother and I were recently discussing how it seems games these days rely too much on the tutorials. They tell you exactly how to do everything in the game, which makes you a near expert player right from the start, but you lose that moment of discovery when a new skill or technique is unveiled by mistake or trial and error. After the 35th time getting attacked by a wolf, the game still told me to push ‘R' then ‘Q' to kill it.
One interesting part of the gameplay is the AI skill level. Your normal foot soldiers are easy to dispatch without much effort, but the officers and leaders often require more fine-tuned agility to take care of. The different mouse and keyboard combinations allow you to parry, block, disarm, reposte, or throw an opponent in addition to your basic attacks. Depending on the skill level of your foe, you will have to use these effectively in order to overcome your enemy. The only grievance I have with this is that after you have discovered that the officers carrying backpacks and wearing plumed helmets require a successful parry then disarm before you can beat them, you now know how to kill every officer of the same type. I think it would be more interesting if the styles varied and you were required to discover the way to beat higher skilled enemies individually for each encounter.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of Assassin's Creed III is the free running. Although I did find the game to be less intuitive with the free running than Sleeping Dogs, there were a lot more areas in which I could use the feature. In fact, I think the entire countryside was specifically cultivated by the Iroquois to enable free running through the trees without touching the ground. The problems I ran into were minimal, but annoying nonetheless. Anytime you move with the left mouse key depressed you are in free running mode. You also cannot run at all unless you are in free running mode. That means that you either walk everywhere or free run a lot. Unfortunately, small things like lamp posts, boxes, or corners that you would easily ignore while walking become obstacles when running. If you get to close to the corner of a building, for example, you will notice yourself suddenly yanking in another direction attempting to scale the wall rather than continuing along your route. Similarly, you must make sure that you stop running a few steps before a door that you want to enter, lest you grab the door frame and climb onto the roof of the building instead. This can be especially dangerous in highly patrolled areas where, even when you are incognito, climbing a wall suddenly becomes an investigable offense.
The best part of Assassin's Creed III gameplay is that you are totally immersed in an extremely historically accurate world participating in the events that formed the United States of America. In fact, that is the only main contradiction to history; that some random half-native assassin was actually part of the signing of Declaration of Independence, the Boston Tea Party, and the every major battle of the Revolutionary War. Still, the intriguing story and rich history draw the player into the game like few other titles I have played.
Another highlight of the gameplay takes you into the seas and puts you at the helm of your own warship. This was actually one of the more challenging parts of the game for me and in the future, I think a large part of my time playing will be spent on the side missions attacking enemy ships or escorting allies through treacherous waters. This aspect of the game is the sole reason for building your homestead and earning money. Nothing else is worth spending the in-game coin on, other than your ship upgrades, and they cost quite a bit, so save up. Without exposing too much, at one point of the game you actually pilot your ship alongside your father. Depending on the personality of your own father, this might bring back bitter memories of Driver's Ed, with similar, albeit old English versions of the same old berating phrases.
The map system in Assassin's Creed III is something that I would have liked to see better done. The maps are nice, and an especially nice feature is the ability to fast travel to some of the locations, including the docks or your homestead. The maps are a little bland, though. They are done in somewhat monotoned graphics, with the points of interest in white and the rest of the map in bluescale. The map system is the absolute worst highlighting of the fact that Assassin's Creed III was made originally for a console and a console controller and then ported to the PC. It is very awkward to navigate with a mouse and keyboard until you get used to it.
My other issue with the map system is that it is very glitchy. If you are riding a horse, or standing on a fence, or maybe just not doing the magical map dance, then the map will glitch out and you be able to see any points of interest at all. This can get very annoying. I finally discovered that it was something to do with what my character was doing so I would move around, dismount, or otherwise change my position until the map suddenly reappeared.